Archive for the ‘leadership’ Category

Instant Replay Making Game Better, But Far from Perfect

Tuesday, September 16th, 2014

Other than referees, it seemed like everyone - coaches, fans, commentators, players (well, maybe not offensive linemen) - were clamoring for instant replay to be used “to get the call right.” That’s the price of progress. When the games were only broadcast on radio, no one ever knew if a call was blown. Not until television instituted replays on its telecasts, and incorrect calls were obvious, was there a swelling of support to “take another look at it.”

So it was that instant replay to confirm or correct calls finally became law and, to the delight of the officials, they were shown the number of times they made the correct call was overwhelming. Even the missed calls made them look  more “human” than inept because, except for the blindly loyal fans (every call against their team is wrong - even when supported by video evidence) and the losing gambler, the rational person understands how difficult a job officiating is. In addition the “indisputable video evidence” has worked, for the most part, and has shown how minute a difference there is between a right and wrong call. I mean, when a number of cameras zoom in, from all angles, in slow motion, and it’s still uncertain whether the ruling on the field was right or should be overturned, . . . wow!

If a poll was taken as to whether people believe instant replay has been good or bad for the game, my guess is “good” wins hands down. The greatest objection would be that instant replay slows the game too much, a complaint the NFL is trying to fix by having one central replay station (in New York) to make proper determinations in games throughout the country.

Last night’s game between the Indianapolis Colts and Philadelphia Eagles, however, illustrated that instant replay needs to be expanded. First, as the Colts were driving for a score, QB Andrew Luck threw a pass to T.Y. Hilton. Luck threw the ball where he knew Hilton would be. But Hilton wasn’t there and the pass got intercepted. Why wasn’t he there? Because he was illegally being held. Unfortunately for the referee, the replay showed the offense clear as day, i.e. “indisputable video evidence”.

The reason the play wasn’t reviewed is, that play isn’t one that is reviewable. So the game continued with the Eagles taking over. On an ensuing running play, the Colts were flagged for a horse collar tackle that, when replayed, was a perfectly legal tackle for a loss. The purpose of instant replay is to make certain the proper call is made, i.e. if there is an infraction, enforce it; if no infraction, play on. What exists now is better than what was but not as good as it could be - and how the league, players, coaches, officials and fans want it.

It’s not perfection but as the legendary Vince Lombardi said to his Packer teams:

“Gentlemen, we will chase perfection, and we will chase it relentlessly, knowing all the while we can never attain it. But along the way, we shall catch excellence.”

What Makes the Danny Ferry-Luol Deng Controversy So Confusing Is What Was Left Unsaid

Monday, September 15th, 2014

By now all the people who want to know what Danny Ferry’s offensive remarks regarding Luol Deng were, have either heard or read them. What makes Ferry’s remarks so shocking is that he 1) has a degree from Duke, 2) has played professional basketball for 13 years and 3) has been a member, in varying capacities, in NBA front offices since 2003. His playing experience alone means that Ferry has spent more than half of his life in a league whose players are 76.3% black (according to the 2013 NBA Racial and Gender Report Card from The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport).

That he said Luol Deng had “a little African in him” wasn’t racist – until he explained the meaning of the comment. Had he said, “you know, he possesses great quickness, can really jump and has incredible endurance,” no one would have been offended. Instead he gave insulting examples: 1) that Deng is the type of guy who is an anonymous source for a negative story and, when confronted a couple days later, denies it and 2) that Deng is a “locker room lawyer,” which means the type of player who will cause problems in the locker room, e.g. approaching guys who aren’t getting the amount of playing time or shots they want and siding with them against the coaches, but being a rah-rah guy when the coaches are around. Basically, Ferry accused Deng of being two-faced.

When told of the remarks Ferry made about him, Deng was quick to say that he is proud of his African heritage, that he has “a lot of African in me, not just ‘a little.’ ” According to the USA Today article by Jeff Zillgitt, Deng claimed that “among my family and friends, in my country of South Sudan and across the broader continent of Africa, I can think of no greater privilege than to do what I love for a living while also representing my heritage on the highest stage. Unfortunately, the comment about my heritage was not made with the same respect and appreciation.”

Everyone was sympathetic to Deng after Ferry’s comments were made public, yet what Deng said following his show of African (Sudanese) pride was extremely strange. Nothing. He said nothing. True, he did mention that, “Concerning my free agency, the focus should purely have been on my professionalism and my ability as an athlete,” but then went on to reiterate his annoyance about stereotyping and generalizations being unfair. Yet never once did he address the negative comments about him being a leak or a negative presence in the locker room (which does focus on his professionalism). You would think those charges would sting his reputation as a pro equally as much as the “a little African in him” comment did to his heritage.

Could it be those damning words are actually true? Bulls’ VP of Basketball Operations John Paxson had nothing but extremely positive things to say after they traded him but there is a story about Deng being upset with the organization that his bobblehead night was last, making him sound spoiled and petty. Something to wonder is why a scout would put such incendiary remarks in a scouting report - that he knew people would see - if he didn’t have first hand, or at least reliable, knowledge. Possibly Deng just overlooked those comments because the initial slam hit closer to home. On the other hand, it’s difficult to flat out deny something because he would run the risk of a reporter or teammate “outing” him. Anonymously, of course.

Maybe it comes down to the line:

“Some questions simply don’t have answers.”

What the NFL Needs to Do to End the Violence

Saturday, September 13th, 2014

Older son, Andy, in town for the weekend. The following was written after he got home and wasn’t completed until after 4 am, so please excuse errors. Blog suspended for family time; will return Monday, 9/15.

The NFL has finally managed to do something no politician could. Unite our nation. In this day and age, of course, it’s united against something as opposed to for something but at least it shows we all can agree. Everyone believes there should be no domestic violence nor should there be child abuse. Hey, it’s a start.

Although we all agree on those two “thou shall not’s,” there is some disagreement over what constitutes those acts. These two crimes have been nearly non-stop talking points on radio and television since the high profile cases of Ray Rice and, as of yesterday, Adrian Peterson. Listen more than ten straight minutes and you’ll hear the names Greg Hardy and Ray McDonald, too.

Most of the focus has been negative, with so much finger pointing going on, this might be the first time in history people wish they were polydactyl. If you don’t know what it means, as my mother used to say, look it up. My mother never went to college and my father actually quit high school a month before his high school graduation - to enlist in the army. His instinctive move got no resistance because World War II was a war this country thought was not only important for us to fight in, but mandatory. Both of my parents have since passed away but the lessons they taught me live on. For the record, my family, consisting of the three of us and my younger brother, would have been considered part of the lower middle class.

My parents stayed married until my dad’s fatal heart attack in 1976. While not the couple who showed PDAs often, my father never hit my mother, nor did she ever strike him. When my brother and/or I screwed up, my father would (bare butt) spank us - with a belt and my mother’s knowledge - but that was saved for major transgressions, e.g. I can’t remember too many of them.

My wife and I have never felt the desire to hit each other and I, on occasion, would spank our two boys, however, with my hand but also with my wife’s knowledge. The point I’m trying to get the reader to understand is that, in the majority of cases (no research numbers, just a gut - and common sense - feel), people repeat behaviors they observe, most definitely if the action positively shaped who they are.

After listening to so many, I’m guessing, upper middle class (if not higher) sports reporters and talk show hosts cast the condescending statement, “Everyone knows you don’t put your hands on a woman. Everyone knows you don’t hit child.” Of course, you know that - if you were taught. I am in no way condoning the actions of the players mentioned above but if people are going to be so outraged that callers and talking heads are calling what’s going on in the NFL as an epidemic, why not try to stop the epidemic rather than just look to place blame? From what we’ve been hearing lately, I wouldn’t be surprised if we run out of physical therapists, treating people falling off their high horse.

To solve a problem, first we should investigate the perpetrators. Let’s start with Ray Rice. How did he become the monster who cold cocked his fiance in an elevator? Google a story that was written about him on May, 20, 2010 (Ray Rice’s Amazing Story by Zachary Beard, written for SB Nation) and you’ll realize that behavior came from elsewhere. When Ray was one, his father was shot dead in the street and when the killers were caught, it turned out Ray’s dad wasn’t even the target. He was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Ten years later, his surrogate father, his cousin, was killed in a car accident when the driver of one car swerved to avoid hitting another. Exactly where he got the idea that hitting women was permissible is unknown but it had to have come from somewhere.

Adrian Peterson was so open and honest with the police about taking a switch to his son, he certainly couldn’t have thought it was going to become the story - and potential jail time - it has and probably will be. His father used to “put a whoopin’ ” on him when he did wrong, so when he saw his four-year old son push his brother off his bike, he felt the need to punish. From his emails to the youngster’s mother, even he realized he’d gone too far.

Read his biography on and you’ll see the early relationship he had with his father (who went to prison for money laundering when AD, a nickname his dad had given him when he was a toddler, was 13) - and what a strict disciplinarian he was. Who knows whether he feels his father (and mother who was also an outstanding athlete in her own right) provided him with the discipline it takes to be as good a player as he’s been in the NFL?

OK, enough with ifs and buts. Although the overwhelming majority of the professional football players have not shown up on police blotters, don’t think for a second the NFL doesn’t have a behavior problem when it comes to violence. Could it be the violence problem in the NFL derives from the fact that the game is inherently violent? The fiercest, most vicious (legal) hits elicit remarks such as, “Now, that is the way to play football” and in practice, players are applauded when, after taking a severe hit from a teammate, they deliver one right back on the next snap. So, the simple nature of the game definitely has to be looked at as a factor.

When I was at the University of Tennessee as an assistant basketball coach, all the coaches and players - of all sports - would eat together at the training table. It was a great, albeit expensive (for the university) way for us to get to know each other. That’s how I made the acquaintance of Reggie White, one of the gentlest, yet dominating players football had ever known. Reggie was born to unwed parents, yet his family would faithfully attend church. From all indications (reading his bio), his eight years with his parents were uneventful from a violence standpoint. It was at that age he moved in with his grandmother who raised him to be the star athlete and kind person he grew up to be. While his life was not without controversy (his speech to the Wisconsin State Legislature regarding stereotyping minorities and denouncing gays drew a great deal of criticism), there is no evidence of domestic violence or child abuse when he was young, nor after he got married and had children.

If you haven’t figured out after all of the above what my solution to these problems is, it’s education. Not a two-week seminar to rookies but, beginning in college (funded by the NFL - after all, I’ve been hearing about how the league has so much money they could have found that second Ray Rice videotape if they wanted to). Maybe, just maybe, some of these players, as hard as it is to believe, really don’t understand. Possibly they’ve seen their mother get hit by and stay with, even apologize for, her abuser. Because, for most of them, as with most of us, their mother is their hero. Maybe, from a young age, standing by her man is more than just a song title. Maybe, it’s just something a strong woman does. Children get punished by their dad for the same reason . . . they deserve it. No one really knows what things become facts in a young boy’s head. Of course, “everyone knows” there’s a difference between teaching a youngster a lesson and injuring him or her. Yet in some societies, as unfortunate as it is, the theory is that a man’s self worth is tied to his net worth, so bringing home a boatload of cash justifies any type of behavior.

We’ve heard the tales of the young guys who promise to make millions so their mom and siblings can get out of an abusive household, but that is usually a storyline for a feelgood movie (that people shell out $15 for - the same people who pay $99.95 for an official NFL jersey). Early education might not be the only salvation but it also might just be the best one. Show videos of what can happen to people who are abused, bring in speakers of those who were abused as well as those who were rehabilitated (or maybe some who weren’t and are still incarcerated - maybe showing someone who acts like a fool will discourage that behavior), make the players take verbal and tests or put them in “mock” situations and see how they (re)act. Naturally, punishment must be severe but education is needed more. Believe it or not, many of these guys do not know.

For those who think “the animals should be thrown in jail,” keep in mind these are not life sentences. These guys are eventually going to get out at some time and what, exactly, do we think they’ll be then? Plus, by throwing them out, what exactly do we think they’re going to do then? Take sensitivity classes or be bitter toward society? Educate them before there’s a need to incarcerate them or else how do we know which guys we should be cheering for?

To quote former Harvard president Derek Bok:

“If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.” 


The Ravens Can’t Seem to Get Out of Their Own Way

Friday, September 12th, 2014

Football coaches hate “short” weeks and no week is shorter than Sunday-Thursday in the NFL. The Ravens and Steelers had one (which concluded last night, with Baltimore thrashing their rivals from the ‘Burgh. Earlier in the week, a second Ray Rice video surfaced and as far as fans and media were concerned . . . football be damned. When Rice’s penalty changed to “indefinitely suspended,” professionals in sports journalism, e.g. talking heads (news and sports radio & TV anchors, color commentators, sports reporters, and anyone who can squeeze his or her way for air time) and print media (beat writers, columnists, the occasional talking head) had a whole new angle.

As if the public isn’t over-staurated (which might not be a word, but Webster’s being severely challenged when it comes to opinions) with media members, the Internet now has brought us . . . bloggers. In case anyone asks, no one told me I had to blog, although it was suggested I start one - after some people who’d heard my stories, said they thought I could build an audience. Full disclosure: I’m paying one of those guys once/quarter and have no idea why. Instagram, twitter, snap chat, pinterest and a slew of others - don’t ask - I don’t even know what the ones I listed are.

Dave Severns, player development coach for the Clippers) now has his own website - (yeah, 2 Ts). For anyone looking for thoughtful X’s and O’s, head over to Dave’s website. One of Dave’s favorite words is tomfoolery. While that word shouldn’t be used in connection with the Ray Rice case itself, it describes perfectly what, say 30%, of the callers (and whatevers) have turned radio (call-in shows) and print media (much other social media) into.

So, what do the Ravens do for their press conference? In a short week? They stick Jim Harbaugh in front of the media. Probably because there’s an NFL rule that the head coach has to be made available. If such a rule exists, the questions should be limited to the players who will play. Although Harbaugh feels for his guy, Ray Rice, anybody who saw the presser could tell his mind was detached, that it was in game mode.

Why? Because he’s uncaring when it comes to football? No! Because that’s his job! That’s why they pay him millions of dollars. There was no discussion of a forfeit. Suspending Ray Rice was an administrative decision. The coach might have been asked to attend the meeting but you can bet his vote wouldn’t have carried much weight. If those questions were going to be asked, put the owner or the GM on the podium.

Everybody can learn from Colts’ receiver T.Y. Hilton, who said:

“Trouble’s easy to get into but hard to get out of.”

Sometimes a Debate Just Needs to End in a Stalemate

Wednesday, September 10th, 2014

Every so often, a story comes along that captivates the nation. Unfortunately, due to 21st century human nature (or maybe that’s the way it’s always been), the story is nearly always negative. Emotions run high and people feel strongly. The Ray Rice situation is one of those.

Last night as I was scrolling through what my Facebook friends had posted, I came across someone I hadn’t seen in 20 years. In the early ’90s he and I had a wonderful relationship. I disagreed with him on the Rice issue and, wrote (summarizing my responses), When they asked Ray Rice (initially), what happened, he said his fiance went after him and he DEFENDED HIMSELF. That video shows he just cold cocked her. . . We can certainly disagree but I think you’re on the wrong side of this one, meaning if you went on TV and debated your side against the other, you’d have a tough time convincing an audience.”

There were numerous people making comments, so in the name of brevity, I’ve summarized my posts and another of his friends who took exception to much of what I had to say. Following my comment above, he interjected: “If you watched the video you will see her swing at him in the lobby.”

One thing about non-verbal communication is you can’t tell sarcasm, inflection or tone, so I asked, “So you’re equating her swinging at him with him knocking her out?

Him: If you are big enough to pass a lick you gotta be big enough to take one!!

Me: Are you serious? C‘mon, man, do you really believe that if a female can pass a lick, she oughta be able to take one? From an NFL player?” Then, to my original friend, who is certain the NFL had a copy of the video (which, after yesterday, do we really know?), “You really think the NFL had this video but didn’t think it would get out? With people like TMZ around?

My “new” friend chimed in (which happens on Facebook - whoever posts first is next): Man what league do you follow?? This is the NFL this is the biggest cover up organization ever!! . . . What about the ATL owner who said his team is too black that’s why sales are down, swept right under the rug huh??

Me: If you think Goddell would do anything to protect the shield” (from a previous post), “at least know that the ATL owner you’re talking about is the Hawks, not the Falcons.

Him: Big money organizations are all connected in done (sic) way believe.

In between his and my exchanges, others were making their thoughts known and the overwhelming majority of the comments were supportive . . . of his side! (At least up until that last comment).

Whoever said, “There are two sides to every story” would have been quite proud. It was an instance in which the late Stephen Covey’s famous quote most definitely applied:

“Let’s just agree to disagree, agreeably.”

Pat Haden Gets Fined by League, Supported by Executive Director

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014

By now, everybody in the world of college football knows that USC athletics director Pat Haden, at the request of his head coach, Steve Sarkisian, left the comfort of his suite in the Coliseum to move down to the field in order to bring calm to a situation. By the time Haden arrived, calm had already been restored. In subsequent television interviews, Sarkisian seemed quite sheepish (the kind of feeling that comes over you when you let your emotions substitute for your brain and the result is your AD being humiliated on national television and his billfold lightened by $25K). With the numbers in Sark’s contract (the one Haden offered him), the coach might consider subsidizing the fine - by somewhere in the neighborhood of 100%.

“The conduct by USC Athletics Director Pat Haden was inappropriate,” Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott, no small potato in the world of Power 5 (or whatever it’s called) college football, said. “Such actions by an administrator in attempt to influence the officiating, and ultimately the outcome of a contest, will not be tolerated.” Scott is the one who levied the fine.

Haden’s acknowledging his coach’s request are more in line with actions like those of the Trojans’ previous AD who had been known, on occasion, to embarrass an institution as prestigious as USC. Knee jerk reaction by many fans was that Haden should step down from his position as one of the 12 (plus a chairman) committee members who will decide the four teams that will play in the inaugural College Football Playoff.

Initially, Bill Hancock, College Football Playoff executive director, said, “We have to look at his ability to select teams. He was placed on the committee because of his judgment and his integrity and this doesn’t affect that. I think this does show the level of attention that people will be paying to the committee members and their work, and that is completely understandable. This doesn’t affect his capability as a committee member.”

The following day, after realizing the previous quote was too human, Hancock came out with a more administrative sounding statement. “Emotional outbursts at games are not a matter for the playoff selection committee to deal with. This does not affect Pat Haden’s capability as a committee member. We recognize that athletics directors cannot be dispassionate about their own teams, and that’s why we have the recusal policy.” It’s almost like administrators feel the need to distance themselves from the rest of us (down here) or else, why would he not simply let his initial remarks (which perfectly stated his case why there was no need to remove him) stand?

For those up in arms about Pat Haden being given a pass, here’s why it’s OK with me:

“It’s one of the privileges you get when you’re a Rhodes Scholar.”

That accomplishment, sitting up high on an administrative throne, is impressive. A quote regarding the exalted world of the high and mighty is by Michael de Montaigne:

“Even on the highest throne in the world, we are still just sitting on our ass.”


Is Levenson the Last, or Just Latest, NBA Owner to Fall?

Monday, September 8th, 2014

When Donald Sterling was forced to sell the Los Angeles Clippers, it was due to his being exposed as a racist (a fact most of the nation knew decades ago). Now, the Atlanta Hawks’ managing partner for the past decade, Bruce Levenson, has voluntarily submitted to the NBA an email he wrote in 2012.

In the correspondence Levenson opined, “My theory is that the black crowd scared away the whites and there are simply not enough affluent black fans to build a significant season ticket base” (the Hawks’ fan base is 70% black). Levenson said he felt “Southern whites simply were not comfortable being in an arena or at a bar where they were in the minority.” In addition, he wanted “some white cheerleaders, . . . music familiar to a 40-year-old white guy” (the concerts after games were either hip hop or gospel) and that he thought “the kiss cam is too black.” Also, there (were) few fathers and sons at the games.

Could the move have been made because of Sterling’s threat to expose other owners as businessmen like himself bigots? Or was it done because Levenson had already been made aware Sterling’s undercover agents knew of it? It’s another example of the cultural and racial divide that exists in the NBA between its white owners (MJ excluded) and its players, the majority of whom, independent of the fact many of them are wealthy, are black. The mega wealth the top players is light years from that of the owners, as are their cultures (Cuban and Prokorov excluded).

The main difference between Sterling’s quotes to . . . what’s-her-name and Levenson’s email is that what Sterling said was flat out racist, while what Levenson said was marketing strategy to increase ticket sales.

And flat out racist.

Bruce Levenson is a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis (one of the top academic institutions in the country) and the American University School of Law (one of the best law schools). Yet, undoubtedly, the lesson he’ll remember most is the one he learned yesterday. Or the day of Donald Sterling’s threat. If his comments to reporters yesterday are sincere, he understands the mistakes he’s made:

“If you’re angry about what I wrote, you should be. I’m angry at myself too.”


Deciding Who’s Best

Saturday, September 6th, 2014

One of the favorite things to do for a sports fan is to argue about “who’s best.” Team, player, coach, offense, stadium, concessions, owner - whatever - just pick a side and let the stats and opinion flow. In nearly every instance (unless you chose, as your debate partner a numbers nerd - you know, the guys who winds up writing three-inch thick books on statistics that is referred to once every leap year, or an NBA capologist), emotion, which undoubtedly morphs into negativity and name-calling, will rear its ugly head. As will “era build up/put down.”

Close your eyes and you can almost smell the spilled beer on the counter in front of you as the voice of a play-by-play announcer explains the action of a game you may or may not care about. “The year Kershaw is putting together is every bit as good as what Koufax did.”

“Are you serious?” a patron, who’s voice rises an octave from where it started. “Sandy threw complete games. The game ended when Norm Sherry handed him the ball after he struck out the last batter of the game, not after some reliever came in and mopped up. That’s when pitchers earned their money.”

Or, “Look for the Seahawks to go undefeated and take over the title from the Dolphins as the greatest team ever.” (Never mind that they’ve only played one game this season, albeit a masterpiece against the Packers).

Or, “Jerry Jones’ palace is the greatest sports complex of all time.” “It may be bigger but it doesn’t have the aura the ancient coliseum in Rome did.”

Or, “Even though the best NBA guys didn’t play, the U.S. will still win the World Cup and that’s why Coach K will go down as the greatest coach of all time.”

“Oh yeah, how about John Wooden.”

“What about Larry Brown, the only guy to win an NBA title and an NCAA national championship?”

“What about Bobby Knight, the only coach to win the NCAA, the NIT, an Olympic  Gold medal?”

“Oh yeah, Dean Smith did that, too,” claims a Carolina loyalist.

“So did Pete Newell,” says the old guy in the room.

While it’s all fun (OK, when you run into somebody who has more facts to back up his boasts than you do, it’s not that much fun), most of these arguments are foolish. None can be truly proven, especially when getting into cross generational discussions. Yet, I have a reason for all of the tomfoolery I’ve made you slog through thus far.

This week’s edition of Sports Illustrated has an article on Andrew Luck. The piece opens with the author informing the Colts’ signal caller that, by the end of this season, he will be recognized as the best QB in the NFL. His response is typical Andrew Luck, Stanford grad, i.e. well-thought out, humble, wise beyond his years, defying reply:

“I’ve always found it funny when people ask, ‘Are you a Top five QB?’ ‘Are you elite?’ As a player, who cares? It’s so hard to measure who’s better, who’s worse because every team is different. Football is a team sport. You have to be best for your team.”

He, then, sums it up beautifully:

“Good luck proving who the best is.”

Prediction: NFL Domestic Violence Cases to Take Sharp Decline

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014

If ever a line has been on the money, “Life is all about timing” has got to be it. Domestic violence is a topic no one seems to know all that much about (in terms of actual cases, certainly, because so many go unreported). In 1988 the country was shocked when Mike Tyson and Robin Givens, married just a few months, gave an interview to Barbara Walters in which Givens made on-air accusations of emotional and physical abuse.

The following decade gave us another abusive relationship from the world of sports when it was reported David Justice got physical with Halle Berry. In an article on the NFL and domestic violence, author Justin Peters “found that 21 of 32 NFL teams, at one point this year (2012), had employed a player with a domestic violence or sexual assault charge on his record.” First of all, it must be stated that, while it seems as though more of these situations occur with football players, the problem isn’t isolated to only football - or even to sports.

The obvious problem with football players is that the these offenders have a difficult time separating the violence that’s vital with their job with the fact that there is no place for violence in a relationship. At issue is how athletes are, and have been, treated throughout their careers - beginning at a young age. Seldom, when they are recruited, are they criticized because recruiters live by the adage, “You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.” The amount of praise and lack of criticism can cause a youngster’s ego to swell.

Fast forward to the now infamous Ray Rice case in which he was seen dragging his fiance, unconscious, out of an elevator after, reportedly, knocking her out. Roger Goodell, the NFL commissioner suspended Rice for two games. Since that ruling, he has come out and admitted he made a mistake and that the penalty should have been longer. The new penalty for domestic violence is six games for the first violation, followed by a lifetime ban for the second.

Apparently, Goodell had been influenced by Rice’s fiance, now wife, who went to the commish and requested he not be so harsh. While I am about as far removed as as someone can be from the characters involved, it always seemed to me that it would only be natural for Rice’s fiance to ask for a break because if he’s suspended and not getting paid, who’s that hurting?”

In any case, Goodell apologized and strengthened the penalty. Wouldn’t you know it but the 49ers’ DE Ray McDonald goes and commits, believe it or not, domestic violence so soon after the national uproar. Did he think Goodell was kidding? McDonald’s response was, “I can’t say too much, not right now, but the truth will come out. Everybody knows the kind of person that I am. I’m a good-hearted person.” While all that may be true, what else could he say?

Without trying to overstep my educational bounds, let’s think about what causes a fight? In 99% of the cases, it’s anger. People will “crack” during an argument and become physical when they’re pushed beyond a certain limit. What Ray McDonald allegedly did, so soon after Goodell’s edict, might just be the best thing that could ever happen to decrease the number of domestic violence incidents.

Now, these guys, especially the one-time offenders, are going to hesitate before touching a woman because, even greater than proving to her who’s right, or what her place is, or any other macho idea that pops into his head, there will be someone (a parent, coach, agent, whoever) who has warned him, “Do it and you’re through.”

And if that’s what comes of the Ray Rice/Ray McDonald violence, we can be thankful that another old saying is indeed true:

“Every cloud has a silver lining.”

ESPN’s Anderson’s Characterization of USC a Little Harsh

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

After the Josh Shaw fiasco was uncovered, ESPN’s John Anderson went on air and called USC a “clown college.” He mentioned the embarrassment of Pete Carroll and the national championship of 2004 being stripped, Reggie Bush’s Heisman being taken away (which was why the championship was stripped), how they handled Lane Kiffin’s firing and the probation. The Shaw “heroic act” story, followed by his admission of fabricating it must have been too much for Anderson. Thus, the “clown college” reference.

John Anderson attended the University of Missouri. Any embarrassing issues ever transpire there? Well, there was an ESPN Outside the Lines story on far more severe problems than bungled coaching firings and football players lying.

The report from the OTL piece said, “At Missouri, the final count was four — one alleged rape, one alleged physical assault, one sexual assault and one domestic assault - before one of its star athletes left campus in 2010.” Rather than rehash how poorly Missouri handled these crimes, the reader can Google OTL: Athletes, Assaults and Inaction.

Full disclosure: it is true that Mizzou has never had a national championship stripped by the NCAA. Both the 1954 baseball and 1965 track & field national championships proudly remain on display.

How about his current “college,” i.e. Bristol U? Did Anderson miss the June 7, 2013 article in the New York Post by Leonard Greene, entitled ESPN Cracks down after affair reveals culture of sexual harassment?

For years, ESPN operated like a lawless frat house, with more sexual shenanigans than a roadside brothel. A married executive was sleeping with a senior vice president. A female manager told an assistant that men acting like pigs was routine at the network,” it began. The article continued with an interview of a female employee. “If I had a dollar for every time I was sexually harassed at ESPN, I would be a millionaire. . . This is television,” she continued. “That’s what happens. It goes with the industry.”

ESPN’s initial reaction to Greene’s story? According to his article, “ESPN execs tried to punish The Post for its coverage by banning all of the newspaper’s reporters from appearing on any of its programs.

USC a clown college? Anderson might want to temper his remarks next time. Or at least delve into history a little deeper.

As the late Stephen Covey said:

We judge others by their actions, ourselves by our intentions.”