Tag Archives: NFL Lockout

The Dubsism Breakdown Of Roger Goodell’s Bullshit Apology

Do you remember Jon Lovitz’ “Pathological Liar” character from Saturday Night Live a few too many years back? That’s exactly how this incredibly self-serving and bullshit-laden apology from NFL Commissioner Roger “Kommissar” Goodell reads.  Check it out for yourself…

To NFL Fans:

The National Football League is at its best when the focus is on the players and the action on the field, not on labor negotiations.

Just so you know, that is the only non-crap line in this whole message from the Kommissar.

All of us who love the sport appreciate the skills and dedication of the players and coaches. That is why we are focused not just on what happens on the field but what our game will be like in another decade or two. The NFL has always tried to look ahead, to innovate, and to constantly improve in all we do.

First of all, Rog, you don’t have the first clue what the world of sports will look like in 30 years. Three decades ago, the NFL still trailed baseball in terms of popularity. Three decades ago, boxing still mattered. Three decades ago, NASCAR was a regional endeavor for southern gear-heads. An nobody thought that would ever change.

Three decades from now, things could be very different in America. I know white America doesn’t want to admit this, but 30 years from now the plurality of people in this country could be of Hispanic descent. There’s also a very good possibility that in the next three decades we could see a massive emigration into the U.S. from China. If those things happen, the odds are that soccer will be the most popular sport in this country, with a close second being baseball. Asians and Hispanics both love soccer and baseball, and couldn’t give a shit less about the NFL.

We recognize that some decisions may be difficult to accept in the passion of the moment, but my most important responsibility is to improve the game for this generation and the next.

I believe in accountability, not excuses. And I regret we were not able to secure an agreement sooner in the process and avoid the unfortunate distractions to the game. You deserve better.

Gee, Rog…why is it that I deserve better than I’m getting? Could it be because I, and every other fan out there, are the ones who are paying the freight for this league that you are slowly, but surely killing through sheer mis-management.  You are right, we deserve better than Thursday night games being used to prop up your dying television venture which still can’t be seen in half the household in America. We deserve better than archaic television “black-out”  rules, and we deserve better than being gouged for those tickets and for the ability to escape your ridiculous regional broadcasting concept.  Face it, anything more than 200 bucks for the NFL Sunday Ticket is nothing short of highway robbery.

And while we’re at it, Rog, don’t hand me anymore of your  bullshit about “decisions” and passion of the moment. I know you want me to believe that the “Monday Night Fiasco” had nothing to do with the rush to end this labor dispute, and that’s a complete pant-load.

You will never convince me of that because we all saw how you handled the lockout with the players. You spent years planning both that lockout and this one with the officials.  Both of those lockouts were orchestrated by you, Rog, in concert with dick-holes like Jerry Jones and Robert Kraft, and they were both intended to break the unions. You failed with the players, largely because you over-played your hand, and you failed with the referees because you gambled that the scab official wouldn’t fuck the game up so badly there would be a public outcry.  You gambled, and you lost.

As a lifelong fan, this wasn’t an easy process for anyone involved. I particularly want to commend the replacement officials for taking on an unenviable task and doing it with focus and dedication in the most adverse of circumstances.

In other words, you want to commend a bunch of guys who were woefully under-prepared to do a job that you under-valued, and when they failed, you threw them under the bus. We all know that had the “Monday Night Fiasco” never happened, you had every intention of starving the officials’ union out of existence.  Because you didn’t appreciate there actually is some skill involved in officiating an NFL game, you thought you could get away with a bunch small and junior college guys.

Our new agreement gives long-term stability to an important aspect of our game, officiating. More important, with this agreement, officiating will be better in the long run. While the financial issues received the most attention, these negotiations were much more about long-term reforms.  For example, beginning with the 2013 season, the NFL will have the option of hiring a number of officials on a full-time basis to work year-round, including on the field. In addition, the NFL will have the option to retain additional officials for training and development purposes, and may assign those additional officials to work NFL games.

Your new agreement also sets you up for an even uglier set of labor problems when the collective bargaining agreements with the players and the referees expire, because they’ve all seen the screwing you tried to lay on them this time around, and they aren’t going to forget it.  The problem is one of these days which you don’t even see coming, you will take another one of these poorly-executed gambles only to find out the fans have decided to move on. Watch what the NHL is about to do to itself if you don’t believe that.

We are moving forward with the finest officials in sports back on the field. It’s time to put the focus where it belongs – on the clubs and players and our magnificent game, with a special thanks to our fans for their passion.

Roger Goodell

The fans deserve a “thank you” not for their passion, but because they didn’t take their sports entertainment dollar somewhere else.  Keep screwing around like this, and one day they just might do that.

Poll: What Is Roger Goodell? A Blithering Idiot or An Unconscionable Dick?

So, it seems that our long national nightmare is over. No, it’s not anything important like the war in Afghanistan (forgot about that, didn’t ya?).  Today, America is rejoicing over the fact that we are getting back the shitty union NFL referees to replace the ever-shittier replacement referees.

We all saw what a sham this turned out to be.  Some of us were pointing this out after Week 1.  But it took a debacle to happen on national television robbing one of the most popular teams in the league to get any action to resolve this mess.  Some of us predicted that a month before the season started…and we knew exactly why as well.

It should a huge indicator what a flaming asshole Roger Goodell is when I (who happens to be exceptionally anti-union)  have some empathy for the referees.  Just look at how the NFL put a strong-arm job on the players, which just happens to be the one union that matters to the NFL. The league learned the hard way in 1987 that people won’t watch a game full of replacement players, but they are gambling that you won’t care about scab referees. Therefore, you can bet the NFL will put the long, unlubricated, Turkish-prison-style rape-job to the referees…

…Ever since the advent of free-agency, the scum-bag role has been reserved for the unions.  Roger Goodell’s level of assholery has managed to reverse that polarity. Worse yet, he has political cover for now; it’s going to take a train-wreck of monstrous proportions by the replacement refs for the locked-out officials to get public sentiment on their side.  Until that happens, Kommissar Goodell holds all the cards.

Well, well, well…looky what happened. Granted, another blown call pales in comparison to the tragedy it took to end the last NFL-Referees labor stoppage…

The most recent labor agreement between the referees and the NFL expired May 31, and the zebras got locked out three days later, right after the NFL broke off a marathon negotiating session with a federal mediator.  This is the same tactic the NFL used to strong-arm the players, with the league upping the ante by hiring replacement officials to work the exhibition season and possibly the regular season.

As ugly as the lockout with the players got, the NFL never brought in scabs, having learned the aforementioned lesson in 1987.  That lesson didn’t carry over to the last dispute with the referees.  The NFL used replacements briefly in 2001 during the exhibition season and for the first week the regular season. Then came Tuesday, September 11th.  In the aftermath, the league and the union figured out that not doing everything within their power to help America “get back to normal” would have been a cataclysmic approach.

…but it seems that when Kommissar Goodell gets 70,00 angry voice-mails, the blow-dries at ESPN who usually line up to lap up his ginger-spooge turn on him, and even President Potato-Head weighed in (another thing I told you would happen), it is time to abandon the union-busting plan and admit defeat.

Make no mistake, anything short of making the union referees crawl is an unmitigated loss for the Kommissar and the NFL owners. Which is exactly why the apology issued by the Kommissar today rings about as hollow as a half-deflated beach ball.

Commissioner Roger Goodell has apologized to the fans who fretted through three weeks of replacement officials calling their favorite teams’ games.

“Obviously when you go through something like this, it’s painful for everybody. Most importantly, it’s painful for fans,” he said on a conference call Thursday, about 12 hours after the league reached a deal to bring back the regular officials.

So, now he gives a shit about the fans. In other news, Goodell only wants to put the tip in, and he will still respect me in the morning…

Bullshit, you have a call on the white courtesy phone…but it gets better.

“We’re sorry to have to put fans through that,” Goodell said. “Sometimes you have to go through something like that in the short term for the right agreement for the long term.”

Uh huh. Both regular Dubsism collaborator Ryan Meehan and I hit on this before as well, and nothing has changed in the last seven weeks.

J-Dub:  Whatever happens, the reality of the situation is quite clear:  Football will take place regardless of who is wearing the stripes. As long as you keep watching, the NFL couldn’t give a shit less about the quality of the product they are putting on the field.  Face it. They’ve already got you paying full price to watch pre-season games loaded with guys who will be loading trucks at UPS next week.

Meehan: He’s [J-Dub] right, and there’s nothing you can do about it.  However, I do believe that if the quality of the NFL’s product begins to dip, the sports fans that are real die hards will begin to make their voices heard and criticize it to greater lengths.  But even then…BAAAAAAAAA…

I know this starting sound a bit “nah nah nah boo boo,” I told you so,” but the real point here is that when the Kommissar promised you he would only put the tip in, he didn’t tell that meant it would be in the back of your throat after he grabbed your hips and rammed it there from the back way.

During this process, Goodell never once gave a shit about the fans, until they showed up at the gates of the NFL castle, complete with their torches and pitchforks.  The following blatant lie proves that.

Goodell insisted the two sides were already in “intense negotiations” the last two weeks and that the Monday night mess was not a major factor in completing a deal.  “It may have pushed the parties along,” he said.

Let’s see…the two sides weren’t even talking to each other on Monday, the Monday Night Fiasco happens, and by Thursday we have a deal in priciple…”may have,” my ass.  The Kommissar and the owners panicked, and for good reason.

However, in true Goodell form, that isn’t the biggest dick-move he pulls in his so-called apology; he goes full-on Level 10 Dick when he defends the replacement referees by throwing the union guys under the NFL bus.

But he dismissed assertions that the presence of replacement officials increased the chances an egregious mistake would occur. Goodell repeatedly reminded reporters that the regular officials have botched plenty of calls over the years.

Let’s translate that, shall we? “Sure, I know the replacement guys that I forced on you with no training or resources, the ones I figured you wouldn’t give a damn about, the same ones who fucked things up so publicly that there was no choice but to end this fiasco on terms I didn’t want…but, hey, don’t forget the regular refs suck dog balls, too.”

There’s only two types of guys who would say something like that before the union he’s just insulted has even voted; an idiot, or an unconscionable dick? Which is Goodell? You be the judge.

The Dubsism Breakdown of the SB Nation Breakdown of the Seahawk-Packer “Hail Mary” Call for Packer Haters and Those Who Really Think This Is The Fault Of Replacement Referees

OK,  by now have seen what happened on Monday night. ESPN has “Zapruder Film“-ed this thing to death, and we are left with two conclusions. There’s those who saw the Packers get flat-out robbed, and there’s those who want Kommissar Goodell and his “Warren Commission” who would like you to believe the replacement referees didn’t egregiously blow that call.

There’s two problems with that latter theory. First of all, it completely ignores at three rules of the NFL.  Secondly, it lends itself to a set of ridiculous conspiracy theories, the leading one being advanced by those who hate the Green Bay Packers which is some sort of contrivance stating the NFL wanted the Packers to lose that game in order to make them victims, so the NFL could a) use that game to get out of this replace referee fiasco and b) use that victim status to help make the Packers the league’s most popular team.

The folks over at SB Nation did a breakdown of the controversial play in question, and subsequent to that, we here at Dubsism did our own review keeping those two alternate views in mind.

  • The SB Nation Take:

The replacement referees appeared to botch this call from start to finish, and if you’re banging your head on the desk for the regular refs to comeback then this is the best possible outcome you could’ve wished for. Apologies to those at Acme Packing Company who are feeling about as low as you can feel as a football fan right now, but we needed a massive replacement ref screw-up on the biggest stage — that’s you, Monday Night Football — to shine the spotlight on the NFL’s lockout of the referees.

It’s time to end it, Roger Goodell. Bring the regular refs back. You can’t possibly look at this play and come to any other conclusion than the referees got it wrong. Even if you watch the same thing I watch and come to a different conclusion, then you have to wonder why the replacement referees screwed up their mechanics on the biggest play of one of the biggest games.

They can’t handle the pressure. This game made it obvious (as if it wasn’t before).

Let’s take a look-see at why the NFL and the replacement referees are feeling the heat…

Presnap_medium

The Seahawks had one final play at the 24-yard line, which is far enough back from the end zone that it’s Hail Mary time. Teams have all different kinds of different versions of a Hail Mary, but at the end of the day you’re throwing it up there and hoping for a prayer.

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Russell Wilson had fine protection. He had more than enough time to move around in the pocket and allow his receivers to get set up in the end zone. He releases the ball right at the 39-yard line and it lands near the back of the end zone so this pass was somewhere around 46 or 47 yards in the air.

  • The Conspiracy Theorists Believe:

At the point it became clear the Seahawks had a chance to win this game, the referees were instructed to call everything they could in favor of the Seahawks.

  • The Dubsism Take:

Organizing a conspiracy between Goodell and the replacement referees would be impossible, if for no other reason you have to able to consistently know how to make correct calls in order to be counted on to “fix” them.

Thecatch6_medium

  • The SB Nation Take:

This is how it all looks with the bail in the air. The Packer to focus on is M.D. Jennings (43) while it’s Tate for the Seahawks.

  • The Dubsism Take:

Actually, the Packer to look at in this frame is the guy (Packer Sam Shields #37) in front of Tate falling to his knees. This is because a split-second before before this picture, Tate gave him a full-on, two-handed shove in the back right before the ball arrived. Even the NFL in it’s wishy-washy defense of this call admitted this was clearly offensive pass interference.

  • The Conspiracy Theorists and Packer Haters Take:

“That kind of interference never gets called.” Like somehow that makes it right.

Suppose you blow through a school zone at 60 mph, and there’s no cop there? Were you still speeding? Suppose you were blowing through that same school zone and there is a cop there, but he just doens’t feel like pulling you over? Were you still speeding then?

Of course you were. It is the act that is illegal, not the resultant enforcement.  The fact that the refs didn’t call pass interference doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t have been called. The conspiracy theorists and the Packer haters know they have to answer for that non-call, because the Packer would have won the game the minute that yellow flag hit the Seattle turf.

Since a great deal of the Packer haters are Minnesota Viking fans, how does the memory of this non-call feel?

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  • The SB Nation Take:

A key part of evidence can be seen in this screen shot — Jennings has the leverage on Tate. He makes contact with the ball at a higher point and has more control of the ball than Tate, who appears to only have his arm on it.  Jennings has both hands on the ball.

  • The Dubsism Take:

Here’s why the non-call on the pass interfenerce matters. Had Golden Tate not shoved Shields out of the way, neither Jennings or Tate would have touched that ball; Shields would have had the cleanest shot at it.

  • The Conspiracy Theorists Take:

Tate caught that ball. Oswald acted alone. And bullets can change direction in flight, too.

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  • The SB Nation Take:

Another angle. See Jennings with both hands on the ball. Tate is behind him, and does not have both hands on the ball like Jennings does.

  • The Conspiracy Theorists Take:

Did we mention Tate caught that ball?  Oswald acted alone. And bullets can change direction in flight, too.

Thecatch88_medium

  • The SB Nation Take:

Yet another angle on the same moment. Jennings has both hands on the ball and appears to have control. Tate is getting both hands on the ball as well, but doesn’t appear to have the leverage Jennings does.

  • The Conspiracy Theorists Take:

Seriously, the government doesn’t want you to know that Tate caught that ball.  Oswald acted alone. And bullets can change direction in flight, too.

Thecatch99_medium

  • The SB Nation Take:

Jennings is pulling the ball towards his chest, a sign he has control of it. Tate is trying to pull it away but this screen shot shows Jennings not only had the ball but is now demonstrating possession by pulling it into his chest.

I think by now, you know what the conspiracy line is…

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  • The SB Nation Take:

Look at the ball. Who has that? Not Tate. Jennings was pulling the ball into his chest as he came down and now he turns away from Tate and the ball goes with him. Jennings has that ball. Tate is just along for the ride.

  • The Conspiracy Theorist/Packer Hater’s Take:

Insert “Tate Caught Ball” mantra here.

  • The Dubsism Take: 

Remember those rules I said you had to ignore? Here they are:

  1. Jennings has sole possession of the ball
  2. Jennings has completed the act of making the catch
  3. Jennings is down in the end-zone by contact. If there were time left on the clock, this is the Packers ball at the 20-yard line.

Noncatch_medium

  • The SB Nation Take:

One more look. Look at Tate’s arms. I mean, c’mon.

  • The Conspiracy Theorist/Packer Hater’s Take:

Insert “Tate Caught Ball” mantra here.

  • The Dubsism Take:

I can’t really say it any better.  In the words of SB Nation:

“Look at Tate’s arms. I mean, c’mon.”

Now see it in action:

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And a little closer:

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Would you be comfortable calling that a touchdown for the Seahawks? These refs were:

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Actually, let me rephrase that. One referee makes a touchdown call. The other one signals for, um, a timeout? Two separate calls two feet away from each other on the biggest play of the only game going of the night. Communication is the most important aspect of a play like this for the referees — the white hat makes the call but he takes input from the others — and they completely blew it.

The referees went back to review the play after the fact, leading to a lengthy delay, but I’m not sure what they were reviewing. They can determine whether the ball was caught in bounds and all that but they cannot determine possession via replay. They said it was Tate’s touchdown — well, one of them did at least — and it wasn’t going to change via replay.

This is the kind of screw-up we needed to see. This is big enough — and it happened to a respected franchise like the Packers — that the NFL needs to seriously consider ending this lockout. The differences between the two sides is not big enough that you can’t go sit down with a federal mediator and hammer it down by lunch today.

I don’t want those at Acme Packing Company to think I’m putting them down; and I don’t want those at Field Gulls to think I’m ruining their night. That’s not the point of this. The game is done and the decision has been made but this is exactly the type of play we needed to kickstart an end to the referee lockout.

Let’s hope I’m right.

  • The Dubsism Take:

I’m with the SB people. This needs to be over, but let’s not forget the real referees are no manna from heaven either.  Sure, these replacement guys suck, but that’s only because they lack experience. These guys, as shitty as they are, are only about five years and a gym club membership away from being Ed “Maybe I should have called that fumble” Hochuli.

The conspiracy theorists and Packer Haters are this loose amalgamation of Viking fans who just hate Green Bay on principle and Patriot fans who hate Aaron Rodgers strictly because they hate Aaron Rodgers because he gets more media attention than Tom Brady does now.

You may ask yourself, “why do those people even matter?” Because they are the only groups of people who can fuck up the NFL more than Kommissar Goodell and his replacement stooges have.

All photos courtesy of SB Nation. 

The NFL Replacement Referees Are Exposing The Fallacy of Instant Replay

Right now, football fans are having a field day shitting on these guys.   Granted, they are easy to shit on because they are terrible.  Frankly, I think people ought to get off their backs; it is not a crime to suck at a job you aren’t ready for unless your suckitude might kill people. I would not want a replacement airline pilot or heart surgeon, so I really just can’t get that  whipped up about bad referees.  After all, it’s not as if the regular referees never fucked things up.

But, the sheer suckitude of these replacement referees is generating a lot of commentary which happens to be missing a crucial point.  Didn’t the “instant replay” crowd tell me that technology was supposed to eliminate bad calls?

Face it, that is the whole reason the why instant replay exists; it is supposed to banish bad calls to the same backwater of football history as the leather helmet.  The trouble is nobody wants to admit it doesn’t work. Nobody seems to want to admit that bad referees are the problem.  Let’s look at some examples from this past weekend.

In Sunday’s 49ers-Packers game, the referees were so over-matched that San Francisco got away with at least four false starts and got called for a block in the back on a kick return despite the fact they were the kicking team.

Then, there was the Steelers-Broncos game during which the officiating crew couldn’t manage a clock let alone instant replay. They lost track of the two-minute warning.  Here’s how: when a touchdown happens at the two-minute mark, the officials are supposed to wait until after the conversion before calling the automatic time-out.  But this crew called the time-out immediately after the touchdown, which doesn’t sound like a big deal, except that it gave the Broncos more time to set up a two-point conversion play, and it cost the Steelers a time-out which they could have used during their two-minute drill.

But to me, the worst happened in the Patriots-Titans game.  It was a perfect example of instant replay’s inability to fix bad officiating because even though the replay system worked, somebody got hurt because of of a terrible call.  The officials mistook an incomplete pass for a fumble — a call which even the real refs blow all the time – and the incorrect ruling was reversed by the replay booth. The problem was since the original call on the field was for a fumble, which meant that the play was not blown dead as it should have been. Then during the return of the non-fumble (a return that should have never happened), Titans quarterback Jake Locker was hit and knocked out of the game with an injured shoulder.

Imagine what sports-talk radio would sound like today if it had been Tom Brady who got hurt because of such a call? There would be screaming for the heads of replacement referees, who while the may be worse than the regular officials, are  not the problem. Calls get blown all the time regardless of whether we have union referees; the constant is the false belief that instant replay fixes bad officiating.

People are enamored with the idea of eliminating “bad calls.” By following the logic of the argument in favor of the current use of instant replay, one is led to the conclusion that bad calls have been wiped from the face of the NFL.  Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, replay allowed for the creation of silly rules which by their very enforcement are bad calls – such as the “Tom Brady Tuck Rule” and Calvin Johnson’s “Catch that wasn’t a Catch.”

Here’s the big problem…a bad official with a replay screen is still a bad official. Tell Jake Locker about how instant replay fixes everything. It doesn’t, and it never will.  Here’s why…

Let’s says that we get every thing available to be reviewed by instant replay.  Is the guy watching the replay monitor human? Do humans makes mistakes? So, why does the concept of instant replay automatically get a pass on the inherent flaws it has? The only argument I’ve ever heard on this point is “replay is better than anything else.”

Here’s my question: if people make mistakes, and both systems inherently involve people, doesn’t it make sense to introduce a system that rewards making less mistakes and punishes making too many? In other words, as long as have a glut of bad referees, you are going to have a glut of bad calls.  As I’ve mentioned, that’s the fundamental problem with instant replay; it doesn’t even solve the problem it is intended to solve, in fact in several respects it complicates them.  So, what we are left with is a plan that solves nothing, introduces a host of new problems, and happens to have some serious practicality issues.

Wouldn’t it make more sense to make the first step eliminating the bad officials, union or not?  Now, that sounds like a good idea.

Five Things You Need To Know About The NFL Labor Dispute with the Referees

Editor’s Note: This article is a collaborative effort between Dubsism and Ryan Meehan from First Order Historians. Ryan also has his own blog, East End Philadelphia, which is featured in our BlogRoll and it is well worth the read.

This time last year, we were just getting over a labor dispute with the players which threatened to wipe out the season.  Once that nightmare was over, we got a lot of teary embraces, joining of hands, and a lot of song and dance about how we would now have a decade of labor peace in the National Football League. Like most things which come out of Roger Goodell’s mouth, that was a freight train loaded with bullshit.

While this dispute with the referees won’t kill the season, it make fans literally blow their eyeballs out of their skulls at the level of incompetency you can expect if the NFL goes through with its plan to use “scab” officials. This would be such a horrible public relations fiasco for the NFL that they are really keeping quiet about how bad this might be. This is why Meehan and J-Dub have collaborated to shine some truth on the situation being created by Kommissar Goodell.  Here are some basic facts Goodell really would prefer you didn’t know.

1) The soul of this labor dispute is really all about union busting. 

J-Dub:

It should a huge indicator what a flaming asshole Roger Goodell is when I (who happens to be exceptionally anti-union)  have some empathy for the referees.  Just look at how the NFL put a strong-arm job on the players, which just happens to be the one union that matters to the NFL. The league learned the hard way in 1987 that people won’t watch a game full of replacement players, but they are gambling that you won’t care about scab referees. Therefore, you can bet the NFL will put the long, unlubricated, Turkish-prison-style rape-job to the referees.

Just like they did to the players, the NFL has offered pay raises of 5 to 11%, which is far under those previous labor negotiations. This is being done in an era when referees are coming under increased scrutiny since most of them are lousy anyway.  However, this is also an era in which the NFL expects to see its yearly revenues go from $9 to $16 billion per year. This is also an era where we’ve introduced salary caps, franchise tags, and rookie pay scales. That means this is all about squeezing every last kidney stone out of the golden-egg laying goose.

Here’s the bottom line.  It is one thing to make prudent, financially-responsible decisions to keep an enterprise profitable.  It’s entirely another to be a money-grubbing scum-bag.  Ever since the advent of free-agency, the scum-bag role has been reserved for the unions.  Roger Goodell’s level of assholery has managed to reverse that polarity. Worse yet, he has political cover for now; it’s going to take a train-wreck of monstrous proportions by the replacement refs for the locked-out officials to get public sentiment on their side.  Until that happens, Kommissar Goodell holds all the cards.

Meehan: 

Goodell does hold all the cards.  Which is total horseshit when you think about it, because we’re not playing cards.  We’re supposed to be playing football.  There’s this ridiculous idea that the NFL developed a few years back that says that there’s one figure that represents the total annual revenue accrued by the NFL.  And that once that figure is in place, there is only that money to pay everybody involved with the league at any level.  But there’s two fundamental problems with that:

a)  The original number is WAY lower than the actual amount of money they are making.  It’s no different than trying to lowball a guy when you’re buying a used car.  You look for every possible excuse that you can to say that your multimillion-dollar sports league isn’t worth as much as it really is (which is of course hilarious since all of the merchandise is made in Korea) so that when it comes time to pay everybody you can just say that there’s “just enough money to go around”, leaving very little room for a pay increase.

b)  The number that they are originally providing you with doesn’t take into account brand equity, or the fact that the NFL isn’t going bankrupt anytime soon.  It’s not Major League Soccer, there are no worries that the NFL is going to all of a sudden be in the red tomorrow morning.  All of this basically means that they are lying to you about how much money they’re making because they’re assuming that you’re not going to look anything up about the massive deal they signed with Direct TV that makes the original AOL Time Warner merger look like it’s ordering a fucking grilled cheese sandwich off of the children’s menu.  Beware, there’s another grilled cheese sandwich metaphor coming later.

2) The replacement referees will be terrible.

J-Dub:

If you were going to replace NFL officials, it would make sense to get them from the same place you get the majority of the players’ right?

Forget it…that ain’t gonna happen.

You won’t see many major college conference officials among the replacements because a number of big-conference officials supervisors are former NFL referees and they are refusing to lend out their officials as a show of solidarity for their locked-out brethren. Not to mention, it has been widely reported that several former NFL officials such as Red Cashen, Ron Botchan, and Jerry Markbreit, have steadfastly refused to assist in training the replacements. That means all of the “scab” referees” will have very little training and very limited resources to prepare.

Sunday night’s Hall-of-Fame Game was a preview of coming attractions.  Craig Ochoa, who has eight years of experience in BCS conferences and 16 years officiating Division III games, was the referee for the game between the New Orleans Saints and the Arizona Cardinals.  Ochoa flipped a commemorative coin at midfield to start the game, then incorrectly announced the result to the crowd, saying that New Orleans had won the toss and deferred.  It was only after he started to walk away that he caught his mistake.

Meehan: 

This one is kind of self explanatory.  It doesn’t take a genius to realize that if you have second tier people doing a particular task that the task will not be done to specs.  Refereeing is a very complex skill that takes many years of practice, determination, and willingness to blow all of your credibility at the end of a Chargers-Broncos game.  And that’s if you’re lucky.  There’s a reason that the scrub refs aren’t in the bigs…because there’s either no room for them or they just aren’t good enough.  The first might not be their fault, but such is life and such is any other position in the working world.

Now, a lot of people are glazing over this whole thing because they watch the game for the players and teams involved.  And they’re right.  But what the NFL is doing is making it glaringly obvious to all involved that don’t have their head crammed up their ass that since the referees aren’t directly related to their revenue stream, they could really care less about them.

The scrub refs are essentially the “open mike crowd” from your local lame-ass Comedy Club.  Goddell is the emcee and he has to sell you on the idea that for the next five minutes this dude who is a dishwasher at Shoney’s is going to have you falling out of your seat laughing.  But it’s hard to feel sorry for him, because he’s the one who wanted to host the show.

3) It Took A Terrorist Attack To End The Last NFL/Referees Dispute

J-Dub:  

The most recent labor agreement between the referees and the NFL expired May 31, and the zebras got locked out three days later, right after the NFL broke off a marathon negotiating session with a federal mediator.  This is the same tactic the NFL used to strong-arm the players, with the league upping the ante by hiring replacement officials to work the exhibition season and possibly the regular season.

As ugly as the lockout with the players got, the NFL never brought in scabs, having learned the aforementioned lesson in 1987.  That lesson didn’t carry over to the last dispute with the referees.  The NFL used replacements briefly in 2001 during the exhibition season and for the first week the regular season. Then came Tuesday, September 11th.  In the aftermath, the league and the union figured out that not doing everything within their power to help America “get back to normal” would have been a cataclysmic approach.

Meehan: 

This is much what Dubs was saying earlier about it being a union busting issue.  There is so much pride involved with unions that it’s difficult for them not to take everything personally. It certainly isn’t going to happen overnight and it’s going to get a lot uglier before it gets any prettier. And from the way it already looks you’d have an easier time freebasing Woolite than trying to get these two sides to come to an agreement.

Growing up I vaguely remember the 1987 season, but I definitely know that if there are any asterisks anywhere in the NFL record books they’re probably going to be associated with that year. There is always the chance that the product’s quality will drop, but since you don’t have an Ed Hochuli jersey it’s going to be very easy for the NFL to overlook.  The likelihood that this doesn’t get resolved anytime soon is precisely what makes it such a crisis in the first place.  This is serious, serious business.

4) If this goes into October, the chance that President Obama makes this a campaign issue could be disastrous.

J-Dub:  

Regardless of your political stripe, there is no denying some crucial facts:

a)  Obama loves to get involved in union negotiations, from the government takeover of General Motors and its pension fund, to his close relationship to the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

b)  Obama is desperate to toss out smoke-screens which misdirect attention away from important issues.  This is why we keep hearing exceptionally stupid shit about some rich guy’s tax returns from a guy who can’t kill a controversy about a birth certificate. If the aforementioned train-wreck in the NFL happens during the election season, you can count on Obama to come charging to the rescue, because Lord knows, the single-most important problem in the world at the time will be the well-being of a bunch of insurance salesmen who just happen to wear stripes on Sunday.

c) If Obama does get involved, he has no choice but to fuck it all up.  Before you start writing me the usual dip-shit political comment, consider the following. If Obama were a waiter, he’d be the kind that brings you a burnt grilled cheese sandwich when you ordered a cheeseburger, and when you complain about it, he tries to make you feel stupid for wanting a cheeseburger in the first place.  When you get pissed and demand to speak to the restaurant manager, he cops out with some bullshit about “he didn’t understand which cheese thing you really wanted.” In other words, despite all that “Hope” and “Change” crap America swallowed four years ago, Obama is exactly the same as every other politician since the dawn of time.

Here’s why that matters. If he does inject himself into this situation, he’s got no choice but to piss off one of his core constituencies.  On one hand, if he sides with the NFL, he will piss off his union-based backers who really are the backbone of his political base.  However, if he sides with the union, he’s going to piss off a large chunk of the richest people in America, and despite what you may believe about American politics, there is no such thing as somebody who got elected President without the backing of a lot of rich people.

Now for the real turd in the punch bowl.  Obama has been a big supporter of women’s rights, and if the NFL goes into the regular season with replacement referees, one of them is going to be a woman.  The league has announced that the first-ever female official will be used in tonight’s preseason game between the Packers and San Diego Chargers.  The NFL has also stated that they have several more female officials waiting in the wings, and there were rumors the league had considered hiring a full-time female official this past season but didn’t pull the trigger.

Think about what that means.  The first female NFL referee’s job will be the result of a labor dispute.  If Obama gets involved in this matter, it will be a lose-lose-lose situation.  Since this female official will lose her job if the locked-out referees are re-instated, Obama’s opponents could easily claim gender equity isn’t an important issue for him, so long as he makes “Big Business” happy.  If he ensures the locked-out referees lose their jobs, his union support becomes problematic. Worse yet, any intervention bolsters Goodell’s position that he is running an enterprise so crucial to the American soul that he should be given unlimited power to run it.  After all, if it takes the President of the United Fucking States to solve a problem in the NFL, then it is only logical that Kommissar Goodell should have “executive order” (read that “dictatorial”) powers.

If that happens, you can start the countdown from now until the day soccer becomes the most popular sport in America.

Meehan: 

Man, it’s so hard for me to get a beautiful opportunity to bag on soccer after that kind of an introduction and then not do it.  Let it be known the only reason that I’m not is because I already took a shot at them in the first segment.

The Obama thing is tricky because he is a sports fan, but with the current sad state of affairs that has become everyday life in the United States today he has absolutely no business getting involved with sports.  AT ALL.  He used the BCS thing as leverage during his first campaign, and it was one of those zero statements – All he basically did is say that he was in favor of a playoff system, which most of the country agreed with anyway because it makes sense and that’s why we’re headed in that direction now.  I just think any politician who does that is just weak.  Seriously…This is the equivalent of when a politician says “I support harsher punishments for sex crimes involving children”.  WELL NO SHIT.  Of course you do, because unless you count Chuck E. Cheese, there are no sex offender lobbyist groups hassling Congress to go easy on guys like Jerry Sandusky.  Obama will try and do the same thing, and Romney will be able to use it as leverage and say things like “Shouldn’t we be worried about the real issues here?”  Only he’ll do it with that really slick voiceover sounding thing that he does and people will actually think for a brief moment that they can relate to him.

To be honest, I don’t really care what Obama’s point of view is when it comes to something like this.  As far as I’m concerned, this is a crop dusting plane and he needs to keep his eyes on the road because he’s doing 70 on the interstate.  Which happens to be torn up as hell and shrunk down to one lane, so you could understand why this would be a much unnecessary distraction.  I don’t think he’ll get involved as this will likely be handled by a federal mediator, if it even gets to that point.  I would love to see a female referee on the regular staff in the very near future, instead of someone that will (as J-Dub said) just lose their gig as soon as this is resolved.

5) The NFL thinks you are all sheep who will watch football no matter what.

J-Dub:  Whatever happens, the reality of the situation is quite clear:  Football will take place regardless of who is wearing the stripes. As long as you keep watching, the NFL couldn’t give a shit less about the quality of the product they are putting on the field.  Face it. They’ve already got you paying full price to watch pre-season games loaded with guys who will be loading trucks at UPS next week.

Meehan: 

He’s right, and there’s nothing you can do about it.  However, I do believe that if the quality of the NFL’s product begins to dip, the sports fans that are real die hards will begin to make their voices heard and criticize it to greater lengths.  But even then…BAAAAAAAAA…

Summary:

Since J-Dub did the intro, I’ll go ahead and close this one out.  What we are trying to get across in this piece is that this is a huge deal that is getting what I believe is not nearly enough press when you consider the severity of the situation.  We’re talking about the biggest sports machine in the entire world not having its officials, and I consider that to be very serious.  While there is plenty of news about what cereal Tim Tebow is eating and how Peyton Manning is still media-friendly, a major issue is for the most part almost becoming buried under a lot of all that other garbage.

As with any entertainment production, it takes a lot of people to put on a show.  The NFL is one of the best shows in the world.  And let’s not forget, the referees are on the field.  In many ways they manage the pace of the game.  Without the first string referees, we have a product that isn’t nearly as precise as the fans would like it to be.  When these things happen, it’s up to the commissioner to get his shit together and figure out how we can keep this from happening in the future.

Once again thanks for stopping by First Order Historians and Dubsism for more information on how to be undeniably awesome.

Stay tuned to Dubsism,  First Order Historians, and East End Philadelphia for more up to the minute advice on how to be undeniably awesome.

-J-Dub and Meehan

The Dubsism Top Fifteen Sports Stories of 2011

Being that we are at the end of what has proven to be a tumultuous twelve months, why not take a look back at the biggest sports stories of such a year? After all, I’m pretty sure nobody else does these sort of retrospectives…

15) The Establishment of Two All-Time Winningest College Coaches: Paterno and Krzyzewski

Will there again ever be a year in which we see the crowning of two all-time winningest coaches? We may not see either of those records (Paterno, 409 wins; Krzyzewski, 903 and counting) fall in the next half-century, let alone having them both occur in the same year.

14) Kevin Love’s Double-Double Streak

For nearly 30 years, Moses Malone’s record stood at 51 consecutive games, until Kevin Love scored 16 points and grabbed 21 rebounds against the Indiana Pacers for his 52nd straight double-double. Love’s streak ended at 53 three days later at the hands of the Golden State Warriors.

13) Two More Yankees Make The Record Books

Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter…Get ready for two more monuments behind the center field fence in Yankee Stadium.  Rivera notched his  record-setting 602nd career save, eclipsing Trevor Hoffman’s previous mark. And in the same season,  Yank captain Derek Jeter smoked a long ball to reach the 3,000-hit milestone, becoming only the the 28th member of the exclusive club and the first 3K Yankee.

12) The End of The Peyton Manning Era

The Colts spent two decades as an NFL afterthought before the arrival of the wunderkind Manning in 1998, and now neck surgery may spell the end of the Manning era in Indianapolis. Manning’s surgically rebuilt neck, his back-loaded contract, and the Colts prime real-estate in the upcoming NFL Draft form a perfect storm scenario in which if Manning does ever take an NFL snap again, it may be in a uniform not of Colt blue.

11) The Improbable Run to the Championship

When is the next time you will see such a harmonic convergence of “underdog” champions?

  • NFL: The Green Bay Packers make the playoffs as the bottom 6th Seed.
  • MLB: The St. Louis Cardinals literally make the playoffs as a wild-card on the last night of the season, then they win what may be the greatest baseball game in a generation, Game 6 of the World Series.
  • NHL: Granted, The Boston Bruins were a #3 seed in the East, which isn’t a prohibitive underdog, but nobody gave them a chance in the Stanley Cup Finals against the President’s Trophy winning Vancouver Canucks
  • NBA: Like the Bruins, the Dallas Mavericks entered the playoff tournament as #3 seed, but it was their complete domination of the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers which set the tone for the next two series, both of which saw Dallas facing teams which seemingly should easily over-match them in terms of talent on the floor. That was until Dirk Nowitzki decided to become unstoppable.
  • NCAA Men’s Basketball: Again, the #3 seed proved magical, as the Connecticut Huskies rode that to the top of the field of 64. The fact they played their way to that seed was only slightly short of a miracle, considering they entered their conference tournament as a #9 and had to play AND win four games in four days to ensure getting into the NCAA tournament. Honestly, the ten-game streak in the Big East and NCAA tournaments pulled off by the Huskies may be one of the great playoff runs of all time.
  • NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey: Another #3 seed…are you sensing a theme here? The University of Minnesota-Duluth (which is really the UCLA of hockey) had an improbable run to the championship of the Frozen Four.
  • NCAA Women’s Basketball: I know that it is hard to call a #2 seed an underdog, but let’s not forget the womens’ basketball world was dominated by a single goliath at Baylor which Texas A&M  had to slay, but there was the ever-present team dragons in Tennessee, Stanford, and Connecticut.

10) The NBA Lockout

In what may prove to be a Quixotic exercise in abject futility, the NBA owners locked out the  players on July 1st  for reasons I still really can’t understand given what has happened since the lockout ended.  Star players getting big money has been the rule in professional sports for decades; Babe Ruth was the first jock to pocket more than the President of the United States. But when the Samuel Dalemberts of the world world are getting $13 million a year in a league that can’t pull in big-time national TV money, the problem is much larger than a simple collective bargaining agreement.

9) The Death of the Man Who Made the NFL What It Is Today

There’s a certain amount of irony in the fact the world lost Al Davis and North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il in the same year.  Much like the regime of Kim Il-Sung and his son Kim Jong-Il, the end of the Al Davis Era marks both the end of an era that once made the Raiders a serious factor in the world of the NFL, but now leaves them as an isolated dictatorship viewed as a pariah in contemporary circles.

Kim Il-Sung shaped at least a half-century of world history when he ordered the North Korean army into South Korea in 1950, starting a war that is still technically unresolved to this day. Al Davis forever changed the face of the NFL when he sued the league for the right to move his franchise as he pleased.

Much like Kim Il-Sung left his eternal mark on North Korea beyond the war, the legendary Raiders owner had six decades’ worth of unique impact on pro football. I would be lying if I said that I never criticized Davis.  Just a few months ago, I included him on my list of the 15 Worst Owners in Sports.  However, as I said in that piece, that criticism was reserved for the Al Davis of the past 20 years or so.

For those of you under 30, you may not believe there was a time when Al Davis wasn’t a batshit crazy Cryptkeeper look-alike and the Raiders were not the laughing stock of the NFL. In an 18-year span during the 70′s and 80′s, the Raiders won 13 division championships, made 15 playoff appearances, and took home three Lombardi trophies. This is the era when the Raiders were the winningest team in all of professional sports, and love him or hate him, Davis was a respected and visionary leader who helped build the AFL into a league so successful the NFL couldn’t beat it so they joined with it.

That paragraph only scratches the surface as to what Al Davis meant to the world of professional football.  Davis literally climbed the football ladder, going from college assistant coach to an NFL assistant coach, to head coach,  to owner to AFL commissioner, to Super Bowl champion,  and ultimately to the Hall of Fame.

Perhaps his single greatest honor is having made a record nine presentations of inductees to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.  Al Davis made presentation speeches for  Lance Alworth, Jim Otto, George Blanda, Willie Brown, Gene Upshaw, Fred Biletnikoff, Art Shell, Ted Hendricks, and John Madden. Davis himself was enshrined in Canton in 1992.

Davis changed the game of football through sheer personality; a personality which was a collection of contradictions. At once, he was was loyal and rebellious;  cantankerous and vindictive,  yet sentimental.  Yet through all that, Davis’ name must be included amongst the founding fathers of the NFL; a name that must be mentioned with same reverence in NFL circles as that of George Halas.

His contributions to the league as a whole notwithstanding, there the matter of his success with the Raiders. His trademark slogans weren’t just some words on a banner, it was a philosophy that propelled the three-time World Champion Raiders to the very top of the professional sports world. In the 48 year marriage between Davis and the Raiders, they had 28 winning seasons, including 16 in a row from 1965 through the 1980 World Championship season.

Davis died earlier this year died at age 82 and it’s hard to dispute the Hall of Famer’s place among the most influential of the sport’s history-makers. Davis was controversial. He was a contrarian. But he was also a gift to the game.

8 ) The Ever-Deepening Cesspool That Is The NCAA

This is only layer one of what is wrong with the NCAA. The truly disgusting stuff comes later down this list. This entry is all about the corruption and the hypocrisy of the organization which is supposed to keep these factors out of college sports.

It all starts back in January when the NCAA first found violations at Ohio State, but let the players who committed the violations play in their bowl game.  The theme here is the NCAA clearly values money over integrity. Keep this in mind as you read.

In August, the Miami situation broke,  when it was reported that Nevin Shapiro was pumping thousands of dollars in illegal benefits to past and present Hurricanes players over the past decade.  The tale told by Shapiro from his prison cell (he’s currently parking his ass in a federal cell for his role in a $930 million Ponzi scheme) includes prostitutes, cars, cash,  and paid vacations, much of which he alleges were known of by Miami staff and coaches.  Shaprio dimed out the names of  73 current and former players.

University of Miami president Donna Shalala being presented a check by Nevin Shapiro.

Go back to the Ohio State situation. At first, this was just about tattoos. Then it mushroomed into costing head football coach Jim Tressel and starting quarterback Terrelle Pryor their jobs. In this case, it wasn’t so much the crime, but it was the cover-up which killed everybody. But the fact the NCAA dicked around for months only underscores the fact they are not really than interested in enforcement.

Then there’s the completely laughable finding that Auburn “committed no infractions” in the Cam Newton affair when there were admissions about cash payments totaling $180,000.

The best part is this isn’t just teams who are mired in unethical activity. The Fiesta Bowl committee was exposed in a 276-page report which detailed allegations of Fiesta Bowl employees being reimbursed for donations to state and local politicians (which happens to be a felony), $1,241 spent at a Phoenix strip club was illegally charged to an expense account, and the misappropriation of $33,188 bill for Fiesta Bowl’s president and CEO Junker’s 50th birthday party.  Junker has since been fired, but more stories like this will emerge until the swamp that is the NCAA is drained.

7) The Conviction of Barry Bonds

Another story indicative of what a depressing year in sports this really has been. Again, instead of talking about accomplishments on the field, we are dealing with matters decided in a courtroom.

In April, Bonds became the first player from a “major” sport to be convicted for an issue stemming from the latest round of scandal about performance-enhancing drugs. While he was acquitted of the more serious charges, just this past Friday U.S. District Judge Susan Illston issued a 20-page order refusing to overturn the obstruction of justice conviction handed down by the the jury in her courtroom  nearly eight months ago.

6) The Continuing Tectonic Shift in College football

Texas A&M is headed to the SEC. So is Missouri.  Syracuse and Pittsburgh are bolting from the Big East to join the ACC. West Virginia is trying to ditch the Big East for the supposedly greener pastures of the Big 12; the same greener pastures TCU left the Big East at the altar for.  In return, the Big East extended invitations to at least six teams, and the madness isn’t over yet.

5) The Phenomenon Known as Tim Tebow

I’ve been watching football for nearly 40 years, and I’ve never…repeat NEVER…seen anything like the Tim Tebow story. He’s either loved or hated; he’s either the future of the Denver Broncos or an impostor. Everybody has a strong opinion, and everybody is convinced they are right.

Frankly, I have no idea what to make of the guy, so I’m going to stick with the facts.

  • Whether or not the Broncos complete this miraculous run to the playoffs, there is no denying this team was on life-support when they handed Tebow the keys, and that team responded to him.
  • The Tebow story is one of the few uplifting stories in a year in sports filled with so many negatives.
  • Like it or not, Tebow is the biggest star in the NFL right now. Doubt that? Tell me another NFL player that had an hour-long special dedicated to him exclusively.

4) The Night of the Dueling Collapses

In the last story, I said I have been watching football for nearly 40 years. I can say the same for baseball, and again, I can say I never saw anything like the last night of the regular season.  In what was inarguably the wildest night in baseball I’ve ever seen, the Red Sox and the Rays,  and the Braves and the Cardinals entered the last game competing for the American League and National League wild-card berths respectively.

This set the stage for six hours of baseball that will be talked about for at least as many decades.

In the National League, the Braves blew a ninth inning lead, eventually losing in the 13th inning 4-3 to the Phillies.  This loss opened the door for the Cardinals to capture the wild card by cruising past the Astros 8-0 to complete their amazing late season run; one that found them trailing Atlanta by 10.5 games on August 25th but prevaiiling in the end by winning 23 of their final 31 games.

Believe it or not, the collapse in the American League was even more epic.  The Boston Red Sox  led Tampa Bay Rays by nine games on September 4th, which seemed to be an insurmountable lead. It wasn’t, as the Sox found themselves in need of a win on the last night of the season to keep their playoff hopes alive. The stars seems to be aligning Boston’s way; they seemed on the verge of staving off a historic choke-job, taking an early 3-2 lead over the Orioles while the Rays fell behind the Yankees 7-0.  But then somebody messed with the lenses of the Sox telescope; Boston closer Jonathan Papelbon surrendered consecutive hits to Chris Davis, Nolan Reimold, and Robert Andino to earn a season-ending 4-3 loss.  Meanwhile, the Rays regrouped and mounted a comeback on the shoulders of a pair of dramatic homers from Evan Longoria, including a 12th-inning walkoff game winner.

3) The Fiasco of the Los Angeles Dodgers

We may never know how sordid the details of Frank McCourt’s mismanagement of the Los Angeles Dodgers really are; what we do know is that after the Dodgers began showing signs of financial trouble in 2010, Commissioner Bud Selig made the decision to give the league control over the club’s day-to-day operations starting in April 2011.

Since then, we’ve been treated to McCourt attempting to overturn Selig’s take-over via the courts, then threatening to engage in more legal maneuvering over a proposed television deal with Fox Sports was rejected by Selig. Then since the Dodgers struggled to meet payroll deadlines, the club filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, all during which McCourt was embroiled in what may have been the nastiest divorce in the history of the state of California.

Thankfully, Major League Baseball and McCourt reached an agreement in October under which he will sell the team and the media rights by April 30, 2012.

2) The NFL Lockout

Really, all this lockout proved is that the NFL owners and players really don’t understand the problems they have. They think this new collective bargaining agreement solves all the acrimony we all lived through, but that’s an illusion made of money. Realistically, the NFL and the NBA share some common problems, namely that they have franchises in places they shouldn’t, and those franchises are draining the league’s resources. The difference is the NFL is the country’s most popular sports league, it is literally floating on money, so it can pave over it’s issues with revenue-sharing. When the NFL finally hits the point where it has priced itself out of the market (wait until you see what the new TV deal is going to do to your cable bill), all of a sudden the illusion made of money will disappear. Mark my words, the next NFL lockout (and there will be one) will look and sound just like the NBA lockout we just lived through.

1) The Penn State and Syracuse Sex Abuse Scandals

This is the one story here that transcends sports. We have all heard the allegations, we have all read ad nauseum about all the sickening details; there’s really no need to rehash them here. What matters most is that these stories should serve as a wake-up call to all of us. We all must take a stand in stopping this sort of abuse of our children, and we must do it now. There is no excuse for any other course of action.

To that end, this should serve as the moment of truth for the NCAA. It’s time to find out how many more Jerry Sanduskys and Bernie Fines there are out there, and it’s time to ensure they are stopped. If the NCAA can’t do that, then the NCAA needs to be dismantled.

Dan Pastorini: “F–k Drew Brees”

Remember when you were a kid and there was that one old guy in the neighborhood who was bitter toward the whole world? The guy who cut up any Nerf footballs that landed in his yard, and consequently got a lot of flaming bags of dog crap left on his doorstep?

Well, it isn’t hard to picture former NFL quarterback Dan Pastorini as that guy. According to an article published by CBS News, Pastorini is upset with the NFL owners, the NFL Player’s Association, and specifically Drew Brees.

Dan Pastorini is mad. He’s mad at the NFL owners. He’s mad at the NFL Players Association. And he’s mad at Drew Brees.

“F–k Drew Brees,” Pastorini said.

Until this point, I had never heard anybody say a disparaging word about Drew Brees, but it seems Pastorini is pissed off because he feels he and his former NFL colleague who retired before 1993 somehow have been left behind by the new collective bargaining agreement in the NFL.

Why is Drew Brees a target of Pastorini’ s ire? The two main reasons are that he believes the new CBA short-changes the retired players and that Drew Brees embodies that because of some thing he said a few years ago.

Pastorini looks at the new CBA deal and figures out how much more money he’ll receive as a player who retired before 1993. He remembers how much he made when he was playing quarterback for the Oilers, Rams, Raiders and Eagles from 1971-82. Then, he thinks about the NFL Players Association and the NFL owners — and the labor fight for which he couldn’t participate — and his blood boils.

He gets mad, really mad, and he lets loose on a rant in which he places blame on both sides who he believes simply doesn’t care about the men who helped build the NFL into what it is today.

In short, he thinks he deserves more of the money made by other people. To understand that, let’s look at the money Pastorini made. Granted, the salaries of NFL Players have risen dramatically in the last few decades, but athletes have made disproportionately higher wages than the average worker for quite some time. By his own account, Pastorini made $25,000 in his rookie year of 1971; that year the average American worker made $6,497.08. By his third season, his salary had risen to $35,000, while the average American was bringing in $7,580.16.

So, while Pastorini never made star money, he never deserved star money. Frankly, with the exception of about three seasons, he was mediocre-to-lousy. Career-wise, he has 62 more interceptions than touchdown passes.  Regardless, he made enough money in his playing career that he shouldn’t have had money problems later in life. To top it off, he was awarded a $450,000 contract settlement from the Raiders in 1986. In other words, Pastorini made pretty good money for the day, and he clearly made enough to set himself up for the rest of his life.  That’s why Brees’ comments hacked him off.

“There’s some guys out there that have made bad business decisions,” Brees said then. “They took their pensions early because they never went out and got a job. They’ve had a couple divorces and they’re making payments to this place and that place. And that’s why they don’t have money. And they’re coming to us to basically say, ‘Please make up for my bad judgment.’ In that case, that’s not our fault as players.”

There couldn’t be a better personification of Brees’ comments than Pastorini.   Break it down line-by line, and it’s clear Pastorini fits this mold:

“…Guys out there that have made bad business decisions…” Pastorini has filed for bankruptcy twice.

“…They’ve had a couple divorces and they’re making payments to this place and that place…” Not only is Pastorini divorced, but he also got clipped for $1.5 million dollars in a personal injury settlement for his involvement in a boat-racing accident that killed two people.

I can see where Pastorini would take those comments personally, but Brees’ isn’t the one who was driving the boat, so to speak. What this really is all about is Pastorini is just another one of those people who thinks it is somebody else’s responsibility to pay for his decisions.

“I’m going to get an extra $1,000 a month. Big f—–g deal,” the 62-year-old Pastorini told CBSSports.com recently. “I think it’s a travesty the way they treat the older players. I’m part of that group. They’re throwing us a bone with the $620 million. By the time they get to a new CBA after 10 years, they won’t have to worry about us pre-93er’s. It’s sad, but it’s their M.O. They want to wait for us to die…They’ve been screwing us from day one. My pension was $1,100 a month, then $1,200, then $1,400, and now it’ll be $1,750. No medical, no disability — $1,700 doesn’t even pay for my rent.”

First of all, your rent is your problem, Dan. If you can’t swing $1,700 in rent, don’t live in a $1,700 place.  Second of all, if you’re not happy with the money, don’t take it. But most importantly, take your problem to someone who can do something about it.

You don’t have to like what Brees said (after all, the truth hurts) but you have to understand that Brees actually fought for the retirees to get more money.

And though Brees’ statement continues to backfire on him and the union, those close to Brees says he was one of the retired players’ biggest advocates in trying to give back to the players who came before him — and to get everybody to understand the importance of doing so. Witness a radio interview he gave last April to XX 1090 in San Diego.

“I know that I’m fighting for so many people here, for former players in the form of improving their pensions and disability benefits to take care of those guys that built this game for us and future players too,” he said. “To be honest with you, this is one of those things that when a settlement is reached, that settlement is something that I’m probably never going to benefit from. It’s guys before me, it’s guys that are going to come after me. So for me, there’s so many guys that made sacrifices before us to make this game better.”

So, now there’s a $620 million “Legacy Fund” that didn’t exist before the new CBA. This money is for the players who retired before 1993 and exists to increase pensions. There’s another $300 million on the table for health benefits that didn’t exist before the new CBA.

But, it seems that isn’t good enough for Pastorini. It begs the question what would be good enough for him, and I would bet he doesn’t even know the answer to that; you can’t easily quantify “more.”

Forget about Drew Brees. F–k you, Dan Pastorini.

The Real Problem With The Lawsuit Against the NFL About Concussions

Lost in the media-gasm going on about the return of football, there is a story that has quietly been emerging, and it’s a story that shouldn’t be lost. The National Football League is being sued over concussions.

Mark Duper, Ottis Anderson and 73 other former players sued the National Football League, claiming it concealed information about the danger of concussions for decades. The negligence, fraud and liability suit was filed [July 19th] in Los Angeles Superior Court. Many players’ wives also are plaintiffs.

The suit alleges the NFL knew as early as the 1920s of the harmful effects of concussions but concealed them from coaches, trainers, players and the public until June 2010. It also names helmet-maker Riddell, the NFL’s official helmet supplier. It seeks unspecified damages.

“We have not seen the complaint but would vigorously contest any claims of this kind,” NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said in a statement.

Riddell spokeswoman Laura Moore said the company had not yet reviewed the complaint and its policy was to not comment on pending litigation.

The contention from the former players is that repeated concussions from the rough-and-tumble nature of the NFL caused brain damage. They cite a laundry list of symptoms allegedly caused by these injuries such as headaches, memory loss, blurred vision, sleeplessness,  and Tinnitus (ringing in the ears).  Some of the plaintiffs go as far to say the injuries caused depression, anxiety, “explosive mood changes,” poor judgment, and substance abuse.

It doesn’t really matter which side you find yourself on; there’s the “NFL is responsible for the well-being of its players” camp, and there’s the “You knew the job was dangerous when you took it” camp. The fact is this case is likely to get some legs, if for no other reason the plaintiffs have hired a big-time lawyer who specializes in getting big out-of-court settlements.  His name is Thomas Girardi, and he is best known as the lawyer who went after Pacific Gas & Electric in the “Erin Brockovich” case.

The plaintiffs allege the NFL knew that multiple blows to the head can cause long-term brain injury.  The plaintiffs also allege the NFL only warned active players in June 2010 of the risks associated with multiple concussions; their suit goes on to claim Riddell failed to warn active players until around the same time. Also according to the suit, neither the NFL or Riddell ever warned former players.

The key to the whole thing lies in the following paragraph.

The Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Committee was established by the NFL in 1994 to study the risk of long-term brain injury to players. The suit contends that the committee published “false, distorted and deceiving” findings that the risk was minimal in order to deceive Congress, players and the public.

That means the whole thing is going to boil down to a “he said, she said” situation. Some jury is either going to have to believe the NFL actively practiced deception, or that the allegations are without merit.

But the fact that Girardi is involved likely means this case never sees a jury.

Just like in the Erin Brockovich case, Girardi is likely going to shoot for a big out-of-court settlement. The NFL has deep pockets, and this guy knows how to turn deep pockets into big checks.

There’s two problems here. First, the injection of the big-time lawyer means no matter what happens, the “best-case” scenario (meaning the one that actually addresses the plight of the former players) isn’t going to happen. This is going to be all about money.

Secondly, that will expose this lawsuit was always about money. Hark back to the days of the NFL Lockout. Remember how one of the key points of contention was carving out a few bucks for the care needed by the retired players?  Did you ever wonder why that seemed to slip under the radar?

Think about this possibility…the NFL Player’s Association dropped that demand as a bargaining tool knowing they could use a lawsuit as a back-door means of getting that money out of the league.

Once the high-priced lawyer got involved, that became my primary suspicion. If I’m right, it means two things. First, it means the interests of the retired players were never a primary concern. Second, it means this was more about money than anything else. Despite the fact this new collective bargaining agreement is in effect for ten years, you had better believe if the league gets skinned for big money on this lawsuit, the concussion issue will be a headache again in a decade.

Open Letter to NFL Fans: Time To Shut Your Traps Already

I’ve held my tongue on this as long as I can.  I’m two days into your “Lockout-is-over-gasm,” and I’m officially sick of your bullshit. I don’t care who you are, whether you are from ESPN, or some penny-ante blog like this one, the next person who says “thank God the NFL is back” will find me at their front door flattening their skull with a shovel.

It’s not that I don’t like the NFL; it’s not that I’m not glad we will have football this fall. But you people really have to stop with this line of thinking like you lost something because of  this lockout. In case you didn’t notice, this whole affair took place during the off-season. This means the fans lost nothing of consequence; the only event 99.9% of football fans care about which occurs between March and July is the NFL Draft, and you even got that.  In fact, you used that occasion to boo the shit out of Commissioner Goodell.

The only people who can legitimately claim to have been screwed by this lockout are those of  Canton, Ohio. By cancelling the Hall of Fame Game, the NFL has cost the economy of that town the boost it normally gets from hosting that annual event.  Of course, even that wrong has a simple way to right it: have a Monday Night game there as a neutral-site affair; the league can pick up any costs and/or defray any expenses incurred. Don’t tell me it can’t be done; if the Vikings can have home games in Detroit and in a college stadium because their roof caved in, this can get done.

Canton, Ohio....Thank you, NFL.

So, that takes care of Canton…so what about the rest of you?  Fuck you. You didn’t lose anything, so quit your whining. Go back and look at the labor stoppages of 1982 and 1987 too see what a true screwing of the fans looks like.  The 1982 NFL season got a 57-day hole blown into the middle of it, forcing the reduction of the regular season from a 16-game schedule to 9. This led to a special 16-team playoff tournament; eight teams were seeded 1-8 based on their regular season records. The true horror for all of you who bitched about the Seattle Seahawks being in the playoffs despite their 7-9 record…under this format, two teams qualified for the playoffs despite losing records; Cleveland and Detroit were both 4-5 and in the playoffs.

The 1987 season offered all these horrors and one more: replacement players. Thanks to a 24-day players’ strike, the season was reduced from the usual the 16-game season to 15. The games that were scheduled for the third week of the season were canceled, but the games for weeks 4-6 were played with each team’s rosters composed of guys were were loading trucks the week before.  There nothing like reading about how your starting quarterback can’t play on Sunday because he can’t get out of his morning shift at Denny’s.

Not to mention, recent memory is full of other work stoppages in sports which had a real cost; baseball lost parts of two seasons and a World Series, the NHL lost an entire season, and lord knows how ugly the current situation in the NBA is going to get.  In other words, before you start crying about how wonderful it is to have the NFL back, ask yourself when did it ever really go away?

Guest Column: King George VI on the NFL Lockout

Editor’s Note: Thanks to the Movie The King’s Speech, George VI came back into the view of the American populace. If it weren’t for that movie, most Yanks had long since forgotten George VI’s role as a wartime leader and the fact he ruled sovereign over a quarter of the world.

Much as he did through the Second World War, His Majesty George the Sixth, King of Great Britain, Ireland and the British Dominions beyond the Seas, Defender of the Faith, and Last Emperor of India endeavors to lead us through the darkness of the NFL Lockout.

In this grave hour, perhaps the most fateful in history, I send to every household of my peoples, both at home and overseas, this message, spoken with the same depth of feeling for each one of you as if I were able to cross your threshold and speak to you myself.

For the second time in the lives of most of us, we find ourselves as a realm mired in the midst a labor stoppage in the National Football League.

The last time I spoke on this subject, we were still hopeful that cooler heads would prevail; that the knot of war would not be drawn so tight the only means of escape would be to cut it.  However, that hope has evaporated like some much fog over the Thames. We now find ourselves over 100 days into a dispute that now is threatening to effect real events that matter in the lives of all of my loyal subjects. A mere fortnight from now lies the normal opening dates of training camps; a mere fortnight after that the first exhibition matches. Two months from today we shall find ourselves on the precipice of the NFL season, and I fear we then shall be no closer to a resolution than we are now.

Again and again, we have tried to find a peaceful way out of the differences between ourselves and those led by Herr Goodell; those who are now our enemies.  As we all know, that effort has been in vain.  We have been forced into a conflict, for which we are called, with our allies, to meet the challenge of a principle which if it were to prevail, would be fatal to any civilized league in the world.

It is a principle which permits a league in the selfish pursuit of power to disregard its treaties and its solemn pledges, to disregard the health and safety of its players, and to disregard the fair economic cornerstones upon which this realm was founded. These are canons in whose defense many before us have given the ultimate sacrifice, and in whose defense many more shall. So that those sacrifices not be made in vain, and so that those in posterity not suffer the oppression Herr Goodell and his minions would visit upon all of us, we must not and will not stand for any principle which sanctions the use of force or threat of force, be it economic or otherwise,  against the sovereignty and independence of other leagues.

This is why the propaganda now coming from the mouths of our enemy is of a most hateful and vile nature. Herr Goodell and his minions would have you believe that the dark days of the labor stoppage are near an end when nothing could be further from the truth.

Never forget the lessons learned from Neville Chamberlain's "Worthless Piece of Paper."

Our enemies would have you believe the dark days of the lockout are near an end; that both sides are close to an agreement which would end this terrible conflict. Our enemies would have you believe that many of the issues that led to this lockout have been resolved. That is true. But the lies are not in the words they speak; it is in those they do not.

Much like the struggle we as a realm faced against the evils of fascism, the players union has entangles itself in a battle for the protection of generations past, present, and future. While these battles are of the noblest cause, they are also the most difficult from which to extricate one’s self.

First, there is the matter of the generations past. The players union has made the funding of a pension fund mandatory to any collective bargaining agreement. The owners entered into this fray largely over money, and such an expenditure is hateful to them. This matter is further complicated by the fact the retired players have been empowered to have a say in any final agreements.

As for generations present, the owners want a 18-game schedule; a proposal which was a “line in the sand” issue for the players just a few months ago. It is also an issue which has scarcely been mentioned in all of this puffery about an agreement being near.

Then there are the concerns for posterity.  Specifically, the matter of the rookie salary cap structure is yet another matter of contention. The owners and even some of the players would like to see a structured salary cap in place, but other players and many agents are not likely to go willing into an agreement which will cut their income.

One need not even delve into the details of those issues to see they are not easily resolved, and it is their omission in any talk of settlement which must give us cause as a realm to remain vigilant against, to remain dedicated to the defeat of, and to remain committed to the vision of a world without such a primitive doctrine that might is right. Without the agreement to the aformentioned generational matters matters, there can be no peace, and without peace, their can be no agreement.

May He bless and keep us all.

- King George VI

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