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We Need More Activist Athletes

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-ESPYs

There’s no doubt America loves its sports, and its champions.

Earlier this week, two-time NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers went on the radio waves in Milwaukee, where he shared that he felt NFL culture and its administration discourage its players from being vocal and speaking out on social issues.

The Green Bay Packers quarterback pointed at the NBA, where players are promoted to speak out. It’s an environment that he praised Commissioner Adam Silver for creating.

Although Rodgers admitted that he, himself, is not exactly the most outspoken, he would like to see more players freely share their opinions.

He had a chance to do just that. After the weekend riots and unrest in Milwaukee, on Monday, Rodgers was in front of microphone once again and was asked to give his opinion on what had just happened.

He said: “I don’t know the specifics about it, but I do know that our heart goes out to those affected down there. This is a connected world. Anytime there’s a disconnect like that, it’s disappointing to see. Our thoughts and our prayers go with all of those affected, and we hope that the violence doesn’t continue down there.”

After digesting Rodgers’ sentiments on the Milwaukee riots and athletes speaking out, as well as, processing Jabari Parker’s heartbreaking essay in The Players’ Tribune on his experiences in Chicago and how he and fellow citizens can make it a better place — I was thinking. (more…)

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A Scandinavian Scandal: Trouble Lurks in Minny

As the NFL offseason essentially starts next week, one largely unanswered question lingers: will Adrian Peterson play again next season and, if so, where?  NFL commissioner Roger Goodell thinks that Peterson has yet to display contrition for his arrest for child abuse.  AP contends that he was justified acting as he did because his parents used the same methods on him when he was young.  Unfortunately, I cannot claim to have had any empirical experience on this issue.  I was not beaten as a kid, and my parents never told us any stories about receiving them.  However, this should not prevent me from having the capacity to question the methodology behind both the decisions of Vikings running back Adrian Peterson and the perception of the league regarding them.

Firstly, the opinion that “Peterson simply acted out of some sort of parental instinct, no one knows the best way to raise a child”, is very much debatable.  Yes, there is no golden standard for parents to follow with helping their kids grow up.  However, it is not egregiously unreasonable limits for what boundaries parents should be permitted to exceed.  According to Peterson, the growth that he expects his son to experience legitimizes smacking him with an object.  But would he necessarily have been worse off without having been abused?  Correlation cannot simply imply causation; we cannot expect a person’s maturity and level of success to be dependent on how often and how hard he or she was struck with a wooden switch.  Cris Carter nobly deemed himself on ESPN an exception to this so-called “rule”.  He proceeds to give a passionate speech on how abuse specifically did not make him into a better person:

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Where They Are Now

Grab your wings, grab your booze, and grab your friends.  If your team is still in the race, don’t forget to perform whatever weird superstitious rituals you think will help.  It’s championship Sunday, ladies and gentlemen.  So buckle up, because it’s gonna be a bumpy ride.  Today we dive into the careers of the 4 quarterbacks who will be taking the field, both what they have accomplished and how far another Lombardi trophy will take them.

  1. Andrew Luck – the new kid on the block

This will be the grizzly-faced Stanford grad’s first appearance in pro football’s final 4.  Colts management took a monumental risk in prematurely terminating Peyton Manning’s career to draft this young stud, and he has not disappointed (3rd in the regular season in passing yards, 1st so far this postseason).  However, Luck’s conquest today will be the bane of his existence: Tom Brady, whom he is 0-3 against in his career, losing by an average of 68 points.  Despite the season ending injury to workhouse Ahmad Bradshaw and the relegation of Trent Richardson to special teams duty, the Colts running game has held its own, thanks to the rise of 3rd year running back Daniel “Boom” Herron.  The defense has been outstanding as of late, giving up just 33 points in its last 3 games since a week 16 collapse in Dallas.  Ultimately, Luck could throw for 5000 yards every year, but it will all be for naught if he doesn’t have a ring to show for it.  If Luck and the defense continue to play at elite levels, and the running game provides an ancillary spark, this team has a chance, and the roots for the conversation of Luck as an all-time great can begin to form.

  1. Tom Brady – seeking redemption

In the early 2000’s Brady appeared to be on his way to being the best to ever play the game.  His clutch antics led to 3 Super Bowl victories in his 1st 4 years at the helm.  In 2007, he came within a game of completing the 1st 19-0 season ever.  However, the Giants relentless pass rush would prove to be too much, as it would again in the championship 4 years later.  Brady has gone a decade without tasting football’s greatest fruit, though his squads have averaged 12.3 wins a year in that span.  The criticism remains that he has failed to capture a Lombardi since the “Spygate” accusations arose, so he certainly has something to prove.  However, this might be one of the best teams he has every played on thanks to the defense, led by superstar offseason acquisition Darrelle Revis.  They will have to be better than they were against Baltimore, a game which snapped a streak of 12 games without giving up more than 25 points.  The running game will have to be better, as it managed just 14 yards against the Ravens.  All things considered, I like Brady’s odds in this one. (more…)

Play the School

The name Coast to Coast Sports might insinuate that we’re not showing the Midwest enough love.  However, though the ACC’s Jameis Winston and the Pac-12’s Marcus Mariota command most of the spotlight, inaugural college football playoff champion quarterback Cardale Jones of Ohio State is holding things down in between.  With playmakers Braxton Miller and J.T. Barrett on the shelf, he took the wheel and won three postseason starts on his way to the ‘ship.  The 22 year old faced a crossroads: to cash in on 180 minutes of immortality, or to return to Columbus and potentially risk falling down both the depth chart and the draft boards?  Ultimately Cardale bet on himself, deciding to “play school” another year.

It’s not just the numbers that trigger a Pavlovian effect amongst scouts whenever his name is brought up.  Cardale is a BIG BOY.  At 6’5, 250, he would be the heaviest quarterback in the league (somewhere, Jared Lorenzen sits on his couch with a pint of Ben & Jerry’s and scowls).  The best pro comparison for Cardale would be Panthers franchise QB Cam Newton, another hulking figure who also won a title at Auburn.  Since he towers over most defenders, Cardale already possesses some crucial tactical advantages: fewer of his passes will be batted down at the line of scrimmage, and he won’t have to worry about leaving the pocket to see over defenders.  So, why would he not ride the momentum of the past month into the professional ranks? (more…)