The Love Of The Game

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

When you see the headline “First Female Football Coach,” does it make you cringe?  Probably some Affirmative Action hire to please Social Justice Warriors, making the NFL more inclusive and welcoming?  A ploy, like hiring Denny “The Knee” Green to be a Black coach – he’s Black all right, but not much of a coach?

Normally, I’d agree.  But this particular woman doesn’t sound like it.

  • College rugby.
  • 14 seasons Women’s Football Alliance (full-contact, tackling football, not flag or lingerie).
  • Running Back for Texas Revolution Men’s Indoor Football team (3 carries, -1 yards rushing).
  • Two Gold Medals for Team USA in International Women’s Football.
  • Master’s in Sport Psychology and PhD in Psychology.

If she only had the academic degrees, or only had flag football experience, I’d suspect this was a publicity stunt to get the team some good PR.

But she’s actually played the game and taken hits.  She might know what she’s talking about.  And if she can teach inside linebackers to play a better game, well, that’s what coaching is all about. And who knows, maybe she’ll bring back some decorum. “When you get into the end zone, act like you’ve been there before” could apply to linebackers . . . not every tackle requires a victory dance.  Huddle up, get your head back in the game.

I might become a Cardinals fan after all.

Joe Doakes

She may have rushed for more yardage than all current Vikings running backs whose last names aren’t Swedish.

Thanks A Billion

To:  Governor Dayton, the Minnesota DFL, and just enough Republicans to make it a community embarassment
From:  Mitch Berg, Uppity Peasant
Re:  Thanks For Nothing, Idiots

All,

We – those of us on the real right – tried to warn you.  But you were too busy gettign yoru arm twisted by Zigi Wilf, or entertaining sentimental stories about families going to Met Stadium in -25 blizzard conditions, or wiping foam from guys in helga braids off your face, to pay attention.

So pay attention now; you were wrong, and we were right, and the deal you were browbeaten into or were too stupid to know better than to oppose “crafted” to build the new Vikings stadium is one of the worst stadium deals in the US.

However, I’m sure the Downtown Brotherhood has made their thanks known.

On behalf of the rest of us?   Oh, yeah – we don’t count, except if we don’t pay our taxes on time.

That is all.

 

Disappointment

When I first saw this illustration…:

IMG_3600.JPG

… I thought for a brief moment that there was an event that involved bicyclists chasing after fleeing packs of terrified runners through the streets of Minneapolis.

Upon further reading, I see it’s just a duathlon.

Opportunity lost.

Priorities

With the Minnesota Wild’s current hot streak, we’ve seen the usual parade of scolds.  The quote usually runs something like “Yeah, now that the Wild are hot, we see the bandwagon fans coming out”.

Now, let’s be clear; I don’t really care about hockey.  It’s just not my game.  I doubt I’ll watch any Wild games, even if they go to the Stanley Cup, which they won’t [1]

Main point?  Of course I’m a “bandwagon fan”.  You think I have time to waste on losers?  What the hell is the point of spending precious time slogging along behind a team that is only going to turn the whole thing into a collossal waste of time, money and effort?

Except for the Bears, of course.

[1] Which I say not because I genuinely doubt their ability to make it downtown, but because while I don’t know much about hockey, I do know that Berg’s Fourth Law of Media/Sports Inversion (“A Minnesota sports team may be a contender until the moment the local media actually believes they will be contenders. At that moment – be it spring training, late November in the NFL season, or week 72 of the NHL playoffs – the season will fall irredeemably apart”) applies to all Minnesota sports teams equally.

I’m doing it for you.

You’re welcome.

Bert Circles Detroit!

Fox Sports North commentator Bert Blyleven called the city of Detroit “ugly” on Twitter.

When Detroit fans respond via Twitter, Blyleven urges them to do something that is… anatomically unlikely.

Now, I’ve been to Detroit a couple times. And I’m sure Blyleven was only referring to the parts that aren’t abandoned, stripped of all their copper and lead piping, caked 3 inches deep in graffiti, and completely devoid of all signs of decent human life.

Because if you leave that out, it’s not half bad!

The State Of Hockey

The state of Minnesota sports is such that Minnesota’s media is turning cartwheels that the Wild might get into the NHL playoffs.

Maybe.

Provided they not only win, but win in regulation time, or win in extra innings or whatever the hell overtime is called in hockey, since I don’t give a rat’s ass about hockey, and another almost-equally-woebegone team loses.

So kudos, Wild.  Maybe.

(Shrug)

The Closer

I’ve always liked Curt Schilling.

Partly because he was a great pitcher, instrumental in breaking the Red Sox’ World Series curse.

Partly because he’s one of very few baseball players to come out of the closet as a conservative.

And partly because he opened a can of medieval online whoopass on some internet creeps who tried to professorbilly his daughter online.

Some Twin Cities leftybloggers might be feeling the heat.  Just saying.

Winging It

There’s an old Hungarian saying; “the best way to become wealthy is to appear is if you already are”.

It’s true – and it applies far beyond wealth.  One good way to get promoted is to dress, and perhaps act, like your boss.  Acting as if one is happy in a relationship can make you…happy with the relationship.

Amid all of the squawking and clucking about college educations and credentials – how little we got for all of Barack Obama’s education, how much Scott Walker has accomplished without a formal piece of paper – one of the most important lessons for people to learn, especially younger people just starting out, is how to take what you do know and turn it into something useful.  And sometimes, it’s more a matter of taking what you think you know and you’re sure you can do.

I’ve told a few of those stories; how I wasn’t actually formally qualified for either of my post-radio careers, technical writing and user experience; I’d had no formal training in either.  I just found opportunities, did what it took to get hired, and then worked like a sled dog to deliver the goods.

I love a good Horatio Alger career story; I’m drawn to them.

And NPR gave us a great one over the weekend – the story of Adrián García Márquez, who’s been a spanish-language sportscaster for, well, pretty much every spanish-language sports broadcasting operation the past decade and change; he’s pretty much turned into the Jack Buck of spanish sportscasting.

And he had a start for the record books; he started out as a strugglingl minor leaguer – until he and his girlfriend got pregnant:

So he got a part-time job with the promotions department of San Diego radio station Jammin’ Z 90. A few months in, he started DJing overnight.

“In my heart, I didn’t want to be a hip-hop disc jockey,” he says. “I mean, I loved it. But I wanted to go to sports.”

But a radio station was a radio station, and working there was better than nothing.

Actually, these days it’s frequently not.  But this was still the nineties, and Spanish radio still makes decent money, so let’s rejoin the story:

Then, he remembers, a colleague told him, “I have a buddy of mine who told me that he has a buddy that knows this guy” who wanted to broadcast a handful of San Diego Flash games in Spanish on TV. (At the time, the Flash were an A-League soccer team — basically a minor league team, Garcia says.)

There was a problem, though. To get a sportscasting job, he says, you have to have a demo tape of yourself actually calling a game — a college game, a high school game, any game.

“How do I get a demo, on the fly, out of nowhere, having zero experience? Make one. Fake one, basically.”

I did the same thing, back in 1986, to cajole my boss at KSTP into letting me have a talk show.  It worked – although not as well as it did for Márquez.

But Garcia didn’t have one.

“So how do I get a demo, on the fly, out of nowhere, having zero experience? Make one. Fake one, basically.”

He looked around the house to see what he could use.

“I did have a Sega. I did have [the video game] FIFA Soccer, 1995 edition,” he remembers. “So I pop that into the console, I recorded the beautiful crowd chants that they had. Because technology was advancing, so it sounded like a real soccer game. So I figured, I’ll grab that crowd noise, and put it on the tape.”

He put the soccer chanting in the background, called the video of a recorded soccer game, turned it into a tape…

…and the rest is history.  More or less.  Read the whole story.

And pass it on to a kid.  Because ones own ingenuity is as important as ones credentials, unless you’re trying to be a cardiac surgeon or an engineer.  And college (and education in general) these days seems to do a fine job of squeezing that out of kids.

Hunter Hits His First Single

The Twins re-signed Torii Hunter. 

Say what you will about the move – signing a 39 year old fielder whose numbers are just a tad off – but I’ll give the man mad props for his first press conference:

When Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press asked Hunter about his previous, well-documented statements against gay marriage and support of political candidates who share his viewpoint, he called Berardino a “prick” and said he was done talking about the topic.

And Hunter is right.

Berardino – and most of the rest of the mainstream media who’ve commented on the acquisition – have burned a lot of column inches babbling about Hunter’s support for traditional marriage, which, let me remind you, the mainstream media has declared trayf via, I presume, “settled science”. 

All dissent must be scourged. 

The media are the new Spanish Inquisition.

Unsportsmanlike Conduct

Are you sure you’ve thought through this lawsuit, Chris?

Chris Kluwe potentially kicks open a Pandora’s Box.

Given Chris Kluwe’s love of role-playing board games, it shouldn’t surprise that his latest actions have more angles than 23-sided dice.

On Tuesday, former Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe was demanding that the team, through the law firm of Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi L.L.P, release the six-month independent investigation into Kluwe’s allegations that he was let go due to his gay marriage activism.  By Friday night, Kluwe (or at least his attorneys) might have wished the Vikings had kept the findings to themselves.

The 29-page summary of the investigation (pdf warning on the link) was notable for two things: 1) proving Kluwe’s story that current Special Teams coach Mike Priefer did indeed make his “nuke the gays” comment; 2) proving little else.  Instead, the investigation brought to light an incident of Kluwe mocking the Jerry Sandusky trial and generally negatively commented on Kluwe’s final years as a Viking:

The record does not support the claim that the Vikings released Kluwe because of his activism on behalf of marriage equality, but instead because of his declining punting performance in 2012 and potentially because of the distraction caused by Kluwe’s activism, as opposed to the substance of such.

Throughout the independent investigation, interviewees characterized Kluwe in similar
ways: someone who is highly intelligent, reads a lot, a prankster or jokester, comfortable with the media and seems to enjoy attention. [Vikings kicker Blair] Walsh stated that Kluwe spent much of his free time in the locker room doing interviews. Walsh also said that Kluwe “loves the attention,” “was focused on everything but football,” and wanted to be in the spotlight.

The fallout was sadly predictable.

The perpetually indignant community – Kluwe’s political base – expressed outrage (outrage!) that the Patron Saint of Punting was a “hypocrite” for engaging in the same sort of outrageously inappropriate locker room behavior that Kluwe supposedly was fighting against by his threatened lawsuit.  While many former media supporters were throwing Kluwe under the bus, the man at the center of the report took to twitter to vent, sparing even with gay marriage supporters and potentially getting the Vikings (and maybe himself) deeper into the dark waters of legal action:

Color me unimpressed with the outrage over Kluwe’s Sandusky jokes.  In the pantheon of vulgar Kluwe behavior/comments, his exposed butt cheeks aren’t even as crass as most of his Deadspin articles.  But Kluwe’s accusation that he (and presumably, the Vikings) knew about statutory rape and did nothing is a world away from Kluwe’s STD shots at Mankato or calling NFL lockout opponents “assh*le f**kwits.”  Kluwe is potentially an accomplice in this (alleged) crime at worst.  At best, he kept silent about actions against minors, but the words of a hot-headed, idiotic Special Teams coach were somehow his personal Rubicon…after he was fired.

Kluwe’s defenders, like ProFootballTalk.com’s Mike Florio, are trying to poke holes in the investigation’s conclusions over the Vikings’ assessment on Kluwe’s punting abilities, setting the stage for Kluwe’s threatened lawsuit that he was dismissed for his beliefs, not his on-field actions.  Despite all the vitriol, the merits of any potential Kluwe lawsuit are few and far between, and minus a heretofore undiscovered “smoking gun” document or testimony, a legal Trojan Horse for the entire NFL should Kluwe prevail.

NFL history, and Minnesota Vikings’ history, is replete with older veterans being replaced for players deemed to have a larger upside who can be signed for less money.  In the last several seasons, the Vikings alone have cut ties with still capable players like kicker Ryan Longwell or defensive end Jared Allen.  These moves aren’t always right or popular (SITD argued against the Allen move months ago) or consistent across franchises.  Denver’s punter, Britton Colquitt, is the highest paid punter in the NFL, earning $3.9 million a year for a 46.1 yards per punt average.  Chris Kluwe was making $1.5 million, due to increase to over $2 million, for a career average of 44.4 yards per punt.  Jeff Locke kicked an average of 44.2 yards for roughly $400,000 for the Vikings in 2013.  Is any of that logical?  By NFL standards, for better or worse, yes.

If Chris Kluwe can convince a jury that a $1.5 million punter with the league’s 22nd best average cannot be cut for a younger, cheaper option because said player is outspoken, then the NFL’s entire collective bargaining agreement will be up for grabs.  In a league with an openly gay 7th round draft pick who isn’t assured of making the team, what will stop current and future NFL players from adopting controversial political/social causes if they believe doing so will complicate their release?  Will the next Tim Tebow decide that his Christianity, not his throwing motion, was the motivating factor in his cutting, and sue his former employer?

A Kluwe victory (again, barring new evidence) means a more political NFL – an outcome that can only hurt the most popular sporting brand in the country.

Footloose

Photoshop out the football and you’ve pretty much recreated Chris Kluwe’s latest press conference

The most famous (or is it infamous?) punter in modern history tries to pin the Minnesota Vikings against their end zone.

Well, in his defense, he no longer has a job to be so focused on.

Chris Kluwe may possess a number of less-than-desirable qualities, but the former punter’s media savvy remains arguably his strongest suit.  Since leveling accusations against the Minnesota Vikings, in particular special teams coach Mike Priefer, of fostering an atmosphere of homosexual hatred which led to his firing by “two cowards and a bigot,” Kluwe has remained relatively quiet.  Perhaps partially motivated by a press corps seemingly less willing to believe him, or realizing that his legal strategy depended upon him dragging many of his former teammates into the mix, Kluwe and his representation had said little about the Vikings’ independent investigation in the past seven months.

That changed Tuesday as Kluwe charged that the Vikings’ investigation has concluded and that the lack of public disclosure over the findings proved Kluwe’s allegations of bigotry:

The onetime punter said Tuesday the team is “reneging on a promise” to release a copy of its completed investigation of alleged anti-gay sentiments expressed by special teams coach Mike Priefer during the 2012 season.

Kluwe and his attorney, Clayton Halunen, announced at a morning news conference that they will file suit against the Vikings alleging discrimination on the grounds of religion, human rights, defamation and “torturous interference for contractual relations.”

The move is self-aggrandizing and potentially premature (the Vikings said the independent investigatory group would provide a report this week).  Had the press conference included accusations of the team of being “lustful c**kmonsters,” it would have been vintage Kluwe.

It was also a somewhat smart public relations ploy.  Now, whenever Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi L.L.P release their findings, Kluwe can claim his pressure forced the team to do so.  And Kluwe’s willingness to forgo a lawsuit for a monetary settlement that goes towards an LGBT cause also assists both the Vikings, in helping the issue go away faster, and Kluwe himself as even old media allies questioned the punter’s motivations (the KFAN Morning Show, who often gave Kluwe free-rein to voice his opinions on all matter of subjects, openly wondered if he was making a money grab this morning).

But “somewhat smart” isn’t the same as “smart.”  Kluwe’s strategy only truly works if the independent investigation proves some or all of Kluwe’s anecdotes, in particular his claim that Mike Priefer suggested moving gay people to an island and hitting it with a nuclear bomb.  Not unlike the current Jesse Ventura defamation suit, Kluwe’s case ultimately comes down to a “he said/he said” legal battle.  Even if Kluwe is 100% accurate in quoting Vikings’ staff, he would still have to prove a correlation between comments like Priefer’s and his cutting in 2013.  The Vikings can respond about Kluwe’s declining skills and (for the position) high salary – reasons that even Kluwe cited…when cut last summer by the Oakland Raiders.

The outcome of the investigation – or any following legal action – may be pointless.  Kluwe’s defenders will continue to insist the end of his career was due to his gay rights activism, and not his next-to-last finish for punts inside the 20-yard line while making $1.45 million.  Kluwe’s detractors will continue to be maligned as being bothered by his politics rather than his penchant for vulgar name-calling to anyone who doesn’t share his views (on gay rights or other subjects).

Other than attorneys or an LGBT charity, it’s hard pressed to see who benefits from this continued fight.

Democrat Fatcat Largesse

Think you’re done paying for football?

Hah.  Dream on, peasant ripe-sucks.

Helga Braid Nation is doing cartwheels that “we” will be hosting a Super Bowl in 2018 at “our” stadium. 

And Mark Dayton is going to soak up whatever sunlight the event gives him among the “Happy To Have Someone Else Pay For My Bread And Circuses” set:

Dayton and members of the city’s bid committee held a news conference Wednesday to celebrate landing the Super Bowl. The NFL chose Minneapolis largely because of its new stadium.

Oh, yeah – even though none of us will be able to afford to attend this particular circus, we’ll all be subsidizing it:

The governor says the state has made no commitments for tax breaks to the NFL apart from a sales tax exemption for Super Bowl tickets that remains on the books from when Minnesota hosted it in 1992.

But Michele Kelm-Helgen, chair of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, says organizers may ask for sales tax exemptions for some of the other festivities.

Here’s a note to Minnesota’s Republicans; here would be a great time to draw the line on the whole “limited government” thing.  Also the “subsidizing billionaires” thing. 

So the next time you find yourselves surrounded by The Walking Meat all dressed up in purple and pounding the Idiot Drums, think to yourselves; in 2012, Mitt Romney and a whole bunch of Minnesota Republicans lost, not because independents didn’t vote GOP – they did – but because conservatives, angry about serial betrayals on the whole “limited government” thing (Vikings stadia, caving in on budget hikes in 2011 before the negotiations even began, etc), stayed home in droves.

(If the Bears aren’t playing, I don’t care.  And if the Vikings are playing, I’ll bring Scarlett Johannson as my date).

Your Higher Ed Tax Dollar Hard At Work

“Students” at the University of Minnesota rioted twice over the weekend; once when (I suspect) the sale of someone’s soul resulted in a literal last-second victory over the UND Sioux…

…and another on Saturday after the GoGos’ defeat at the hands of, I dunno, the Idaho School of Business for all I care.

And so I scoured the web looking for video of the riots that no doubt broke out in Grand Forks after UND’s loss.

But, in what I suspect is a cover-up, I could find none.

Weird.

Sportucopia

…or things I don’t understand about Minnesota sports media coverage.

Mullet Over.  Let’s try a thought experiment to better understand NFL salary logic.  We’ll take two defensive ends for the same franchise.  One is 31 years-old, has 4 Pro Bowl appearances, 128.5 quarterback sacks, and has been named one of your franchise’s 50 best players.  The other is 30 years-old, has 39 sacks to his name, and might be most famous for kicking a Green Bay Packer in the crotch.  Now guess which one of them is considered to be at the end of his career while the other has just been resigned to a 4-year contract extension and is considered in his prime.

We’re often told that the NFL is simply a business – a rationale often employed when popular, successful veterans like the soon-to-be-former Minnesota Viking Jared Allen finds himself without a home.  And considering that Allen is looking for a salary around $10 million a year, in theory it becomes easier to understand why the Vikings decided to pass on renewing his contract – a team filled with holes could use that salary space to address other needs.   Continue reading

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It’s “Super Bowl” Sunday.

Just a reminder, as you watch a couple of teams of overpaid thugs gambol and prance about a stadium owned by a couple of modern-day robber barons who’ve built their stadiums at the expense of the cities and states where they do their dirty business, playing a mobbed-up game; this is the ad that the NFL thought didn’t serve their image properly:

Sorry, NFL. I’ve watched my last Super Bowl…

Continue reading

Thoughts On The Richard Sherman Crisis

When I saw the viral video of Richard Sherman’s verbal end-zone happy dance the other day, I thought “This is truly a threat to democracy”.

But beyond that, it’s a symptom of a deeper problem in American society, one where civility is merely another…

…um…

…oh, who cares? It’s FOOTBALL. A game where people are paid more than heart surgeons to bludgeon each other while moving a ball around a field. It’s a barroom brawl with referees. A game entirely controlled by the Mob, to make itself fortunes in gambling (with a little help from our idiot legislatures, who not only grant them tax-free status but pour our tax dollars on them like whipped cream onto high-priced hookers). It’s a game for athletes who don’t have the attention span to tackle Baseball, run by a business that doesn’t have enough ethics to criticize the Crips, facilitated by legislators who don’t have the brains to call a scam a scam.

Richard Sherman may be the most articulate spokesman the game has ever had.

At the very least, he dispels the notion that pro football is in any way different that pro wrestling.

It’s Apparently Not Just The Players Who Are Suffering From Concussions

To: Roger Goodell, President, The National Football League
From: Mitch Berg, Uppity Peasant
Re:  It’s Apparently Not ThePlayers

Mr. Goodell,

You run a tax-exempt “non-profit” that is the biggest license to print money in the United States.

Your organization regularly loots city and state treasuries to build your venues – including mine.  You’ve crudely extorted hundreds of millions of dollars from our idiot governor and from a bunch of legislators who should have known better, using tactics that well befit the mobsters that are among the main beneficiaries of your profits.

Your athletes have turned, over the past thirty years, from role models into reprobates.

But you turned down this Super Bowl ad, from Daniel Firearms?

(To whom I’ll be giving free advertising, today and on Super Sunday, and likely more than a time or two in between)

I’m picturing the reasons.

Because you’re worried about violence:  So are we.  Especially when I go into a bar or restaurant where there might be NFL players present. (Yep, I used to DJ at the old Eddie Websters.  To be fair, back then the biggest danger was being on the same stretch of road as a Viking after closing time).

Because you’re worried about the game’s image:  Right.  Hey, is that Miley Cyrus’ ass at the halftime show?

Because you’re in bed with a bunch of liberal metro-area politicians:  Oh.  Right.

I think you might just be creating some baseball fans out there.