March 3, 2014

QotD: The triad of distinctively Canadian sports

Filed under: Cancon, Football, Sports — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 10:54

We have a triad of distinctively Canadian sports: Canadian football, hockey and curling. Football, from its origins to the present, has remained a collegiate game, a game of the ruling class. College kids invented gridiron football; McGill undergrads taught Americans what a “touchdown” was. Today, football is, notoriously, the shortest path to becoming a partner in a law firm, with golf a close second. Peter Lougheed and Rob Ford were football players, rich kids who, in different ways, leveraged the social connectivity of the game.

Hockey is the most popular sport in the triad because it is the game of the Canadian middle class, a game that requires a family to have something of a surplus and, ideally, to live near a town of some size. The typical sponsor for a minor hockey team has always been some kind of small business — a plumber, a restaurant, a trucking company. There are still plenty of kids in families too broke to afford hockey. In Canada, it is the first way one might learn that one is poor.

This is where curling fits in: It is a farmer’s game, a peasant tradition. There are still many villages in the West that cannot afford hockey rinks, but that faithfully lay down two curling sheets in a long, narrow shack every fall. In those towns, an agriculture society’s community investment in two sets of stones will serve all for decades. Where hockey requires every child to have skates and pads and sticks, the traditional equipment for curling amounts to two ordinary household brooms for every four players.

Colby Cosh, “Curling will never be ruined”, Maclean’s, 2014-03-02

February 25, 2014

Lobbyist wants to ban gays from playing in the NFL

Filed under: Football, Law, Liberty, USA — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 08:28

This is the sort of story that wouldn’t be out of place in the 1970s, but seems to have come adrift in the timestream and for some reason shows up today:

Just when it appeared that a supposedly modern, progressive society is willing to accept people for who they are and not force them to pretend to be something they’re not, someone is trying to kick the pendulum sharply in the other direction.

According to The Hill, lobbyist Jack Burkman said Monday that he’s preparing legislation that would ban gay players from the NFL.

“We are losing our decency as a nation,” Burkman said in a statement. “Imagine your son being forced to shower with a gay man. That’s a horrifying prospect for every mom in the country. What in the world has this nation come to?”

One must assume that Burkman’s belief is, contra Chris Kluwe, sharing a shower room with a gay man will magically turn you into a “lustful cockmonster”.

February 21, 2014

Michael Sam and the NFL combine in Indianapolis

Filed under: Football, Media — Tags: , — Nicholas Russon @ 09:37

In USA Today, Tom Pelissero says that former Missouri defensive end Michael Sam will have to convince team representatives that he has the skills to play in the NFL, rather than how he might fit in as the only openly gay player in the locker room:

One of the largest crowds ever for a media session at the NFL scouting combine peppered Manti Te’o with 36 questions last year, almost all about a hoax involving the death of a girlfriend who didn’t exist.

The crowd for Missouri defensive end Michael Sam’s session Saturday may be even bigger. But behind closed doors, it’s unlikely NFL teams will show near the same interest in Sam’s announcement that he’s gay.

As Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman put it Thursday: “What are you going to ask him? He just came out and stated his position.”


With Sam, who earned All-America honors after coming out to teammates before last season, his answer already became public record Feb. 9 — he’s gay.

“If my area scout’s any good, he already knew that anyway,” an NFL personnel director said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation.

All the other questions — Will Sam be accepted in an NFL locker room? Will the media horde chronicling the NFL’s first openly gay player create resentment? — will be answered once he lands with a team.

The dynamic is different when entering a transient NFL locker room than in college, where players grow up together over four or five years. But Missouri’s excellent 2013 season suggests such questions are overblown anyway.

“One of the key differences between this and the Manti Te’o story is Manti Te’o wasn’t really in control of that situation,” said former NFL punter Chris Kluwe, a gay rights advocate who was at Sam’s coming out party the night before his announcement. “Mike is very much: ‘Yeah, this is who I am. Deal with it.’”

February 18, 2014

Michael Sam, latent homophobia, and the NFL draft

Filed under: Football, Media — Tags: , , — Nicholas Russon @ 09:04

Jim Geraghty looks at two sides of the Michael Sam story: the media side and the football side. They’re very different stories.

Good luck, Michael Sam.

Those of us who are sports fans are going to have a fascinating couple weeks ahead, as the national political and cultural media insists upon interpreting the events of the National Football League draft through the lens of identity politics. They will attempt to shoehorn events into a made-for-TV movie storyline about Michael Sam, defensive end for the University of Missouri, and aspiring NFL player.

Our media used to writing one kind of identity politics story: a person comes out of the closet and becomes the first openly-gay person to achieve a particular goal, gets saluted for bravery, is elevated to hero status, and then spends the next few years going to black-tie awards dinners and being the subject of overwrought documentaries.


The NFL Draft comes with its own movie-ready drama. Unlike the Super Bowl or any other sports championship, the draft is a major annual event that involves every team, as every almost every team has a first-round draft choice. (Sorry, Washington Redskins fans.) There’s a near-complete reversal of fortune, as the league’s worst team has the first and most consequential choice, making a selection that could ignite a quick turnaround back to respectability or be remembered as one of the all-time flops. Every fan of every team has a reason to tune in, to see who their team picks, hoping to have gotten a future star. The NFL draft is one of those rare high-drama sporting events with no real losers.

But there are indeed big winners. For the players, draft day is their real graduation day, where they stop practicing their craft to ensure the prosperity of a university and finally cash in on their years of effort with, in most circumstances, a multi-million dollar, multi-year contract. Guys who grew up with next to nothing bring their mothers and their whole families to New York City, where they learn where they’ll be living for the next few years, pursuing their dream of stardom. Genuine tears of joy flow. At age 20 or 21 or so, these young men have achieved their childhood dreams.

I suspect most fans’ biggest question about Michael Sam is, ‘if my team drafts him, how much better will our pass rush get?’ NFL fans care about the off-the-field behavior of their favorite team’s players to a certain degree; nobody likes rooting for a thug and a player prone to off-the-field trouble represents a higher risk of getting himself suspended or in legal trouble someday. But it’s hard to believe that NFL fans who can come to terms with a one-man population explosion at cornerback or shrug off drug busts, assault charges, DWIs, public intoxication, and all kinds of other misbehavior will stop rooting for a team with a gay defensive end.

A large chunk of the media will insist upon interpreting every triumph and setback for Michael Sam through the lens of his homosexuality and their belief that he’s a flashpoint in a battle between ‘tolerance’ and ‘intolerance.’ But the career of an NFL player can rise or fall on a thousand different factors and twists of fate. Do the coaches use him correctly? How complicated is the defensive system, and how quickly can he pick up the signals, terminology, and strategy? Is he in a system designed to showcase his natural skills, or are the coaches trying to use him in a new or different role that takes time to learn? How good are the other players on the team at his position? Does he twist an ankle or tear an ACL? Sam seems to have a good head on his shoulders, but how does he handle the pressures of being a professional athlete?

In addition to the questions about whether Sam’s collegiate talents will be enough to allow him to flourish in the NFL, and whether a given team would welcome an openly gay team-mate in the locker room, there’s also the “Tim Tebow” problem … the team that drafts Sam will be in the unrelenting focus of the media’s publicity floodlights. Just drafting Sam would only be the start of the media’s attention. Everything to do with Sam will draw TV cameras, paparazzi, and the team’s beat writers for local media outlets.

Where is he going to live? What kind of car does he drive? Where does he shop? How do his new neighbours feel about him? What kind of clothes does he wear away from the team’s facilities? Where does he go for entertainment? Who is he hanging around with?

And that’s just the start of it. Once the pre-season routine gets underway with organized team activities, mini-camps, and then training camp, the team (probably the head coach, but also the GM and the defensive co-ordinator or the linebackers coach) will have their every word analyzed for Sam-newsworthyness. If Sam does poorly in a drill or a scrimmage, it’ll be all over the media. If he isn’t in the starting rotation, it’ll be interpreted (by some) as proof that the team isn’t serious about giving him a fair chance to play.

This might be acceptable to a team if Sam’s skills were top-10 quality, but most of the reports don’t indicate that. A team will put up with a lot if the player drawing the attention is an athletic superstar, but for what seems to be (at best) a player with fair-to-adequate skills, it may deter them from drafting him at all.

Each team starts the regular season with 53 players, but they take nearly twice that number to training camp. Players who are drafted will have a better-than-average chance of being on the opening day roster, but the chances go down significantly the later a player is drafted. All first and second round picks are going to be on the roster, but not all sixth or seventh round picks will be. Sam’s skill set indicate he might have been a mid-round pick before the news broke about him coming out. Now, he might not be picked until the sixth round or he may not be picked at all. If that happens, many will decry the NFL’s homophobia, but as you can see, there’s a lot more in play than just Sam and his NFL playing potential.

February 10, 2014

The NFL’s first openly gay draft candidate and the Vikings’ image problem

Filed under: Football, Media — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 09:11

It’s likely to be a very tense day in the public relations office of the Minnesota Vikings, after Missouri defensive lineman Michael Sam came out … and the jokes started about the only team in the league that wouldn’t draft him. At The Viking Age, Dan Zinski rounds up the first crop of jokes and rumours:

News broke late Sunday afternoon of former Missouri defensive lineman and current NFL draft prospect Michael Sam’s decision to come out as a gay man. Immediately the jabs started appearing on Twitter, the great social media instant pop culture temperature gauge.

“Well, I know the Vikings won’t be drafting Michael Sam,” tweeted @dbaby_23.

“I’m going to go out on a limb and say Michael Sam will not be drafted by the Vikings,” tweeted @ChrisJamesMMA.

“100000 dollars says the vikings dont draft michael sam,” tweeted @sports_scene.

“I bet Michael Sam would make a great special teams player for the vikings!” tweeted @MattesonTrevor.

“well you know the Vikings aren’t gonna draft Michael Sam,” tweeted @Miyag_e.

And on and on in that vein.

Endless jokes about how the Vikings will never draft Michael Sam because they have an openly homophobic coach on their staff.

Completely unfair jokes, because Mike Priefer, even if he thinks the things Chris Kluwe says he thinks, doesn’t speak for the team. He only speaks for himself.

But still, it’s out there. It’s in people’s minds. The Vikings are guilty of homophobia, if only by association.

A willing association with a man whose public image is, justly or unjustly, that of a bigot.

The timing couldn’t be much worse for the Vikings: they had an ongoing investigation into Chris Kluwe’s accusations against Mike Priefer, but they also had a new coaching staff being hired. They couldn’t just part company with Priefer while the investigation was underway for fear of being sued for wrongful dismissal. If the investigation sustains Kluwe’s side of the story, the team can discipline or dismiss Priefer with a clear conscience (assuming that the investigation isn’t a whitewash from the start), but if they clear Priefer of any wrongdoing, they’ll probably take an even worse beating in the court of public opinion … at least until the next NFL scandal comes up.

The media attention on the story of the first openly gay NFL player (assuming he’ll be drafted, that is) won’t be over quickly. The Vikings can only hope that their share of the attention will quickly diminish.

February 9, 2014

Decoding “Rickspeak” at the Vikings’ Arctic Blast charity event

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , — Nicholas Russon @ 09:59

At the Daily Norseman Ted Glover has a mission. Part of it is to cover the Vikings on and off the field, during the pre-season, regular season, and (when the stars align correctly) the playoffs. He has another task during the off-season that may be his most critical contribution to Vikings fans: he translates the specially encoded verbiage of Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman into everyday English:

Rick Spielman spoke to the press up at Arctic Blast, and, as is my civic duty, I must break down Rickspeak and translate. Thanks to Master Tesfatsion of the Strib on getting some good notes.

And yes, I just wanted to write ‘Master Tesfatsion’, because I still maintain that’s the coolest beat writer name in Vikings history. Anyway, on to Rickspeak.

In short Rickspeak is GM Rick Spielman showing us his black belt in verbal judo, and it’s a nuanced way of speaking. You have to read between the lines to really get at what Spielman means, and that’s where I come in — I do the between the lines reading** to let you know what Spielman actually meant.***

**Obviously, that’s impossible. I don’t know how to read.

***Again, impossible. If I could read minds I would use it to take over the world, much like an evil James Bond villain. And no one wants that.

Here are a few key bits of translation:

    Rick Said: …the team’s annual goal is to compile at least 10 draft selections. “We have eight right now and a lot of that [movement] doesn’t happen until you’re on the clock,” Spielman said on Saturday during the 19th annual Arctic Blast snowmobile rally to benefit the Vikings Children’s Fund. “Heck, last year they pulled me out of a press conference to go get [Cordarrelle] Patterson because you never know. But I really, really think we’re going to do a lot of movement in the draft.”

Rick Meant: 10 picks is cool, and nothing really starts moving until draft day, but I’m stirring the pot just by opening my grocery hole to the press. When I have dopes like Dan Snyder and whoever is running that sitcom we call the Cleveland Browns, I’m pretty sure I can talk them into anything. Remember trading back one spot the year everyone knew we were going to draft Matt Kalil…and still drafting Matt Kalil? Cleveland…HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

    Rick Said: Spielman thinks the Vikings have a lot of flexibility with the eighth overall pick and plans to be aggressive in the draft with the idea of trading down for more picks, or up for a certain player.

    “Everything is a possibility; we’re in February,” Spielman said.

Rick Meant: I might move up. I might move down. I might move laterally. You say to yourself that’s impossible because you can’t move laterally, but when we’re sitting with three number 8 picks in the first round, your mind is going to be blown. AND YOU WILL WORSHIP THE GROUND THAT I WALK ON!

February 8, 2014

New Viking stadium “seat licenses” a good reason to watch the game on TV

Filed under: Economics, Football — Tags: , , — Nicholas Russon @ 11:49

Perhaps I misunderstand the economic argument here, but I’d always had a pretty basic notion about buying season tickets or individual game tickets for most professional sports. You either bought a season ticket package for x number of games (up to the full season of home games) or you bought a single ticket for a particular game. Over the years, I’ve bought tickets to individual Viking games in Buffalo and Detroit where the purchase was simple and straightforward … I paid the fee and received a ticket. Nice and simple. Apparently that sort of stone-age arrangement is long in the past: at least in Minnesota, you need to buy a “seat license” in order to then buy season tickets. The Daily Norseman‘s Ted Glover explains:

In an effort to raise $100 million of their portion of money for the new stadium, the Vikings released their ‘stadium builder’s plan’ for folks that want season tickets.

What’s a stadium builder’s plan? Well, it’s a one time fee that allows to you get season tickets … and you’ll also have to pay for those. Basically, the better the seat, the more cabbage you’re going to have to cough up. For example, if you want a season ticket in the ‘Valhalla Club’, your one time seat license fee will be $9,500, plus the cost of season tickets.

Damn, son.

The Vikings will have SBL’s for approximately 75% of the seats in the stadium, and the farther away you get from the field, the cheaper they are. The cheapest SBL is $500, and you have two payment options, 3 years with no interest, or 8 years with an as yet TBD interest charge.

On the one hand, I approve of the idea that the fans should pay more of the cost of building a new stadium rather than non-football fans among the state’s taxpayers. On the other hand, the prices seem incredibly steep for a mere “license”. You can get a virtual look at what you’ll be licensing a tiny bit of:

However, in an effort to relieve the sticker shock of said licenses, they released a virtual tour of what the new stadium will look like. And it’s pretty damn cool.

So, grab your checkbook. And your ankles.

February 7, 2014

After a long wait, Vikings finally announce the rest of Mike Zimmer’s coaching staff

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 08:52

The Minnesota Vikings took a long, long time between hiring Mike Zimmer as the new head coach and announcing the rest of the coaching staff. Some of the delay was obviously to interview and hire the individual assistant coaches, and some of the delay was assumed to be a side-effect of the Chris Kluwe accusations against incumbent special teams co-ordinator Mike Priefer. The second assumption can’t have been very important, as Priefer has retained his position on the new coaching staff. Kluwe’s lawyer immediately threatened to sue the team over the situation.

Setting aside the potential courtroom drama, here are the new and retained members of the coaching staff:

Norv Turner — Offensive Co-ordinator

  • Jeff Davidson — Offensive Line
  • Klint Kubiack — Assistant Wide Receivers/Quality Control
  • Kevin Stefanski — Tight Ends
  • George Stewart — Wide Receivers
  • Scott Turner — Quarterbacks
  • Kirby Wilson — Running Backs

George Edwards — Defensive Co-ordinator

  • Robb Akey — Assistant Defensive Line
  • Johnathan Gannon — Assistant Defensive Backs/Quality Control
  • Jerry Gary — Defensive Backs
  • Jeff Howard — Defensive Assistant
  • Andre Patterson — Defensive Line
  • Adam Zimmer — Linebackers

Mike Priefer — Special Teams Co-ordinator

  • Ryan Ficken — Assistant Special Teams
  • Drew Petzing — Coaching Assistant

Jim Souhan discusses Norv Turner’s record and his tentative plans for the coming season:

Norv Turner doesn’t name-drop. He fame-drops.

In 20 minutes on Thursday, Turner, the new Vikings offensive coordinator, mentioned John Robinson, Don Coryell, LaDainian Tomlinson, Emmitt Smith, Troy Aikman, Terry Allen, John Riggins, Drew Brees, Philip Rivers, Ricky Williams and Josh Gordon.

What might hearten Vikings fans is that he also mentioned Brad Johnson and Russell Wilson.

Turner is one of the best offensive coaches of the past 25 years. He has excelled while coaching for and with Hall of Fame coaches, and while coaching Hall of Fame-caliber players.

With Matt Cassel opting out of his contract, the Vikings currently employ one quarterback: Christian “You still here?” Ponder. Turner’s quarterback could be Cassel, should the Vikings re-sign him. It could be a first-round draft pick. It could be a third-round draft pick. It could even be Ponder, because Vikings fans apparently have not been punished enough for the deal with the devil that twice brought Fran Tarkenton to town.

Turner either will be asked to coax a career performance out of a less-than-heralded veteran, or rush a rookie into action, or both.

February 2, 2014

Some of the Super Bowl commercials Canadians won’t see on TV

Filed under: Business, Football, Humour, Media — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 11:13

The audience for the Super Bowl is split between fans of the game (who actually care about the outcome) and fans of the ads (because this is the biggest TV audience, advertisers pull out all the stops and generally try to be genuinely funny). In Canada, thanks to our TV regulations, most of us will see the broadcast of the game itself, but we won’t see the same commercials as our US neighbours … we’ll get the same assortment of crummy ads they’ve been showing since the start of the season, with a few of the US ads as a “teaser”.

Fortunately for those who aren’t interested in the game itself, but like the commercials, the lead-up to the Super Bowl usually includes web release of many of the ads that will air during the broadcast. Here’s a selection put together by the Guardian, including a “behind the scenes” of an ad that won’t get shown … because it was never made:

Go behind the scenes of the Mega Huge Football Ad Newcastle Brown Ale almost made with the mega huge celebrity who almost starred in it. See more at http://www.IfWeMadeIt.com

The VW ad is rather amusing, too:

Don’t forget your Super Bowl Bingo card

Filed under: Football, Humour, Media — Tags: , , — Nicholas Russon @ 09:23

Super Bowl bingo

Update: Seattle, you’re drunk. Go home.

Seattle Super Bowl snack

February 1, 2014

The hand-egg championship, described

Filed under: Football, Humour, Media, USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas Russon @ 00:01

Part of a continuing series of reporting American events in the way American media reports foreign events:

This Sunday, the eyes of millions of Americans will turn to a fetid marsh in the industrial hinterlands of New York City for the country’s most important sporting event — and some would say the key to understanding its proud but violent culture.

Despite decades of exposure to the outside world through trade and globalization, Americans have resisted adopting internationally popular sports like soccer, cricket, and kabaddi, preferring instead a complex, brutal, and highly mechanized form of rugby confusingly called football. (Except for in a couple of instances, feet do not touch the ball.)

The two finest teams from the nation’s 32 premier league squads meet each year in an event known as the Super Bowl. (There is in fact no bowl.) This year, the game pits a young upstart team from the Northwest Frontier Provinces against another from the mountainous interior region led by the aging scion of one of the sport’s most legendary families. The winner of the contest will claim the title of “world champion,” although very few people play the sport beyond the country’s national borders.

Although the rules are complex — this video [embedded below] offers a brief overview — in broad strokes the contest involves two large teams of large men wearing large amounts of protective padding attempting to move an oblong ball down a 91.44-meter field by either throwing it or running with it while their opponents attempt to knock them to the ground with maximum force.

January 29, 2014

YouTube‘s formative nine-sixteenths of a second

Filed under: Football, Media, USA — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 09:19

Marin Cogan explains how less than a second of TV helped to trigger the development of YouTube:

You know what happens next. Justin reaches over, grabs a corner of Janet’s right breast cup and gives it a hard tug. Her breast spills out. It’s way more than a handful, but a hand is the only thing Janet has available to cover it, so she clutches it with her left palm. The breast is on television for 9/16 of a second. The camera cuts wide. Fireworks explode from the stage. Cue the end of halftime. Cue the beginning of one of the worst cases of mass hysteria in America since the Salem witch trials.


Michael Powell, then the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, was watching the game at a friend’s house in northern Virginia. He’s a football fan and was excited to relax and watch the game after a rough couple of weeks. “I started thinking, Wow, this is kind of a racy routine for the Super Bowl!” he says, his voice pitching up in bemusement. “He was chasing her kind of with this aggressive thing — not that I personally minded it; I just hadn’t seen something that edgy at the Super Bowl.”

Then it happened. Powell and his friend gave each other quizzical looks. “I looked and I went, ‘What was that?’ And my friend looks at me and he’s just like, ‘Dude, did you just see what I did? Do you think she … ?’ And I kept saying, ‘My day is going to suck tomorrow.’” Powell went home and watched the moment again on TiVo. The same thought kept running through his mind: Tomorrow is going to really suck, he remembers thinking. “And it did.”


Of course, our children and our children’s children will never need to dig up an actual time capsule to find out about the wardrobe malfunction. As soon as they hear about the time Janet Jackson’s breast was exposed on live TV, they’ll watch it online. And the reason they’ll watch it online is that in 2004, Jawed Karim, then a 25-year-old Silicon Valley whiz kid, decided he wanted to make it easier to find the Jackson clip and other in-demand videos. A year later, he and a couple of friends founded YouTube, the largest video-sharing site of all time.

January 28, 2014

Reforming the NFL (and the NCAA)

Filed under: Football, Law, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 14:33

Gregg Easterbook is worried that we’re at peak football (NFL football, anyway), and has a few suggestions to fix what he thinks are some of the worst problems facing the game as a whole:

For the NFL:

  • Revoke the nonprofit status of league headquarters, and the ability of the league and individual clubs to employ tax-free bonds. A bill before the Senate, from Republican Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, would end these and other sports tax breaks.
  • Require disclosure of painkiller use club by club — as anonymous data, with names removed. Painkiller abuse may be football’s next scandal.
  • Change law so images of football games played in publicly funded stadia cannot be copyrighted. The effect would be that the NFL would immediately repay all stadium construction subsidies, and never seek a subsidy again. Altering national copyright law seems more promising than trying to ban pro football stadium subsidies state by state, since the handouts originate with a broad mix of state, county and city agencies. (Yes, careful wording of such a law would be required to prevent unintended consequences.)

For the NCAA:

  • Graduation rates should be factored into the new FBS playoff ranking system. Not the meaningless “Academic Progress Rate” the NCAA touts precisely because of its meaninglessness — graduation is what matters. News organizations that rank college football should add graduation rates voluntarily, as news organizations have voluntarily agreed to many best-practice standards.
  • For FBS players, the year-to-year scholarship — which pressures them to favor football over the library, to ensure the scholarship is renewed — should be replaced with a six-year scholarship. That way once a player’s athletic eligibility has expired, typically after 4.5 years, and once the NFL does not call — 97 percent of FBS players never take an NFL snap — there will be paid-up semesters remaining for him to be a full-time student, repair credits and earn that diploma. Not all will need the extra semesters. But six-year full scholarships would change big-college football from a cynical exercise in using up impressionable young men and throwing them away, into a fair deal: The university gets great football, the players get educations.
  • NCAA penalties should follow coaches. If a coach breaks rules at College A then skedaddles to College B, all College A sanctions should follow him. The NFL should agree, voluntarily, that the length of any NCAA penalties follows any coach who skedaddles to the pros. So if Coach A gets out of town just before the posse arrives and imposes a two-year sanction on College B, Coach A should face a two-year sanction from the NFL.


For football at all levels:

  • Eliminate kickoffs, the most concussion-prone down. After a score, the opponent starts on his 25. Basketball eliminated most jump balls; purists cried doom; basketball is just fine.
  • Ban the three-point and four-point stance. Because of these stances, most football plays begin with linemen’s heads colliding. No reform reduces helmet-to-helmet contact faster than requiring all players to begin downs with hands off the ground and heads up. Will this make football a sissified sport? That’s what was said of the forward pass.
  • Only four- or five-star rated helmets should be permitted. Some of the safest helmets are prohibitively expensive for public high school districts, but the four-star, $149 Rawlings Impulse is not. Only double-sided or Type III (individually fitted) mouth guards should be permitted. Double-sided mouth guards are the most cost-effective way to protect against concussions. Many players won’t wear them because they look geeky. If everyone was wearing them, this would not matter.

A more general reform is needed, too. Football has become too much of a good thing. Tony Dungy told me for The King of Sports, “If I could change one aspect of football, it would be that we need more time away for the game, as players and as a society. Young boys and teens should not be doing football year-round. For society, it’s great that Americans love football. But now with the internet, mock drafts, fantasy leagues and recruiting mania year-round, with colleges and high school playing more games and the NFL talking about an even longer schedule — we need time off, away from the game.” We need less of everything about football.

January 20, 2014

A Rickspeak decoder for the Mike Zimmer introductory press conference

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 10:53

At the Daily Norseman, Ted Glover provides a highly informative translation of what was said — and what was really meant — at the Vikings’ press conference to introduce new head coach Mike Zimmer:

Rickspeak is a complicated, evolutionary form of communication that takes years, if not decades to master. And yes, we’ll completely ignore that fact that Spielman has been here less than a decade. Shut up.

So, how is Mike Zimmer in the ways of Rickspeak? Let’s break down some of what he said during the introductory presser, shall we? Now, we won’t break down the whole press conference (you can read the entire transcript here if you like), because it was over half an hour long. And, as always, what Rick or Mike actually said will be quoted first, and then what they probably meant will be interpreted below. There’s some NSFW language in here, because Mike F@#$% Zimmer, yo.


Q: Have you decided on your coordinators yet?

What Mike Said: No. We are still working on the staff situations on everything right now. We are going to announce the entire staff at a later time when we get them all finished.

What Mike Meant: I know exactly who I want, chucklehead. I’m not going to tell you, though.

Q: When you look at the roster you inherited, how do evaluate the situation and the players you now have?

What Mike Said: I am a big believer in when we get out here in the field show me what you can do. I don’t ever want to pre-judge a player from what I see on film because I do not know what the previous coaches have told them and I have my own ideas on the way I want to do things.

What Mike Meant: I don’t know what the hell was going on here before, but on film it looked like a combination Clown Show and Kabuki Dick Dance Theater. When I get these guys out on the field, I’m going to be watching them, because I’m pretty sure the previous coordinators didn’t know what the hell they were doing. I’ll fix it, too.

January 19, 2014

Vikings hire Norv Turner as OC

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 12:19

It’s been widely rumoured that Norv Turner would be hired as the new offensive co-ordinator, but the deal was still being negotiated. At The Viking Age, Dan Zinski exults that former OC Bill Musgrave has been replaced:

After three years of infuriating Viking fans with his over-conservative playcalling, Bill Musgrave is officially out as offensive coordinator in Minnesota. He will be replaced by some guy named Norv Turner, who I hear has a pretty decent track record as an OC (head coach … that’s another matter).

It’s not entirely official yet, but the word is that Norv has signed up to be Mike Zimmer’s top offensive assistant, and that George Edwards will be defensive coordinator.

Zimmer has indicated that he will be heavily involved himself in designing the defensive scheme and may call plays, so Edwards’ responsibilities may be somewhat more limited than a normal defensive coordinator’s.

It doesn’t always work out when head coaches try to run the defense or offense themselves, so we’ll see if Zimmer ends up sticking with that plan.

Norv comes over from Cleveland where he spent a year as offensive coordinator. Under Turner, Josh Gordon became one of the top receivers in the league, and Jordan Cameron developed into one of the better tight ends. With guys like Brian Hoyer, Brandon Weedon and Jason Campbell playing quarterback.

Norv will have raw materials to work with in Minnesota as well. The Vikings sport one of the game’s most exciting young receivers in Cordarrelle Patterson and one of the better young tight ends in Kyle Rudolph.

« Newer PostsOlder Posts »
« « Guild Wars 2 Community Event Calendar| TV as a form of birth control » »

Powered by WordPress

%d bloggers like this: