I know that this blog has become very sportscentric lately…again. That always happens during football season and I have apologized on previous occasions. Rest assured that there is other non-sports stuff in the hopper. However, there have been some really interesting things happening in the sports world recently, things that I cannot ignore and must opine about. Unfortunately they are, for the most part, of the off-the-field variety and the kind of subject matter which makes me sometimes wish I was more like some of my friends who are blissfully ignorant of almost everything that the folks on ESPN drone on about for hours every day. But I am who I am…a guy who’d probably rid myself of every other form of entertainment on the planet before being forced to give up my ball games and sports talk shows only if my life was in peril. At any rate, sit back, relax, and indulge your humble Potentate of Profundity as I whine & moan about things that have no direct effect on my life and over which I have no control.
Ray Rice. Oh where to begin?? Halfhearted kudos to the Baltimore Ravens and the NFL for dismissing Rice from the team and suspending him indefinitely from the league. However, I find it strange that all of this occurred months after the initial incident happened and only after TMZ released video footage from inside the elevator where Rice knocked out his girlfriend/wife. Originally the only video we saw was Rice dragging the woman’s unconscious body out of the elevator and into a hallway. But what did people think happened inside that elevator?? Why all of this fresh fury and long overdue action from the Ravens & the NFL?? Now granted…actually watching the video is disturbing, yet I can’t help but wonder why intelligent people couldn’t use reason & logic to assess the situation in the first place and also be a bit flummoxed at folks who act like the this new video provides some kind of revelatory information. We all knew that Ray Rice was a punk who hit a woman. Why is anyone surprised by what is on that video?? Rice’s release by the Ravens and laughable suspension by the NFL (which is kind of like putting a bullet in a guy that’s already dead) are too little too late and simply a PR move by people who got caught being neglectful of their duties in the first place. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell…already an assclown of epic proportions…has embarrassed himself and the league by his woefully inept handling of the situation in which he originally suspended Rice for only two games and then instituted a domestic violence policy after the fact and only because there was such public outrage about his stupidity. Allow me to join the chorus calling for Goodell’s ouster. He has already ruined the game of football with all of his silly rules in an effort to make a violent collision sport safer. Now he has made it clear that he believes it is a far more heinous offense to smoke weed or tackle a quarterback a little too hard than to smack the snot out of a female, and he has also proven to be one of those inept wimpy types that makes bad decisions and then backtracks on them after people call him out on his incompetence. That’s not leadership. I don’t know who this moron slept with or paid off to get his job, but he needs to go…not next year or next month or next week – immediately. Roger Goodell might be the single most embarrassing human being to ever draw breath. He’s disgusting.
Let’s talk about Janay Palmer Rice. She is Ray Rice’s wife…the one who he knocked out in that elevator. Now I’m venturing out on a very sensitive limb here. I do not blame the victim. A man should never strike a woman no matter what the circumstance may be, and the newly released video makes it clear that she did not hit Mr. Rice first or at all so not even that argument can be utilized. However, what I cannot wrap my mind around is the fact that this woman MARRIED Ray Rice a few weeks AFTER the incident in which he knocked her out. I cannot fathom that. I am not an expert on domestic violence and God knows I’d never claim to know all that much about women, but it saddens me to think that a person would have such a lack of self-respect, such a dearth of self-worth, & such low self-esteem that she’d marry a man after he abused her. I can, on an intellectual level, understand how a wife would stay with a husband who has become abusive. Maybe she feels trapped. Maybe she has nowhere to go. Maybe she is tied to her husband financially. Maybe she stays for the kids. All are poor excuses to remain in an abusive relationship but atleast they are reasons that kind of make sense in some way. But to make the conscious decision to go forward into a marriage where the guy is abusive before you’ve walked down the aisle?? I don’t get it. So no…I don’t think it is right to blame Janay Palmer Rice for Ray Rice’s abuse. However, I think it is fair to question her judgment & intelligence for choosing to not only continue with the relationship but to take it to the next level by marrying an abusive man.
I couldn’t help but wonder, in the midst of all of this Ray Rice controversy, what Pete Rose may be thinking. A strange thought?? Comparing apples to oranges?? Maybe. But here is a guy that is a legit baseball Hall-of-Famer but who has been banished from the game for over 25 years (with no end in sight) and for what?? Yes he gambled. He gambled on baseball. He gambled on his own team. He lied about it for years. Pete Rose is no saint. But there is no evidence that he ever bet against his team and purposefully tanked any games. Yet he is treated worse than guys who took drugs therefore indirectly affecting the outcome of games and altering baseball’s sacred record book. He is treated worse than players who are allegedly responsible for other peoples’ deaths. And until now he was treated worse than a scumbag who punched a woman in an elevator. Heck, Ray Rice may still end up getting a better deal than Rose. It would not surprise me at all if, in a year or two, Rice does some sort of teary-eyed interview (probably with Oprah) claiming to be a changed man and some NFL team (probably the Raiders or Cowboys) signs him. And when that day comes Pete Rose will likely still be waiting for his second chance.
What is the deal with this dude who owns the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks?? Bruce Levenson, who has been the Hawks majority owner for a decade, “self-reported” a “racially insensitive” email he sent TWO YEARS AGO and has decided to sell his stake in the team. There is a fine line between honorable and insane and I think maybe this situation skews toward the latter. Levenson stated “If you’re angry about what I wrote, you should be. I’m angry at myself, too. It was inflammatory nonsense. We all may have subtle biases and preconceptions when it comes to race, but my role as a leader is to challenge them, not to validate or accommodate those who might hold them.” This guy has apparently been watching way too much MSNBC and probably likes The View. The email in question was a discussion about attracting more fans for the team and Levenson wondered if “the black crowd scared away the whites” in racially diverse Atlanta and theorized that “there are simply not enough affluent black fans to build a significant season ticket base.” He further noted that the typical arena crowd was “70% black, the cheerleaders are black, the music is hip hop, the bars are 90% black, there are few fathers and sons at the games, & we are doing after game concerts to attract more fans and the concerts are either hip hop or gospel” and indicated that “I want some white cheerleaders and the music to be music familiar to a 40 year old white guy”. Look, are Levenson’s concerns awkwardly articulated?? Of course. But are they legitimate concerns of an owner trying to make his business as successful as possible?? I think so. The sad thing is that he will sell the team, make a boatload of cash, & go away quietly while the NBA tries to sweep all of this under the rug. However, I can’t help but think that this is a textbook opportunity for an honest discussion of cultural issues. Are white folks really that turned off by black culture, i.e. hip-hop, rap, etc.?? And if so why?? Are those feelings valid?? If I don’t like that kind of thing and choose to spend my entertainment dollars elsewhere does that make me racist?? Whenever I go into any kind of office setting where there is music playing it is almost always the all-everything pop/rock station that plays hits from the past 4 or 5 decades. It isn’t a rap station. It isn’t a country station. It isn’t a station playing classical, big band, or heavy metal. The audiences for those genres are varying degrees of narrow, so the doctor’s office or whatever kind of business it is plays music that has wider appeal and probably won’t be offensive or unpleasant to any of its employees or patrons. It seems to me that that is what Bruce Levenson, in a rather clunky manner, was trying to do. But we live in a hypersensitive society where the Thought Police are becoming more powerful every day, so instead of having an intelligent debate on the merit of these issues we’ll just make the troublemaker shut up & go away.
I can admit when I am wrong and I was wrong about NFL rookie defensive lineman Michael Sam. I was absolutely convinced that he’d make the St. Louis Rams’ roster or atleast their practice squad. Mega kudos to the Rams for having the courage to cut Sam loose and face the public backlash. But of course that wasn’t the end of the saga. The suits in the NFL office (that damn Goodell again) and the liberal media just can’t seem to accept the exceedingly simple fact that maybe Michael Sam just isn’t good enough to play in the NFL. It isn’t all that unusual for a great college athlete’s talent to not transition well to the NFL or NBA. It happens all the time. Heisman Trophy winners like Matt Leinart, Jason White, Chris Weinke, Eric Crouch, Ron Dayne, Danny Wuerffel, Gino Torretta, & Andre Ware were all failures at the pro level. Naismith Award winners Jimmer Fredette, Andrew Bogut, Jameer Nelson, TJ Ford, Elton Brand, Calbert Cheaney, & Johnny Dawkins were all underwhelming in the NBA. It happens. But apparently it isn’t allowed to happen to openly gay Michael Sam!! NFL officials reportedly called teams in an effort to persuade them to sign Sam after he was released by the Rams. Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones says that his team’s decision to sign Sam had nothing to do with pressure from the league. Maybe he’s telling the truth. Maybe he’s a filthy liar. Either way, the idea that the NFL tried to coerce teams into signing a player who probably doesn’t have the skill or talent level to play professional football because they are more concerned with their sociopolitical ideas than the integrity of the game is reprehensible.
So I guess it is back to business as usual at Penn St. The NCAA handed down a stiff penalty a couple of years ago in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child molestation debacle, including a 4 year bowl ban and a significant limiting of football scholarships for four years. Now, halfway thru that penalty the NCAA has basically said “Ehhh…never mind”. Many are applauding the decision. There are those that feel that Sandusky is in prison, legendary coach Joe Paterno is dead and stricken from the record books, & others associated with the scandal are long gone from Happy Valley, and that it is unfair to punish current players, coaches, & fans for sins they didn’t commit. I understand but disagree. The problem at Penn St. was systemic. The football program became bigger than everything else and protecting it became more important than protecting innocent children from a sexual predator. Fans surely didn’t molest those children and neither did they participate in the cover-up. However, they were complicit in making Penn St. football & Joe Paterno into a bigger-than-life entity whose importance in relation to other aspects of life became completely cock-eyed. I thought the program was fortunate to escape the dreaded “death penalty” and that the bowl ban and loss of scholarships (which can cripple a football team for years) was entirely reasonable and a great way to make the folks at Penn St. get their priorities in order. Players who chose to matriculate there would be going in with their eyes open and with no right to complain about not having an opportunity to play in the post-season. But now all of that is out the window. Penn St. football is back. And once again Pete Rose…who simply bet on baseball and did not molest any children…still waits for his second chance.