NFL

Giant Inconsistencies

New York Giants v Tennessee Titans

-Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

Football: a great American game in which grown men collide with each other, where toughness and consistency are rewarded.

They are two attributes that the NFL admires and welcomes. However, it’s also a pair of traits that the league is lacking when it comes to handing down punishments for domestic violence cases.

The most recent incident involves New York Giants kicker Josh Brown, who was recently re-signed by the team, despite the franchise’s knowledge about his pending domestic violence arrest.

The league, which claims to be more strict towards these type of offenders after the Ray Rice case, handed the 37-year old kicker a measly one-game suspension. On top of that, Giants owner John Mara has publicly defended his kicker and the rationale behind keeping him on the team despite the knowledge of possible domestic violence.

The Giants knew about his arrest and the circumstances surrounding this issue. To voluntarily keep him along when there is an abundance of kickers in free agency is morally reckless. It’s irresponsible.

Congratulations Roger Goodell, John Mara, and the New York Giants, for helping the NFL drop the ball once again when it comes to dealing with these type of issues. You haven’t done a spectacular job of policing these cases and with each claim and revised rule to show promise — you take three steps back.  (more…)

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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…)

Fly, Antonio, Fly

 

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-Lincoln Financial Field

“When you begin working for the Eagles, you will quickly begin to realize that the best part is getting to know the fans you will meet along the way.”

That’s what I was told at the end of a four-hour interviewing process on a perfect, sunny Friday afternoon.

I didn’t buy it.

Don’t get me wrong, I love meeting new people and hearing the stories they have to share. As a former barista, I enjoyed interacting with the customers that shuffled in and out on a regular basis, but I was about to begin working for the Philadelphia Eagles, an experience I was fortunate to have during my junior year of college.

As someone who hopes to work in the sports world, this was a big deal. I was more excited to meet the revered gridiron heroes that conquer Sunday television than I was to meet the average fan. In fact, the one line on my resume felt more important than the thousands of fans that came through the stadium. How could the best part of working for the Eagles simply be getting to meet the fans?

After all, they just blend into one enormous consolidation of green week in and week out. We would have short-term memories; chances are they wouldn’t see or remember me, and I would feel the same way for them.

At least, that’s what I thought. (more…)

How Far We Haven’t Come

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-altonline.tv

Nope, sorry, even if the United States had upset Argentina on its own turf, soccer in the United States still has a long way to go.

After a 4-0 beat down by the best player on the planet and his national team on Tuesday night, it became even more apparent that the United States needs a lot more work.

Yes, Major League Soccer, America’s domestic soccer league, has been on a gradual rise. A new, shiny broadcast deal with ESPN and Fox Sports before the 2015 season has helped the league get more coverage and attention, while putting more money into their pockets.

The eight-year deal between ESPN, Fox Sports, and Spanish broadcast network Univision, have an average estimated value of $90 million per season. 125 games will be shown annually across the three networks. This is almost five times larger than the previous broadcast deal between the MLS and ESPN, Fox Sports, and Univision, that was only averaging an $18 million value.

MLS franchises have become more valuable, with the average team worth $157 million, according to a 2015 report by Forbes.

While these upward trends are nice for the MLS, the league and the American cultural perception towards the sport still remain well in the back seat.

The United States’ professional leagues for football (NFL), basketball (NBA), hockey (NHL), and baseball (MLB) still trump the MLS.  (more…)

The NFL’s Mixed Messages

-CBS Sports

-CBS Sports

The NFL’s Personal Conduct Policy states, “All persons associated with the NFL are required to avoid conduct detrimental to the integrity of and public confidence in the National Football League. This requirement applies to players, coaches, other team employees, owners, game officials and all others privileged to work in the National Football League.”

Roger Goodell fell short in his punishment for Baltimore’s running back, Ray Rice. Rice found himself amidst headlines for his actions in Atlantic City. On February 15th, he was arrested for assault in what was a domestic dispute between he and his, at the time fiancée, Janay Palmer. A security camera captured footage of Rice dragging an unconscious Palmer out of an elevator.  While there is no video released to the public of what exactly transpired leading up to that event, it was said in the court summons that both Rice and Palmer had struck each other. Since then, Rice married Palmer and court was dismissed as Rice reached a settlement and charges against Palmer were dropped shortly after the initial arrest.

Ray Rice was handed a two-game suspension by the NFL. He publicly apologized for his actions at a press conference saying, “I’ve made the biggest mistake of my life. Me. She can do no wrong. She’s an angel.” Rice appeared genuine and truly remorseful in his apology. On Friday, Goodell publicly spoke about Rice’s suspension for the first time since it was handed down. He praised Rice, “I was also very impressed with Ray in the sense that Ray is not only accepting this issue but he’s saying, ‘I was wrong.’ I want to see people, when they make a mistake, I want to see them take responsibility and be accountable for it.”

While Ray Rice was standing up to his mistakes, Roger Goodell just reaffirmed a big one. Since the news and video first broke out about Ray Rice getting arrested, the NFL has treated this issue more as a PR fiasco than a domestic violence issue. It was viewed as a distraction to the team and something that needed to be swept up and taken care of right away. Palmer and Rice sat side-by-side earlier in the year at a press conference where the world watched Palmer apologize for her “role that night.” Rice kept it more general, apologizing for “the situation he and his wife was in.” The first press conference lacked the honesty and sincerity that the most recent one embodied. It appeared as an attempt to save their star running back’s image.

For Goodell to say that Rice’s punishment is “consistent” with past cases and suspensions is ludicrous. What kind of message is he, as the commissioner of the NFL, trying to send to the viewers? Especially to the female fan base of the NFL, which accounts for 45% of viewers. A number of NFL teams are currently under fire regarding their cheerleading squads, with various lawsuits afoot addressing how severely underpaid they are, or the harassment they face while working. The average NFL cheerleader makes $500-$750 a season, while a team’s mascot can make anywhere from $23,000-$65,000 a year.

Back in 2010, Ben Roethlisberger was accused of rape for a second time. Roethlisberger was not charged and was free to walk as there was a lack of strong evidence to really drive the case forward. However, he was still handed a six-game suspension by the NFL for violating their Personal Conduct Policy (which would later be brought down to four games). Where’s the consistency here? How about when Terrelle Pryor was suspended for five-games for what he did in college at Ohio State? Sure, he broke the rules of the NCAA by accepting a few tattoos and gifts, but Goodell never elaborated on why he was given a NFL suspension. Back in 2011, Vikings’ cornerback Chris Cook was suspended 10 games for domestic violence. He was also able to walk a free man after being acquitted in trial. It all just does not make sense. Suspension lengths are all over the board.

Perhaps this will lead to discussion and eventually action on how future punishments should be handled. The NFL needs to develop a standard for all misconduct. While there is a set rule for substance abuse, they need to shed more light on personal conduct issues. Since these matters are not always black or white and can contain a lot of variables, there should be a jury or a panel of sorts to decide on what is appropriate. If a group of people makes a decision, there should be less to fuss over. Right now, the system lends itself to being a monarchy – one man is calling all the shots. He is judge, jury, and executioner. A jury of sorts would remedy this issue. Let Goodell focus on NFL operations, and let the jury enforce the laws. Goodell let the women, who watch and enjoy the NFL, down with his decision, or indecision on how he acted upon Ray Rice’s suspension. It is counterproductive to the NFL’s goal each year to increase the female fan base and target more viewers. How can he say the meager two-game suspension was appropriate, and then have the NFL don pink cleats, gloves, bands, etc. in support of women and breast cancer? Unfortunately, Goodell’s inconsistency in punishing misconduct within the organization makes the NFL’s good-willed gestures appear rather hollow and insincere.