Author Archives: Roy S.

Does the NBA Need a Rooney Rule?

US Presswire Sports ArchiveSo far this season, four NBA coaches have been fired or “mutually agreed” to be fired–Mike Brown (Lakers), Avery Johnson (Nets), Scott Skiles (Bucks) and Alvin Gentry (Suns). Three of the four are African-American. They’ve been replaced by Mike D’Antoni, PJ Carlisimo, Jim Boylan and Lindsey Hunter (above), respectively.

Three of the four are white.

When the NFL enacted its Rooney Rule a decade ago (it requires team to interview at least one “minority” candidate for head coach and senior football operations openings), no one suggested the NBA enact a similar edict. That’s because the league had a long and positive history of hiring African-Americans as coaches and senior front office personnel.

Still does. In its most recent “Race and Gender Report Card,” the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports at the University of Central Florida gave the NBA an A+ in the area of minority hiring.

But what’s happened so far this season is a bit troubling. Coaches get fired, not doubt. And among the other 26 NBA teams, 11 are led by an African-Ameerican head coach. That’s not bad, but the trend has worth watching.

In the NFL, solid former coaches with winning records–such as Lovie Smith and Jim Caldwell–were overlooked by ownership, which in most cases decided to go with unproven coaches. (Seven of the eight new NFL coaches have never been head coaches in the league.) And a plethora of talented coordinators was overlooked as well.

The Suns promotion of Hunter, a former player with 17 years of experience and two championship rings, to interim coach at least shows that the NBA is still ahead of its brutish brethren. But not by as much as the league thinks.

How Will the Te’o Madness End?

TeoI have no idea how this Manti Te’o madness will end. Right now, all I know is that I feel as if I’m being duped. I don’t know by whom, or by everyone (including my sportswriter colleagues who are no doubt enduring some serous career soul-searching tonight).

There are still soooo many questions, too many to even articulate. And the answers we’ve received, well, at least for me, don’t quite complete the most bizarre puzzle I may have ever witnessed in this profession.

Of course, the biggest question may be the simplest one: Why?

If Te’o is truly the victim, then why would someone go such machinations to perpetrate this hoax. Is this what passes for fun in the digital age? Is this what our kids have to look forward to, or be wary of? As a friend of mine often says, Who does that?!

If he’s not the victim, then why?

He seems like a fine young man, a spiritual young man–and he’s a terrific football player. He captured our consciousness for his play on the field, for his leadership. And he should have a solid future playing on Sundays.

So why?!

It has been reported that Te’o will speak soon, perhaps has early as Thursday. He must, and he must soon.

Because right now, only he can stop the madness.

Time to Give College Football Players the Same Leverage as their Coach

Kelly's headset was barely off before he was headed to Philly to discuss and NFL job.

Kelly’s headset was barely off before he was headed to Philly to discuss and NFL job.

Maybe it’s the timing that got under my skin. Had the jet carrying beaten and battered Notre Dame even touched down back in South Bend before Irish head coach Brian Kelly was straightening his tie and fussing with his hair awaiting a meeting with the Philadelphia Eagles to discuss their vacant head coach position?

It seems like he sneaked off to another gate and booked for the Northeast as his players continued to ice down and soothe their wounds from the beat-down they endured against national champion Alabama.

Just so we’re clear: I have absolutely no problem with college coaches striking while the confetti is still raining down on their shoulders and leverage their success for a fatter paycheck. No problem at all.

God Bless Penn State’s Bill O’Brien for doin’ the NFL Dance before “deciding” (wink) to $tay at Penn State earlier this week. Last fall, the man took perhaps the most toxic and unpredictable college gig in America and handled it with dignity and success, winning more games (eight) than anyone thought he would.

Oregon’s Chip Kelly was more like that guy on the dance floor who thinks he has some moves. His awkward twirl with Cleveland, Philadelphia and reportedly Buffalo was actually pathetic. He’s been dancing for a few seasons now and it seemed as if he was a goner for sure. And good for him. Like many coaches, it seemed like he wanted to someday coach at the highest level. But after all but calling for a U-Haul, he $suddenly decided go stay in Eugene, much to the shock of many and the delight of Duck faithful.

Now, here’s the other Kelly, the Irish savior–who three years ago was a relatively unknown Kelly at Cincinnati–standing at the precipice of Notre Dame lore. Dude was being sized-up for a pedestal that would stand alongside those hoisting Knute Rockne, Frank Leahy, Ara Parseghian, Dan Devine and Lou Holtz as Irish coaches who won national championships. (A coach name Elmer Layden won one there, as well (1938) but alas I don’t believe he stands atop a pedestal, at least not one in South Bend.

But before the Irish defense has stopped flinching at the thought of ‘Bama’s 6′-2″, 220-pound running back Eddie Lacy, Kelly was dancin’.

Okay, so the confetti was raining on Nick Saban, not him, but Kelly was leveraging a blowout like nobody’s business–as is his right. But the timing was a bit stinky to me.

Moreover, his players couldn’t execute such leverage. What if they could? What if, say, Johnny Football (aka Maisel), the freshman Heisman Trophy winner, could have walked into head coach Kevin Sumlin office the morning after arriving back in Texas from New York and said, “Coach, I may not be any hotter than this, I’m heading to the NFL!”

But he can’t. Unless his potential one-and-done buddies on the basketball team, Johnny Football and other college players aren’t eligible for the NFL draft until they’ve been out of high school for three years.

We could debate all night about the merits of one-and-done, and in an age when the strength and condition programs at top college rival those of the NFL, I’m not wholly buying the idea that football is more physical and therefore the players should stay in college. They should at least be able to earn a living during the few years their bodies (and, ahem, their brains) will tolerate the game.

They should at least be able to do what their millionaire coaches do and leverage their success for economic gain.

They should at least be able to dance.

Writers Got It Wrong

hi-res-98022862_crop_exactBaseball’s writers got it wrong. And now maybe it’s time to bench them, as well.

We just learned that baseball’s 2013 Hall of Fame Class will include….no one. (Except for three members posthumously elected by the Who-Were-These-Guys? Veterans’ Committee)

For the first time in 16 years, none of the eligible players were named on 75 percent of ballots submitted by voters from the esteemed Baseball Writers Association of America (BWAA), the Hall’s sole gate-keepers.

Among the 37 players in the mix were at least whom I believe should be posing with their busts at the July 28 induction event: Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Craig Biggio, Jack Morris, Curt Schilling and perhaps even Jeff Bagwell.

And many (if not all) of them eventually will.

That’s what makes this vote so absurd.

Of course we knew this would happen. Many of the 600 or so voters have long since held their noses at this class–especially the first-time eligibles, whom they say are tainted by the use, or alleged use, of performance enhancing drugs.

How sanctimonious of them.

And maybe hypocritical, since many of them were as blind to the pervasive use of PEDs during that era as game’s executives and, yes, fans.

We all were. And it’s time we face up to the fact that the era, as is said, was what it was.

Thanks to the Mitchell Report, we now now that from about 1990 through, oh, maybe the arrival of the Bryce Harper Era, Major League Baseball was a juice-lovin’ laboratory of rats trying to hit baseballs where no men had hit them before.

We don’t know all the Who’s and the Hows, but we have suspicions. And when it comes to many of the players who were shunned today, that’s pretty much all we have.

It’s been mentioned by many, and I think it’s spot on, that perhaps the Hall should create a separate wing for those inductees who are ultimately admitted during baseball’s Steroid Era. At minimum it should be acknowledged on their plaques.

But to exclude them is ludicrous.

The writers typically vote for players based on two primary factors: how they stack against the greatest players ever; and whether they dominated their era.

By those measures, there should be several Baseball Hall of Fame inductees.

Instead, there are none because too many baseball writers decided to be judge and jury–hard, irrefutable evidence be damned! And it seems he most stubborn among them will continue to do so until the ballot is pulled from their cold dead fingers.

Maybe we shouldn’t wait that long. Maybe inclusion into baseball’s Hall should not be left to the writers done.

It’s time for former players (especially HOFers), managers and executives to be included in the voting, as well. Their presence might balance some of the obvious prejudices held by some of the current voters.

Or it might not.

There is no perfect system. And perhaps the outcome of today’s voting would be the same–even if the voting pool was different.

But this pool is now tainted, and it needs to be drained.

Griffin a Victim of NFL’s “Win Now” Mentality

griffininpain1Robert Griffin III (I’m not calling him RGIII again until he’s healthy) had surgery today. According to various reports doctors repaired a torn LCL and examined at previously injured ACL. Rehabilitation is likely to take months.

Like millions, I watched in pain as Griffin limped through the final desperate minutes of Washington’s playoff loss to the Seattle Seahawks. At one juncture, as he gamely–but with a clear gimp–tried to lead a Redskins comeback, I tweeted “Get RGIII outta there!” But Mike Shanahan didn’t pay me any mind. And soon thereafter the future–hopefully–of the franchise, and maybe the most popular man in the nation’s capital, was carted off the field.

My immediate reaction was that Shanahan’s fateful decision was to blame. And it is.

And despite the esteemed Redskins team physician Dr James Andrews’s public moonwalking, he was also on the sideline, too, as Griffin remained on the field like a hobbled doe in the sights of a hungry pride.

Yet, this is football. Check that, this is the NFL, where the lives and fortunes of so many rest on moments of success or failure, of grandeur or defeat, of desperation. It was easy for me to think about getting the young quarterback out of there, just as hindsight has prompted millions of others to say, Of course he shouldn’t have been in there!

But my job wasn’t on the line. Not my livelihood. Shanahan was in the moment and that “moment” said win now.

NFL moments are not about tomorrow.

And that may cost the Redskins the quarterback who would have saved the franchise.

Gabby: You’ve Done Enough.

If I was advising Gabby Douglas I’d have told her to pack her leotard and two gold medals right after the all-around and told her to become the most famous prime-time cheerleader on the planet.

I wouldn’t have allowed her to touch another uneven bar, floor mat, pommel horse–whatever.

Certainly not in London. Maybe not for the rest of ’12.

Why?

Because she had nowhere to go bot to fall on her tush.

Just as she did today–figuratively–finishing dead last in the unevens, an event at which she typically soars.

But who could be surprised? I wasn’t.

It was enough that she was suddenly the girl on top of the mountain–a very dangerous place to be whether at the Olympics or at back at high school. Suddenly she was the target, the potential notch on the tiny belt of every other woman in the competition.

Moreover, she she suddenly had to deal with the  asinine silliness about her hair, and the unfortunate news of her mom’s bankruptcy filing, and, well, dang, she’s just 16.

Gabby will have to content with more than a mountain of love from us when she returns home. Enough love to choke a kid. More love than we can imagine.

It’s the “price,” as one columnist eloquently stated today.

True. So why add to the bill by making her compete again when her heart and head are clearly still dealing with the good, the bad and the silly of success?

Take a seat, Gabby. Cheer your teammates. Rest. You’ll need it.

Twitter Takes Out First Olympic Competitor

Did you hear the one about Voula Papachristou, the Greek triple jumper? No? And you won’t either because she’s no joke. She’s also no longer an Olympian.

Kudos to the Greek Olympic committee for bouncing her off the team and out of London for her ignorant (and many are saying racist) tweets about Africans.

Athens is being infested Nile-virus-carrying mosquitoes, which has been widely reported. On Sunday, the very blonde Papachristou tweeted: ”With so many Africans in Greece, the West Nile mosquitoes will be getting home food!!!”.

Ha! Ha!

Bye! Bye!

The tweet inspired thousands of negative responses (thankfully!), and one very clear response today from the Hellenic Olympic Committee: “[Papachristou is]” placed outside the Olympic team for statements contrary to the values and ideas of the Olympic movement.”

After trying to awkwardly dismiss the tweets earlier, Papachristuo today struck a very different tone on Twitter and Facebook: ”I would like to express my heartfelt apologies for the unfortunate and tasteless joke I published on my personal Twitter account. I am very sorry and ashamed for the negative responses I triggered, since I never wanted to offend anyone, or to encroach human rights.

”My dream is connected to the Olympic Games and I could not possibly participate if I did not respect their values. Therefore, I could never believe in discrimination between human beings and races. I would like to apologize to all my friends and fellow athletes, who I may have insulted or shamed, the National Team, as well as the people and companies who support my athletic career. Finally, I would like to apologize to my coach and my family.”

Hey, SI, What are you waiting for?!

It was a different time, or maybe it wasn’t. In 1986, Sports Illustrated dispatched the talented Rick Reilly to chronicle the life and times of Joe Paterno, already an iconic figure in sports. Paterno was to be named Sportsman of the Year, one of the most prestigious honors in our industry and one help by a list of luminaries that is its own Hall of Fame of men and women who shaped and elevate our games.

It was a different time. Now, Paterno must be stricken from that list.

In fact, I’m curious why it’s taken so long for my former colleagues (I worked at SI 1978-81, ’89-’94 and ’03-’05) to do so.

What else do they need to know? In fact, it should have been done even before the Freeh report outlined the conspiracy of silence that allowed young boys to be molested by Jerry Sandusky long after Paterno (and others at the university) knew Sandusky was a sick and dangerous man.

On Monday, the NCAA all but put the Not-so-Nittany Lions into the ground with a package of sanctions that will tame that program for a decade–$60 million fine, significant loss of scholarships, four years probation and bowl ban and the vacating of every Paterno victory since 1998, the year she should have gone to law enforcement officials and told them about the sick bastard that was attacking victims in campus showers.

By the time, NCAA president Mark Emmert had finished reading the package of sanctions yesterday morning, Paterno should have no longer been recognized as a Sportsman of the Year.

The statue is gone.

Paterno’s name was removed from, of all places, a child care center on the Nike campus.

And Rick Reilly now recognizes that he was duped.

Yet Joe Paterno is still listed as the 1986 Sportsman of the Year.

Why?

Fitness Videos: Not all about Fitness…

Image

Fitness videos are as old as videos themselves–although the early videos were less about fitness than, ahem, sex. They showed scantily clad ladies during basic moves, and shot them from provocative angles. Folks watching them may have been sweating and burning calories, but it wasn’t from doing those same moves…just sayin’

Through the years, many artists and filmmakers have built upon that legacy and created sexy videos in the name of fitness. Some succeeded. Some didn’t.

I’m not mad at any of them.

 

Use Your New You for Others

Being self-centered isn’t a good thing.

But being self-focused can certainly be. Indeed it’s at the heart of what motivates those among us who are passionate about leading fit healthy lives.  It’s why we workout regularly, and why we try to eat well, to get our sleep (Ahem, not so good with that myself).

It’s about taking care of us.

We feel better. We look better. And, God willing, we stave off the maladies that arise when we neglect ourselves–our bodies and minds.

But being self-focused on staying fit also helps us to be better able to focus on others–our loved ones, our families, our friends. Anyone we encounter in our lives.

Being fit is great, but it’s a waste if we just train and sweat to only help ourselves.

Giving is one of the pervasive themes of this time of year–no matter your faith or even your political leanings.

We are all blessed in some way and it is incumbent upon each of us to share those blessings with someone-most often (and best) in small ways.

Share your focus with someone who can use it most.

Challenge yourself!

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