Tag Archives: Ray Rice

NFL17 Cherry Picks W4: ‘Comes The Revolution?’ Not Without a Message of Hope

27 Sep

Last season ex-QB Colin Kaepernick took a knee. Last week President Donald Trump reflected on the protest at a political rally by putting a foot (in his mouth). His words then incited NFL’ers from all walks on Sunday to stand arm & arm prior to W3 action as a show of unity in response to the Chief Executive’s unflattering though not exactly shocking remarks.

All of it constituting a snoozer of a class in NFL Anatomy 101.

And for once it wasn’t Roger Goodell at the center in the storm of player and junior-media discontent. Though, I haven’t yet seen a picture of the Raja hand-in-hand with any players or fellow Cufflinks in defiance of the President’s remarks. If I do I may get a print and have it framed. Oy vey.

The hubbub created a distraction not unlike that in the days just after sleazoids at TMZ released the Ray Rice – Jinay Palmer punch video, another topic tornado that tore through the entertainment media terrain only to weaken in strength when the slate of W3 games turned out to be quite watchable.

*Kaepernick wasn’t directly responsible for this knee-jerk show of League unity and apparent reinvigeration of his vague, racism-laced protest (See; white-only pig socks). The Commander-in-Chief can take full responsibility for the current melodramatic State of the Players’ Union.

The President, in lambasting (“fire”) NFL nappers (national anthem protesters), owners, fans (“leave the stadium”) and even League efforts to reduce post-career concussion-related maladies (“ruining the game“)* was kind of like that kid on the playground who unexpectedly grabs the football only to run around wildly while the regulars stand motionless in amazement, a bit befuddled, except THIS time, instead of letting the energetic ball-hog run himself out in seclusion, the populars decided to lock arms, feign anger and spotlight the little devil.

I like a bold President who speaks plain when occasion calls (“buck stops here (Truman)”), but a little bit o’ judgment (“son of a b#tch” was bad), even when stumping for votes (Sen.Strange (AL)) goes a long way in making the Term a success, especially when you’ve got your index primed to press (v. N.Korea).

Presidential PC Push Back

The one truly disturbing aspect about the President’s comments on the NFL was his disregard for the League’s effort to reduce the post-career onset of what has become a national health tragedy in neuro-degenerative disorder, mainly in trying to make helmets more effective and ban certain tackling techniques that always cheapened the spirit of sport. Football players and real fans understand.

If Trump’s family have been spared the scourge of Alzheimers and like dementia, referred to today by some in the medical community as diabetes of the brain (sugar), they can consider themselves very lucky because most Americans are becoming very familiar with the sorrow and stress, mental + financial, that accompanies the disease, including afflicted patient and tireless caregivers.

Better that both sides protest the harm that the nation’s sugar-diet wrecks upon its collective body and soul. But what would sponsor PepsiCo say?

There’s hypocrisy on both sides of this protest aisle.

The Trenders (NFLPA), more than a few who take childish pride in on-field & social-media trash-talk, have lined up behind a person (CK) they may not like, whose specific message is unclear and who they probably wish to just fade, are taking on a politican who rags about a monopoly (See; USFL 83-86) yet whose economic game-plan aims to, just as did former-President Obama, secure those very cartels that leave consumers powerless.

While many cite Donald’s USFL venture for comparison, I happened upon a curious quote by actor Aldo Ray whose birthday was on Monday (1926-91). Here is what the 50-60s tough-guy and co-star in one of the great sport comedies, Pat and Mike (52), had to say about…saying things: “I regret I don’t have more control of my tongue because I speak too frankly and honestly, and this world is not meant for frank, honest people. They don’t mix. Reality is pretty phony.”*

Yes, honesty is not always the best policy. It’s subject to common sense or, again, that mental ability we call judgment capability. Tell a Yank they can’t reasonably protest and you’re in for a fight. That one goes WAY back (See; 1776).

But the NFL platform today presents a unique stage for protest. It’s a symbolic power-grab where progress sits the bench for political profiteering by displays of anger, much less justified than in 1968 (Olympics), with little risk of ramification as entire teams lock arms and cocoon themselves cozily in the spirit of club.

Try pulling this kneel thing at your Walmart company picnic during a pledge or anthem and you may not last too long with the Arkansas-headquartered operation, whether in Little Rock or Kalamazoo.

“Comes the revolution?”* Not bloody likely.

For a successful movement you start with seriousness, then add hope to the message, not just self-serving anger and nervous conformity. But hope needs truth, a good share, anyway and honesty-patriots in 2017 are in shorter supply than were clean meat and woolen socks at Valley Forge (1777-78).

Marriage Rocks

What then is the end game here?

The mass player protests seem intended to spite the President while owners and coaches most assuredly joined up to keep it all cool. Not the most sincere protest, so don’t expect it to continue indefinitely, not in the same form, anyway. And with Kaep short on truth and his goals lacking clarity, like, were he seeking due process or specific facts in cases of investigated police misconduct from City, State or Justice Department watchdogs, player passion for protest will likely give way to career concerns, sooner than later, for most of the hand holders.

Will NFL owners put the ‘welcome mat’ out for Mr. Pig Socks and recruit an owner to roster the flashman to further spite the Oval Officer? Probably not, as the majority of fans, even minorities, are not too cool with Kaep and his agenda. But expect the NFL Cufflinks, even as President Trump serves their economic interests, to have a good chuckle or two postulating the possibility.

The marriage between sport and patriotism has been a long one. Like all recognized unions in bliss, it has had its ups and it has had its downs but for the most part it’s been one of purpose and contentment.

If the NFL and it players continue to use that consecrated coupling as a means to vet-out every feeling and foible facilitated by any trend that on-ramps the virtual highway, the divorce proceedings will begin in earnest, not between the partners sport and patriotism, but that joining of loyal football fans and the discretionary relationship they’ve long had with the game and its well-paid profiteers.

Perhaps wiser heads can impress upon the faux protesters the realities of life: ‘Your conference call to Misters Goodell and Smith is ready now, Ms. Nooyi.’

Cherry Picks Week 4: Back to Business

Bears @ Packers: 9.28 CBS 8:25: GreenBay
Titans @ Texans: 10.1 CBS 1:00: Houston
Steelers @ Baltimore: CBS 1:00: Ravens
Detroit @ Minnesota: Fox 1:00: Vikings
LosAngeles @ Cowboys: Fox 1:00: Rams
Buffalo @ Atlanta: CBS 1:00: Falcons
Philadelphia @ LosAngeles: Fox 4:05: Eagles
Raiders @ Denver: CBS 4:25: Oakland
Indianapolis @ Seattle: NBC 8:30: Seahawks
Washington @ KC: 10.2 Disney 8:30: Chiefs

Record: 2-5

Steven Keys
NFL HunchLine
Photo credit: NFL-symbol, wikiproject, 2011; President-D.Trump, Transition-2017, wc.cca, 11.9.16, 450k; IndraNooyi, PepsiCo, 1.23.08, wc.cca, Davos, 3m, WEF; British-General Cornwallis-Surrender-At-Yorktown, 115k, JohnTrumbull, oil, 1797; JimOtto, NFL, Topps, 1970
Posted: 9.27.17 @ 12:16aE, edit 9.28; Copyright © 2017
References: *Cnn.com, “Trump: NFL Owners Should Fire Players Who Protest,” S.Tatum, 9.23.17; “The Battle Cry of Aldo Ray”. Movieline, 1.1.91 (Wikipedia); Glenda Farrell, Here Comes Carter (36), WarnerBrothers

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NFL17 Pre-Play: Nobody Bullied the Beav and No One Needles the NFL, Kaep Krew

9 Aug

If you’re an NFL fan or root for Colin Kaepernick, not always mutually exclusive mental states, and feed those foibles by perusing online sport sites, you’ll know it has become common in recent years for certain players to have developed a cult-like following amongst the media, junior scribes, in particular. Individually, five names have received more press than probably every player combined, excepting Broadway Joe, of course, since the National went on-wire in 1920:

1) Johnny Manziel
2) Tim Tebow
3) Michael Sam
4) Colin Kaepernick
5) Richard Sherman

At this posting only one of the five, Sherman, has a job with our nation’s new national pastime (When a home run derby is your showcase event of the season, there’s big trouble) and soon to become international funfest (See; London).

Of the other four, it’s possible Manziel and Kaepernick could get a call for a 2017 quarterback tryout as injuries begin to mount in the League on commencement of training camps and contact. But that’s becoming more doubtful as the recent rapid-signing in Miami of free-agent QB Jay Cutler and longer-than-expected list of somewhat suspect number (#) ones (Kessler (CLE), McCown (NYJ), Hoyer (SF), Taylor (BUF), Glennon (CHI), Siemian (DEN), Savage (HOU)) penciled-in for 2017 strongly suggests about both their desirability.

For Tebow, who last played with the Jets in 2012, the chance of an NFL return is nearly nil. Tim’s rather particular (prideful), shunning CFL and tight-end talk, a spot for which he was tailor-made. Same holds true for Sam (nil) who never made a roster after being drafted late in 2014 (7 / 249), having two tryouts (STL / DAL), an invite to a combine and a brief suit-up with Montreal (CFL). Mike does, for some reason, have his own page at PFR.com, sans the Alouettes.

None of those deactivated states has stopped certain media from alternatively appeasing (groupies) or depressing (fans of sport) readers with a steady stream of stories seemingly designed to persuade, cajole or bully the League, its owners and neutral fans into giving three of the four another shot at the big time.

But “Eddie Haskell” couldn’t bully “Beaver Cleaver,” Reid & Pelosi couldn’t bully Dan Snyder, his Washington Redskins and the American Indian rank & file (See; WP “9 of 10” poll (2016)) and nobody bullies the NFL to decide who it hires and who it doesn’t. An exception: Ray Rice and women’s advocacy. The ex-Raven’s rehab appears real but his stigma sticks: Video is video, thanks to TMZ (ugh).

If you think that’s a poor analogy, then you never knew Leave It to Beaver (1957-63). It’s impact on Americana made Vince Lombardi’s power sweep look almost happenstance. And if you don’t know the sweep (Kramer – Gregg) you’d best bone up. Start in State of Ohio, then find George Halas (IL) and go from there.

Michael Sam

When Sam told the nation of his homosexual orientation just prior to the 2014 NFL draft, likely hoping to forestall his stock drop to a level so low he feared being undrafted entirely, his act was lauded by captured media as socially significant. It might have been more accurately called a self-serving act of leverage. A League that would appear unwelcoming to the first openly gay pro football player, college skill-set aside, might suffer a consumer backlash, so the Suits & Skirts may’ve thunk. Sam gets the call late from a Rams club seeking a re-location vote, then a tryout from affable Jerry Jones who is always looking for new renters (AT&T). The NFL looked open-minded, Sam got his cup o’ Gatorade® and everybody felt a little cheated.

Colin Kaepernick

Sherman recently claimed Kaepernick is being blackballed on his race. But that won’t fly. The NFL’s composition is overwhelmingly African-American. Others claim jingoism is motivating CK’s critics, arising from what appeared an anthem protest on police brutality, suspiciously timed as the former 49er’s starter-string in San Francisco looked to’ve run out. But America was born on protest (Stamp Act 1765). Refusing to stand at attention for the flag ceremony is disfavored but not necessarily offensive to most citizens of these United States. What owners may’ve found abhorrent (Tuesday nite ESPN reports Giants’ owner John Mara likes the Milwaukee-native to suit-up somewhere in the NFL for 2017) were Colin’s racist white pig socks. It doesn’t have to be a forgiveable act but until Kaepernick takes responsibility, even a re-signing won’t make him legitimate.

What if nobody comes calling from the NFL, where does Colin go from there? Oprah? That’d be nice, for him, when he and his co-author get a book done (I don’t know Dick’s writing skills but he does like a by-line (See; SI.com)). And believing in something (faith) is not enough. Wisdom, and no small amount of courage, do both matter. Protest can be passionate, or it can be theater if it lacks heart & soul (truth). And he can forget about autograph shows, they’re pro-diversity and patriotic, but the NBA célébrité will always be welcoming.

John Manziel

Johnny Football: He never did earn that moniker. Jon thought talent was the trick. So did Todd Marinovich, “Robo-QB.” He could matriculate in a typhoon but made drugs his love. Manziel could’ve been the greatest college quarterback in history but made booze his squeeze. We don’t really know anything’s changed at this posting. For a run-QB who never learned to take hits in the pocket, THE pro skill, Johnny Skittles can’t afford to have fun being stupid any longer. Like Colin, Jon never respected the game, or the business. That won’t be tolerated, not by owners, players, coaches, real fans or the almighty Sponsors.

Tim Tebow

It’s curious, Tim may be the only NFL signal-caller to have, in his one near-full campaign under center (2014 Denver), compiled a better than .500 record (7-4), led the most captivating team win-streak in recent memory (6-0), won a road playoff game (@ Pittsburgh) on a GWD touchdown strike, yet, the next season, be ungraciously traded away (Jets) where, for one season, he finished his brief career in a non-QB job as a decoy flanker-back (?). Curious, indeed.

Tebow’s fandom is still vast, kept current with his baseball venture in the Mets minors, one most likely to end in the same fashion to that of his pro football career when (if) on promotion he meets that “wicked” major league curveball, known to derail & dash many a career (See; Bull Durham (88)).

Most scribes never did subscribe to the Book of Timbo, hence, never did promote his cause for return. Bart Simpson just won’t rock to Christian hip-hop. Like all run-QBs, Tim’s skill-set proved limited (47.9 C%). But other wily field generals have too relied heavily on stoking emotional fires to wins & careers, Billy Kilmer comes to mind (1967: 10g, 47.5%, 0-4, 6t-11i (16y)), and Tim, had he been NFL retained, would’ve most likely seen his skill-set progress at least in the manner of fellow flashman CK: Never top tier (Brady / Moon) but a sufficiency to roster. And then nobody put fans in the seats, stadium and home, like Tebow did. The reality for the NFL is that flash-QB, with all his shortcomings (rabbit, RIF-fail), is here to stay, given his popularity in college by great success (titles / Heismans) and facilitator of coach-lite: Just give the Kid the ball and count the wins.

Steven Keys
NFL HunchLine
Photo Credit: NFL-wikiproject, Ixnay-Beao; C.Kaepernick, wc.cca, 10.27.13, D.Hartwig; M.Sam, wc, ED.Drost, 8.23.14; Starlito-T.Tebow-L.Garrett, wc, 11.1.12; J.Manziel, Kyle-Field, wc, shutterbug459, 10.20.12; J.Marshall, Topps, 1970.
Posted: 8.9.17 @ 12:39a EST, edit 8.10; Copyright © 2017

Bills Like IKE: 2nd Chance or Free Pass?

17 Aug

It’s been the talk of town, New York town, that is, for good part of this past week. And it’s likely to have some traction running well into the NFL 2015 season.

News broke Tuesday (8.11) that New York Jets starting quarterback, 3rd-year man Geno Smith, suffered a broken jaw at the hand of 2nd-year, small defensive-end (6” 1’ / 261), IK Enemkpali who‘d appeared in but 6 contests in 2014, making a mere 2 tackles (1a).

“Sucker-punch” was the phrase of the day.

......Bills.wordmark.M.Epsilon.sportslogo

The rumor-mill was working fast & furious in the hours and days following, offering much speculation but little or nothing in the form of substance. The consensus was that a believed debt owed in the form of a $600 airline ticket was the assailant’s motivation with no small amount of bad judgment at the root cause.

The non-refundable ticket has probably been source of more arguments and animosity in America than vacation destination debate and infidelity, combined.

Equally blind-sided was 1st-year NYJ head coach Todd Bowles who handled his press conference like a seasoned pro but, as expected, offered little insight into the fracas except that IKE had been summarily dismissed (waived) from the Jets and that changing a team’s “culture (reporter queries are getting Dumb and Dumber by the day)” doesn’t happen “overnight.”

But no sooner had IKE been set adrift in an NFL sea awash in wannabes, than the free-swinger from Pflugerville, Texas was thrown a line and hauled in by the Buffalo Bills who claimed him off those waivers. Enemkpali will be reuniting with Bills 1st-year head coach Rex Ryan who drafted IKE when he headed-up the Jets draft selection in ’14.

It’s the type of act that defines Rex Ryan’s persona, i.e., player’s coach.

....Ryan.10.23.11.wc.M.O'Leary.thmb

Less confrontational someone like former Raiders owner-coach, Al Davis (d.2011), and less enigmatic than Belichick, RR’s more akin to Seahawks’ Pete Carroll. But all like-minded in providing port of sanctuary for the occasional misfit & malcontent, though, Rex has “miles to go“ before he matches Al’s record of safe-harbor (See; R.Incognito (BUF)).

Who doesn’t like 2nd-chances, who’s not a hater or hypocrite?

It’s a dice roll but often affords good press, might fuel some locker-room mojo and pay big dividends (See; Raiders SB11, 15 & 18; M.Lynch (SEA)).

The problem with Buffalo’s move is apparent failure of Bills’ brass (GM Whaley) to set a condition precedent to claiming IKE, i.e., first, require he man-up by attempting a sincere, face-to-face w/Smith whose rep will always suffer from this emasculation, hopefully including reciprocating apologies from both parties.

Talk, or lawyer-vetted public apologizes, can be cheap, just as PCP-mandated counseling can fall on deaf ears. A face-to-face would’ve been a gesture benefiting all interested parties and the NFL, i.e., ‘mistakes happen, we make it right.’

An opportunity lost.

Jets Jab speaks to the immense power of imagery in 2015.

Even with the non-sport brutality that is MMA being forced on the masses by marketers, and using ladies, too, no less (equal opportunity viciousness), the power of the video-displayed punch on public passions is all too evident in wake of the Rice-Palmer elevator incident and to a lesser media-degree, the LeGarrette Blount jab at Byron Hout a few back (NCAA).

.....Blount.wc.1.19.14.J.Beall.tm

Oregon Duck Blount, who’d just seen his Heisman and team’s national title hopes take a nose dive in ‘09 loss to Boise State, received a punitive pounding for what amounted to a reflexive message-punch to a taunting, in-your-face Hout. A long suspension and serious drop in NFL draft (‘10) was the result for the star RB.

You’ll not see state criminal codes change but the Blount-Hout dust-up raised a valid question of whether physical force (SD) should be sanctioned in certain circumstance absent meeting of traditional standard, the reasonable belief in (serious) bodily harm. If a punch recipient’s words, manner & timing incite a reasonable but irresistible impulse towards physicality (See also; Zidane), as adjudicator I’d be open to finding it justifiable.

But that’s all theory.

What is real is LeGarrette’s resilient rebound in the pro-ranks, a success story (SB49 ring) that warrants a cover shot (Sports Illustrated). His own punch-line speaks to the power of video, even as it’s sometimes overstated and oversold (See; Disney (ESPN)).

To the Bills, whose newest rosteree in IKE was luckily spared the same degree of national outrage that often accompanies wide, public dissemination of audio (Sterling) and video-captured moments of indiscretion, seeking success (Ws & $) and fomenting feel-good by affording a 2nd-chance is, on the surface, a-okay.

But if it comes by enabling quasi-criminal acts and jellyfish mentality (fear of taking responsibility) it’s just more over-identification from the likeable coach (who hadn’t even spoken with IKE pre-claim) and maybe an excuse for a troubled player to simply carry his overt-anger elsewhere, off-field, to another unsuspecting victim. Maybe.

.......NFL.wikiproject.6kb

Steven Keys
Macro Sport
Photo credits: G.Smith, 8.11.13, Eltiempo10, wc; Buffalo, wordmark, wc, M.Epsilon; R.Ryan, 10.23.11, wc, M.O’Leary; L.Blount, 1.19.14, J.Beall, wc; NFL-symbol, wikiproject.
Posted: 8.17.15 @ 12:11am; Copyright ® 2015

Can Sport Topic Turn Elections?

19 Nov

Can sporting events swing an election? Short answer: not likely.

You wouldn’t think sport and its figures would ever play much of a role in voter-think, nationally or on the local level, apart from credentialing the candidate with a notoriety, i.e., Jack Kemp, Jim Bunning and Bill Bradley.

When there’s no one, single topic that stokes the fires of voter passion, like a military matter or an inspirational persona, well known (Reagan) or new to the national scene (Carter, Obama), that’s when mood can play a decisive role.

Results from Election 2014 have seen the GOP back in congressional clover, retaking the Senate to add to a House majority and, with lame duck Democrat Barack Obama manning the Oval Office, divided government is set to rule these United States for at least 2 years.

But before that all takes full affect, many are asking, why? Why did Republicans receive a mini-mandate from voters, coast-to-coast?

Theories abound as to the cause(s) of the Democrats demise.

Mid-terms are notorious for poor voter turnout. And when one party has held the top spot for six years and one of the two Congressional chambers for quite a spell, change feels right to a majority. No pun intended.

That usually bodes well for Republicans. Unless there’s a hotly contested local election, the citizenry doesn’t get all that jacked-up about the supporting cast. Because we ex-colonialists are still monarchists at heart, it’s the Presidential vote that really floats our boats, especially younger voters. And unfortunately for the donkey-set, da’ Dems had precious little in the way of victories to motivate base and swingers.

The economy, immigration, foreign stability, race relations (“That could’ve been my son”), all either saw little forward progress or seem to’ve taken a step backwards.

War on terrorism (2001) has had real success and faces new challenges including clarification of mission, while the ACA (Obamacare) is working for some folks but has created angst, not just amongst GOP’ers but downcast Dems who’d sought single payer and see ACA as only validating the “monster(s)” of healthcare who keep costs and profits grossly high.

And that‘s where a pervading and prevailing national mood comes into play. America’s on-edge.

..........C.Cassius.Longinus.63BC.CNG.wc.cca.thumb

Candidates and pundits know well, emotion is a powerful potion in politics.

It can be a passion, one that arises from an tragedy (post-JFK (LBJ), 9-11-01 (GWB)) or builds over time (The Depression (FDR)). It can sweep across party lines, or it can simply reflect a general malaise, an apprehension that weighs heavy on the national spirit.

That’d be 2014.

What then on the sporting scene could possibly affect the national spirit?

Point-shaving scandal? Nope, but if Silver gets his way the odds are favorable.

ESPN (Disney) has decided to change course and return to its former state as an independent-minded, high-standard sport network? Pure fantasia.

Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley teaming up for 2016 Presidential run? Nope, though there have been dicier combos. I would listen.

It wasn’t one event but a series of manufactured topics in the sport world, as short on substance as they were sincerity. And when Democratic leaders and mainstream media jumped on board each topic, moderate and even some Dem loyalists may’ve begun to see the party of Jefferson, Jackson, FDR & JFK in a whole new, dim-bulb light.

The disenchanted, feeling disenfranchised, didn’t all vote GOP, they just didn’t vote.

Democrats look more and more like their Republican counterparts every year.

The party platform remains divergent:

Dems are pro-choice, GOP anti-abortion;
Dems favor gun restrictions, GOP favors gun ownership & presence;
Both will engage militarily with all due speed where alliance or interest exists;
Dems raise taxes on corporations & cufflinks, GOP cuts ‘em down…the taxes.

It’s the mission and tactics that’re the same: raise lots o’ money, spend it, hope to sway voters, achieve power, then leave office and join the firm for some serious profit-taking.

Democrats have taken a page outta’ Republican play-book. They haphazardly throw out the ‘racist’ word whenever it suits, just as the GOP used the ‘commie’ tag in the 50s.

We voters may get a tad lazy when it comes to casting but we’re not nitwits. It’s plain to see how both parties are now captured by their respective lobbies and extreme wings.

It’s angry Christians who ride atop the pachyderm and work the party megaphone, while the politically correct bullies dictate the donkey‘s dance tune.

PC is nothing new, but dictating party directives, that‘s a whole new ball-game.

Blind obedience to a faction is especially disturbing for a party that had, in perception if not always practice, prided itself on the tenets of rational discourse, democracy and due process. It may’ve begun as a limited tenency (white, propertied males), but expanded progressively over the decades (See; U.S. History, unrevised edition).

The manufactured storylines that made it onto the sporting goods shelf:

Anti-Redskins

............Redskins.wc.cca.thumb

A disingenuous, late-to-the-game faction that arose from a small sect that protested logo-art in the 80s and found friends in the ivory-towered elite of America’s college campuses, into a media movement coinciding with the year Nike® assumed NFL uniform duties.

Donald Sterling

A TMZ dissemination of a recording of a senile 80-year old’s racially insensitive rant is used by the new NBA czar to bounce the batty billionaire and may now have A. Silver in line for the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Last part’s a stretch but Adam’s definitely got PR boogie, even as his roughshod ride showed complete disregard for the social right to privacy, which, ironically, is sacrosanct in liberal circles (See; Roe v Wade).

Adam played his hand well, so it must’ve seemed fine time to pitch the greed grab that is gambling & sport, a marriage made in hell. Sterling’s ouster gave Silver the cachet “to boldly go where no (principled Commissioner) has gone before,” the sport-betting biz.

The man with the Mona Lisa smile is a wolf in sheep’s clothing and the 2016 presidential candidate who has sporting sense and spine to shout down such dangerous co-mingle of interests that Hi-Yo Silver proposes, could set the tone for a likely rancorous campaign.

Roger Goodell

..........Goodell.thumbnail.flag

Then there was the lynch-mob that sought (seeks) the job of NFL Commissioner Goodell who honored a Prosecutor’s plea-deal and a victim’s wish (Palmer) in giving Ray Rice his initial 2-game suspension. Roger’s not outta the woods yet as we wait on Mr. Mueller.

Mike Sam

Sam’s pre-Draft promotion in announcing his sexual orientation last spring brought out the media buskers in full force, even as his notoriety-giving pronouncement clearly conflicted with his claim to have only a singular interest in “football player” anonymity.

Dish Network v. TCM (TimeWarner)

Not a sport story but one that may shed light on just how pervasive PC can be.

Money’s always at the root of corporate conflict but the one between Dish Network and TimeWarner may have less to do with coinage than it does with political sensibilities.

In late October, one of TW’s top networks in Turner Classic Movies was bumped from Dish’s programming slate, along with other TW channels including CNN, in what Dish claims in an unreasonable negotiation made by the multinational media conglomerate.

The fat-cats are greedy but they’re not dumb. They know how far they can / can’t push that money envelope in contract negotiations before it falls off the table.

More likely this supposed stand-off is about format and politics.

The leaders at Dish or even TimeWarner itself who may not be negotiating in good faith, might be objecting to TCM’s catalog of films that can send PC rage-meters red-lining.

The network of classics does not edit their film stock (silent-70s), even scenes with black-face, nudity, harsh dialogue, unflattering Indian portrayals, animal brutality or misogynistic male leads, choosing instead to respect creativity, mature message and mores of the time.

In short, Turner Classic Movies is an entertainment entity that respects history and art, not exactly favored subjects of today’s politically correct bully, one of two contemporary versions of book burners (See also: anti-evolutionists, etc.).

..........Derriere.2003.wc.cca.Greudin.thumb

Excepting the Dish – TW battle, all the above topics were short on material value but were nonetheless taken up by the Democrats and their cooperative sport media allies in a singular effort to sway the LDAs (least discerning audience), 18-26 voter block.

And it worked, as social media comment threads were flooded with feigned PC outrage for every topic that hit the fan. Trouble was, LDAs didn’t vote.

It’s a tawdry tactic the Democratic party has whole-heartedly embraced. It paints a picture of a once progressive assemblage that’s fast losing touch with the standard of fairness, its long-time loyalists and those swing voters who on occasion joined its ranks.

Sport news won’t get out the vote and it won’t guide the hand of those who happen to make it into the booth. And given the nonchalant attitude most politicos exude when sport, its leadership or accoutrements (logos, etc.) are topic, it’s safe to write that they, along with most elitists and religious devotees, don’t hold the sporting class in very high regard.

But “tumultuous merriment” has been around a long time and will remain a microcosm of our nation’s mores and beliefs.

Until that person appears on the political scene who can, with charisma, brains & courage, steer Democrats back onto inclusiveness, the blue bloods would be wise to poll & heed their majority or can expect to keep playing the party pooper in too many future elections.

Steven Keys
Brass Tacks
Photo credits: NH-vote, M.Buckawicki, 11.5.13, wc.cca; C.Cassius.Longinus, 63BC, CNG, wc.cca; Redskins, wc.cca; Goodell, USMA, 8.30.12, SSG-T.Wade; M.Sam, wc.cca. 11.30.13, M.Qwertyus; Derriere, wc.cca, 2003, Greudin.
Posted: 11-19-14 @ 1:45pm; edit @ 6:44 EST

NFL14 Cherry Picks W11: Grounding Hail Mary

14 Nov

Flop Jack

NFL Week 10: 49ers 27, Saints 24 (OT).

“A (flop) by any other name (“offensive pass interference”) would smell as (bad).”

Before Simultaneous-gate paralyzed the NFL for a week in 2012 (GB v SEA), the half-ending Hail Mary was a thrilling, at times chaotic physical drama that, due to its nature, unofficially allowed for a looser application of the rules. Outcomes were unpredictable and lady luck presided. And no, she didn’t wear pink.

But most importantly, the Hail Mary pass was always a good time, for fans and players.

Rarely and only in the most egregious circumstance was a near-miraculous TD catch ever invalidated.

No one messed with Hail Mary pre-2012. She had her standards, took her job seriously, no question, but she was a free-spirit, unencumbered and usually left most fans with a smile on their face, even if completion (TD) was not achieved.

But now that the replay fanatics have gotten a-hold of the game, she’s gone corporate and you never saw such sad eyes.

Since the Great Whine-fest of 2012, NFL officials on the field and upstairs are held to a strict-scrutiny standard, where every grab & push (flops are inexplicably ignored) is eye-balled to extreme and chicanery (49ers Cox) can rule the day, ending the game on a thud.

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It’s possible the governors of our beloved NFL game truly do mean well in choosing this fretful pathway of inconsistent, micro-management, but then they’re the same guys who sold players on glove-wear.

In closing seconds of last Sunday’s 49ers – Saints game, bomb-catching Jimmy Graham was ruled in replay to’ve “fouled” faux-defender Perrish Cox and his TD grab was tossed.

But seeing is believing.

Everything’s connected, especially in sport. As such, it’s impossible to separate Perry’s apparent flop from Jim’s arm extension which was made to appear greater only by the Niner’s melodramatic drop. Had Cox not gone down in some post-election politicking, any arm-body contact in review would’ve been deemed incidental to the nature of the play (standing scrum), a form that defines most every Hail Mary heave.

Where flagrant foulage is absent, referees serve best who ‘let the players play’ to decide the outcome in those final moments.

And maybe someday, someone with power, moxy, brains and a real love for football will restore our Hail Mary to her perfect (imperfect) state. Not bloody likely but I’ll keep hoping and remembering how it used to be.

Sharp Cheddar

The Green Bay juggernaut got back on track at Lambeau last Sunday, putting on quite the offensive display in trouncing intra-division and leather-helmet rival da’ Bears (55-14). When Aaron Rodgers clicks, only Peyton, Drew & Tom compare (18-27 / 315y / 6.td).

Packers have been feasting on smaller game only to be roughed up in higher weight class (SEA, DET & NO), so they can’t be considered NFC topper just yet.

Sunday they face a new-look Eagles squad with much-maligned but rejuvenated Jets cast-off Mark Sanchez under center. Mark can’t shake his “fumble” tag that junior media petulantly persist in attaching, but if he keeps birds flyin’ onward & upward, and that’s a big but (no pun intended), the juvenile set will have to cast their dispersions elsewhere.

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Besides a Philly team that‘s adjusted well to D-Jax’s departure, under-the-radar defending champs Seattle are gaining momentum, NFCN leading Detroit has a new discipline (Caldwell) and Arian’s neo-cardiac Cards are full of cackle, even w/Palmer out (ACL).

GB’s remaining slate is a curious one with most mettle match-ups at home facing the Eagles, Patriots, Falcons and Lions. The road-test looks reasonably navigable as most dreaded rival Minnesota are downright Bear-ish in 2014, Buffalo, with veteran Orton manning controls is just viable but Tampa’s Lovie Smith does know the Pack well.

The drubbing Green Bay gave Chicago was impressive enough.

Maybe more impressive and deserving of good karma down the road is Coach Mike McCarthy’s apparent refusal to run up scores when opponents appear out-classed.

At the rate they were going (28 2Q points), Pack probably could’ve scored 75 on the toothless Monsters of Midway who’ve hit the skids after a promising start to the season. Instead, the host team kept it respectable with one TD in each of the final two quarters.

That’s class, something too rarely seen on the college scene where piling it on for poll position is the norm.

A Matter of Choice

If you polled those women whose boyfriends, husbands or partners follow the NFL and asked them, which of the Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson cases they found most disturbing, I’d hazard a guess it’s the child abuse / discipline matter that has the Vikings former MVP indefinitely suspended by the NFL.

The NFLPA filed a non-injury grievance with the NFL on Monday asking that Adrian Peterson be removed the Commissioner’s Exempt list. The hearing on that request is to be held next Monday, as ESPN “reports (11-12).”

As shocking and inciting of outrage as are the Rice – Janay Palmer video releases, the victim apparently made a choice to forgive her assailant and afford him, her husband, and their marriage, a second chance. A brave person, and I wish the Rices both, as I do Adrian Peterson and his family members, all the best in their journeys.

Most women support choice.

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NFL Cherry Picks Week 11

Bills (5-4) @ Miami (5-4): 11-13 NFLN 8:30: Dolphins win
Texans (4-5) @ Cleveland (6-3): 11-16 CBS 1:00: HOU wins
Bengals (5-3-1) @ New Orleans: CBS 1:00: Saints wins
Seahawks (6-3) @ Kansas City (6-3): 1:00 Fox: Chiefs win
49ers (5-4) @ New York (3-6): Fox 1:00: Giants win
Lions (7-2) @ Arizona (8-1): Fox 4:30 (GOTW): Cards win
Eagles (7-2) @ Green Bay (6-3): Fox 4:30: Packers win
Patriots (7-2) @ Indianapolis (6-3): NBC 8:35: Pats win

Record: 50 – 29 – 1

Steven Keys
NFL HunchLine
Photo credits: Blessed Virgin Mary, wc.cca, W.Moroder, Groden-Oritisei, Italy, 2008; P.Cox, 8.26.12, J.Beall, wc.cca; Packers print, wc.cca, 1959; ripe cherries, wc.cca, Chirak, 6.24.07
Posted: 11-13-14 @ 10:06pm EST

NFL14 Cherry Picks W2: TMZ & Profitable Chaos

9 Sep

Coinage in Chaos

Most news reports began with phrases like, “new video has surfaced,” and “obtained by TMZ.com,” sadly, words that’re now nomenclature (std schpeal?) in today’s tawdry tell-all times (“New Video” / SI.com / 9-8-14 / Axson).

The breaking story flooded the media landscape after TMZ released a video Monday showing Ray Rice assaulting his then fiancée, Janay Palmer in-elevator at a New Jersey hotel last February. It followed a criminal conviction against Rice earlier in summer, 2-game NFL ban and a national focus on the issue of domestic violence. This new tape’s public-vetting of the brutal incident has led to Rice‘s quick, same-day release by his Baltimore Ravens team and indefinite NFL suspension.

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The tape, widely disseminated by TMZ, is of rather poor quality but clear enough to show a verbal and physical back n’ forth between the two throughout the brief tapping, ending with Rice visibly knocking-out Palmer with one, severe blow.

Resentment towards Rice, the Ravens, Atlantic County prosecutors and Roger Goodell is at fever pitch and has that now all too common, pitchfork-crowd mentality about it.

But just as clear as the viciousness of Ray Rice in this 2nd video, is that TMZ and its managing editor Harvey Levin will, in all likelihood, profit mightily by its acquisition and marketing, yet, are receiving little or no criticism for their dubious business practice.

As to claim that TMZ’s latest excretion (See; Sterling-Stiviano audio) will aid to heighten public awareness on domestic violence & brutality, that was already accomplished in release of the first Palmer – Rice hall-way video. In their acquisition ($?) & “surfac(ing)” of this in-elevator, video evidence, TMZ et al merely enflamed simmering rancor and may’ve compromised the carefully crafted resolution to this NJ criminal case, one involving input from prosecutors, the principal parties and their legal team.

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TMZ, in effect, outed Janay Palmer in releasing the tape, arguably in pursuit of profit & self-promotion. Even were the on-line tabloid to donate a sizable sum to charitable cause (they can‘t donate publicity), is Janay the better for TMZ’s action? Was their decision, one that’s gone largely unquestioned by media, public and a panicky, knee-jerk Ravens club (Rice jersey exchange), done in Palmer’s best interest? Doubtful.

And are we a better nation for its release (2nd tape), to simply get confirmation of an act we already knew (Ray hit Janay hard), if not with certainty, a high probability, even at expense of the victim? That’s not ‘better’ but just one more reason for self-righteous rage.

It did, however, get Bruce Levenson (Atlanta Hawks) off sporting oven’s front-burner.

Not privy to details or inner-workings of the prosecutor’s office, I’ll hazard a guess that where an accused (Rice) has no prior record of abuse and the victim is desirous to afford a second chance, authorities listen and heed the call, w/in clearly defined parameters.

Janay, who’d already had support from much of the public, can’t be too happy w/release of this new video. TMZ’s play may only worsen her and husband’s state as he’s expected to undergo counseling. Hopefully they’ve the strength & support network to ride it out, for with a likely life-time NFL ban looming, Ray’s now gonna be home alot. Thanks, Harv.

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As for Goodell and the 2g ban he initially gave Rice, while the under-fire Commissioner will try to appease the mawkish mob, whether he (& favored media) saw this video previously or not (he claims not), Roger likely acted in respect of prosecutor’s determination, the victim’s wish and refused to contradict those interests merely to win PR points.

Any view rejecting such theory on Goodell can only be possessed by a prejudice, or, dumbfounded in their belief of either one of three crazy postulations as to his motive for not rendering a stiffer penalty initially on Rice: 1) He’s an incredible bias in favor of the Ravens, so much so he’d risk reputation & job to satisfy it; 2) he’s suddenly turned too timid to punish wrong-doers sufficiently (See: Al. Smith, J.Gordon, Bountygate, Bullygate, etc.); or 3) he dislikes women and was not moved by the in-elevator tape when viewing. Crazy.

But try telling that to the Mob of Concern.

Sexual Orientation – Affirmative Action?

Peter King (NBC – SI) and S.A. Smith (ESPN) reported on Thursday (9/4) the NFL made contact with various teams regarding Mike Sam after he failed to latch on with the Rams.

Assuming the King & Smith comments are full & factual, the appropriateness of the action, reaching-out to determine or cultivate team interest in Sam, who’s since been signed to the Dallas Cowboys practice squad, may turn on exactly what information the NFL was acting upon and their particular motive involved.

.......Sam.11.30.13.wc.cca.M.Qwertyus.1.3m

If NFL believes Sam has pro-skills and learned the former Tiger was being denied a fair chance (prejudice), one that others of his set would receive, then the calls are tantamount to either a pre-emptive legal move, or NFL – AA (Affirmative Action: a pro-active hiring practice designed to level a playing field and root out entrenched racial prejudice in hiring, a government policy since the 60s that’s much debated still today.

While many players have spoken publicly since Sam’s declaration last spring about homosexual orientation not being a problem in their respective NFL locker-rooms, has there been a less accommodating, un-spoken policy amongst certain management?

If, on the other hand, the League had little basis for 1) judging Mike’s skill set, or 2) did not hear-tell that prejudice was precluding his signing-on w/another club, then what these reports claim are likely predicated on an NFL – NFLPA purpose in PR and commerce.

The NFL is a private entity and can legally promote itself how it sees fit. If King & Smith are disseminating, this leak had purpose. The problem here: such a policy, if it exists, may do more harm than good to future, openly gay players as AA is a polarizing position.

Encouraging Signs

It was only the Cowboys and Romo was pretty awful (3 INTs), but it was in Big D and Colin Kaepernick showed a new found poise in the pocket in 49ers 28 – 17 victory (16 -23 / 201y / 2TDs). CK took hits and used mobility to find targets, not to scamper.

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Geno Smith had 3rd-best comp-% (82) in Jets history (23 – 28 / 221y / 1-1), leading New York to 19 – 14 home opener win vs. Oakland. C. Ivory ran for 102y (71 – 1td) for NYJ. Raider highlight: 2nd-year LB Sio Moore with 11 tackles, 2 assists and a sack. Busy.

Curious Quotes

Not every defense, can’t stop every play:” Former Ravens’ coach, Brian Billick, working analysis on NFL GameDay Live, Sunday afternoon. Yogi Berra would be proud, BB.

“Beers:” How one host on NFL GameDay Live pronounces ‘Bears.’ Watch much sports?

This is a pass – fail League, today we failed:” Browns’ new head coach Mike Pettine, of the ‘glass half-empty’ school, after his club fell at Pittsburgh in a gutsy loss, 27 -30. Try “Ac-Cent-Tchu-At(ing) the Positive,” next time, Mike, your men played with spirit.

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Cherry Picks Week 2: Bounce Back

Pittsburgh Steelers (1-0) @ Baltimore Ravens (0-1): 9-11 NBC 8:30 EST: Ravens win.

Arizona Cardinals (1-0) @ New York Giants (0-1): 9-14 Fox 1:00: NYG wins.

Miami Dolphins (1-0) @ Buffalo Bills (1-0): CBS 1:00: Dolphins win.

New England Patriots (0-1) @ Minnesota Vikings (1-0): CBS 1:00: Patriots win.

Detroit Lions (1-0) @ Carolina Panthers (1-0): Fox 1:00: Panthers win.

Atlanta Falcons (1-0) @ Cincinnati Bengals (1-0): CBS 1:00: Bengals win.

Seattle Seahawks (1-0) @ SD Chargers (0-1) (GOTW): Fox 4:10: Bolts win.

Kansas City Chiefs (0-1) @ Denver Broncos (1-0): CBS 4:30: Chiefs win.

New York Jets (1-0) @ Green Bay Packers (0-1): CBS 4:30: Packers win.

Chicago Bears (0-1) @ San Francisco 49ers (1-0): NBC 8:35: Bears win.

Philadelphia Eagles (1-0) @ Indianapolis Colts (0-1): 9-15 ESPN: IND wins.

Steven Keys
NFL Hunch Line
Photo Credits: H.Levin / wc.cca / G.Hernandez / 4.2.10; R.Rice / 1ravencowboysnflfan / 8.12.12 / wc.cca ; R.Goodell / wc.cca / SSG.T.Wade / USMA; M.Sam / wc.cca / 11.30.13 / M.Qwertyus; C.Kaepernick / 2.3.13 / Au.Kirk / wc.cca; Cherries / wc.cca / B.Kua / 6.1.08.

Posted: 9-9-14 @ 5:52, 6:56, 11:55pm EST

NFL Hunch Line: Cover Pink Proves Timely

2 Sep

Too little, too late.

That had been the prevailing sentiment of an already disgruntled NFL fan-base shortly after hearing news last Thursday (8/28) that Roger Goodell had tightened-up the League policy on substantiated claims of domestic violence & related wrongs committed by players & League employees.

.......Goodell.wc.cca.7.10.8.Sgt.B.DelVecchio.Afghan.616k

Knee-jerk might’ve summed-it-up, just fine.

But that maligning mood may give way to a new sentiment, i.e., better late than never, as the NFL’s fresh-off-the-press, enhanced standard will be tested before the ink’s dry.

Reported on Sunday was the arrest & bail-walk of 49ers veteran defensive lineman Ray McDonald (8y) on a domestic violence incident (“49ers“ / USA-Ty / L.Jones / 8-31-14).

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The following is a key paragraph in the upgrade that the Commissioner’s office gave the NFL’s Personal Conduct Policy (PCP) and detailed in letter sent out to owners last week:

Effective immediately, violations of the (PCP) regarding assault, battery, domestic violence or sexual assault that involve physical force will be subject to a suspension without pay of six games for a first offense, with consideration given to mitigating factors, as well as a longer suspension when circumstances warrant….A second offense will result in banishment from the NFL; while an individual may petition for reinstatement after one year, there will be no presumption or assurance that the petition will be granted. These disciplinary standards will apply to all NFL personnel (“Roger Goodell Letter” / espn.com / 8-29-14).

The policy enhancer came in response to a string of events starting last February.

Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice was arrested, along with then girlfriend, now wife, Janay Palmer, for aggravated assault (Palmer was not charged) in an Atlantic City hotel elevator. Rice was seen on video exiting and pulling an apparently unconscious Palmer out onto the hallway. The athlete reached agreement with County attorney whereby he may avoid conviction if he meets certain counseling and other requirements.

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In late July Goodell suspended Rice for what seemed to many a light, disaffected 2-game suspension to start the 2014 NFL season.

While NFL’s action last week is clearly designed to show compassion for victims of the harmful behaviors listed in their letter, to work a deterrent, and address short-comings in the NFL – PCP policy, it should come as little surprise that it’s also most likely intended to stop the bleeding, i.e., head off an anticipated consumer backlash from the fairer sex.

The prevailing perception has been that the NFL’s ‘by the book’ approach in addressing Rice’s criminal – legal circumstance (?) was insufficient and insensitive.

Some may’ve also seen it as contradicting the League’s pro-female stance in procurement of women consumers into it’s football family by way of merchandise, TV personas and sponsorship of a breast cancer awareness campaign (“A Crucial Catch”) as parlayed in the god-awful, gaudy pink game apparel proliferating in the League come October.

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There are three developing markets in the NFL: children, foreigners and women.

The kids are an easy sell: games (fantasy), glitz & gimmicks. It’s a ‘can’t miss.’

The foreign market has always been a tough nut to crack, given how soccer is god most everywhere outside North America. Any in-roads made are considered a plus.

And State-side, the female consumer sector is potentially huge. It is, however, selective.

Football is an all-male sport (Mo‘Ne Got Pads?). And though it espouses values in team-work, self-sacrifice, loyalty and sportsmanship (sure), it’s brutish & violent at its core, something most women avoid like ESPN (See; S.A. Smith) and socket wrenches.

Just the thought of Mom having been a pro-football fan gives this writer the willies.

While Goodell was roundly criticized for the nearly inconsequential 2g ban given Rice after his “incident of domestic violence,” and failed to explain exactly how NFL could’ve “allowed (their) standards to fall below where they should be (on DV) (“Roger” / espn),” I wrote at the time that the Commissioner’s actions were, to a degree, out of his own control, shaped by a justice system, the parties and precedent, including the CBA.

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As well, Roger has given no indication of being soft on bad behavior, i.e., “Bountygate and Bullygate,” and recent Aldon Smith (9g / SF) and Josh Gordon (2014 / CLE) bans.

Where the Commissioner might’ve spared himself, his entity, some verbal flogging was by way of the PR department. If his hands were in fact tied, communicate that fact to the people, Roger.

There is one point (letter) I would, if given the chance, bend Roger’s ear on. He wrote: “The public response reinforced my belief that the NFL is held to a higher standard (“Roger”).”

“Higher?” Really, than what, the Legends (Lingerie) League?

Uh-uh, Roger, not a “higher” standard, just a standard. Lawyers, right?

Though the League had to be a bit jolted by the collective thumbs-down given its Rice punishment, it must’ve suspected it wouldn’t take long, sadly, for its new, ameliorating measures (PCP) to be called into action, showing those fickle fans that the NFL now means business and affording them reason to come back home and help put it back in the pink.

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They just didn’t figure this long, or short (See above; McDonald).

As to Mr. McDonald, the NFL is monitoring the legal process, lawyer-vetted statements will be disseminated accordingly and the public (media & fans) hopefully observes w/emotional detachment.

Then, when the final report is issued and the fallen chips are all stacked, we can assume that any pointed questions directed to the principals will be side-stepped and the standard, ‘I take full responsibility’ will be spewed forth. All we ask is that we‘re spared the other standard (& poor) line in after-math: ‘It is what it is.’ Ugh.

But be assured, if cause does arise from McDonald or future employee incidents where violence or force is confirmed, Goodell & Co. are now, not only empowered but poised to act on that authority w/all due speed, clarity, fairness & firmness, showing the world the NFL has heart and holds human dignity amongst its highest values. Highest.

But as long as Ray Rice laces ‘em up, he’ll remain a symbol of leadership’s need to, not just talk the talk (pink wear and lady sideline reporters), but walk the walk, as well.

And to the Rices or any persons involved in domestic disturbance, be it believed victims, accused, local authorities, family and even employers, we fans wish them well in working out of that troubled state, and remain hopeful that the end results will most often become a learning experience rather than tragic memory of a day, a time, gone terribly wrong.

We also hope that where there are those who sit in judgment, their passing hand is guided by courage & wisdom yet tempered w/compassion, foresight, independence and humility.

Steven Keys
NFL Hunch Line
Photo credits: Goodell / wc.cca / 8.30.12 / SSG-T.Wade – USMA / 2.9m;  Goodell & unidentified soldier / wc.cca / 7.10.08 / Sgt. B.DelVecchio / Afghan / 616k;  McDonald / wc.cca / 8.21.8 / D.Kaczmarczyk / 181k / thumb; Rice / wc.cca / 8.12.12 / 1ravencowboysnflfan / 65k; US.Navy / 10.7.12 / Steelers / 1.5m / wc.cca / Lt. J.Prunera; NFL symbol / wikiproject / Ixnay – Beao / 1.21.10; Redskins – cheer / wc.cca / US.Navy / Italy / 361k.

Posted: 9.1.14 @ 10:57pm, EST