Posts Tagged ‘NFL’

Gruden and Shatner Meet Technology

Thursday, October 28th, 2021

By Bob Gaydos

Jon Gruden

William Shatner

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Jon Gruden

couple of        interesting stories flashed by a couple of weeks ago and quickly faded from most news reports. That’s

common in today’s highly charged political atmosphere. “Other“ news has a tough time getting noticed.

     The stories involved former pro football coach/sports commentator Jon Gruden and former actor William Shatner. At first glance, they may seem worlds apart, but I see a connection. Two, in fact.

      Technology and priorities. Technology sacked Gruden and lifted Shatner, Captain Kirk of Star Trek fame, to another dimension. In the process, misplaced priorities of others came into focus.

       Gruden was forced to resign his position as coach of the Las Vegas Raiders in the NFL after The New York Times reported that emails Gruden had sent several years ago to the owner of the Washington Football Team (that’s its official name) were full of racist, homophobic and misogynistic remarks. Gruden was a football TV analyst at the time.

    His contract with the Raiders was for 10 years and $100 million. There were six years and $40 million left on the contract. He recently reached a settlement with the Raiders on the remaining dollars. Being a pro football coach pays well, but only if you hide your bigotry well.

         In the years before email, Gruden would probably have survived just as many coaches have survived, by hiding their prejudices in public. But this is a new century and the kind of things that were OK between the guys in private are no longer acceptable when they become public.

      Indeed, Gruden‘s emails came to light as part of an NFL investigation into charges of sexual harassment filed against the team by their cheerleaders, all female.  Gruden made his remarks in messages sent to the owner of the team,  a team, by the way, which still has not figured out a new nickname to replace “Redskins.“ It was finally forced to give up the name because, well, it’s a new century.

       Gruden released a statement, saying: “I have resigned as head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders. I love the Raiders and do not want to be a distraction. Thank you to all the players, coaches, staff, and fans of Raider Nation. I’m sorry, I never meant to hurt  anyone.”

       Well, yeah, that’s why you say nasty things about people behind their backs instead of to their faces. But when you are in a position of power, how do those opinions play out in your day-to-day dealings with those people? And when you say insulting things about people who might have some power over you, say the commissioner of the NFL, as Gruden apparently did, well that might have an impact on how that person deals with you and your team.

         Gruden is reportedly depressed about what has happened. But maybe he shouldn’t have sent those emails. And perhaps the NFL, before it gets too self-righteous, should apologize to Colin Kaepernick, the black quarterback who was blackballed for economic reasons by the league for taking a knee during the National Anthem to protest racism in America. That would include the NFL, even though the majority of its players are black. The misogyny and homophobia in the NFL are a given. 

        Kaepernick, and other players who joined him, publicly protested treatment of blacks that Gruden, and for sure, others affiliated with the NFL, supported in private through their attitudes and comments.

   Nothing changes if nothing changes. It’s a new century, gentlemen. New Technology tells you if someone really scored a touchdown. It can also tell you if that smiling face on the coach is the mask of a bigot.

     Shatner is a different story. In the first place, he’s a “former“ actor, because he’s 90 years old and retired. He wasn’t forced to resign.

      In an inspired theatrical gesture, he was invited to be a passenger on the New Shepard space vessel launched into sub-orbital space by Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin company. Shatner set a record, going where no man or woman that age had ever gone before.

      He returned from his brief trip to space awestruck and emotional.. 

      “Looking into blackness,” he said, you “look down and there’s the blue down there and the black up there … there is mother Earth and comfort and there … is there death? This is life and that’s death.”

    While saying, “everyone needs to do this” when he returned to Earth, Shatner also had a message about the planet itself.

     Commenting on how thin the atmosphere appeared to him as he traveled upward he noted the “fragility” of the Earth. “We need to take care of the planet, but it’s so fragile,” he said. “There’s this little tiny blue skin that is 50 miles wide, and we pollute it, and it’s our means of living.”

    Indeed. Well put, captain. The question is whether his host, Bezos, heard the two-part message: As humans seek to further explore space, we must do more to protect the health of the place we call home. Bezos, the worlds wealthiest human, certainly is in a position to do plenty to protect the environment of the planet that provides him with those riches.

     Space travel began in the 20th century and there’s apparently no way of stopping wealthy entrepreneurs from trying to capitalize on it. There were other passengers on Shatner‘s trip, a couple of whom may have paid half a million dollars apiece for the privilege. Perhaps some of that money could be invested in saving the Amazon forest or trying to reduce the pollution from all those Amazon delivery vehicles providing next-day service right here on Earth.  

      That way, we can all live long and prosper.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

Bob Gaydos is writer-in-residence at zestoforange.com.

Generosity and a Turbulent Awakening

Tuesday, June 16th, 2020

BOB GAYDOS

The Report … the red shoes, racism and Kool-Aid

If they fit ...

If they fit … 

   They were sitting on top of a trash can outside the entrance to a supermarket we frequent. A pair of red shoes. Women’s slip-on loafers, worn but still wearable. Take us if you need us.

      You couldn’t miss seeing them as you entered the store. They were obviously not trash because they could have just been tossed into the bin on which they were resting. No, they were … a gift. If they had a card attached it might have said: “Times are tough. I don’t need these any more. Save your money for food. And water, if they have any inside.”

     But there was no card. Just the shoes, speaking silently. If the shoes fit, please take them. Do not be too proud. They have served me well. Wear them in good health.

    There’s a lot of pain and anger in the world right now. Also, fear, frustration, impatience, confusion and resentment, compounded by an appalling lack of responsible leadership by many of those elected to provide it. So we are left to our own devices. Generosity. Sharing. Compassion. Small gestures. All we need do is notice.

          — By the way … A few weeks back, I wrote about some “famous” people whose paths had crossed with mine and invited readers to share similar experiences. Here are a couple of my favorites:

— “I suspect this will be rejected as ”no words were exchanged,” but my run-in with Robin Williams was all in “mime.” Thus, words could not be spoken. In a world of exemptions I now claim this as mine. … In the early ‘80’s, while being part of an “art glass ” company, I was coming out of a meeting with architects somewhere in Manhattan. As I bounded the steps to the sidewalk I literally (and I mean literally) ran into Robin and two women. We reared up inches from each other’s noses, made faces, feigned shock and dismay, rotated around each other like an old cartoon and slowly backed away from each other fending each other off with glares and shock. No big deal, but fun to recall and relate.”

Ernie Miller

 — “Ok, here goes …. Trumpeters extraordinaire Raphael Mendez, Harry James, Dizzy Gillespie, Doc Severinsen, and Al Hirt.  (Yes, I used to play trumpet and heard each of them perform in concert.)  Pete Seeger, Allen Ginsburg, Jane Fonda, poet Robert Lowell, Jules Feiffer, Rev. William Sloane Coffin Jr., Dr. Benjamen Spock, actors Judith Malina and Julian Beck of the Living Theater, photographer Karl Bissenger, Grace Paley, Tom Hayden, Dave Dellinger, Dorothy Day, Phil and Daniel Berrigan, Tuli Kupferberg of the Fugs, Martin Luther King Jr., Rev. Al Lowry, and Jesse Jackson.”

Jim Bridges

(Jim noted that many of his meetings were the result of his active participation in the civil rights movement.)

      Unfortunately, the internet has misfiled or erased details on Sean Kober’s dinner with Floyd Patterson, Moe Mitterling’s interview with Roy Campanella, Debra Scacciaferro’s meetings with famous authors and someone (!) shaking hands with Princess Di. Apologies and thanks.

       — By the way … All it took was a worldwide explosion of demonstrations condemning police violence against blacks for the NFL to recognize that Colin Kaepernick taking a knee during the National Anthem was a remarkably restrained and dignified way of expressing his outrage. Now, some team needs to give him a job as a quarterback.

        — By the way … While we’re at it, how about NASCAR finally acknowledging that all those Confederate flags at their races were not a symbol of a proud moment in our nation’s history? It’s as if millions of Americans — white Americans — suddenly realized what the Civil War was all about. And who lost.

      — By the way … It takes an extraordinary amount of chutzpah to go around calling COVID-19 a hoax, not wearing a mask, and encouraging everyone to go about business as usual and to then host a large political rally in a state where cases of the virus are spiking and at which attendees will be required to sign a waiver of responsibility for the host if the attendees happen to, you know, get COVID-19. What it takes to sign that waiver is an extraordinary amount of Kool-Aid.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

Bob Gaydos is writer-in-residence at zestoforange.com.

Positive Vibes for Negative Times

Sunday, October 29th, 2017

By Bob Gaydos

good news jpgTrump to Puerto Rico: Drop Dead!

Trump to Americans struggling to afford health insurance: Drop dead!

Trump to North Korea: Drop dead!

Trump to the free press: Drop dead!

Trump to the LGBT community: Drop dead:

Trump to immigrants: Drop dead!

Trump to NFL players: Drop dead!

Trump to Iran: Drop dead!

Trump to pregnant war widow: He knew what he signed up for.

Trump to anyone who will listen: I am not a moron!

                                                         ***

In reply to my recent column on the Nibiru planet hoax and efforts to contact intelligent life elsewhere in the universe — maybe even set up a colony on Mars — my friend Ernie Miller commented: “It is nice you can maintain a positive outlook amidst the carnage and cacophony that is daily life.”

“Ernie,” I replied,“it ain’t easy.”

In truth, it has never been harder in the half century I have been writing about “daily life,” as it were.

As it is, today it is sometimes unbelievably depressing and infuriating to reflect upon the “carnage and cacophony” in which we are seemingly enmeshed. And writing about it? Everyone is writing about it. Social media is awash in it. Yes, actual factual information is vital, but that steady drumbeat of ignorance and arrogance at the center of most news stories today only seems to add to the great wall of negative energy engulfing our universal consciousness, making us act, if you will, as if we were all collectively unconscious.

Thank you, Carl Jung, for allowing me to misappropriate and mangle your theory for my own personal benefit. In my defense, my hope is that whatever bits of positive energy I can contribute to the greater consciousness can only be for the good of the collective universe.

So, here goes:

  • I’m getting a 2 percent raise in my Social Security check next year. That’s good news not only for me, but for millions of others who receive monthly checks (thank you, FDR) and who have not had a raise since 2012 because the government figured inflation wasn’t bad enough and the cost of living wasn’t going up so’s you’d notice. Some of us noticed. I could feel the vibe of 66 million recipients ripple across America when I read the story. It’s the first substantial raise in years. Most recipients are seniors over age 65, but some payments also go to the severely disabled and orphans. The average check is currently $1,377 a month, meaning next year’s increase will raise the typical payment by $27 a month. Listen, it’s a start.
  • We also learned that, despite the devastation Hurricane Maria visited on Puerto Rico, the Arecibo Observatory, made famous in the films “Contact” (Jodie Foster) and “GoldenEye” (Sean Connery), survived with what was called “fixable” damage and no casualties. This is positive news because Arecibo is a star in the search-for-life-in-the-universe universe. The radio telescope,  built in 1963, was the first to find planets around other stars, the first to provide an image of an asteroid and — back to Carl Sagan’s “Contact” — sent the famous Arecibo Message to M13, a cluster of bodies 25,000 light years away. The message informs any sentient beings who receive it who we are and where we live. Send us a text message. Of course, it’ll be at least 50,000 years before we get an answer, but it’s the sending that contributes hope to the universal consciousness. Arecibo’s radar has been called “by far the most sensitive planetary radar in the world” and the folks who fund it — the National Science Foundation — say it does “excellent science.” Alas, in this era of anti-science, an official at NSF says, what with the damage Arecibo did incur, “If you look at the overall sweep of things that we’re funding, we do have to make choices and we can’t keep funding everything that’s excellent.” Perish the thought. So, here’s looking at you, Arecibo, and here’s sending some positive vibes about you into the nearby universe.
  • Staying in Puerto Rico and the notion of doing what you can for the collective good, Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, an alternative energy company, made the initial installment of his promise to restore the island’s power grid with solar energy. San Juan’s Hospital del Niño – a children’s hospital with 3,000 patients — has power again, supplied by a collection of Tesla solar panels in the parking lot. The Tesla Twitter account posted: “Hospital del Niño is first of many solar-storage projects going live. Grateful to support the recovery of Puerto Rico with (Gov.) Ricardo Rossello.” All kinds of positive energy here. Musk, of course, is also the one talking about establishing a colony on Mars and who’s willing to bet against him?
  • In an extraordinary example of quantum positive energy, a  hand-written note by Albert Einstein sold at auction in Jerusalem for $1.56 million. The note was written in November 1922, when Einstein, then 43, was in Japan for a lecture series. While in Tokyo, he learned he’d been awarded the Nobel Prize in physics. When a courier came to his hotel room to make a delivery, Einstein did not have any money to tip him, so he handed the messenger a signed note, written in German: “A calm and humble life will bring more happiness than the pursuit of success and the constant restlessness that comes with it.” A kind of e=mc2 for a peaceful universe. The message was obviously paid forward several times before someone realized what Einstein clearly knew at the time — a bird in the hand (a signed note from a Nobel laureate, say) is worth two (or even more) in the bush.
  • Chris Long, who plays defensive end for the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles, is donating his entire year’s salary to improve educational opportunities in the United States. Long used his first six game checks to provide two scholarships for students in Charlottesville, Va., his hometown. He’s dedicating the remaining 10 to launch the “Pledge 10 for Tomorrow” campaign. “I believe that education is the best gateway to a better tomorrow for EVERYONE in America,” he wrote on Pledge It.  “I’m encouraging fans, businesses and every person with a desire to join in my pursuit of equal education opportunities for all students to make their own pledge.’ He hopes to double his pledge with this collective effort.
  • In a somewhat desperate effort to find some positive news, I typed “good news” in the Google search bar. Voila! The web is awash in other folks looking to add positive energy to the collective consciousness. Duh. Some of the above came from that search. It’s good to remember: We are not alone, even in the private universe of our anxious minds.
  • Speaking of synchronicity, hurry it up, Mueller.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

And So it Went: A Sports Fan Desperately in Need of a Back Page

Sunday, August 21st, 2016

By Bob Gaydos

Usain Bolt, enjoying himself

Usain Bolt … enjoying himself

I started reading newspapers from back to front pretty much when I started reading newspapers regularly. Eleven. Twelve. Little League age. I should back up a bit here and explain that in our house having a half dozen or so daily papers stacked on a chair at the end of the kitchen table was routine. My mother was an avid reader of newspapers, a fact which baffles me to this day because she virtually never discussed current events. She had to be the best-informed, least-opinionated person I’ve ever known. Kind of the opposite of what we have today.

At any rate, among those daily papers were two New York City tabloids, The New York Daily News and The New York Daily Mirror. For a boy whose life revolved around sports, they were required reading and sports, of course, was the back of the paper, starting with the back page. The papers had great reporters, columnists, photos, everything necessary to keep a blossoming Yankee fan from noticing that other Yankees — American GIs — were fighting in a war in Korea. An uncle among them.

As I grew older, my interests broadened, as did my appreciation of good writing. The pile of papers at the end of the table grew taller proportionally. What once consisted of The Bayonne Times, The Jersey Journal, The Newark Star-Ledger, The News and The MIrror, gradually expanded to at varying times include The Herald Tribune (my favorite), the Journal-American, The New York Post and occasionally even the World Telegram & Sun. If there was a sports section, I found it. If it wasn’t the back page, it was still the back of the paper. Fun and games. Batting averages and touchdown passes.

No war. No politics. No crime. No scandal. Plenty of time to read about that other stuff later in the day. It helped me ease into my day even as I began to realize there were other supposedly more important topics to read about. Sports was always an escape valve from the petty annoyances and major disappointments of the rest of life.

Maybe that’s why sports reporters always seemed to be so content, regardless of what was happening in the world. They got to go to a sporting event free, write a story about and do it over again the next day. And get paid for it. Sweet. I had a brief taste of this in my journalism career as a sports editor in upstate New York for a year or so. The heaviest weight the world put on my shoulders was how to play Mark Spitz’s record haul of seven gold medals at the 1972 Olympics. As fate would have it, I worked for a tabloid, so I splashed a big picture of Spitz, his medals and the headline, “The Magnificent Seven.” I thought it was as good as any of the New York City tabs could do.

Later, as editorial page editor at a different upstate paper for 23 years, I wound up writing about all the other stuff. Stuff I still write about today when I feel the inspiration, which of late has been difficult to come by. All of which is a long way of saying that, while I still turn to the sports page to start my day today, it’s not nearly the same. First of all, on the Internet there is no back page. More to the point, the sports pages are no longer a sanctuary from the social problems of the day.

One of the biggest sports stories recently was the “retirement” of Alex Rodriguez from the New York Yankees. A-Rod got $27 million to go away. You don’t have to honor your contract for next year, Alex; take the money with our blessings. Rodriguez, of course, was a central figure in baseball’s steroids scandal. He was suspended for a year for cheating. Why he felt the need to cheat is beyond me since he was regarded as one of the best players in baseball without enhancing his performance with drugs. Instead of marveling at his skills, which is, after all, what sports is all about, fans are left to wonder how much his statistics were inflated by steroids.

I watched a movie recently, “The Program,” which details the lengths to which Lance Armstrong (If ever there was a name for a sports hero, that was it) went to win the Tour de France — seven times. Armstrong, who survived testicular cancer, apparently knew he was good, but not good enough, to win the legendary cycling race, so he signed on for a regimented doping program from the outset, recruiting teammates for the lying and cheating that brought him fame and fortune and ultimate disgrace. He made the front page.

It’s not just drugs. Last week, a kicker for the New York Giants was suspended for one game because of an old domestic violence complaint by his ex-wife. One game. The National Football League has been plagued with domestic violence complaints for several years and has yet to figure out a consistent policy on dealing with them. Then again, the NFL also had trouble figuring out how to penalize teams that deflate the footballs.

Of course, the biggest sporting event of the year has been the Olympics in beautiful Brazil, with its polluted waters, corrupt government, and economic problems. The event began with the Russian track team being banned because of a government-sponsored doping program. It featured a medal-winning American swimmer, Ryan Lochte, claiming he and some teammates were robbed at gunpoint in Rio, when they actually had gotten drunk and trashed a service station bathroom.

This was all back page stuff, but hardly a diversion from the travails of the day. Hardly uplifting of the human spirit, as the Olympics likes to present itself.

But then … there was also Michael Phelps, still swimming despite two DUI arrests, and his record haul of medals. Also: the other USA swimmers, male and female; the women gymnasts; the basketball team; Yusra Mardini, the Syrian refugee who swam as part of an Olympic Refugee team; the female runners who collided, fell down, helped each other up and finished the race. Literally uplifting.

Finally, there is the face of this Olympics, at least for me: Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt blurring to victory for the third time in the 100-meter dash, permanently retiring the title of “Fastest Human Alive.” Bolt actually took the time in a qualifying race for the 100-meters to glance back to see if anyone was gaining on him. No one was. He smiled. Wow! Now that’s a back page.

Bolt won three golds. Of course, the Twitterverse could not avoid the question of the day: What drugs do you think he’s on?

And so it went.

Dedicated to: Jimmy Breslin, Jimmy Cannon and Jim Murray.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

Why Do Abused Women Stay?

Thursday, December 11th, 2014

By Gretchen Gibbs

Ray Rice and Janay

Ray Rice and Janay Palmer

Ray Rice is still in the news, a court having reinstated him in the NFL. His wife, Janay Palmer, made the front page of The New York Times the other day, saying in support of her husband that anybody can make a mistake.

From the beginning of the elevator incident, commentators have cringed at Janay’s positive statements about Ray. We all think we wouldn’t stay with an abuser, but maybe we don’t know ourselves so well. Working with domestic abuse victims, I have seen a number who would never have imagined themselves staying, but who have.

Other prominent athletes who have abused their wives keep being outed. Driving home from New Jersey a few weeks ago, I heard an interview with Kristin Barnes, wife of a former NFL star, Ricky Williams. She related her experiences of abuse, and one of the questions the interviewer asked her was why she thought Janay Palmer stood by Ray Rice.

Kristen Barnes said that she also had stayed with her husband in spite of his abuse because of the other things that she loved about him. She said that if the woman chooses to stay, then she wants her partner to have a successful career. She feels that Janay does not want Ray Rice to lose his employment, because of both the financial and psychological consequences.

I began thinking more about why Janay supports her husband, and came up with some other possible answers.

— She is impressed by his fame and accomplishments, and wants to align herself with him. Not necessarily out of greed, but probably coming from a lack of self-esteem, she wants a man who can be the dominant member of the partnership. A little abuse may be a price she’s willing to pay. Successful athletes in general don’t have problems finding women.

— The Cycle of Violence. Domestic violence programs teach about the cycle of violence, that after the abuser really hurts the woman, he tends to feel guilty and showers her with love, gifts and promises that there will never be another incident. (Abusers can be women, and victims men, and there can be violence in same sex relationships; for the sake of convenience and because it fits with the Rice case, I’m identifying the man as the abuser.) Gradually, however, the honeymoon ends, and some minor “transgression” of the partner will trigger anger and escalating abuse. Many victims are persuaded by the perpetrators’ assurances that they’ll change, and the perpetrators may believe them as well. The fact that the couple went to counseling may have intensified Janay’s belief that Ray will never abuse her again.

— Janay actually played some role in her abuse. The only predictor of who is abused in a domestic relationship is past abuse. We tend to repeat our interactions with others according to what we are comfortable with, even if it’s not pleasant. Freud called it the repetition compulsion, and even though he was wrong about many things, he was right about the patterns that people get caught up in with their relationships. We all know women who only date married men, or men all of whose women are dominating like their mothers. Janay may know that she provoked Ray. Certainly she yelled something at him in the elevator right before he hit her. Was it the one thing he told her never to say? Had she provoked him in other ways? If she knows she provoked him, she may think it excuses him, even though of course it doesn’t.

— She feels sorry for him. In spite of being controlled and abused, many victims of domestic violence feel that they are the stronger member of the couple. The victim may know about her partner’s own past experiences of abuse and trauma, and believe that she can help him overcome it.

— She fears for her life. Janay need only look at what has happened to other high profile abusers and their victims. We all know about OJ, but the case of Oscar Pistorius, the South African runner with the artificial legs, is also chilling.

Pistorius shot his girlfriend to death, saying he thought she was a burglar, but neighbors had heard screaming arguments and others described earlier incidents of violence. Pistorius, like OJ, got off on the murder charge. He’s expected to serve 10 months of a five-year sentence for culpable homicide and reckless endangerment.

There are other possible explanations for why Janay stays, and there’s no way of knowing what she really feels. It’s just important for us to avoid that first reflex judgment that the only choice for any victim of domestic violence is to leave the relationship.

Gretchen Gibbs is a psychologist, teacher and writer.

If This Offends Anyone, I ‘Apologize’

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

Geraldo Rivera ... "apologizes"

By Bob Gaydos

The B.S. meter, already recalibrated to measure record-level intensity since the Republican primary season began, reached new highs this past week thanks in large part to a TV personality who has been spewing hot air for decades and some professional football folks who are the reigning champion gas bags of the NFL.

We’ll start with Geraldo Rivera, but don’t worry, we’ll get to the New York Jets.

One of the most insulting and depressing developments of our Spin Age Society is the ascension of the non-apology apology. You hear it all the time now, from politicians, performers, athletes, commentators. The basic outline goes like this: “If I hurt or offended anyone with my remarks about (fill in the blank), I apologize. That was not my intent.”

That is pure bull and anyone who hears it knows it. Yet we let people get away with it all the time. What the “apologist” is really saying is: “If I hurt or offended anyone with my remarks, too bad, live with it. I am issuing this apology only because my advisers tell me it will soften the overwhelmingly negative reaction to my (a. hateful; b. bigoted; c. insensitive; d. ignorant; e. provocative; f. untrue; g. self-serving …) statements. I am not sorry for what I said, only for the reaction to it. I hope this puts an end to all this nonsense so I can continue to go about doing what I always do.”

Rivera weighed in on the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin by blaming the black teenager at least partially for his own death because he wore a hoodie. “I’ll bet you money, if he didn’t have that hoodie on, that nutty neighborhood watch guy wouldn’t have responded in that violent and aggressive way,” Rivera said on his Fox News TV show.

When his own son told him he was ashamed of what Dad had said, Rivera “apologized.” On Twitter: “Heard petition demands my apology to Trayvon’s parents. Save effort: I deeply apologize for any hurt I caused-that is not my goal or intent.” He later sent an e-mail to the Politico web site: “I apologize to anyone offended by what one prominent black conservative called my ‘very practical and potentially life-saving campaign urging black and Hispanic parents not to let their children go around wearing hoodies.’ ”

He added that he had been told his remarks “obscured the main point that someone shot and killed an unarmed teenager,” and explained that his comments were part of his “crusade to warn minority families of the danger to their young sons inherent in ‘gangsta’ style clothing; like hoodies.”

A day later, after a torrent of negative Tweets to his Tweet and more grief from his family, Rivera added : “[M]y own family and friends believe [that] I have obscured or diverted attention from the principal fact, which is that an unarmed 17-year-old was shot dead by a man who was never seriously investigated by local police. And if that is true, I apologize.”

If that is true? Apparently his news sense disappeared along with his common sense when he joined Fox.

Note that at no time does Rivera ever simply say, “I’m sorry. What I said was terribly insensitive.” Nor does he ever seem to recognize the racism at the center of his “crusade.’’ Talk about forgetting your roots. He should go back to calling himself Gerry Rivers.

* * *

OK, before we get to the Jets, the more egregious football B.S. (because it involved potential physical harm to people) issued forth from one of the few head coaches in the NFL who can go toe-to-toe with Rex Ryan in smugness — Sean Payton, head coach of the ironically named New Orleans Saints. Payton was recently suspended for a year, without pay, for allowing a bounty system to exist, wherein defensive players on his team could win cash bonuses up to $1,500 for knocking a star player from the opposing team out of the game.

A lot of macho type talking heads and fans, whose careers and health were not on the line, said this was no big deal, that it went on all the time in the NFL. Commissioner Roger Goodell thought otherwise. He saw a sharp rise in concussions and a string of lawsuits from ex-players charging that the league was not concerned with the safety if its players. And here the Saints were targeting some of the league’s best players for injury. Talk about self-destructive.

Well, Payton and the Saints lied to Goodell about the bounties and when he caught them, he leveled the boom. Payton is the first head coach to be suspended for a year. When his punishment was announced, he said: “As the head coach, anything that happens within the framework of your team and your program you’re responsible for. And that’s a lesson I’ve learned.” … It’s easy to get carried away in regards to a certain side of the ball, or more involved offensively or defensively, and that’s something I regret.”

Huh? He regrets paying too much attention to the offense over the defense? Not that he might have ended the career of MVP Aaron Rodgers of Green Bay if one of the Saints defensive linemen (or two) hit him just right?

Payton never admitted lying to Goodell, but did say, “You’re disappointed, you’re disappointed in yourself that it got to this point.”

You’re disappointed? For what, that you got caught? How about, “I’m disappointed in myself and I’m sorry for my actions”?

* * *

OK, now the Jets. Really, compared to the first two, this is the least important offense in the scheme of things, but it is a so typically, insultingly Jet-like offense it can’t be ignored.

If you just got back from Mars, let me tell you that the Jets hired Tim Tebow, rock star, Christian athlete icon, to be their “backup” quarterback to Mark Sanchez, their three-year starter. In a week in which the pope was visiting Mexico and Cuba, Tebow (who seems to be pathologically “excited” to be a Jet) far eclipsed the pontiff in media coverage in the U.S.

The irritating thing with the Jets — and that includes their owner, Woody Johnson, general manager Mike Tannenbaum and coach Rex Ryan — is that they always say stuff that all their fans know is bull. For example, that getting Tebow was a “football decision” not a business-driven PR stunt to combat the coverage of their co-tenant New York Giants who just won their second Super Bowl title in four years.

Or that Sanchez, who wasn’t told about Tebow until he was signed, is fine with finding out he will be sharing game duties with a “backup quarterback“ who has guaranteed snaps in every game. Or that Tebow, who always talks of himself as a starting quarterback, is even considered to be a good quarterback by NFL standards. Or that the Jets actually have “a vision” on how to play offense with two quarterbacks (but with only a guaranteed scheme for Tebow) when Ryan is a defensive specialist who didn’t even know that his star wide receiver took himself out of the team’s most important game last year — against the Giants.

The sports commentators politely called all this B.S. from the Jets “disingenuous.” But heck, I doubt Ryan can even spell it, much less be it. I prefer the more accurate: “Liar, liar, pants on fire.” That can be their next HBO special.

And by the way, don’t expect Johnson, Ryan or Tannenbaum to say, “I’m sorry” to fans when this Spin Age tactic implodes. Of course, Johnson, as owner, will “regret” having to let Ryan and Tannenbaum go. They, of course, will say, “You’re disappointed when things don’t work out.”

Gentlemen, you have no idea.

bob@zestoforange.com

Bounty Systems Could Kill the NFL

Friday, March 9th, 2012

A Saints player exults after an illegal hit on Brett Favre. The player said he didn't do it for any bounty. By Ronald Martinez, Getty Images

By Bob Gaydos

So, I’m sitting around waiting for Peyton Manning to pick a new football team and hoping it’s anywhere but in the same division as his baby brother (who has delivered two Super Bowl championships to us Giants fans), and I can’t help but wonder why so many of those supposed sports “experts” — from local newspaper columnists to national newspaper columnists, radio talk show hosts, TV talking heads and call-in fans — don’t seem to grasp the significance of the other big story in football today. That would be the New Orleans Saints front office and coaching staff putting out hits on the best players on opposing teams.

To read or hear much of the commentary since the story broke, a non-fan might be led to wonder why some people — NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell for one — were making such a big deal over it. Isn’t football a violent sport by definition? Don’t players sign up to play knowing this? Haven’t professionals always prided themselves on hitting hard and making quarterbacks or running backs or receivers a little gun shy? Hasn’t it always been an unspoken code that if you know a player on the other team is injured, you try to aggravate that injury? Isn’t putting a bounty on knocking an opponent out of the game pretty much more of the same?

Yes, yes, yes, yes … and no.

The whole point of the Saints’ bounty system (and they have admitted to it) was to pay defensive players a bonus ($1,000 or more) if they knocked the star player on the other team out of the game. Wheeled off on a cart, preferably. About 20 players participated in a pool that reportedly reached $50,000. This is a league of supposedly college-educated (or at least college-attended) athletes who have a union to supposedly protect their health and well-being, both physical and financial. Their financial well-being depends on two things: 1. the continued success of the National Football League as a whole; 2. their ability to continue playing football without injury.

Until recently, when former players started suing the league for serious physical ailments (many concussion-related) long after they stopped playing, the NFL has not paid much attention to the physical well-being of its players. Hard-hitting produced big TV ratings. The NFL is worth billions today and many players have made millions because of the success of the league as a whole.

But think about it. What happens if Peyton Manning — four-time league MVP and widely regarded as one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history and playing for the first time after four surgeries to repair nerves in his neck — takes the field as quarterback for, say, the Miami Dolphins (sorry, Jets fans) and the defensive coach of their opponent has offered a $5,000 bonus to the guy who knocks Manning out of the game. Maybe another grand if he can’t walk off. For starters, that should be conspiracy to commit a crime and the crime itself, battery.

What if a coach playing against Peyton’s brother’s team has a bounty on Eli — the comeback kid and double Super Bowl MVP? Or maybe on his favorite receivers, Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks? And hey, what about that kid from Stanford the Colts plan to sign to replace Peyton at quarterback — Andrew Luck. How about two grand to welcome him to the NFL and maybe land on the injured cannot play list. Go down the list of stars in the league. Who would not be a target of a bounty? The Saints admitted targeting Brett Favre (future Hall of Famer) and Kurt Warner (potential Hall of Famer).

The macho pro football players who say this is no big deal are either defensive players, who have no fear of anyone targeting them, offensive players who are not game-changing stars and, thus, also not targets, or too dumb to realize that any business — and pro football is very big business — that knowingly allows its employees to seek to do harm to its most valuable assets and be rewarded for it, is on the road to self-destruction. What is a league without its stars?

This is, of course, to say nothing of the moral and ethical arguments that so many players, fans and commentators seem to think shouldn’t matter to the NFL. Is any behavior in the name of competitive edge to be considered acceptable? Would bounties be accepted in other businesses? Would it be OK, for example, for a copy editor from the New York Post, thinking about a bounty offered by his sports editor, to casually wander into the offices of the New York Daily News and slam a stapler down hard on Mike Lupica’s hands, making it impossible for the award-winning columnist to write?

Well, some might say, Lupica didn’t sign up to be physically attacked for his opinions, just verbally abused. But don’t ask me to believe any NFL star is OK knowing he’s playing a game in which some of his fellow union members are trying to intentionally injure him, and maybe affect his future earnings and physical health. (By the way, of the players who commented on the bounty, Eli Manning was sensible enough to say it had no place in professional football.)

As for the nonsense, that the defensive players aren’t trying to do permanent harm to opponents, it is naïve and delusional to think that any player spurred on by the thought of getting an illegal bonus for knocking, say, Tom Brady out of a game can somehow gauge his hit to be just enough to do less than permanent damage. Look at how many concussions were reported this year since the league got serious about penalizing unnecessarily rough hits or hits on defenseless players.

Whatever many players and fans think, the NFL cannot allow this kind of “incentive” to continue. It is a road to retribution and ruin. Goodell, who is looking to carve a legacy as the commissioner who created an entertaining, highly competitive and profitable enterprise must deliver major penalties to put an end to this illegal, immoral practice now. The Saints defensive coach who instituted the bounties should be banned from the NFL for life. The head coach, who knew about it, should be suspended for half the season. The general manager, who also knew about it, should be find $1 million and suspended for three months. The team owner should fire him. The player (Jonathan Vilma) who offered his own bounty of $10,000 to anyone who knocked Favre out of a playoff game, should be suspended for six games and fined $250,000. The team should lose future draft picks.

If Goodell comes down hard on the Saints, others will not follow their lead and the NFL will continue to prosper as an entertaining, competitive league that offers exciting athleticism and controlled mayhem every week. If he goes soft, some star player is inevitably going to be seriously injured by a nobody trying to make a name for himself and grab a couple of grand under the table. That’s mayhem dangerously out-of-control.

bob@zestoforange.com