Week of December 1, 2014

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Why Not to Do Drugs: Ryan Leaf


The Best Summary of Roger Goodell & The Ray Rice Debacle

We’ve posted a lot of stories about the NFL this year, and there are a lot of details to keep straight. Bill Simmons’ podcasts can be hit or miss, but his conversation with investigative reporter Don Van Natta, Jr. lays out the timeline and is pretty revealing. Van Natta has been working on this story for over six months. – PAL

Source: B.S. Report: Don Van Natta, Jr., Bill Simmons, Grantland (10/2/14)

TOB Note: I was in the middle of listening to this podcast and texted Phil, “Listen to the B.S. Report with Don Van Natta, Jr.? Must do so.” And Phil’s reply was, “Just finished. Excellent. Going into 1-2-3 this week for sure.” So you know it’s good. As Phil said, this is a nice roundup of the entire mess. Do listen.


Race and Sports: Kenny Smith’s Open Letter to Charles Barkley

Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, and Eric Garner. Obviously, there are a lot of passionate opinions spewing at this moment. Basketball analyst Kenny Smith wrote an open letter to his friend and co-worker, Charles Barkley. Barkley called the looters in Ferguson “scumbags”; Smith tries to enlighten Barkley that all possible reactions to these rulings have logic to them. The article has been shared almost 1 million times with widespread applause. I’ve included this letter in our digest this week not because it’s excellent, but because it’s unexceptional, and that’s not good enough, especially now. It’s a frustrating read to me, because the intent is pure and noble – he’s writing a letter to a friend about the exact topic we’re all discussing at the dinner table, the water cooler at work, on our Facebook pages, or at the bar – but if Smith took the time to pen an open letter on such an important issue, then he should’ve made it count. Clearly articulate a point. Don’t meander. Don’t assuage the recipient with unrelated compliments, and don’t use ellipses when trying to help a friend understand a different perspective on such a crucial issue. – PAL

Source: “Kenny Smith’s open letter to Charles Barkley about Ferguson”Kenny Smith, For The Win (12/3/14)


Helmetless Football?

Again, the NFL has taken up a lot of 1-2-3 real estate over the past 5 months. At first blush, I wonder if it’s too much, but there are too many stories with a broader, cultural importance connected to the NFL  for us to ignore (domestic abuse, child abuse, and the safety of the workforce to name a few). The NFL is far and away the most popular sport in America, it’s governed by a moron (see our first story in today’s post), and concussions might very well be the Trojan horse that brings down a behemoth. Diagnosing concussions is important, but it doesn’t change the result – both the short term or the potentially fatal long term results. This story addresses one seemingly unimportant college football program’s attempt at a common sense approach to limiting an unacceptable result. – PAL

Source: Helmetless Football? It’s the New Practice at New Hampshire“, by Jenny Vrentas, The MMQB (12/04/14)

TOB Note: In the next 10-20 years, major changes will need to occur in football to ensure player safety, both in the short and long terms. The UNH idea is fine and interesting. But I wonder if the longterm fix will go a bit further – one of the problems players have longterm stems not from concussions but from sub-concussive hits – small hits to the head that add up over time to something far more severe. It makes sense then, theoretically, to ban the use of helmets during practice entirely in order to reduce the constant pounding on the brain (if you ban helmets during games, I think it changes the sport to such a degree that you might as well not be playing, which may also end up being the solution. Maybe the use of helmets during practice would be allowed a few times a year before the season begins, to allow players some familiarity). This could truly allow players to begin to instinctively tackle without the use of their heads and will greatly reduce the concussions and sub-concussions that lead to longterm problems.


Jameis Winston is a Terrible Human Being

Jameis Winston may have raped someone. Definitely shoplifted. Acted like an immature a-hole. The list goes on. So if you needed more evidence that he is terrible, here it is:  In a written statement submitted as part of his disciplinary hearing related to the alleged rape in December 2012, Winston said:

Rape is a vicious crime. The only thing as vicious as rape is falsely accusing someone of rape.”

Wow. If there is any justice in this world, Winston will suffer a career-ending injury. Of course, even if he does, he has a huge insurance policy he’d collect on. Swell. But at least he’d be gone. -TOB

Source: Jameis Winston’s Statement to Florida State Hearing, by Jameis Winston (published by USA Today) (12/04/14); More outrage on Deadspin.


Are the 76ers the Worst NBA Team of All-Time?

Maybe? Probably not? The 76ers are terrible, though. This, of course, is by design. Tanking to build through the draft is nothing new in the NBA, but as Gelles points out in this article, the Sixers and their new ownership group of Wall Street billionaires have taken this strategy to an extreme. They are the youngest team in the history of the league. They began the season with 17 straight losses (one shy of the NBA record), before beating the Timberwolves on Wednesday. They are on pace for under five wins, which would be the lowest total by a large margin. Looking over their roster ended with me scratching my head and shrugging. A few familiar names, but not one player that would scare you as an opponent. Their top draft pick from 2013 (Nerlens Noel) sat out last season and is finally playing – he’s showing some promise but his production is very underwhelming. Their top draft pick from 2014 (Joel Embiid) has not yet played due to injury, and is not expected to play for the entire year. The scary thing for Sixers fans should be that, even if they win the draft lottery, there does not appear to be a superstar in next year’s draft. Yikes. -TOB (h/t Michael Kapp for the story)

Source: 76ers Keep Losing, and It’s All Part of the Plan“, by David Gelles, New York Times (12/04/14)

PAL Note: I get the logic, and I understand the possible outcomes (it works, or it doesn’t work), but I don’t see the risk in this approach if the ultimate goal is to put together an NBA team that can contend for a championship. What’s the worst case scenario? It’s not having the most losses; rather, it’s finishing .500, not contending, and not having a high draft pick. There is no other sport where one great player impacts a team’s success more than basketball, and the best way to get that one great player is through the draft. The process is painful, and it might not work out, but what’s a better alternative under the current rules of the NBA?


Video of the Week

Just keep watching.


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“No one’s excited about the premise that football is extra dangerous now. It’s almost as if they’ve just siloed these two ideas off and let them both just shoot to the sky…There is no limit to the amount that we can talk about how bad football is, and there’s also no limit to how much we can watch it.”

– Chuck Klosterman

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2 thoughts on “Week of December 1, 2014

    • The Wiz have made some really smart moves (Pierce is a great fit, Beale was an excellent draft pick, Wall looks to be worth the max deal). It’s crazy to think that it was only in 2009-10 when they had the season from hell, the bottom being the Arenas and Crittenton suspensions for guns in the locker room. – PL

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