January 16, 2011 § Leave a Comment
Never change, Atlanta.
Whistles and beards forever.
January 13, 2011 § Leave a Comment
The AD has a cleaned up and fully propagandized version up of Hoke’s first day. They want us to think this is Roy’s actual reaction to the new coach (around 1:10).
But we all know differently. Here’s a transcript of some security footage of the locker room.
INT. MICHIGAN LOCKER ROOM – DAY
A near abandoned room with strewn PRACTICE SHORTS and FOOTBALLS, as most the team is walking over to the stadium for the first official meeting with new Michigan coach BRADY HOKE. Near abandoned, as ROY ROUNDTREE is standing in front of TAYLOR LEWAN’s locker, wearing BEATS HEADPHONES and bobbing his head as he stuffs Lewan’s shoes full of silly-string. He is humming and murmuring.
Black n yellow black n yellow…
BRADY HOKE walks past the doorway into the locker room in an obvious rush. A dogeared copy of Bo’s Lasting Lessons sticks out of his back pocket. He is sweaty. He stops abruptly upon hearing Roy’s humming. He backs up and walks in the room. Upon crossing the threshold he spontaneously begins shouting.
TEAM! HUSTLE! MIDWEST! TEAM! BO! MICHIGAN MEN! CHARACTER! TEAM!
Roy doesn’t notice. He moves to Denard’s locker and begins to carve “I LUV ROBERT PATTINSON” into the wood. Hoke goes on babbling for 3 minutes, manages to wrestle his compulsions under control. He walks over to Roy and taps him on the shoulder. Roy turns around, pulling his headphones off [cue Whiz Khalifa music on 100% blast].
Heeey, what it do, man?
Roy points at the carving he’s doing, raises his eyebrows and beams with pride. Hoke doesn’t know what the hell Twilight is, but he know that Bo once made a kid run to Toledo and back just for putting a merit sticker on a bus window. This vandalism will not stand.
Young man, this is unacceptable TEAMEXECUTIONBOTEAM.
What do you think you’re doing?
Roy is confused by the question, mainly because he himself had never asked “what am I doing?” He shrugs.
I dunno, brah. I was telling Doobie that it would be mad
funny to prank on Denard, and Doobie told me that Denard
had to go on a date to see one of the Twilight movies. Shit’s funny, man.
GRIT MICHIGAN MEN EFFORT B1G TEN CHAMPIONSHIPS
THE TEAM TEAM THE TORM. Where are your teammates?
Oh, they out at the stadium to meet the new coach. That’s why I
knew Taylor wouldn’t be around. I be along in a minute.
Who you? (suddenly Roy looks suspiciously) You a reporter?
WORK DEDICATION BO EFFORT MIDWEST TEAM BO
Roy shrugs and goes back to carving.
Hoke is about to defeat his verbal tic and launch into a tirade for the ages when DAVE BRANDON shouts from the hallway.
DAVE BRANDON (O.S.)
Dammit, Brady, I told you you could get into the locker room
AFTER the press conference! Remember? This whole thing
is all about the press! I need my weekly newspaper fellatio! Hustle up!
Hoke turns toward the camera, looks directly at the audience mournfully.
Brady only pawn in game of TEAM FIGHT HISTORY THAT
SCHOOL DOWN SOUTH LLOYD TEAM BO TEAM.
Brady slowly walks out of the locker room. Roy finishes his wooden masterpiece. Startled by his BlackBerry vibrating, he pauses his music and answers.
Heyo, Koger! What it do? What up? Yeah, we just gotta
change Molk’s XBox Live account name to Chubbs50!
FADE TO BLACK.
ON SCREEN, the words “Roy Roundtree later found out who that stranger was in the locker room when he logged on to Facebook and saw all his teammates’ updates.” appear.
NEXT SCREEN, “Coach Hoke never discussed this event with anyone, mainly because he was convinced that the whole thing was a stress-induced dream, since no Michigan Man would act so egregiously. Little did he know.”
Oh, lest anyone misconstrue it, this guy (points at himself) is decidedly on #TeamTreezy and this is an act of love and admiration for #12, not mocking. He’s probably one of my favorite players ever.
January 11, 2011 § 3 Comments
“If you live the sacred and despise the ordinary, you are still bobbing in the ocean of delusion.”
You know it‘s a bad decision when one’s first reaction to the news is to draw easy comparisons between Michigan football and the Big 3 Automakers decline and to scramble to the Wikipedia page for the Romanovs to confirm that yes, this moment fits perfectly within the arc of a decaying empire. The emptiness that follows, however, is a bitch. Rage or sorrow are vastly preferred, but there are no reservoirs to tap. Brady fucking Hoke man. Cataloging the emotions Michigan fans are feeling right now is for another day, so instead allow me to lay out a series of claims and accusations, a few mouthfuls of blood spat from my mutilated fan-corpse.
- This was a decision made out of fear. Fear that the thing you love is dying. Bo left a legacy that defined the second half of the 20th century for the Michigan program. It no longer exists, of course, but it was a damn beautiful thing. Rather than accepting its passage or sending it off with a grand farewell a la HST, the men and women of Schembechler Hall are puttering around an empty house making sure that the coasters are on the coffee table just how Bo liked it and that every Thursday pot roast is served just how Bo wanted it. When there are dozens of coordinators and assistants available that are of vastly greater quality (I mean, I just randomly thought of Clemson’s D-Coord Kevin Steele and checked, and yup, he’s loads better than Hoke) and you choose to go with the distant relative, you are a craven organization.
- I doubt that there is any program so enslaved to its former players. Amongst the scores of reasons why Rich Rodriguez didn’t work out was the perpetual interference with the program from men who used to run out through the tunnel. That I even have to explain what a crock of shit it is that a player who ran the Wishbone in the 1970s has any say in a program in 2011 goes to show how pervasive the idea of Former Warriors runs at Michigan. I love Anthony Carter. I love Tyrone Wheatley. I love Jim Brandstatter. I have yet to hear any convincing reason why in the hell any of them should have any influence once they are done playing. Not that there is The Michigan Brand to defend, but even if it did exist, I hardly think the players are the best to defend it. Does any other program have so many wizened old fingers meddling in one department? Does the range of ages of the players who meddle stretch as long at any school as it does in Ann Arbor (from pre-Bo to Braylon)?
- See opening quote. Oregon’s uniforms are atrocious, Southerners are intellectually inferior, Real Men take the ball under center, The Winningest Program Of All Time. Only when you finally do away with all that I just mentioned (and none of these 3 year dalliances like with Rodriguez, please) will this program succeed (and maybe even grow up?). College football is no longer the realm of Bronc Burnett (if it ever was). Stop acting as if it is.
- I really really hate it when the things I love play to stereotype. Michigan is an amazing school and an amazing state that’s reputation is one of decline and a stubborn refusal to modernize and instead smugly rest upon the laurels it acquired from the 40s to the 80s (I told you there were parallels). Whenever I explain to someone here out west that Michiganders are very proud of their heritage, the primary response is always “Proud about what?” I don’t think anyone outside the state of Michigan remembers The Arsenal of Democracy or muscle cars or Rick Leach but your damn right everyone inside the state does. And that reluctance to let go of the glorious past was, in my mind, more a stereotype than a truth. That while there might be some people who are still hooked on nostalgia, the People in Power were smart enough to avoid that obvious mistake. And now I have Brady Hoke standing in front of me telling me “no, they aren’t.”
December 6, 2010 § Leave a Comment
I’m back (been working on a few other things, like finding a decent job and hopefully a few other things I can share here), but here’s some stuff for December 6th:
- Everyone shocked at Hughton’s firing at Newcastle clearly has forgotten the rest of Mike Ashley’s time as owner. Hubris defines the man, and I’m sure that he thinks that now that the team’s in 11th place (never mind just 4 points above relegation at the moment) that they’re juuust outside the range of Europa or even Champions League contention. What, you say? They only have 2-3 players who could make a Top 4 starting squad? Your common sense isn’t welcome here at St. James! God, I’m glad I’m a Magpie supporter. /midafternoonshotofwhiskey
- For the first time in a while I’m actually more optimistic for the USMNT’s midfielders and attackers at a camp than for the backs and keepers. Not sure if this is on the whole a good or bad thing, though.
- CagePotato brings the science on knockouts. A must read/watch for combat sports fans and a sober reminder of just how many nasty aspects of athletics we (choose to?) ignore in a telecast.
- Watched the Broncos-Chief crapfest yesterday, and you knew it was gonna be a rough one from the very beginning.
- As a dedicated self high-fiver, every player in the NBA needs to air-fives every game.
- Co-sign to this article, though I wouldn’t be surprised if it doesn’t happen. As we know from Magary, all Bostonians are crypto-racists and would never approve of a dahhkie Celtic getting a memorial before Larry Bird.*
Also, from a SLAM interview, I think Russell might be one of the few athletes from any time to be able to say this:
SLAM: As much as your style of play changed the center position, was there anyone who came after you who captured your style?
RUSSELL: Maybe it’s egotism, but I have never seen another player who even approached the way I played the game in terms of depth. I’ve never seen anyone do the number of things I do well.
And still be impossibly modest and truthful.
*Totally unfair but still really really funny stereotype.**
**One that in my experience has a sad amount of truth to it.
November 21, 2010 § 2 Comments
I haven’t talked about it much with the Internet because it’s pretty cool with the Internet to rag on the MLS as the Land of Misfitted Retard0-LOLz, but I decided this year to take the plunge and apply my love for international soccer to the local product, and I attended a bunch of Colorado Rapids games. Yes, the name for the supporters group (Pid Army, “Pid” like the second syllable of “rapid.” Yeah, I know.) is really dumb, and yes, the stadium’s not really full most of the time, and even yes, I know that the MLS doesn’t have Drogba or Messi and I know that any of the best teams probably couldn’t hang with even Shakhtar Donetsk. But it’s a fun time, it’s pretty cheap, and it’s increasingly improving soccer happening in a place not 3,000 miles away from me, so I’m game.
And the Rapids just won it all. This of course means that I’ve joined the team at absolutely the wrong time because it’s all down from here.
Anyway, as my mini form of celebrating back here in Denver, allow me to share one of the stupid/best parts of my MLS team: the strangest coterie of mascots I’ve ever run across. First we have Jorge El Mapache:
I’ll save you the GoogleTime and tell you that sadly “el mapache” isn’t Spanish for anything cool like “Knife-Axe” or “Pizza Taco”, it just means “raccoon” which is obvious from the costume.
Next up is Marco Van Bison.
I think he’s creepy and has the name of a old German war profiteer/amateur sex criminal but I’m a known anti-bisonist.
Thirdly we have Edson the Eagle. I think the Rapids were short on cash when they created Edson because they skimped on design and just gave him a giant Incan Death Mask for a head.
Lastly, Franz the Fox.
Franz lost a lot of money shorting trades on the Chicago Merc back in the 80s but moved out to Colorado and has found a new life out here working with the team. He’s also found Jesus and mountain biking and will insufferably prattle on about either to you at any get together you accidentally meet him at. So in other words he perfectly represents Colorado.
So for those who weren’t keeping score, Colorado has 4 mascots named Jorge, Marco, Edson, and Franz. Kudos to the team for going for something different, but they probably shouldn’t have allowed the teenaged son of the PR head who likes to call himself “the next Carles” on his “Fuck Yeah! Fixies” Tumblr name the characters.
I’m still giddy from the win, so I’ll leave you with this important anti-concussion ad from Marco and Franz. So up on the issues, these guys.
November 19, 2010 § Leave a Comment
Via Bob McKenzie, we now know Pat Burns is dead.
Pat Burns was a great coach, someone who up-to-now has been criminally ignored for induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Hopefully the NHL will fix this and do it quickly. Besides coaching my Canadiens back in the day, Burns also represented to me the epitome of a Canadian and a hockey coach: besides looking like a real life Ray Zalinsky, Burns had a fire and passion for hockey that was sui generis. If you were to cut that man open he’d bleed vulcanized rubber and ice. He was so tough that it took cancer 3 cracks to bring him down. Here he is back in the day:
You don’t love that, I don’t want to know ya.
And a far more trivial note but one that I think still does the man justice: Burns had sported some of the premium mustaches and hair cuts in all of sports.
What a great man. This news blows. RIP Pat Burns.
October 26, 2010 § 3 Comments
I have never been as excited for an NBA season as I am for the one that’s about to begin in an hour. This is strange considering that the team I care most about, the Nuggets, is going to be pretty bad. I think this means that I have fully transitioned into the liberated fan, but I prefer to think it means I’ve finally managed to taste the entire NBA universe and have now reached nirvana. I’m unconditioned and extinguished, I say yes to all that happens and celebrate it.
Although, to be fair, basketball nirvana doesn’t quite translate to the religious sense. I still feel sadness and joy. For example, I’m still recovering from the bummerage I felt at hearing of Jeff Pendergraph’s injury and subsequent waiving. I’m giddy about the possibility of all things happening with the Wizards. So the emotions and pains that true nirvana erases are still here, but the questioning about said emotions and pains is gone. No longer do I ask “why the hell am I so wrapped up in this?” or “how is this so important to me?”. Now it is more a proclamation of “Yes! I freak out at Serge Ibaka!” “Yes! the soon-upon-us awful trade for Melo causes me to dwell upon acts of depraved violence!” And let me tell you, kids, this feeling is the best.
And the only thing that can harsh this high I’m on? As with most things: idiots. As an act of exorcism and purification of my soul, I will name the evils of idiocy, and in so naming them steal their power to affect me. If you commit the following acts, know that I have for you a hate of the purest rage, and I am so comfortable in that hate that I will proudly proclaim it to your digital face:
1. If you hate Lebron James, I hate you. This is not because I am pro-Lebron. I am just anti-anti-Lebron. He is a supreme talent and we are lucky to be alive during his career. Have a little dignity for yourself and develop a more nuanced stance than “OMG The Decision was the dick-est thing ever and now he’s the biggest dick ever!” He made a decision some of us don’t really like, and if you are so petty as to let a 26 year old’s choice to move to Florida color your opinion of him, I hate you.
2. If you say “I can’t stand the NBA style, college basketball is much more watchable” when we know that means “I’m not comfortable with an African-American dominant sports”, I hate you. In the new book from FreeDarko (which I think I’ve annoyed 100% of my Twitter followers today with my rapturous talk about it) there is a deeply saddening sidebar graphic of two charts. One is of the percentage of the NBA that is black. It starts to rise meteorically in the mid to late 70′s. The other chart shows the national popularity of the NBA over the years. There is a plunge in interest in The Association in, you guessed it, the mid to late 70′s. The FD gang just suggest that there might be a causal relationship between the two. I’m not ensnared by the same boundaries of good taste and propriety as they are (or at least are when required to publish an actual book), so I’ll say it more directly: a bunch of the NBA’s support evaporated when a bunch of white people felt uncomfortable seeing a predominantly-black league taking shape. Y’all are asses, if you say this you clearly haven’t watched more than 30 minutes of the NBA in at least a decade, and I hate you.
3. If you are a Utah Jazz fan, I hate you. I like the Utah Jazz team, but their fanbase is without a doubt the most annoying and petty and shallow group in ever. I’m pretty sure every Utah Jazz fan hates Lebron, so this also fits under number 1.
4. If you wax rhapsodic about the mythical qualities of Madison Square Garden, I hate you. That place hasn’t had true relevance in close to 2 decades, and the Knicks have been peddling on the 60′s and 70′s since the 60′s and 70′s. The Knicks have inherent intrigue, but it’s not because they’re a sleeping giant. They are the 76ers-on-the-Hudson, and I don’t here anyone braying about the Wells Fargo Center.
5. If you engage in the Kobe-vs.-Lebron-vs.-MJ debate, I hate you. This is probably the dumbest and most pedantic bullshit happening in all of sports and I’m including anything Favre or steroids-y or BCS related. It’s an incoherent, unwinnable, juvenile, geographically xenophobic, and wasteful discussion and it deliberately eschews the wonder and beauty of the game in order to pursue a hurr-durr discussion so base that even the pissy bitches over on Fox News would find it stupid and embarrassing. I hate you if you even try to treat this faux-debate seriously.
Okay: with that bit of bile-letting done and over, I’m ready for the season. This is going to be awesome. Allons-y.
October 19, 2010 § Leave a Comment
I’m really really tired of brain stuff dominating the football news but there’s no good reason for it to stop: one of the ideals a modern society is that we don’t approve of people knowingly killing themselves as a form of entertainment. That doesn’t mean it should be the only item discussed. So allow your fearless correspondent to the country of Depraved and Addled-Minded Conspiracies put in his two bits:
As previously documented, the NFL has had full knowledge of the way their product was bashing brains, and yet up to this point they’ve remained relatively inactive. So what’s managed to goad the boss-men to action? We can toss out any sort of compassion or human emotion as a reasonable explanation– these guys have employed some of the most morally vacant athletes in history and failed to bat an eye. No, these men, like most, only have compassion for their bank statements and their power.
So if we turn to those things we find a very convenient reason for the sudden action of the NFL: the upcoming CBA. While the fatuous majority have bought the idea that labor unions and labor strikes are un-American, the few times where labor has had success against management is when they are able to show horrendous work conditions. For our first 150 years as a nation, kids worked our most vile and violent jobs and the calls for reform were rare. It was only at the turn of the century with the advent of photography and faster communication that the public decided that 5 year olds in coal mines and mangled 10 year olds weren’t The American Way. It seems that Joe Q. Freedom has very little sympathy with wage issues but can pour it on for physical safety.
So the exploiters over in Goodell’s camp, who up to this point felt confident that their position was strong for the Upcoming Ruckus, rightly see this as a serious threat to their plans. They’ve always had the successful move of Pointing Out The Players Are Super Rich (ignoring their own super-super-richness). But there’s something unspoken in the American ethic that says that only a certain level of violence is acceptable in the workplace and from-the-neck paralysis and early death go beyond those levels. Owners’ Main Argumentative Card? Gone.
And with the lockout screaming towards us faster than most feel comfortable admitting, the owners’ are trying to get back on the Moral High Horse by acting tough, even against the players’ wishes. Don’t worry, the outraged first responses of Rodney Harrison, Steve Young, and Matt Millen will be duly smoothed down by the league and its corporate toadies in Bristol and at 30 Rock. Soon they’ll be spewing that the penalties are necessary for the players’ own good and that this is keeping with the league’s history of moral rectitude. I say to hell with that, to hell with letting the owners regain any of the moral righteousness that they stole in the first place. They’re cretins, never forget this. Dave got it right when he said that these acts of violence weren’t just tolerated by the owners, they were celebrated. The owners are trying to pull a quick one, yet again, and tell us that this isn’t The Pride Of The League that they’ve been selling to us, it’s a National Scourge that needs to be eradicated. Don’t let them.
October 14, 2010 § Leave a Comment
I’ve had it with the shock and outrage. Anyone and I mean anyone who’s worked a locker room or a sideline or an interview with an athlete knows that the stain of Mammon covers all of collegiate sports. I know a former D-I lacrosse player who can fill an afternoon with stories of free housing or cheap prices for new cars or readily accessible drugs. When I was in Ann Arbor I saw a senior wide receiver driving around in a Bentley. These aren’t surprising to anyone who’s ever had the sense to pay attention to the parts of sports that aren’t on a TV or on a field, yet now I’m seeing and hearing pundits across the U.S. feigning surprise and disappointment at the allegations of this Josh Luchs article in Sports Illustrated. Don’t lie to yourself: each and every person in Bristol knows about runners and paid college athletes and can probably give you 10-20 stories each. Every columnist who’s covered a college football team has interacted with some impropriety.
As to why they are feigning such hollow and nannyish behavior, the explanation is simple: they, or more likely their superiors, have determined where their dollar lies: in the fat, soft hands of Daft Coaches From The Sofa and Seers of Sportsradio Callers. The men and women who, apart from their shallow and soon-to-be-outsourced retail jobs, have nothing more exciting to look forward to in their lives than shoving their wrongly-derived opinions down the throat of a stranger who didn’t ask for it. Whether it be at a barbecue, the local dive, or into the phone and over the local airwaves, these people continue to incorrectly remember the past and spew idiocies about the present. They also apparently have the absorbative powers to soak the complete truth from an event in only 19 minutes of SportsCenter while waiting for JiffyLube to finish their oil change. These are the people who want the world they way they think it is, not the way it really is. It is to these people that ESPN, Fox Sports, and every radio station in this country are enslaved, are pitching to advertisers as their flock. They need to cultivate these viewers, keep them sated.
And this flock needs their gladiators clean cut, respectful, and right out of the J. Edgar Hoover-era, dammit. What happened to the Golden Boys of football, they ask, ignoring the original Golden Boy’s profligate gambling. They don’t make ‘em like Joe Montana, callers cry, glossing over the fact every Favorite Athlete of the post-Jordan era is as carefully planned and inhuman as Guy Fieri or a BP ad and therefore we all know jack-shit about Joe Montana. That at every time in history one would discover athletes soaked in debauchery and crime and money is lost on these sniveling bystanders who leap to moralizing like dogs to vomit. Rather than admit to their own impotence and deformities these men and women would rather stay blissfully in the Land Of If I Were Him. If I Were Him I’d just be happy to get an education. If I Were Him I’d have the moral strength to reject gifts of thousands of dollars. If I Were Him I’d have played for love. If I Were Him I’d realize I was in the toy department of life.
What’s lost on the flock is that there’s big money in toys. Millions of dollars flow into the pockets of colleges and athletic departments every month because of these toys. And these toys aren’t inanimate pawns but human beings with their own interests, desires, and needs. And the chasm between what these people earn for the schools and what they receive (including the stuff under the table) goes into the realm of usury.
Some of these players, due to their exhausting physical schedule, burn through their monthly food stipend in less than 3 weeks and have to spend the last week scrimping by or going hungry. Other athletes come from streets and homes where hunger was a constant. And while it’s okay for a school to crack down on the street vendor’s $1,000-a-year t-shirt operation so as to protect the school’s $100,000,000-a-year income stream, for an athlete who generates that same $100,000,000 to accept $2,500 to help keep a roof over his mother’s head or god forbid have a little fun is an outrage to the flock.
I love my Michigan Wolverines, and I love my university. But if you think you can convince me that Chris Webber gettin’ dollar hurt my education, or if the university deciding to pay 85 players $100,000 a year affects the education of the other 39,000 students, move along. Denard Robinson has already generated millions of dollars this year and I think it’s dirty and vile not to pay him.
And so the news cycle will go: Herbstreit will drool his sports-department-friendly patter, Fowler will furrow his brow distorting his magnificent hairline, Corso will continue to ride his dementia and warm up his death rattle, and Desmond will continue to have tie knots wider than his mouth. Stewart Mandel will either say something everyone knew or something no one cares about, depending on how Northwestern plays on Saturday. Bob Ley will waste a Wednesday afternoon on the topic, on my TV in a box between two other boxes filled with fat people’s faces. A few columnists will make some cries of the need to find the “true villains” in this story, and local radio will either decry their own school’s missteps or crow about their rivals corruption. Mel Kiper will slink off to his cave until February and hopes that no one will remember this even happening. And then basketball season will start and hey the Vikings are 1-4 and everyone will miss the point: today in college football is a Gilded Age, a time where extreme wealth was held by a small few and power ensured it stayed that way. The rebellions and reform that followed the Gilded Age might be next for the NCAA and they might be due. In fact, if someone’s gotta spare torch, count me in.
October 6, 2010 § 1 Comment
Hadn’t heard about this until today:
The NFLPA leader was in Green Bay at a tailgate style luncheon with Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, where the two asked fans to support the players as a showdown looms between the owners and the NFLPA. Smith referred to a recent report in the Sports Business Journal that said the NFL is requesting that banks who lend money to teams extend the grace periods for loan defaults through the end next season should a lockout occur. Smith said that move, in conjunction with language in NFL television contracts calling for partial payment to the league even if there is no football, indicates to him that owners are serious about a labor stoppage.
DeMaurice Smith is not a fool. He knows that, at least in the US, the overwhelming attitude of the fan is “screw organized labor, let’s see some sport!” Any and every labor stoppage has seen the fan (often fomented by management-fueled media) near-unanimously hold the players in contempt. So he’s doing the savvy thing and starting to get the players and personalities interacting with fans, reminding the average consumer that any lockout will come from team owners holding out for more money. I don’t think he’s being aggressive enough: the NFL has some entertaining players who have Twitter accounts and TV shows that could do a lot to say: you know and like me, so trust me when I say that the NFLPA is right in the CBA discussions. Leverage the social medias, I say!
Also in the story is news that the Packers have given Aaron Rodgers, their rep, authority to decertify the NFLPA if need be. Decertification, if it happens, opens up the players to sue the NFL over anti-trust, an act that no owner wants to see. We’ll see how this turns out, but from this viewer’s angle, it seems all but assured that there ain’t gonna be no NFL next year.
And, frankly, I think this is a good thing. American athletes have had a long tradition of the worst union leadership of any profession. Donald Fehr, Billy Hunter, Gene Upshaw: all of them incompetent and weak. DeMaurice Smith appears to be intelligent and aggressive. He’s going to present the first threat to all US sports of a strong and successful and (hopefully) unified athletes. In what might be a first, Smith’s been telling players to put away some of their money for the lockout, a wise move. The average player’s sense of the arrangement is vastly improved from the previous generation. Instead of having a compromised class traitor like Upshaw leading the way, the NFLPA has a former U.S. Attorney who teaches classes on trial advocacy.
And furthermore, the owners’ cry of poverty is one of the bullshittiest sounds in Bullshitburg. All the teams are making money. Jerry Jones bought the Cowboys in the late 80′s for less than $100m and their now valued at over $1.8 billion. My Packers’ total assets have doubled in the past decade, check their own statements. Hell, their revenue from NFL properties multiplied by a factor of 10 over those 10 years, from $4m to $45m. The Packers, by dint of their arrangement (publicly owned) are forced to show their books. Every other team? Mum. I’d be happy to be proven wrong, but until the owners are willing to have third-party assessment of their numbers the line remains: every owner in the NFL is making huge amounts of money off the blood, sweat and brain injuries of its players, and the NFLPA has the right to stand up for itself and refuse to be bullied around.
So count at least one fan who is happy to see the players grow some spine. I want my football, of course, but I also want justice.