This Might Not Be For Her

Chris Paul’s now buzzing quip with referee Lauren Holtkamp gone viral.

Last night, the Clippers were out-lob-citied by the Cavs, seemingly crushed from tape to tape and, in the third quarter of what had to be a painfully forgettable game, were hit with a rash of technical fouls (one that would ultimately land on CP3 and instigate his comments). The Clips were visibly frustrated by the officiating especially since they lead the league in technicals.

“That’s ridiculous – if that is the case, then this might not be for her”

Let’s even see this in context so that we aren’t doing what many hack clickbait media outlets will be doing by singling out his quote and filling a page full of ipsum around it, luring us to their ad-ridden mirage and piss us all off.

“I think we have to show better composure but at the same time some of [the technical fouls] were ridiculous,” Chris Paul said. “The tech that I [got] right there was ridiculous. I don’t care what nobody says, I don’t care what she says; that’s terrible. There’s no way that can be a tech. We try to get the ball out fast every time down the court and when we did that she said, ‘Uh-uh.’ I said, ‘Why, uh-uh?’ And she gave me a tech.” […]

“That’s ridiculous,” Paul said. “If that’s the case, this might not be for her.”

Let’s be fair: this is pretty mild as far as ref-bashing goes, #realtalk. He doesn’t even curse or call her any names. I’ve heard parents obliterate refs at peewee football and little league baseball games ten times worse than anything he said about her. And while the NBA has made their stance on Ref-shaming rather clear (you don’t do it. or $$), this barely even registers a blip on the radar.

So why is this a huge problem?

Because sports media outlets are going to take this, run with it and continue to proliferate a growing hate war between men and women that reaches far beyond sports and beyond this insignificant little exchange between Paul (who should know much, much better than to throw big boy tantrums but is, you know, human and in the heat of moments, put his all-star foot in his mouth) and Holtkamp (just doing her job, you know, a job that often comes under attack for fundamentally being a judgement call gig… #refereeproblems). The question ultimately becomes: How is this not for her and why? Because she’s a woman? Or because she’s a rookie?

It’s certainly problematic that Chris Paul, a pest on the court no doubt, is actually a rather stand-up character off it and is the league’s darling boy with all his sweater and tie looks in his State Farm commercials. Yet he is now in the center of a continuing theme of sexism in sports as demonstrated by the #likeagirl campaign and the backlash at the underwhelming lack of Tile IX compliance in school-organized sports. The problem isn’t with the literal interpretation of what he said. After all, were he referring to Crawford, Salvatore, Brothers or some other whistle-happy zebra  blowhard, the statement would have read as “This might not be for him” and it would still be just about the most vanilla attack on a referee in the history of ANY sport. Do you even want to know what MLB managers and Umps say to each other when they get all eskimo kissy and are spitting in each others’ faces a million miles per hour? Do you think it was:

“Hey bro. I don’t think this shit is for you.” 

“Get out, man. Just GO.”

And to top it off, it’s just as reasonable and logical to assume Chris Paul’s commentary had more to do with her inexperience as a ref and not her gender at all. #norookieshame

And yet despite all that, that still isn’t the problem here.

The problem is that there is a growing divide being played out before our eyes across social media platforms and forums everywhere between dudes and chicks and it is being fed constantly with stories like this one. Whether it is #gamergate (the stupidest concoction of sweaty nerds fighting each other over rights to manipulate pixels) or #likeagirl (now boys everywhere are terrified to even look at a girl let alone act like one), the fact is, if there was ever a divide between the genders in terms of social equity, there is now a gaping canyon between them that seems to be growing ever faster in a day and age we would normally assume it to be narrowing (internet, social media, all that fun stuff).

Who to blame?

Like with nearly everything else these days, it would seem, the unchecked, money-drunk media is a guilty player. The culprit is hatemongering ad campaigns aimed to continuously proliferate sexist and racist overtones and breed the sort of conflict that provides a platform for more of their idiotic ad campaigns (and therefore buckets and buckets of dirty, sexist money). These stories are the very reason real activists for social justice against sexism can’t seem to incite any progress in breaking down some of the oldest running social constructs that exist in our world. Such as what a girl can or can’t do.

This right on the heels of a recycled #likeagirl ad campaign that ran away with the honors of being the most useful commercial of this past Super Bowl’s shittastic lineup of fails. Real change is exacted on a grass roots level and through education, ensuring that our future generations are brought up with ideals of equity so that when they become government officials and social influencers, they can then go and bring us true equality.

This bullshit they’re selling us on TV and on the internet? Clickbait. I clicked on the article for CP3’s indiscretion because it implied that he had called her something offensive…  you know, like BITCH or CUNT or DUMB BROAD or something that we already recognize to be a part of our hateful colloquial vernacular. Instead, we get this deflated ball of non-story.

Just to be clear, I’m stating that the issue of a bias (or glass ceiling) against women in professional sports as well as in other professions and/or industries is very real… ugly and horrid. I was raised by a mother who was a steadfast, hardworking professional who was incomparably badass at her job; even then she was often overlooked, demeaned and disparaged despite being in a supervisory role and, like I said, a total badass. So I’m definitely not trying to pull any veil over anyone’s eyes and pretend that big ass pink elephant in the room is a figment of anyone’s imagination. Chris Paul didn’t actually disparage her for being a woman, though. Not at all; he disparaged her for being a shitty ref and making a weaksauce call. Treating her differently because she’s a woman is the sort of problem real feminists are trying to address and is precisely the reason why Holtkamp should be just as available for criticism for her job as any dude ref would be. No more so, no less so.

And that still isn’t what this is about.

My problem with many social activists twittering about the internet like a swarm of zombie hummingbirds is that they are trying to fight stigmas and outdated social constructs in spite of and ignoring the media’s role in it (which is akin to driving your car into a wall). I’m suggesting we do it by seeking and destroying the media’s credibility by calling them out. Media is a deceptive word, of course; music, film, print, internet, etc. and it is so fragmented and dynamic, it is impossible to cleanse the poison unless, somehow (and I admit it’s a pipedream), all media curators, content creators and broadcasters exhibit more social responsibility.

I get it. Supply and demand. Chicken and the egg. Remember my Josh Gordon piece? Same deal.

In order to change how ALL people view the world, you’ve got to change the message being broadcasted to them. True, the media is feeding the people what they want…. but how did the people come to want what they want????? AH HA! (strokes beard, sips aged Scotch nefariously). That vicious cycle is what needs to be broken because whatever we accomplish through education in formative years (as far as being tolerant, accepting, etc) is being undone by the media which educates in far sexier doses of consumption.

We want our girls to be safe and to be secure in themselves so that they can achieve all their dreams. We can’t do that by segregating them every chance we get by drawing attention to their tribulations more closely than we would a man’s and proliferating the idea that we need to tip toe around our differences with a heavy misogynist hand out of fear they are delicate and incapable. Men everywhere, even red-blooded American sports freaks, want fairness for the women in our lives.

And if we have to fight the scary kraken in order to help get that done, some of us will most definitely do exactly that.

Tarnished Shield

[ported from medium.com]

The shield continues to crumble.

The slow, progressive fall of the NFL is upon us. Like the fall of most empires, it would be too easy to place the blame for the slow progressive fall of the NFL on its figurehead (the commissioner) as it would be unfair to heap all the blame on any single entity or person.

In fact, the culprit here is all of us. Every football fan, every media content outlet, every analyst or expert. We are all guilty. After all, the league and major mainstream media outlets have simply provided us with the exciting, high scoring game we kept clamoring for and the sort of stories that we continuously thirst for. They have given us exactly what we wanted: WWE on a gridiron.

We want stories about players battling addiction, on the verge of utter collapse, an ESPN 30–30 documentary being written before our eyes. Something not boring like our own lives, that is, since it’s often the same people that are suddenly able to judge Gordon like they’ve never had a job where they technically weren’t supposed to smoke any marijuana and did so anyway, drug testing or not. Nevermind that he is 23.

We feel compelled to force Marshawn Lynch to talk to the media even though he clearly doesn’t want to and then attack him across the blogosphere and in social media for being a “selfish idiot with no class” because he has contractual obligations no matter how comfortable or uncomfortable he may be in front of a bunch of aggressive reporters. And yet, we know nothing about him or the great work he does in the community of Oakland and how incredibly loved he is as a teammate (despite maddeningly innaccurate stories about rifts with teammates and coaches and ownership). Not to mention, he has always done all the talking that has ever been needed on the field where our interest as football fans ought to be.

We call Richard Sherman a “classless thug” even though he is sharper than most of the hack journalists asking him unoriginal, regurgitated presser fodder. We just don’t like that he is real, outspoken and unabashedly unafraid to tell us all how fake we have become, how ruthlessly judgmental and out of touch our perception of these professional athletes has become. They are fantasy team fillers, a stack of stats in a human body, faceless names, jerseys to hang in our closet. Forget that they have families, friends and lives so much like our own, they don’t want us peering in any more than we do. But alas, they clearly exist only to entertain us.

We gravitate towards idiotic distractions like #deflategate because we are bored at work and don’t know or care enough about the X’s and O’s of the game and would rather spend all day bashing each other on social media. We want New England’s legacy to be tarnished because we are all jealous, full of hate and have been drinking the NFL’s koolaid about parity and “sportsmanship.” We claim it’s for the integrity of the game and that “cheaters never prosper” and yet turn our eyes away when we realize our favorite teams likely do the same thing but haven’t been caught. But, naturally, we need a villain. And so we are given one.

And even then, Brady is our hero. We love good ol underdogs and all-American guys like him and Peyton. They always give us the script we want to hear before and after games and we describe them as unflappable and strong and high character. They never disparage anyone at the podium, never point the finger at anyone else but themselves, they are model citizens all the while hiding behind smiles and endorsements and commercials. And yet, we see that nobody is above the stink. Brady screams at players and coaches and refs. He talks trash to opponents. He may have deflated balls to gain an advantage and lied about. Who knows what else this man has done as he’s human just like the rest of us, flawed and “classless.” The double standard has become nauseating.

We thrive on observing Ray Rice’s personal life troubles as though he punched his wife in the middle of a football field, like we have some unalienable entitlement to judge their relationship or his morality when we are nothing more than mere fans in an endless, faceless crowd. What ought to have been none of our business was all over the news. Hell, TMZ has now become a credible news outlet. And worse even is that while we all bickered and argued over the league’s role in this case, the underlying horror of domestic violence was bankrolling countless media outlets broadcasting the story. Would you appreciate it if someone made a quick buck out of your unfortunate family tragedy?

We all jumped in abject horror at Adrian Peterson beating his kids because undoubtedly none of us have ever been beaten or have beaten our children. We have never been in that place where the pain we have inflicted, emotional or physical, on a loved one did not actually mean we didn’t love them or be loved enough by them to be forgiven by them for this mistake. Where the court of law exonerated him, the league was compelled to then go and play judge and jury. We want Peterson out of the league, tarred and feathered and dragged through the streets like a leprous criminal. Better him than us, right?

We destroy young prospects before they ever get a chance to grow, develop and learn how to contribute to the legacy of the game with their unmistakable gifts. Johnny Football, Tim Tebow, Jamarcus Russell and many, many more. We hype them up, place unnaturally high unattainable expectations, we put them in positions where they cannot succeed with pressure that they cannot match with at a young, confusing age and then destroy them utterly when they fall short of it, nipping their confidence in the bud, stunting whatever momentum they may have had (if any) and turning them into outcasts in short order.

And we indicted this young man here, Josh Gordon, for, what, smoking marijuana? Having a couple of beers on a plane with his teammates/friends on the way to Vegas after the season had ended? Because some knucklehead in the NFL front office thought it was a brilliant idea to have an alcohol test waiting for him on the ground… in Vegas?? In the real world, outside of the circus that has become the NFL, that is called entrapment whether it is an officially administered one or not. So now even more knuckleheads like Barkley (whom I normally love and respect), Stephen A Smith (smh @ you, man, what happened? You used to be a great journalist with a penchant for being “real” and now you’re as fake as the rest of them) and the ilk have creative license to make stuff up to feed ever-so-precious ratings, to feed the frenzied mob of spoiled, entitled millennials thirsty for something more interesting than their boring personal lives. FAIL.

I stand by Josh Gordon. I stand by what he stands for… like Ricky Williams, like Lynch, like Kluwe before he was run out the league for having an opinion, like any other player who dared to be real and not give the same tired responses to the same tired questions. I’ll voice what they are being muted from voicing by rules and stipulations more befitting of high school kids than grown men, that the NFL is hypocritical and their micromanagement intrusive. We turned a passion for a game into a means to make money off of talented young men before discarding their broken bodies onto a growing heap of skeletons we’d rather stayed hidden in an outdated closet. Except the double-edged sword that is social media and technology allows no such reprieve.

The NFL has created a product and they want you, Josh Gordon, to be an action figure on a shelf with a price tag. And I am proud of you for speaking your mind in a respectful, intelligent manner that indicates, at least to me, that you are without a doubt not what they say you are.

NFL Week 7 Picks: The Weakening of the Weekening…

Woopz.
#reallifeisreal

Late to the game, should be benched but I’m too valuable. Plug me in, Coach! We’re in redux:

Jets at Pats
I know; how do you know I actually took the Pats? Because I did and just like most everyone else didn’t think it would be close because of how outrageously bad New York had been. Except that didn’t turn out to be true and the Pats held on for dear life as the Jets showed some spirit. But you know, I really thought the Pats were gonna roll…
Pats

Vikings at Bills
The Vikes are struggling on offense even in spite of a bevy of nice options and their defense is getting left out on the field too long because of it. Unfortunately for them, Buffalo and its badass D is playing at home and will likely win the game by controlling the clock, tempo and scoreboard.
Bills

Dolphins at Bears
The Dolphins looked pretty solid last week and it took last moment heroics from A-Rod to doom them. This week they play a similarly built team in that the Bears can light up the scoreboard… while not being able to put anyone away on the other side of the ball. At home, their defense to play better than the very average level they usually do and secure a win.
Bears

Saints at Lions
This has the makings of a burner but I think the Lions shut the Saints down altogether. Brees hasn’t looked himself through six weeks and now he has to try and get it done without Jimmy Graham. Granted Stafford has looked befuddled without Megatron to toss jump balls to and not having Reggie at 100% doesn’t help, but they have the overall #1 defense in the NFL and I think that wins, especially since they are home.
Lions

Panthers at Packers
Superman is in the building. Just when you thought he was too banged up off the kryptonite, Cam turns in a crazy comeback performance to drop near 40 points on what was supposed to be one of the league’s best defenses. With no running game, a rookie X receiver and a late-blooming TE lol The Pack are tough to beat in Lambeau and right now Eddie Lacy is desperate for a big game making Carolina’s bewilderingly porous run defense all the more of a match up issue. The Pack with balance is near the very top of the NFL in terms of offensive power.
Packers

Bengals at Colts
The Bengals are stumbling into this game whether they want to admit it or not. They are missing their top receiver, haven’t won in three weeks (granted there was a bye in there as well) and, most troubling of all, their defense is utterly broken. A bad recipe to take with you into Lucas Oil where Andrew Luck is having a Tecmo Bowl season much like his predecessor was last year (and to a lesser degree, again, this year). The Colts defense has been playin’ better as of late, too. Yuck.
Colts

Seahawks at Rams
The Seahawks in must-win territory? NAW MAN, you’re out of your mind! Or am I. They are 3-2 in a division with two other really good teams, have the second lowest production league-wide from their wideouts and just traded arguably their most talented receiver for being a bad presence. Sure, the champs are still probably going to be a winner more weeks than not but this team is staring at potentially doing the traditional next-season-stink. Not to worry much about it this week, they’ll come out with fire to shut the naysayers up and trounce the Rams. (though it may actually be much closer than that…….)
Seawhawks

Titans at Redskins
Hard to tell what goes down here. The Titans have been awful and barely (and miraculously) avoided handing Jacksonville their first win of the year. The Redskins have not won a game with Kirk Cousins at the helm and they’ve looked awful during that stretch. The Titans have been awful against the run this year and even though they stumped the Jags last week, Alfred Morris has been pretty good. Jake Locker isn’t likely to go.  Tough to roll with a team as in bad condition as the Skins but
Redskins

Browns at Jags
The Jags came awfully close to their first win of the season last week. By all estimations, it’s arguable they should have had it. Oh well, things don’t get easier this week as the surprising 3-2 Browns come into town looking to add to their strong start to the season. The Browns have been suspect through the air at times this year and Blake Bortles has shown a disposition to chuck it so there could be some upset value here. But really, Hoyer y’all
Browns

Falcons at Ravens
There’s been a break in Atlanta’s trend of looking bad on the road and good at home. Maybe that means something? Probably not. They don’t look at all competitive on the road defensively, no pressure on the QB and even their offense looks sluggish. Ravens coming off a big win and going against a terrible defense. What Will Joe Do?
Ravens

Chiefs at Chargers
Chargers are due. They eked by Oakland last week after their defense was shredded in the air by Carr and Holmes and will again have to hope for another big day for Philip Rivers and the receivers. He has been on a ridiculous roll and it could very well come to an end this week as a letdown from ageless Antonio Gates as the swiss army be-all safety valve for Rivers doesn’t get it done. Or naw.
Chargers

Giants at Cowboys
More divisional awesomeness. The Cowboys have been pretty good, almost the best team in the league. They return home to take on a fierce divisional rival in the Giants though coming off a thorough dismantling by Philadelphia. Big Blue can respond in one of two ways, either emphatically on point or pathetically regressive. Or maybe there’s a third way, somewhere in between. That somewhere in between isn’t good enough to beat these Cowboys in Big D.
Cowboys

Cardinals at Raiders
There is no doubting it; Carr is the best young QB the Raiders have had since… well, Ken The Snake Stabler. I mean let’s face it, we aren’t used to having good young QBs in Oakland so this is fun. The coaching change clearly shifted this team’s energy level and focus. They looked far more comfortable last week and were playing much better against a very good Charger team. The ruthless schedule, however, continues and now come the equally good Cardinals. And again, with all the storylines involved (Palmer, Veldheer, looking for their first win, etc), the Raiders likely come out on the shot end yet again. Though this is as good a week to get your first win as any, it’ll be interesting to see how they defend against Arizona’s pass happy offense with two of the statistically worst corners in the NFL.
Cardinals (heart tells me RRRRRRAAAAAAAAIIIIDERSSSSS)

Niners at Broncos
The de facto Game of the Week in full Sunday evening prime time. It will be a very interesting test for both teams. The Niners want to see where their defense really is and test their offense in must-score-to-keep-up competitions. The Broncos want to see if they are defensively sound to deal with dynamic QBs like Kaepernick and strong running teams. Peyton likely breaks Favre’s record and pull out another close win at home against a worthy opponent.
Broncos

Texans at Steelers
So the Texans are actually more legitimate than we were giving them credit for. They’ll need that and more panache from Fitzmagic to beat a frustrated Steeler team in Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh’s offense has been reasonably stymied these past few weeks and will be looking to break out in a big way, especially on the ground. The Texans showed much more bend against Indy but then again, typically the Colts Offense breaks teams so that’s forgivable. Still, the real question mark continues to be the Texans’ passing game as it is increasingly clear that a better option at QB would take this team to the next level and on the road, it is hard to bet on that.
Steelers

Dig it.

Week 6 NFL Power Rankings

We’ve got some movers and shakers!

Let’s go.

  1. San Diego Chargers –Well, why the hell not. Owners of the best point differential (and share of record) in the league, the only real knock here is that they have played a soft schedule (the win over Seattle notwithstanding) that fortuitously now takes them to Oakland.
  2. Seattle Seahawks –That was a clinical dismantling of Washington although it should have been a much bigger day for the Hawks. They have serious penalty issues… but then again, they won the Super Bowl as the most heavily penalized team in the league so…
  3. Denver Broncos –They just keep rolling. There’s utterly no reason to doubt that they’ll keep this pace en route to another playoff run; just that they better hope they do because the Chargers don’t seem at all in a hurry to give back the AFC West.
  4. Cincinnati Bengals – I would be inclined to dump them even further for the stinker they put up against New England but let’s face it, Belichick and Brady were going to bounce back, the game was in Foxborough and the Bengal receivers were guilty of uncharacteristic drops that completely changed the timbre of the game early on. They, too, will bounce back.
  5. Indianapolis Colts – Andrew Luck is locked-in… in a really scary way for any secondary on their schedule. Very much the early MVP favorite. Oh, and Indy’s defense suddenly looks SOLID.
  6. Dallas Cowboys –Finding ways to win in spite of struggling to move the rock against quality defenses is the sign of a team that is learning to win games where they normally would have lost them before. Told ya the boys were for real.
  7. San Francisco 49ers –The Niners are also finding ways to win despite an uncharacteristically porous (temporarily, of course) defense and some questionable mental lapses. They are running the ball well now and seem to be set to keep up with the Hawks and Cards while they wait for much-needed reinforcements. Furthermore, as their MLB counterparts the Giants are showing, this is one of those teams that only needs to get to the postseason to make a run.
  8. Green Bay Packers –The Pack is back. The surprising thing about their defense is that while they give up a ton of yards and will concede points, they also force a ton of turnovers. And they keep scoring points in buckets so, yeah, the Pack is Back.
  9. Detroit Lions – The problem for the Lions is that while they have vastly improved on defense this season, it has come at the expense of their offense. Unreliable placekicking is one thing; not being able to move the ball without Megatron is a much more serious issue.
  10. Arizona Cardinals –The bad news for the Cards is that their injury woes continue to plague them. The good news is they may finally be getting Palmer back. A point differential of 0 is kind of alarming, though…
  11. New York Giants –The Giants are rolling now that Eli has really got a handle on this offense and its quick fire tempo. Losing Jennings to an injury hurts but Williams looks mighty capable. Getting the rookie ODB at this point in the season seems stupid fortuitous for a team already finding its passing game. The NFC East just got all the more interesting.
  12. Philadelphia Eagles –I’m unimpressed. They are giving up an unnaturally high number of points for a 4-1 team and have a stalled offense. They’re scoring points in all sorts of ways, none of which are reliable. Which isn’t sustainable. And why they aren’t in my top ten. Sidenote: they did get their running game goin’ a little better last week but they need production from there.
  13. Baltimore Ravens –A tough loss last week on the road against a suddenly rejuvenated Colts defense that frustrated them to no end slips them down to 13. They are running the ball well enough given there’s no lead horse in the stable but will need more consistency from there to sustain their season.
  14. Buffalo Bills – The Bills switch out QBs and win in Detroit? No idea how that happens (ok, I do have an idea but still) and with that they find themselves, at least tentatively, in first place. Strong defense (third best overall efficiency in the league) has been their foundation. I just don’t know when the other shoe clunks for Kyle Orton.
  15. Houston Texans –The Texans really hung tough with Dallas and for a moment looked set up to win the game. They still are playing the kind of defense that masks just how unreliable Fitzpatrick is but one wonders how long that will last.
  16. New England Patriots –Guess Tom isn’t done afterall. Games like this past SNF ought to be taken with the same grain of salt that the previous MNF game ought to have. The Patriots weren’t that good and the Bengals weren’t that bad. But it is clear the Patriots have identified their problems and are well on their way to fixing them.
  17. Carolina Panthers – That was a very nice comeback win. It’s good enough to bump them up this far. The defense still doesn’t seem right but Cam is finding ways to win even without any manner of rushing threat. If they ever get that going, they’ll start firing up this list.
  18. Kansas City Chiefs – The Chiefs looked good early on against the Niners and then got completely shut down the rest of the way. They should have had a bigger day and were it not for some bonehead work down the stretch, may have actually won that game. That boneheadedness also includes Andy Reid.
  19. Pittsburgh Steelers –The Steelers do not look reliable. They give up as many points as they score and while it isn’t a lot either way, it makes for dramatic, unpredictable game. Not due to Big Ben, though. He has been one of the better slingers this season.
  20. Atlanta Falcons –This team keeps fading and doing it fast. Their defense is just so empty at times, it feels like opposing WRs are always sitting in open space. The Falcons are really awful on the road too and until that changes, they are not going to make any noise.
  21. Cleveland Browns – Another great comeback by Hoyer and company. But when will this team realize that they can start scoring earlier in the game so they don’t have to shorten their head coach’s lifespan? Their defense is still an issue but they are close to turning a corner in what is now a very competitive AFC North (where all four teams lie separated by a single win).
  22. New Orleans Saints –The issue with the Saints lies strictly in the one place we are not accustomed to look at for trouble; quarterback. Brees’ throws look to be significantly missing some zip and there is even some uncharacteristic accuracy issues. Mark Ingram will be back soon which should help but the Saints are not the Saints of recent memory. Losing Jarius Byrd sucks.
  23. Minnesota Vikings –The Vikings are having some serious issues on offense. Granted, Christian Ponder has never been a banger but there was utterly no rhythm or fluidity to that offense and for all of Norv Turner’s profound offensive brilliance, he can’t seem to utilize his most powerful asset in Cordarelle Patterson. And it doesn’t get easier for them…
  24. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – This team is hot all of a sudden lol They lost to the Saints in OT but there is no denying it, the Bucs are a much better looking team with Glennon under center. As their defense improves, they’ll be a tough out the rest of the way.
  25. Chicago Bears – I’ve been saying it and I will continue to do so; don’t be fooled by what you remember about these guys… they’re just not that good. They still can’t utilize Forte effectively, Cutler still makes way too many mistakes (and suddenly has no deep ball) and there’s no answer to their defensive issues. Kyle Fuller is nice but the rest of this defense may as well not play. Oh wait, they already don’t.
  26. Washington Redskins – Kirk Cousins was decent enough against the best defense in the league to have put up some points in what seemed like a close game if you were only looking at the boxscore. But the Hawks should have had way more points. The Redskins are still not there yet.
  27. Miami Dolphins – There is only one way to know if this team didn’t just look good because they beat up on the Raiders. They will have to look competitive against the vastly improving Packers. Knowshon Moreno may be back.
  28. Tennessee Titans – The nosedive continues for the Titans. I always thought of Wisenhunt as a solid NFL coach but I’m starting to wonder about that. Not only did he abandon the run in the second half in favor of having Charlie Whitehurst chuckin it with an 18 point halftime lead, he still won’t run the rock with Bishop Sankey even after acknowledging that he should. The Titans look terrible.
  29. St. Louis Rams – How they were able to climb back into an Eagles blowout has less to do with Austin Davis and Brian Quick and a lot more to do with Philly and their ineptitude. The Rams still can’t hit the QB for nothing and injuries to their running game is going to hinder what little offense they were able to muster up to this point.
  30. New York Jets – In a lot of ways, they are the worst team in football. If it weren’t for Chris Ivory being a monster and their run defense possibly being the most elite unit in the nation, this is a worthless team rife with drama. Both the Jags and Raiders have better Quarterbacking with young, exciting rookies. The Jets? Just look at their last boxscore. It’s really a mess.
  31. Jacksonville Jaguars – The Jags were able to finally get some defense going for the first time this season. That is an excellent sign. In fact, they are in a position right now to win their first game of the season and get out from behind some of these other putrid teams (Titans, Rams, Jets) on the ranking.
  32. Oakland Raiders – This is where they are right now. There’s a decent chance they can turn things around and look competitive the rest of the way. The weird thing is their overall defensive efficiency has been better than half the league including being among the league leading units in tackles for a loss. They are also surprisingly among the best in red zone defense as well (they give up soulcrushing big plays on the reg, instead). Offensively, while they’ve been putrid at moving the ball (they are the second worst at rushing the ball and the only reason the Chargers are worse is because they have only one healthy back and a red-hot QB so there’s no reason to run it) and just as horrible at scoring in the red zone, they are among the league leaders in not being tackled for a loss and amongst the best at not committing penalties lol The Raiders are one of the most disciplined teams in the NFL! If they are able to start moving the chains and scoring points, they won’t be half-bad. *drops mic to floor*

Dig it.

#FreeJoshGordon and the NFL’s 0-16 Season

The circus carries on.

I will spare you the long story that you most likely already know and summarize it as succinctly as I can as thus: Gordon, who marginally failed a drug test on March 5th 2014, was suspended due to it being the third violation of the old NFL drug policy that is now under revision between the NFL and the NFLPA. And now, there are reports that he will be suspended for 10 games under the new drug policy if it is agreed upon.

Which, of course, is completely asinine.

The trouble with the NFL this season is that it has shown an absolute lack of reason and consistency in its policies across the board. Whether it is the fiasco that is the Ray Rice domestic violence case or the flip flopping drug policy, the NFL has been a PR trainwreck losing public opinion in droves. The brand is an arrogant one; their product is the object of such abject obsession and addiction, they know there is no conceivable amount of public backlash that can hurt their bottom line. Even a one week boycott by every football fan across the United States would accomplish nothing outside of ruining the worlds of the already underpaid support staffs of any of the bloated pro teams. It would do nothing to exact the sort of paradigm shift in the league’s operation that most activism aims to do.

This news that the new drug policy agreement will reduce Gordon’s suspension to ten games, though, is a whole new level of fail. In fact, everybody was better off if they would have simply left the suspension at the full 16 games.

Let me be perfectly clear about something. The NFL didn’t even so much as blink at the public criticism they were receiving at the announcement of Josh Gordon’s initial suspension for the whole season when it first hit. The hate being heaped on the shield about how incongruent the suspension was to the crime as juxtaposed to Rice’s initial suspension was to his, didn’t phase the league. They even dragged their feet for an unusually long time in exacting the suspension and, in fact, didn’t announce it until a day after cuts were announced effectively double screwing the Browns!

However, it wasn’t until Wes Welker was busted with the mystery molly and suspended for four games that the league suddenly was spurned into motion, quickly acting to downgrade amphetamines from the PED list to a recreation drug and under that policy, overturn his suspension altogether as it was a first time offense. There are undoubtedly those who will pull the race card here but I won’t do any such thing; I will, however, happily pull the Peyton Card as there shouldn’t be any doubt that the NFL cares mostly about their revenue than they do about just anything else including women rights/safety, animal rights, or concussions (don’t fall for their flaccid attempts at solving the concussion matter, either. They are so far behind schedule on that, it isn’t even funny. Go read up on it and you’ll see what I mean). Oh but no, no, no… when it was Tom and Peyton’s boy Wes Weezy that was in hot water, the NFL came to his aid quite quickly.

Nevermind that amphetamines can actually be argued to enhance performance (Adderall anyone?) whereas Cannaboids can never do such a thing lol. I mean, it is obvious that Josh Gordon only ever recreationally smoked Marijuana. It is also equally obvious that he wouldn’t have been smoking during the season as nobody with half a cent of common sense would believe that a pro athlete could habitually smoke it and still be any good at their sport. Sure you can play and maybe even play well; but dominate the NFL at your position while effortlessly displaying physical gifts that indicate that your body is about as free of the toxins and laden effects of prolonged Marijuana use as anyone can be? Is Josh Gordon superhuman? No, of course he is not. Maybe if he was popping adderalls.

I understand why Welker’s suspension is going to get wiped out completely and why Gordon’s isn’t. It’s the letter of the law; a three-strikes law, no less, that has been lambasted everywhere it has ever been implemented due to its inherent inability to discern between severity of offenses. In other words, the way the recreational drug policy works before as well as moving forward is that Gordon could have easily been stoned stupid and tested ten times over the limit, even smoking before games and doing all sorts of other inane behaviors and get away without a single lost snap. And then on this exact same offense, be lost for an entire year on a 0.16ng positive (and a negative from the same sample) test three years later after passing 75 tests over that span of time. Makes sense if you look at it strictly from the perspective of the letter of the law; and makes utterly no sense outside of it.

That brings me to the reported ten game suspension. That’s simply stupid. In this case, the suspension should have either been completely tossed out (given the first two games of the season could be considered an on-good-faith time served) or the suspension upheld as a strict adhering to the letter of the law. But this ten game nonsense is entirely nearsighted and proof that they have idiots working in the league communications offices. Ten games does nothing for nobody.

Not for Josh Gordon. He still misses most of the season for something as silly as second hand smoke, a story that is truly corroborated by how ridiculously low the test result was (you can get more stoned looking at some “fire”).

Not for the Cleveland Browns. Sure it beats not having him for a whole season but this only has any kind of relevance if the Browns are anywhere near the playoff picture come week 12, where his involvement, albeit with limited chemistry and gameflow, doesn’t necessarily mean it helps them accomplish anything in 2013. What’s four more wins when you enter Week 12 bringing up the rear of the division?

Not for Fantasy Football owners across the nation. But who cares about them (us)? There are clearly far more significant issues at hand.

Not for the NFL. This makes them look like tone-deaf, hard headed troglodytes. They missed the entire point of revising the policy. Unless of course the point was to get Welker back on the field by downgrading Amphetamines to a recreational drug lol. And even then, the awkwardly arbitrary March 11th date for the NFL “year” is another slap to the face of reason. If Gordon’s test was so stupidly close to that date (a single work week), why not consider it a 2014 test? Why be such myopic sticklers?

I know, I know, the letter of the law. Policies and rules. But under that same logic, Ray Rice shouldn’t be banned from the NFL at all because this would be considered his first offense of domestic violence and warrants only the new six game suspension which is at least better than the two game suspension that preceded it but is still less than reasonable (there should be a zero tolerance policy on domestic violence). So Ray Rice should be back by week 7 and some other team should be able to pick him up. He didn’t lie about knocking his fiancee unconscious. He is a vile person, perhaps, but according to the NFL’s precious letter of the law argument, he should be back in time for the second half of the season.

Can’t say the same about Josh Gordon. After all, he has pot-smoking friends and is badmen.

There’s more. Yes, there is ever more in this 2014 NFL season, one that will undoubtedly go down in history as one of the most terribly distracted of any sport ever.

Just moments ago, Adrian Peterson was indicted for negligent injury of a child (spanked his son with a switch) and may also face a suspension although it has yet to be announced one way or another. Now the NFL will undoubtedly roll out its brand spankin’ new domestic violence policy on AP and probably on Carolina Panthers’ DE Greg Hardy soon enough in hopes of winning back some public support. But will it have been too late? Peterson faces a 2 to 10 year PRISON sentence and may never play NFL Football again. And you thought folks were all up in arms about Mike Vick fightin’ dogs…

Truth is, the league (and sport at large) has a black eye (no pun intended). This isn’t MLB’s steroid black eye where some clown somewhere convinced the public that steroids actually made you a better ballplayer somehow. This isn’t the NBA’s corrupt refereeing and point-shaving. This is the most violent sport on earth showing that it not only puts young men in danger of life-long battles with terrible brain injuries but also breeds a whole host of violent, aggressive and physically imposing men who can hurt others. Now before this becomes a debate on Adrian Peterson’s specific situation in terms of child-rearing and discipline (because lord knows, that’s an entirely different blog post altogether), let’s just focus on what the real issue here is:

The NFL doesn’t really know where it stands on ANYTHING. They are just as likely to suspend him for six games as per the new policy as they are to not suspend him at all because of some legal loophole or other that distinguishes between physical assault and child discipline. Not saying there is one but why put anything beyond the NFL? In the end, as they’ve shown repeatedly throughout Goodell’s tenure as Commish, the league only really cares about its revenue and Goods has been as much a pawn of it as any of us. The league doesn’t want to lose Adrian Peterson anymore than they wanted to lose concussion-ridden Welker or Josh “Up in Smoke” Gordon.

**********************************************************************************************************************************************

In the end, the NFL has demonstrated exactly how you don’t manage crisis as an organization or entity. This stuff is Public Relations 101 and the NFL does not employ good PR people which is counter intuitive because you would assume they would have the very best. Maybe they’re just having a bad season, something akin to the supreme meltdown that was last year’s Houston Texans when nearly every thing went wrong. Perhaps, the NFL after a relatively strong franchise history is having that one season it wants to forget. Except it will never be forgotten because none of us will forget it.

All the league had to do was let Gordon back right away and they could have at least earned some respect back from the mass of people who realize that Marijuana smoking is not as terrible as beating our wives and children or getting in club altercations or doing heavy drugs… but whose money they gladly take without hesitation.

Instead, they’ve taken another terrible loss and look well on their way to a miserable, winless season.

Super Bowl XLVIII

Another NFL season is nearly in the books and we are left with just two teams, the offensive juggernaut Denver Broncos led by first ballot Hall of Famer Peyton Manning and the impenetrable defense and mental toughness of the Seattle Seahawks.

Undoubtedly, most everybody has heard all the assessments and seen all the numbers, watched all the preview shows, listened to all the talk shows and know everything about the upcoming Super Bowl game except for one thing: who is going to win.
Well that is where I can help you, net traveler.
First thing that jumps out at me is the weather. Any fear of snow and frigid temps is now gone although the game will probably settle in around 40 degrees for most of the evening with only a slight chance of rain. While the weather would give an advantage to the Seahawks who focus their offensive attack on the ground and who capitalize on mistakes when their defense is on the field to turn the tables on their opponents, it won’t be wet enough or cold enough to thwart Peyton. I still expect two picks from Manning although I’m not sure that alone will determine the outcome of the game.
What’ll be interesting is how the time of possession battle will be won. Marshawn Lynch is certainly one of the best running backs in the league at churning yards and keeping the clock and the chains moving in the right direction and will have plenty of running room against the Broncos who’ve been playing better on that side of the ball of late but also haven’t faced a back of his caliber. His effectiveness will unlock the Seahawk passing attack and that is about the only way they’ll be able to keep up with Peyton and the Broncos on the scoreboard. If Beast Mode can’t open up that passing game and allow Wilson and company (and maybe even most importantly, Percy Harvin and his ability to create explosive gains in a multitude of spots within a formation), then the Seahawks will struggle to score the 30 points needed to win this game. There’s no doubt that the Seahawk defense can hold the Broncos to under 30 and maybe even closer to 20 than Denver is accustomed to but it won’t matter if the Hawks aren’t putting up any points of their own.
Truth is, the Seahawks offense has been anything but reliable so far in the postseason with Russell Wilson looking off balance for most of every game they’ve played. To his credit and ultimately a direct reflection of Seattle’s coach, Pete Carroll, they have remained fiercely unrattled and focused and it has allowed them to hang tough when the sledding got tough. They’ll have to be that way once again as they are going to get punched in the nose a couple times at the least by Denver’s record setting, explosive offense.
All that to say the game will come down to how far the Seahawks are behind in the fourth quarter when they tap into their reserve energy tanks. They will be amped at kickoff and maybe much more so than the Broncos as that is kind of how they roll. If they are unable to sustain that energy into the fourth when they find themselves trailing by 10-14 points and in need of some miracle working by their hardnosed QB Wilson, they will run out of juice and lose. If they can stay even-keel through out the contest and keep it to within 14 points, there’s a solid chance they eke it out.
My call is that they do. I love Peyton and will be rooting for him personally as I feel that he is already, even without this victory, possibly the greatest QB of all time, a second ring would only cement it. But as a Raider fan, I cannot support his Broncos lol and the Seahawks are simply further removed from being a dire rival of ours so I am slightly more partial to them. Either way, I subscribe to the defensive side of the ball in almost every sport and the Seahawks are simply the best with their throwback, over the top defensive intensity and elite skill level. I think Denver has finally met their match in chilly, cloudy New Jersey. Homer Simpson called it 19-14 Broncos way back in 2005 but…
Seahawks 31 – Broncos 27

NFL Conference Championships

3-1 last week. Not bad considering I was certainly gambling by taking the inexperienced, underdog Panthers in a game the Niners most certainly were primed to win.

I’ll have to keep it relatively short and sweet this week even though the match ups are considerably more exciting.
Patriots at Broncos
Brady vs. Manning. Part 500 or whatever. The last iteration of this epic rivalry was a frigid Patriot win that saw them storm back from 24 down to eke it out in overtime. Here’s what you need to know for this game. The weather will unlikely play a significant role which means that the game will have to be played in the air and not just on the ground as New England was able to do last week against Indy. Look for the Broncos to rush out to a quick lead behind their killer passing attack (healthier than it was on November 24th) and the Patriots will have to pass in order to keep up. Even with Peyton’s ability to make the deep throw, the Bronco offense thrives between the hashes and the Patriots have a strong defense in there and if they are able to jam up Thomas and Welker, they may be able to slow this offense down enough to make a difference. The game can either be a 31-17 Bronco win where the Patriots simply run out of time clawing back into it or a 34-31 late game heroic Prater kick. Either way, I think Denver is going to the Super Bowl even though I was feeling New England for most of the past week. It’s hard to bet against the most explosive offense in the history of the game in such a spot at home. 
Broncos

49ers at Seahawks
What really needs to be said here? We’ve seen these two play twice a year every year and twice again this year in what were two very spirited contests. The Seahawks, as expected, dominated the Seattle game and the Niners won a tough one 19-17 in San Francisco a couple months later. Part III is clearly a deciduous game in more sense than just in terms of the conference championship as it also decides the victor of their personal rivalry that runs all the way from their head coaches to the symbols on their helmet. As for what to expect in tonight’s game, it’s quite simple really: if the refs call the game tight and are generous with the flag on pass interference and defensive holding, then the score will be run up into the 20s and maybe even the 30s each, the Seahawks losing the advantage that their physical, imposing secondary has and the Niners have a strong chance of winning. If the refs don’t call everything, the Seahawks will dominate the receivers, both teams will rely mostly on the run and it becomes a Lynch vs. Gore tilt in which the advantage, though slight, will be in Seattle’s favor and they win a low scoring, defensive game. Both teams have very talented offensive lines… but Seattle’s is very heavily penalized at times and, again, the whistle could determine the outcome. My gut reaction tells me Seattle wins this game and not just because of their notorious 12th man. The Niners have been getting it done on the road all postseason long and that is quite impressive but I’m not sure they can overcome the top defense in the NFL for a fourth consecutive road playoff win (Week 17 was a must win).
Seahawks

So there you have it. The league’s best Offense vs. the league’s best Defense in the Super Bowl. 
dig it.