The movement for LGBT equality has been on the forefront of American politics and society over the last several years with professional athletics finally joining the party as sports stars spanning the globe have trickled out of the closet.
John Amaechi, Gareth Thomas, Robbie Rogers and Brittney Griner have all publicly disclosed their sexuality in recent years, proving that yes, some of the best athletes on earth are indeed gay.
Last week NBA player Jason Collins disclosed he is gay, becoming the first active male athlete in one of the four major North American team sports to come out.
Supporting Collins and the right for players to be open and honest about their sexuality were fellow athletes Baron Davis, Kobe Bryant, Chris Kluwe, Brendon Ayanbadejo, Scott Fujita, Steve Nash, CC Sabathia and Jerry Stackhouse.
All of these men have one thing in common. They are all over 30 years old. Why is this important?
Traditionally, the Gay Rights movement leadership may be comprised of an over 30 crowd, but surveys indicate that the greatest support for equal marriage rights lies among younger Americans. With every new generation entering adulthood, the country becomes more accepting of gay rights.
I, for one, would think that today’s college players and younger professional athletes would be the folks leading the way for openly gay players in sports. It seems that I’m only half right, especially in men’s sports.
Academia frequently serves as a catalyst for social change and we’re seeing an increased number of college athletic programs publicly encourage players to come out. However there’s a significant drop off in that sentiment among the pro ranks.
It’s no coincidence that many veteran players, such as those previously mentioned, are freely expressing opinions on a controversial issue. Many of these guys are at the end of their professional careers or are so dominant in their sport that they won’t face any career-threatening or financial consequences.
But what about young players who aren’t yet established in their sport? Just a few months ago, an NFL prospect was asked about his sexuality at the Combine. What kind of message does that send to young players?
There is one player who has managed to break the mold. He’s not a veteran but he has faced years of taunting as a result of sticking up for his beliefs.
Kenneth Faried of the Denver Nuggets is just the kind of young, talented, high-profile athlete needed to encourage other heterosexual athletes of his generation to help open the doors even wider for lesbian and gay teammates.
Raised by two moms, Waudda and Manasin, the 23-year-old Faried has been active in supporting the LGBT community for several years. An impressive rookie season earned Faried respect and a solid reputation heading into this season, his second in the NBA.
Veteran, heterosexual players (and obviously, the gay athletes who have come out over the years, such as Martina Navratilova) have paved the way for Robbie Rogers, Brittney Griner, and now, Jason Collins. But those guys are on the way out, leaving a huge void in the movement. Kenneth Faried is the man to fill that void for his generation. Hopefully by the time his career ends, Faried won’t need a successor because the movement itself will no longer be necessary.
Tenaciously supporting a minority that so many in the majority have yet to understand takes considerable strength and courage, perhaps in its own way, requiring even more bravery than donning pads and a helmet on Sundays.
Speaking out in favor of marriage equality has put NFL players Chris Kluwe, Brendon Ayanbadejo and Scott Fujita (all heterosexual, in case you were wondering) on a new kind of athletic map, one that spans far beyond the football field. The three veterans of the sport, all California natives, will have their eyes on Washington D.C. Tuesday and Wednesday as the U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments in two cases that could change the course of history for gay people in this country
With the help of attorney John Dragseth and university law professor Tim Holbrook, the three NFL players filed an Amicus Brief with the court - a document stating one’s position as it relates to a case before the court - in support of marriage equality.
“Basically it’s a way to bring attention to an aspect of the case we think is important to the Court that they might not have otherwise considered,” said Kluwe who used the athlete perspective as the primary focus of the brief.
“Many different entities file amicus briefs in high profile cases, and if they’re cogent and well reasoned, the Court generally takes them into consideration.”
Several athletes (current and former) have signed the brief, hoping to use their names to help push what they see as positive legislation forward.
“The brief shows that historically, many athletes have been powerful agents for social change,” said Fujita, who recently wrote an essay about his views on marriage equality for the New York Times.
“People look to us, whether we like it or not. And that’s why our actions, and how we treat others, and the words we use, carry a lot of weight. We need to set the right example, especially for kids.”
In an age where world famous sports stars (i.e. Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, etc.) keep quiet about their personal and political beliefs, many find the recent surge of athletes coming out in support of the LGBT community and marriage equality to be something new, and surprising.
“Renaissance” would be a more accurate description of the gay rights movement building within the community of current and former professional athletes as the sports world has often been at the forefront of civil rights issues.
Jackie Robinson integrated baseball when he joined the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947, several years before the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Brown v. Board of Education integrated the country in 1954.
Tommie Smith, John Carlos and Peter Norman stood for racial equality on the medal stand in Mexico City during the 1968 Summer Olympics.
Women gained equal access to play sports in school with the Title IX portion of the Education Amendments of 1972 and here we are, four decades later, where women earn only 74 cents for every dollar earned by men in the workplace.
The NFL’s renaissance men embrace the challenges faced by their predecessors as they become the next generation of athletes to take a stand on social issues.
“Until everyone is accepted and treated equally we will continue to push the envelope toward equality,” said Ayanbadejo, who plans to speak at a marriage equality rally in Washington on Tuesday.
“People know and accept that racism isn’t right. When every one feels the same way about discrimination and the law backs our stance, only then will we be satisfied.”
While Ayanbadejo, Fujita and Kluwe have long been supporters of the LBGT community and marriage equality, their stock soared sky high in 2012, and even ruffled some feathers along the way, thanks to an election year with marriage equality on the ballot in several states.
The broad discussion of constitutional gay rights narrowly trickled down to the sports world Monday as news broke regarding an NFL player who is strongly considering coming out to the public. He would become the first openly gay, active athlete in the history of North American sports.
It’s clear that a host of fellow athletes would support him, as there are plenty of notable names on the athlete’s brief submitted to the court. But the list is noticeably devoid of the most recognizable sports figures. No LeBron James, Tom Brady, Kobe Bryant, or Sidney Crosby. No Venus or Serena Williams, Rory McIlroy or Derek Jeter.
“It would really help bolster the environment of support and equality we’re trying to promote in the NFL and other pro sports,” Kluwe said of the importance of the biggest names in the business publicly supporting LGBT rights and marriage equality.
“Top athletes are definitely role models for a lot of people, and having their help is invaluable.”
In fairness to the aforementioned, they weren’t necessarily asked to participate. Ayanbadejo did the majority of the recruiting himself on a busy, Super Bowl-winning schedule.
“The first filtering of candidates was done in my head. I targeted my athletes and went for it,” said Ayanbadejo when asked how many “A-list” athletes were asked to join the cause.
Fujita made a few calls as well, witnessing first hand how money and corporate sponsorship can so easily create a serious conflict of interest for celebrities.
“There were a handful that I approached. And it wasn’t that they weren’t with us on issue. Sometimes ‘corporate interests’ weigh in, I think. That’s why I occasionally (half-jokingly) challenge these guys to be the ‘anti-Jordan.’”
Despite those who declined to participate (publicly or privately), Ayanbadejo was encouraged by the progress made by those who were willing to lend their support.
“There really wasn’t any flat out no’s but there was plenty of hesitation. And just as many guys that were hesitant stepped up and affirmative said yes. For me to be fair I would have had to have asked more guys but the overwhelming majority said yes. I would say I was batting around .650.”
That average lines up nicely against the country as a whole, as nearly 60 percent of Americans said they support gay marriage.
The NFL’s renaissance men are hoping that one more majority sides with them as well come June, when the Supreme Court makes its decision on marriage equality.
Have you ever had that feeling when you show up somewhere, and something is off? You know something isn’t quite right, but you can’t put your finger on it? That eerie, sour sense of mystery likely flooded the air circulating through the Dallas Cowboys facility soon after the players arrived early Saturday morning, just hours after the death of one of their teammates.
It was an early wake-up for the Dallas Cowboys as meetings began at the training facility at 7:30am Saturday, with the team plane scheduled to take off for Cincinnati a few hours later, a source close to the team told PepperOnSports. Once the players separated into groups, it became clear that two guys were missing from their respective meetings, third-year nose tackle Josh Brent, and rookie linebacker, Jerry Brown. The players began talking amongst themselves, but were told only that there had been an “unfortunate accident,” and no details were provided by team personnel, according to the source.
It wasn’t until the team had boarded the charter plane in the afternoon that the players received the bad news from head coach Jason Garrett. Jerry Brown was killed in a drunk driving accident, and Josh Brent - who was driving when his car flipped at 2:21am after hitting a curb at high speeds - had been arrested for DUI and manslaughter.
Brent and Brown were on their way home from Privae nightclub in Dallas, where a dozen Cowboys players had spent the evening partying with comedian Shawn Wayans, according to a source close to the team. The Privae website advertises free entry with an RSVP every Friday and promotes an evening with celebrity guest host Shawn Wayans for December 7. Most bars and clubs in Dallas close at 2am.
Not that there is ever a good time to learn that one coworker is dead and another is being blamed for it, but right before a two-and-a-half hour flight, without the comfort of friends or family outside of the office seems like a tough way to receive the news. When asked about the mood of the players during the flight, the source replied, “silence on the plane.” That was perhaps the longest flight of those mens’ lives.
(Update: “The team couldn’t immediately reveal the details because Brown’s next-of-kin had not been notified,” according to USA Today)
This takes us back eight days ago, in the wake of Kansas City Chiefs player Jovan Belcher, who murdered his girlfriend Kassandra Perkins, before killing himself at Arrowhead Stadium in front of KC’s general manager and head coach. As of last Friday, there was no precedent in dealing with the murder/suicide carried out by n active NFL player, much less with the suicide happening in front of team personnel at the stadium.
Unfortunately, this wouldn’t be the first time an active NFL player has died in a car accident during the season. Atlanta Falcons players Ralph Norwood and Brad Beckman were killed in separate car accidents less than a month apart during the 1989 season.
The Chiefs operated under a microscope last week, every decision and movement dissected by the media. One can only imagine the level of interest and examination facing the Cowboys, a team whose 6-6 record - now seemingly inconsequential in comparison - is the subject of daily debate on both the local and national level. It should be interesting to watch the ensuing behavior of frequently scrutinized Cowboys owner Jerry Jones in the wake of this tragedy.
Hopefully the appropriate mental health support will be offered to players and team personnel for the remainder of the season. One can only imagine the emotional weight the Cowboys will carry with them on to the field Sunday against the Bengals.
Just like us fans, Roger Goodell is likely praying for the start of the NFL season to hurry up and get here. Not because the NFL commissioner loves the game, which surely, he does. Instead, the football season serves as a major distraction to keep the NFL’s players from getting into trouble, aka, getting pinched by the cops.
28 active NFL players have been arrested (as of July 20) since Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 5) according to ArrestNation.com, along with four guys receiving citations and one being formally charged. In full disclosure, Lions DT Nick Fairley accounts for two of the 28 arrests in that time period. Nice job big man. Way to be consistent.
Before we get into what this means (if anything) for football, and whether or not this is an athlete-arrest epidemic, let us take a look at a few of my favorite crimes some of these guys allegedly committed:
- Disorderly Conduct
- Driving under the influence
- Suspicion of third-degree assault with substantial bodily harm
- Fugitive warrant (so hard core…perhaps my favorite of the bunch)
- Possession of marijuana
- Third-degree criminal sexual conduct
- Failure to carry insurance (yes… car insurance. Seriously)
- Possession of marijuana
- Misdemeanor assault
Despite my wisecracks, there is some pretty serious stuff listed above. Many of the arrests were for DUI or similar infractions. This is not good, no matter which way you slice it.
But is this out of the norm? Not as of late. 30 NFL players were arrested during the same time frame in 2011, according to the San Diego Union Tribune’s database of NFL arrests (https://www.utsandiego.com/nfl/arrests-database/).
In contrast, there were 17 arrests From Aug. 1 2011 to Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 6, 2012), according to the Union Tribune arrest database.
After five to six month of a completely regimented lifestyle provided by an NFL season, some guys seem to travel too far to the other side of the freedom spectrum.
Too much spare time coupled with pro sports money can prove to be one bad combination for some folks.
Folks like young Dez Bryant, one of the six player-arrests to be made public within the last six days from 7/15-7/20.
Bryant might indeed be the next coming of Michael Irvin in Dallas, but for all the wrong reasons. The troubled Cowboys receiver was pinched after his mother called the police accusing Bryant of slapping her face, pulling her hair and ripping her clothing during the alleged assault.
Bryant’s arrest comes after a string of negative incidences, none of which involved an arrest. Going into his third NFL season, the former Oklahoma State Cowboy has been inconsistent on the field while also showing flashes of brilliance. Various accounts of Bryant’s troubled upbringing have been published over the past few years, and Jerry Jones and the Cowboys are certainly aware.
Just like teams force players to take physical exams before each season starts, why not bring in a psychotherapist to sit down with each guy for an hour or two for a mental health evaluation? Chris Henry could have used one. So could PacMan Jones. How about Michael Vick?
Some arrests may be considered equal by the law, but that is not the case in the court of public opinion. When your typical fans hear about Adrian Peterson’s arrest at a Houston nightclub, he is likely to get some slack considering his clean record and good-guy image. Bryant, on the other hand, hasn’t been afforded the same treatment for obvious reasons.
As annoying and cliche as it is, “perception is reality,” and the NFL does indeed have some problems in the perception department.
Lockout. Head injuries. Bankruptcy. Suicide. Dementia. Shootings. DUIs. Foot fetishes.
Okay, well, a foot fetish is no biggie, but the rest of the NFL’s issues are substantial. The league tries a traditional method of prevention with the Rookie Symposium where current and former players, along with other speakers, warn the NFL’s newest members of the myriad of distractions and deal breakers they could potentially face during their careers. While the symposium is a start, it’s not enough.
Commissioner Goodell has yet to publicly address the string of player arrests this offseason, and I’m not sure that he needs to. Will people stop watching football because guys are getting popped for DUIs and assault? Probably not, at least not to any measurable degree.
In looking at the big business picture, perhaps the league doesn’t view these discretions as a detriment. Why not? Take a gander at this info nugget from an article on The PostGame from Oct. 2011:
“The numbers don’t lie. One in every 45 National Football League players (2.2 percent) is arrested. The national arrest rate is 1 in 23 (4.2 percent), according to the FBI in 2010. What does this mean? Technically, NFL players get in 47.6 percent less trouble than your average Joe.”
But that doesn’t make it right. Goodell has been criticized for his authoritative rule and heavy hand. I have, for the most part, agreed with Goodell’s disciplinary actions but the league needs to find a better way of preventing its core of rich and talented young men from making one mistake too many.
Bravo David Clowney.
Wow, never thought you’d see that sentence in print, did ya? Ya, me either, especially not after Clowney landed in hot water for tweeting “kill yourself dude” to an online heckler.
But we are a nation of forgiveness and second (okay, third, fourth and maybe fifth) chances, right? Right!
I think the Buffalo Bills wide receiver deserves a gold star or two for tweeting a photo of his test results.
Nope, not a driving test, or an old Wunderlic test, but an HIV test.
The wideout blasted the following tweet to his +9,000 followers on Tuesday, showing the lab results of test for multiple sexual transmitted diseases, including the most feared of them all, HIV:
Responses on twitter were all across the board as Clowney received support, congratulations and well wishes, from some, while others took the sarcastic, rude and judgmental route. Various blogs teased Clowney, one of which wrote, “Ladies, I’m sure you probably didn’t know who he was before the tweet, so no need to jump on the David Clowney groupie wagon now.”
I won’t dignify the negative stuff with a response.
Instead, I applaud the Florida native and Virginia Tech standout for not only doing something that most would never think to do, but for using the opportunity (and negative feedback) to speak about the importance of getting tested:
As an athlete who likely has plenty of opportunity in the “romance” department, I think it’s great that Clowney chooses the road of responsibility for himself as well as consideration of potential partners. Often times athletes, or others with high-profile occupations can develop a sense of invincibility that comes along with the spotlight and the “yes-men.” Clearly, Clowney is no fool.
I bet Clowney knows the numbers, which prove that he, as an African-American male, is a prime target for HIV. The following is from the Center For Disease Control website:
• Blacks continue to experience the most severe burden of HIV, compared to other races and ethnicities. Blacks represent approximately 14% of the U.S. population, but accounted for an estimated 44% of new HIV infections in 2009. Blacks accounted for 46% of people living with HIV infection in 2008.
• Since the epidemic began, more than 250,000 blacks with AIDS have died , including 8,782 in 2009.
• At some point in their life, approximately 1 in 16 black men will be diagnosed with HIV infection, as will 1 in 32 black women.
• In 2009, the estimated rate of new HIV infections among black men was six and a half times as high as that of white men, and more than two and a half times as high as that of Hispanic/Latino men and of black women. In the same year, the estimated rate of new HIV infections among black women was 15 times that of white women and over three times that of Hispanic/ Latina women.
While HIV is a problem for EVERYONE, regardless of race or ethnicity, the disease is striking the African Americans community at levels completely disproportionate to the population.
Whether we like it or not, people in the public eye are role models by default and they can impact the opinions and decisions of total strangers. It’s nice that Clowney is setting a good example by getting tested and preaching awareness.
Despite his sometimes-questionable twitter judgement and lack of eloquence, Clowney must be a fairly bright guy. The 26-year-old earned a Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice from the College of Saint Elizabeth (NJ) back in 2011 after majoring in Real Estate/Residential Property Management as an undergraduate at VaTech.
How many active professional athletes have a Master’s Degrees?
There’s much more to life than being book smart, but based on Tuesday’s tweet, I would say David Clowney is pretty street smart too.
LSU’s Claiborne Gets The Call Of A Lifetime
This is why we love sports.
Not only was the American football-loving public shocked when the Dallas Cowboys catapulted themselves eight spots up in the NFL draft (via trade), but the young man whom team owner Jerry Jones selected with the No. 6 overall pick was taken by surprise to the point of near-silence.
Morris Claiborne, the nation’s top-ranked cornerback out of LSU never even thought about the possibility of playing for the Cowboys, his family’s favorite team. Why would he, as Claiborne expected to be drafted early in the first round while Dallas was nearly halfway down in the draft order with the No. 14 pick overall.
So when Claiborne answered his phone and realized Jerry Jones was unexpectedly on the line, (click on the video above to hear their conversation), the 22-year-old Louisiana native was absolutely stunned.
“I looked back at my family, and they were like, ‘Who is it?’ ” Claiborne told the press at Radio City Music Hall. “And I was like, ‘The Cowboys.’ Just to see the look on their face, it’s just melted me.”
The voice of his new bosses melted Claiborne too, as you can hear the Jim Thorpe Award winner break down in tears while trying to digest the moment he had likely dreamed about since childhood.
Between twitter and the media leaking information about picks before they happen, this is quite a remarkable conversation as we rarely get to see true, raw emotion at the draft these days. Congrats to Mr. Claiborne and to the Cowboys as well, who seem to have gambled on one grateful and hard-working young man.
Well isn’t this precious? Not only will Eli Manning soon share a stadium with Tim Tebow, but the Super Bowl-winning Giants quarterback will also welcome the Jets rival into his New Jersey neighborhood!
Various news outlets reported that Tebow, the Jets recently-acquired backup quarterback chose a residence not in the so-called golf course community where his teammate QB1 Mark Sanchez lives, but instead, decided to shack up a mere two blocks away from Manning in Hoboken, NJ.
Between his popularity and paycheck, Tebow can afford the 2-bedroom rental in a 13-story luxury condo where units can cost up to $10k a month, according to the New York Post.
Just a five minute walk away toward the Hudson is the $2.2 million waterfront condo is that, Manning, wife Abby and baby Eva call home.
Aside from now living in the same hood, these two might have more in common than we’d expect. After all, both Manning and Tebow seem like the sports equivalent of a Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg, as they were probably that goofy-looking kid growing up who blossomed into a talented, mega-celebrity as an adult. Both played in the SEC and have won two championships, Tebow at Florida, Manning with the Giants. This situation has “besites” written all over it!
Can can you see it? Late-night hangouts comprised of popcorn and pillow fights between football talk? Perhaps Manning and Tebow will watch film of the 49ers together as the Jets face San Francisco in Week 4, the Giants in Week 6?
The boys could easily bond over the harsh New York media and the enormous pressure both have faced. Manning, unfairly compared to brother Peyton throughout his career career, could commiserate with Tebow who wasn’t even expected to have a career playing quarterback in the NFL.
Perhaps the church-going Tebow could babysit young Ava from time to time, allowing Eli and Abby to have an occasional night out on the town? Tebow could be the Mannings’ Manny.
Even better, Manning and Tebow could spend sleepless nights competing against each other in Madden, taking turns playing as themselves while the other plays as Tom Brady and the Patriots. That sounds like fun!
Candid Camera: NFL Edition
I am a huge fan of pranks. I even enjoy watching extremely awkward moments, which is probably why Curb Your Enthusiasm is one of my favorite shows. In the video above, Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker LaMarr Woodley sheds his scary-as-hell football persona and gives us a peek of his softer, lighter side, laughable side. I like.
Check out the bizarre and at times, cringe-worthy prank Woodley pulls on NFL buddies Steve Breaston, Marcedes Lewis, and Michael Turner. I’ll give you a hint… it involves solid acting performances, a cross-dressing element, and short shorts. Everybody wins!
If there was ever a time to defend Jeremy Shockey, it’s right now. Any media member siding with the brute tight end was a seemingly unfathomable anomaly until a single tweet turned the tides 24 hours ago.
Former NFL defensive tackle and current television football analyst Warren Sapp used Twitter to reveal the alleged source behind the “bounty-gate” scandal which rocked the New Orleans Saints after the league heavily penalized the organization on Wednesday.
Here is a screen grab of the Twitter exchange between Sapp and Shockey, the former Saints player cited by Sapp as the whistleblower:
Sapp later appeared on television to support his claim:
“I was sitting in the production meeting getting ready for the day and my source that was close to the situation informed me that Jeremy Shockey was the snitch initially. So I went with that. I trust my source unequivocally because he is right on top of the situation. I understand what this is. Shockey comes out and says that he’s not. We just found out who ‘Deep Throat’ was and he almost died. I understand. Whenever you inform something of this caliber, your identity should be protected, but I was given that information and I went with it by a reliable source that I know.”
The issue is no longer whether or not Shockey slipped the Saints’ secrets to somebody at the league office. Instead, the focus has shifted to the way in which Sapp, now a member of the national media, handled the alleged information.
First, the relationship between a journalist and a source is so scared that the United States government has laws protecting it. Reporters have served jail time rather than reveal their sources whom they vowed to protect at all costs.
A different kind of source can often be found in police stations, office buildings and even inside private homes. Countless cases of criminal activity, abuse, workplace corruption and various injustices have been stopped by people brave enough to speak up under the cloak of anonymity.
One could argue that it is a journalist’s job to find the “source” who reported the Saints’ offenses to the league, resulting in one of the most extensive and harsh punishments in NFL history. While it would serve virtually no purpose at this point, sure, revealing that person’s identity would be newsworthy. On the other hand, as any journalist who claims to be more than just a TV talking head, who, dare I say studied the profession in college should know, sources and their information are to be used with great caution. Aside from treading lighting to protect the source, a journalist must protect him or herself as well because anonymous sources are often wrong and unreliable.
Journalists typically use the term “whistleblower,” as the word implies dignity in telling a very hard truth in order to stop wrongdoing. While perhaps shunned by peers, a whistleblower is well-respected by others who understand the guts it takes to stand up and do what is right.
On the streets, in tougher neighborhoods than 280 Park Avenue, “snitch” is used to perpetuate negativity and shame, often preventing brave folks with morals from taking that final, frightening step necessary to stop criminal behavior.
The league office is not an NYPD precinct. A professional football field is not the corner store where s%$& goes down. Using the term “snitch” in reference to a sports scandal is absolutely reckless.
Outing a source is a delicate action that should be reserved for someone with foresight, hesitation and critical thinking that goes beyond dropping an info-bomb on your Twitter timeline.
Shockey has tried just about everything to rid himself of the “snitch” stigma, including offering to participate in a polygraph test on live television and publishing a text message conversation with Sean Payton in which the suspended Saints head coach appears to absolve Shockey of any bounty-gate related sins.
But none of that matters because the damage has been done. Shockey, a 10-year veteran already known for being outspoken (a euphemism in his case), will have a tough time getting picked up by another organization (he is a free agent) as players will fear that their secrets are no longer safe in the locker room, training room and other closed-door areas of team facilities.
More importantly, outing the alleged source will prevent other players from coming forward and reporting infractions for fear of damage not only to their reputation but also to relationships with teammates and coaches. Then there’s always retaliation and plenty of other unpleasantries associated with being a “snitch.” p
It will be very interesting to watch how the fallout plays out in the court of public opinion, inside the league office, and out on the football field in the years to come.
The Goodell Hammer came down hard on the New Orleans Saints and head coach Sean Payton Wednesday in the wake of a bounty scandal causing a major commotion in the NFL.
In punishing the coach-sponsored program in which Saints defensive players were paid varying cash rewards for injuring opposing players during games, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell reinforced his reputation as a stern disciplinarian who isn’t afraid to make an example of his subjects.
Payton received a wealth of Goodell’s wrath, incurring a year-long suspension, making him the first head coach in NFL history to ever be suspended. Former Saints and current Rams defensive coordinator Gregg Williams was suspended indefinitely, Saints GM Mickey Loomis will be suspended for the first eight regular-season games without pay, Saints assistant coach Joe Vitt will sit out the first six games of the regular season and the team itself will be fined $500,000 along with forfeiting second-round draft picks in 2012 and 2013.
While the punishment is indeed historic given its severity, I actually think it could have been significantly worse for the Saints. Given Goodell’s track record of harshly disciplining players who make mistakes off the field (see: Pacman Jones, Chris Henry, Michael Vick, etc.), I expected the commissioner to perhaps do the unthinkable in attempts to quash an illegal practice that is, unfortunately, not unique to the Saints.
I feared Goodell would vacate the team’s wins from 2009-2011, which would include the Saints incredible Super Bowl run. Sure, “vacating wins” and taking something out of the record books doesn’t erase it from our memories, but the stench of corruption and shame alone is enough to want to forget something that once evoked such sweetness and pleasure.
Sadly, a bounty program such as this is nothing new in the world of sports, but two things set the Saints apart from others who have engaged in such behavior:
1) The details of their pay-for-performance system were made painfully public
2) They got caught during a transition period for the league in terms of heightened awareness of the medical dangers of football and the attempt at increasing safety measures in games.
Does the following sound conducive to making the game safer and trying to win lawsuits against former players suing the league?
“The NFL said the scheme involved 22 to 27 defensive players; targeted opponents included quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers, Cam Newton, Brett Favre and Kurt Warner,” according to an ESPN.com article. ” ‘Knockouts’ were worth $1,500 and ‘cart-offs’ $1,000, with payments doubled or tripled for the playoffs. According to the league, Saints defensive captain Jonathan Vilma offered $10,000 to any player who knocked then-Vikings QB Favre out of the 2010 NFC championship game.”
Football is a violent sport and players are trained from an early age to embrace the brutality of the game, but with what we now know about the dangers of concussions, including the newly-discovered link between head trauma and ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), somebody needs to step in and save these guys from themselves.
I appreciate the fact that Roger Goodell has the stones to do what’s best for the future of these young men, regardless of what the players, coaches, owners or fans think. The league isn’t perfect, and yes, there are other ways in which ownership hurts players but at least this is a step in the right direction in one area of the game. For that, I say ‘good job’ Goodell.
Maybe you love Kobe Bryant, or perhaps you can’t stand the guy. Maybe you are all aboard on the “Black Mamba” train, or perhaps you resent the nickname because Bryant gave it to himself.
Could I at least interest you in a “Masked Mamba?”
Regardless of your personal feelings, Bryant has one of the best nicknames of any active athlete because it is ….gasp… original!
In 2010, a kid at one of Bryant’s basketball camps ( http://tinyurl.com/86cqs5t ) asked the L.A. Lakers star where the nickname came from, and here’s what the Mamba himself had to say:
“Its one of my favorite snakes…I won’t encourage you to be like me. I’m a thrill-seeker. So I love sharks. I love Black Mambas. I love King Cobras. I love stuff that can really kind of do you bodily harm… I’ve actually learned a great deal from animals, how they behave and how they hunt, and Black Mamba was one that really jumped out at me and caught my attention.”
The nickname really does fit Bryant’s personality, so I’m all for it. It makes perfect sense.
A little more than a year ago, I read a lengthy yet interesting column about hockey player nicknames. The gist of the article was that ice hockey players once had some of the most inventive and unique nicknames, an aspect of sports rarely seen today. The writer provided a history of handles and compared them with today’s modern monikers. It was no contest; the old guys won that battle, hands down.
If you think about it, most of today’s athletes have uninspiring nicknames that lack any creativity or personal significance.
DWill, KG, KD, ARod, AI , DWade, LBJ, JKidd, JRich, CP3, and TO are just some of the many initials-based/birth certificate-related nicknames that comprise headlines, blog posts and twitter feeds while appealing to no one, unable to evoke a smile, a scowl or any emotional response.
But what’s the fun in a nickname if there is nothing fun about it?
For the longest time, I have blamed Chris Webber for this custom of conventionality because he was the first guy I can remember who became a mega-star with the “first name, first letter” + “last name, first syllable” nickname equation. But just today, after all of these years, I turned my own world upside down when I realized Flo-Jo was probably the real OG of this flawed fad. I am no longer upset with Mr. Webber, nor could I ever be mad at the great Florence Joyner who rocked “Flo-Jo” in the freshest way.
Anyway, I thought we could take a moment to recognize the various “classes” of athlete nicknames. FYI, I’m not including diminutives or nicknames that were given at birth or childhood, a la Tiger Woods, Mookie Blaylock, Bonzie Wells, etc.
That said, let’s roll!
In-Betweeners (it’s not original, but at least it’s better than J-Will):
- Superman (Shaquille O’Neal, Dwight Howard)
- The King (LeBron James)
- Flash (Dwayne Wade)
- Glenn “Doc” Rivers (google where “Doc” came from)
- Big Baby (Glen Davis)
- Pacman (Adam Jones)
- Playmaker (Michael Irvin)
- Linsanity (Jeremy Lin… see: Vince Carter)
- Wilt “The Stilt” Chamberlain
- Hakeem “The Dream” Olajuwon
- Clyde “The Glide” Drexler
- Earl “The Pearl” Monroe
- “Big Game” James Worthy
- “Mean” Joe Green
- Nick “The Quick” Van Exel
- The Wizard of Westwood (John Wooden)
- Bear Bryant (Paul Bryant… okay, he was a teenager when he got the nickname, but the guy agreed to wrestle a bear, so he makes the list based on chutzpah alone)
- Pistol Pete (Pete Maravich)
- The Mailman (Karl Malone)
- The Admiral (David Robinson)
- The Captain (Kareem Abdul Jabbar)
- The Greatest (Muhammad Ali)
- The Great One (Wayne Gretzky)
Best Nicknames You’ve Never Heard:
- The Stratford Streak/The Mitchell Meteor (Howie Morenz… http://tinyurl.com/75ypsxg )
- Walter “Sneeze” Achiu (Walter Tin Kit Achiu http://tinyurl.com/7odmbra )
- Dr. J (Julius Irving)
- The Rocket (Roger Clemens)
- Megatron (Calvin Johnson)
- The Shark (Greg Norman)
- Big Papi (David Ortiz)
- Neon (Deion Sanders)
- The Worm (Dennis Rodman)
- Duke of Flatbush (Edwin Snyder)
- Zeke (Isiah Thomas)
- Air Jordan (Michael Jordan)
- The Bus (Jerome Bettis)
- Broadway Joe (Joe Namath)
- Golden Boy (Oscar De La Hoya)
- Vinsanity (Vince Carter)
- The Big Ticket (Kevin Garnett)
- World B. Free (Lloyd Bernard Free)
- The Big Fundamental (Tim Duncan)
- Babe/Bambino/Sultan of Swat (George Herman Ruth)
- Sweetness (Walter Payton)
- The Glove (Gary Payton)
- Iceman (George Gervin)
- The Flying Dutchman (Honus Wagner)
- Thorpedo (Ian Thorpe)
- Golden Bear (Jack Nicklaus)
- The Freak (Jevon Kearse)
- Shoeless Joe Jackson (Joe Jackson…Duh.)
- The Flying Tomato (Shaun White)
- Iron Mike (Mike Tyson)
- Mr. October (Reggie Jackson)
Runner Up for Best Nickname:
The one and only, “The Say Hey Kid,” Willie Mays.
And…. the best nickname EV-ER…OF ALL TIME…. is….
Irvin “Magic” Johnson. You can’t beat Magic.
Surely, I have left plenty of folks off this list, so feel free to tweet me with your favorites at @Jackie_Pepper
Are the Saints serious? Slapping the franchise tag on Drew Brees is more of a slap in the face than if they were to just cut him loose and let him make the big bucks elsewhere.
Despite my displeasure with New Orleans franchising Brees, the quarterback who led the franchise to its first ever Super Bowl victory, I see what drove them to do it as both sides put each other in this situation.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that Brees is asking for a contract that pays him an average of $23 million per year while the Saints aren’t willing to top the $18 million per year mark. Colts QB Peyton Manning is averaging $23 million per year over the first three years of his new contract (I know, let’s not even go there with P.Manning) while Tom Brady, the New England Patriots quarterback is earning about $18 million annually over the lifetime of his contract, should he fulfill it, as is.
On one hand, $23 million is a LOT of money. It’s not like Brees can’t get by on $18 million per year. But if we look beyond what seems like common sense to us average-earning Joes, it makes sense that Brees should earn a paycheck equivalent to that of Peyton Manning, a fellow top-tier quarterback (again, we will ignore Peyton’s neck issues for the purposes of this blog, and my sanity). Heck, Brees beat Manning en route to Super Bowl 44 proving just how special of a quarterback he is. Plus, it’s not like the Saints can’t afford to pay Brees that kind of money. They can.
I understand that because the two sides could not come to an agreement, the Saints feel it necessary to franchise Brees so he can’t go elsewhere which buys them not only Brees’ services for around $16 million (which will cost the Saints $14.4 million against the salary cap ), but gives them another year to try to get a deal done.
Best case scenario for Brees is that this is a purely strategic move by the Saints and both sides can see it as a means to a happy end. The franchise tag keeps him tethered to New Orleans during the off-season, thus buying time for Brees and Saints management to come to a long-term agreement before July 16. At that point, franchised players can only sign 1-year contracts.
The worst case scenario paints an ugly picture of Saints management. Putting Brees - a future Hall of Fame player who restored glory and respect to your franchise even before winning the Super Bowl - in a position to potentially suffer a career-ending injury with zero financial stability is shameful. It’s an irresponsible decision that lacks even a hint of loyalty or morality.
If the Saints somehow think that the last six seasons of success have been a fluke, or that the 33-year-old is on the decline (despite throwing 46 touchdown passes and a record-breaking 5476 yards passing in this last season), then they need to do some serious soul searching, quit any substances they may be abusing, and get a reality check.
I can appreciate the hesitation in doling out a multi-year deal worth this kind of money for ANYBODY. I get it. So if that is the issue, why not sign Brees to a two-year deal (with a third-year option) worth somewhere between $21-$23 million a year? I would think both sides would agree to that. In fact, it’s still a much better deal for the Saints than for Brees, but perhaps, with his sense of loyalty and love for that community, he might just take it?
Maybe not. Either way, I feel like this has to be the worst possible outcome for Brees. Sure, it’s great for the Saints but I’m shocked that they would pull this with a man that has truly meant so much to the city and its people.
After turning down the Chargers’ contract offer heading into the 2006 season, Brees only drew interest from a few teams on the open market as he was coming off of a gruesome shoulder injury that required surgery. Brees went with the Saints and grateful for the opportunity, he took control of the team and the city the moment he set foot in the Big Easy, bringing happiness and spirit back to the region ravaged by Hurricane Katrina. Brees and his teammates never looked back, chugging away until they won the Super Bowl in the 2009 season.
Brees was a fixture of the players union during the lockout and it’s ironic that he could very well get screwed by this policy.
You’d better believe we’re going to see a chippier Drew Brees in 2012. I would play angry if my team did me like that, and while Brees certainly has nothing to prove, he does have millions of potential dollars on the line.
I was listening to NFL Network’s Rich Eisen on his self-titled podcast a few weeks ago when he said something to the effect of, mark my words, Robert Griffin III will give Andrew Luck a run for his money because at some point, analysts will pick the Baylor star over the Stanford stud.
Eisen wasn’t kidding!! I don’t know about you at home, but I rarely heard Luck’s name coming out of Indianapolis over the last few days as NFL hopefuls attempted to boost their draft status by participating in the exercises, drills, tests and interviews that encompass the combine.
While RG3’s 40 time sent the media abuzz Sunday, the Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback was crowned the king of the combine long before he set foot on the field at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Luck first, Griffin second seemed to be the consensus on the quarterback order after the college football season ended as both players had monster seasons and wow’d us, each in their own way. Luck lost a bit of luster for no reason other than the fact that he had become old news, while Griffin was the hot, new guy on the scene who came out of nowhere. Capping a Heisman-winning season with a bowl game victory consisting of 777 yards of offense, RG3 was already hot heading into the combine and basically lit himself of fire by way of dazzling the media in his press conference on Friday.
The following tweet from Nancy Gay, NFL senior editor for FoxSports.com, echoed the sentiments of just about every media member who was in the room watching RG3 shine:
@nancygay: RG3 displaying impressive poise, humor, intelligence. He will be a tremendous #NFL leader for the team lucky enough to get him
Griffin was asked about the possibly of becoming an Indianapolis Colt and sitting while Peyton Manning played. Griffin responded by saying, “I’d hold that clipboard with pride.”
Seriously? This kid either had the best media coaching money could buy or he is a genuinely positive person with tremendous character who understands the business of football. From what I’ve seen of Griffin over the past year, I’m guessing the latter is true. Nothing excites management more than the idea of a top-notch talent having an ego small enough to allow him to take a back seat in order to help the team. Finding a guy like that is equivalent to a Unicorn running through your backyard or a Leprechaun offering you a pot of gold. Very rare, indeed.
Even so, why was this media session so important for Griffin? Because the combine, in and of itself doesn’t reveal major secrets, and the scouts know it.
Nothing about the combine accurately replicates playing a football game. Height, weight, jumping ability, speed and weight lifting mean nothing if you aren’t using that strength to push an offensive lineman or using that vertical leap to elevate higher than the corner covering you in order to make the game-winning catch. At the end of the day, a pat on the back and top ranking on the NFL Combine’s wikipedia page just isn’t worth that much.
Griffin’s official 40 time was 4.41 seconds, putting him in third place among quarterbacks since the year 2000. Who beat him out? Well, Michael Vick’s official time was 4.33 seconds, followed by Reggie McNeal who ran the famous 40 in 4.40 ticks. Of the ten quarterbacks who logged the best 40 times since 2000, Vick is the only one to earn a Pro Bowl nod.
Tom Brady ran a 5.28 at the combine. No need to expound. I know you get my point.
Athleticism and Wonderlich scores don’t necessarily predict sport-specific ability.
I won’t go into the Wonderlich test as we all know of various players who didn’t test well, yet had or have great NFL careers and those who earned near perfect scores whose likenesses won’t be on a bust in Canton any time soon.
Athleticism, however, is worth dissecting a bit. Does Ben Roethlisberger epitomize the word “athlete” when you look at him? He’s tall, but he’s a bit chunky, doesn’t move quickly and looks like he’s a few buckets of KFC away from a career as a full-time couch potato. In reality, Roethlisberger is one of the top five quarterbacks in the NFL. He’s an elite, Super Bowl-winning quarterback who went 11th overall in the 2004 draft behind Eli Manning and Philip Rivers. Okay, so Manning has one ring on Big Ben, but I bet the Oakland Raiders regretted drafting o-lineman Robert Gallery with the second overall pick pretty quickly.
Remember Justin Gatlin, the gold medal-winning Olympian? The American track star, one of the fastest men on the planet, tried out for the Houston Texans while serving a four-year ban from track and field for doping. The man ran the 100 meters in 9.85 seconds and couldn’t make the Texans roster, proving that fast and football are not mutually exclusive.
Yes, Griffin is perhaps an Olympic-caliber track athlete, but that isn’t what defines him as a great pro prospect. Both Griffin and Luck decided not to participate in throwing drills at the combine which was no big deal as scouts and coaches have plenty of game tape on them, which serves as the real resume builder in this business.
Former NFL head coach and current analyst Brian Billick said of Griffin, “This is the best throwing athlete I’ve seen come out in a while. Far better than Michael Vick in my opinion. Far better than Cam Newton. This guy has as pure a throwing motion for an athletic quarterback [and] clearly has the intelligence to transition. [He] will translate into the NFL very well.”
That’s quite a ringing endorsement, and surely, it had nothing to do with the combine as Griffin did not throw there.
In truth, the combine is more useful as an interviewing tool than anything. A talented player is of no use if he is suspended, arrested or in jail. The best player on your team is worthless if he won’t talk to his quarterback, or refuses to go in the game. Watching a young man’s best attempt at impressing the entire football community over the course of a pressure-filled week can probably give you good insight into one’s character. Sure, some guys are great actors and might slip through the cracks, but I think coaches and front office members learn much more about the man than the player at the combine.
That’s why RG3 hit a home run in Indy. The football community already knew what he was physically capable of long before the combine, but now Griffin is recognized as a guy who can walk the walk AND talk the talk, a talent that not many possess in professional sports.
Hockey Day In America. Sounds like an oxymoron, doesn’t it? NBC is trying to change that as the network hosts its second annual “Hockey Day In America,” a nine-hour block of hockey-related programming across various NBC platforms.
While hockey can’t seem to find a solid, widespread fan base in the United States, it’s as popular as ever in Canada and Europe and NBC, which owns the broadcast rights to NHL games, would love to see that popularity shift to the U.S.
Lets dissect what Hockey Day In America will consist of before getting into why hockey isn’t, but should be more successful in the U.S.
Starting at Noon ET, three different NHL games will be aired on NBC. Depending on what region of the country you are in on Sunday morning, you’ll see either the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Buffalo Sabres, the San Jose Sharks at the Detroit Red Wings or the St. Louis Blues at the Chicago Blackhawks.
Once the first round of games wraps up, the defending Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins will take on the Minnesota Wild in front of a national audience on NBC. The fun continues on NBC Sports Network (formerly Versus) with the New Jersey Devils at the Montreal Canadiens, also nationally televised, at around 6pm ET after the conclusion of Bruins at Wild.
NBC chose some great match-ups as each game features star players and intriguing story lines. From Team USA goaltender Ryan Miller in net for the Sabres to the Red Wings attempting to stretch their home winning streak to a whopping 23 games, there’s something for everyone to gravitate to, including the casual NHL fan and even someone who doesn’t know a thing about hockey.
But nobody is counting on back-to-back-to-back games to do the trick and convert your typical “any sport other than hockey” fan into an NHL sweater-wearing believer. NBC is weaving the details of the game and its culture throughout the nine-hour telecast in the form of features and human interest stories designed to keep the television audience engaged and actually teach people a thing or two about hockey.
While many of us think of hockey as a Canadian sport, the U.S. makes plenty of contributions to the game which will be showcased Sunday. For example, a disproportionate number of NHL players come from two tiny high school hockey programs in Minnesota. Located in towns with populations under 3,000, Roseau High School and Warroad High School will be featured on NBC as the rival schools pump out professional hockey players at an abnormally high rate.
Other tales to be told during Sunday’s telecast are those of a groundbreaking program created by the Tampa Bay Lightning Foundation which provides sled hockey for the physically challenged and “The Program,” which gives American kids interested in hockey a legitimate path to the NHL without having to leave the country for the Canadian junior leagues. American-born players will be featured and interviewed throughout the telecast.
The NHL had a small window of opportunity to increase its fan base during the NBA lockout, but in the end, there just wasn’t enough time to forge a grassroots movement to attract new viewers.
I once had a conversation with a front office employee of a non-Original Six (Bruins, Blackhawks, Red Wings, Canadiens, Rangers and Maple Leafs) NHL team about how hard it is for his team to grow its fan base. He said the organization had seemingly tried everything to increase ticket sales and TV ratings but nothing would stick. Putting butts in seats inside the arena wasn’t as much of an issue as the TV ratings, which he said were extremely hard to grow.
It’s no coincidence that four of the NHL’s Original Six teams will be featured in “Hockey Day In America” as Boston, Chicago, Detroit and Montreal will bring their strong fan bases with them and perhaps NBC’s presentation of the traditions and folklore of those teams can get others outside of those markets interested in the sport and its history.
Sure, baseball is “American’s Pastime” and its roots run deep through U.S. soil, but football surpassed baseball as the country’s most popular sport years ago and basketball is beloved by Americans from every walk of life. If only sports fans realized that hockey has the violence of football, the speed of basketball and the agility and skill superior to both, they would certainly fall in love with the NHL.
They say “hockey doesn’t translate on TV,” and while there is some truth to that, once you learn the rules and understand the game, hockey is just as exciting to watch on television as any other sport. Seeing a game in person is also a fantastic experience.
Being able to watch hockey on TV was in jeopardy after the NHL lockout as the league was dropped by the networks that carried the games before the 2004-05 season which was lost completely due to the labor dispute. Luckily, NBC came along and partnered with the NHL (which I think saved the league from collapsing). NBC got one heck of a deal as they did not have to pay rights fees for the games, instead, agreeing to simply split ad revenue with the league.
The higher the TV ratings, the more money NBC and the NHL take home. Unfortunately, this year’s Winter Classic game between the Rangers and Flyers had the lowest ratings in the short history of the event, in it’s fifth year. It’s not all bad news though because the game was moved from prime time on New Years Day to mid-day on Jan 2 (competing against college football) due to weather conditions which is probably a likely explanation for the ratings drop. The 2011 Winter Classic between the Capitals and Penguins drew the event’s highest ratings with help from HBO’s reality series “24/7” leading up to the game (the cable network also featured this season’s Winter Classic teams) and because the match-up featured the NHL’s top players in Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin.
Given the massive programming block of Hockey Day In America, the NHL and NBC should be able to capitalize off a Sunday devoid football or baseball. Plus, NBC has a full hour of hockey all to itself before any NBA or NCAA basketball games start. That should be enough time to plant the seed and convert the non-believers into hockey fans, slowly but surely, beginning with nine hours of Hockey Day In America.
The irony that a Manning brother not named Peyton is quarterbacking a Super Bowl game played in Lucas Oil Stadium, the “place that Peyton built,” is sad and complex. Even worse is the way in which both ownership and player have purposefully or perhaps inadvertently turned an uncomfortable situation into an unexpected public grudge match.
The elder Manning sat out the entire season after undergoing three neck surgeries in 19 months, leaving the Indianapolis Colts handicapped to the point of losing their first 13 games of the season and finishing the year with an unimaginably poor 14-2 record. Sure, the embarrassing 2011 season led to the Colts landing the No. 1 overall draft pick - Indy is likely to choose Stanford’s Andrew Luck, but Robert Griffin III could be a surprise choice - but at what cost? The 35-year-old Manning had started 227 consecutive games (regular season and playoffs) since joining the Colts in 1998, not to mention winning four league MVP awards, 11 Pro Bowl selections, being named AFC Player of the Year six times and taking the Colts to the big game twice, bringing home one Lombardi Trophy and a Super Bowl MVP award to go with it.
But even a storied athletic career of this caliber can’t save Peyton Manning from the inevitable, “sorry buddy, it’s just business” spiel before getting kicked to the curb. Manning and Colts owner Jim Irsay had to do some damage control after public comments made by the quarterback prompted Irsay to go on an odd rant where he took some nasty shots at Manning ( http://indy.st/yTQ0A4 ). The situation has put both parties in a bad spot and has created an “owner versus player” scenario, at least in the eyes of the public.
I think most people find themselves in one of two camps.
“So what if Peyton can’t play? He built this team, took them to Super Bowls, and he is one of the best to EVER play the game. Where is the loyalty? If he’s healthy enough, he should at least be given the chance to play again and the Colts can still draft Andrew Luck, but sit him, a la Aaron Rodgers holding the clip board in Green Bay during the final years of Brett Favre era.”
“This is a business. At the end of the day, people own football teams to make money. It is better to cut Manning now, save the $28 million owed to him next season (and the rest of a 5-year contract extension worth around $90 million) and risk him somehow getting healthy and playing well for another team. Three surgeries in 19 months, on the neck of all places, and missing an entire season? You don’t need to be a doctor to know that doesn’t bode well for the aging star. Save the money, bring in Luck and perhaps a quality backup to help coach the kid up. Thanks for the memories Manning, but your time is up. It’s just business.”
The problem with splitting into two sides over this issue is that both arguments are valid, making this predicament grey, as opposed to black or white. Part of being a good business owner is doing right by your employees. Sometimes it can potentially hurt the bottom line, but I believe in Karma. When you treat people well, others take notice and want to come work for you.
If Manning is healthy enough, I would love to see him play for the next few years and mentor Luck, or whomever the Colts select with the top draft pick in a few months from now. If he is healthy enough to play and refuses to mentor a quarterback taken as the top pick, well then that’s a shame and you have to trade him.
Should Manning truly be at the end of his career and be forced to retire due to his health, yes, the Colts need to give Peyton a token of their appreciation as a franchise. Should they decimate their roster or ability to sign good players in doing so? Of course not. But as an owner of a team that has been successful over the last decade, you find a way to compensate Manning with a sweet severance package.
Perhaps that parting gift comes in the form of a front office job, slice of ownership, or coaching position. Maybe Manning becomes a spokesperson/ambassador on behalf of the team, allowing a creative, smart and personality-driven guy like Peyton the freedom to talk football and community for a living. The Colts might even find themselves in a position where Manning takes another gig having nothing to do with the team, so they slip him some cash inside his “going-away” card.
Both owner and player owe it to each other to work together and meet in the middle. In an industry where little loyalty exists, it would be a shame to see what has been a familial and successful partnership fall by the wayside because of ego, hurt feelings or corporate greed. Whatever the particulars are at the time when a decision must be made, surely Irsay and Manning can come to a fair agreement using diplomacy, business-savvy and good, old fashioned humanity.