The Evidence of Things Now Seen.

There is no reason for this. No justification. No excuse. No forgiving.

Regarding the NFL’s suspending (or more precisely extending) Baltimore Ravens star running back Ray Rice two-game suspension to an “indefinite” one I have two questions.

Is anyone so gullible to really believe the NFL never saw the video of Rice punching out his fiancée before TMZ released the video to the world?

If so, could I interest you in some oceanfront property in the desert?

This is a billion dollar business that suspends a player for the entire season for smoking marijuana while giving another TWO GAMES for knocking out and dragging an unconscious woman off of an elevator and dumping her on the floor like a sack of potatoes.

This is a league that misled, deceived and lied to the players of the damage concussions were doing to them and then tried to nickel-and-dime them in a lawsuit with a settlement so chintzy even a federal judge threw a penalty flag on it.

The NFL doesn’t give a damn about women. Why would they? There are active players in the league whom have killed people, who have been convicted of drunk driving, gang bangers, drug addicts and other law breakers and given them chance after chance to play in the league. If Aaron Hernandez wasn’t behind bars under suspicion of murdering at least two people, he’d probably still be catching passes from Tom Brady on Sunday afternoons.  Conduct a poll of the average fan and they’re probably less concerned about domestic abuse than what Rice’s suspension means to their fantasy football team.

Welp, I guess I got more time to work on being the new Mike Tyson…”

To be a fan of NFL football means you gotta take a lot of bad with the good and I should know. I’m a San Francisco 49ers fan.

What’s the lesson here? Beat a woman’s ass and you get a couple of weeks off. Fail a drug test and you’re done for the year. Some lesson.

Roger Goodell‘s much ballyhooed new policy cracking down on woman beating ballers only came to pass after the NFL caught hell from the public and press for the sloppy wet kiss Rice received. The league doesn’t care what the players do to their wives, girlfriends and significant others as long as it doesn’t blowback on their precious, carefully calculated image.

Goodell and the Baltimore Ravens are enablers of violence against women. Which is kind of funny when you consider how in Goodell’s NFL the big killshot hard hit has nearly been flagged, penalized, regulated and legislated out of existence.

The NFL hasn’t gotten around to Atlantic City elevators.  I knew this shoe was going to drop. If anyone can go to You Tube and watch video of Jay-Z and his sister-in-law duking it out on a lift, who’s gonna believe the most powerful and wealthiest professional sports league in America can’t get their hands on what happened to Janay Parker before Ray Rice dumped her on the floor of an Atlantic City hotel?

Commissioner Clueless.

Goodell, the Ravens and Rice all lied, all deceived,  until it all blew up in their faces.    Had this video not emerged, Rice would be two weeks away from practicing and playing against the Browns.    Now he’s got a lot of free time to kill and Janay  should be worried about what he’ll do with all that idle time on his hands.

When the shitstorm of criticism blew up in his face,  Goodell weakly admitted he “didn’t get it right” with Rice’s wrist slap.  Goodell is nothing but consistent:  He’s still not getting it right.

The NFL doesn’t advocate domestic abuse.   But it doesn’t take it seriously either.

 

Aldon Smith: Troubled Man

Smith is a young man blessed with considerable athletic ability and not a bit of good sense.

I don’t really want to talk about football in April though it was cold enough yesterday to play football. I don’t want to, but as a San Francisco 49ers fan it’s hard not to talk about football in April even though the team stopped playing in January. It’s what they’ve been doing off the field since then that has made for the worst off-season I can ever recall for the Niners.

Since the Seattle Seahawks sent the Niners in the NFC Championship for the right to slap the crap out of the hapless Denver Broncos, the 49ers have been headlines news in sports pages from California to Columbus and for all the wrong reasons.   The head coach was supposedly leaving to take over the Cleveland Browns.   Then the coach was staying to continue working with a general manager he barely spoke to.  Then the starting center was busted for drunk driving.  Then, Chris Culliver,  a cornerback who made an ass of himself during last year’s Super Bowl by making homophobic comments followed that up by getting injured and missing all of the 2013 season.   He started this year by getting involved in a hit-and-run and faces criminal charges.  Then Colin Kapernick, who was hoping for a reworked contract, was named in an investigation about a woman who says she was drugged and left naked in a hotel room and woke up to find herself in a hospital.   No charges have yet been filed against Kapernick and wide receiver Quiton Patton.

Then Aldon Smith, a dominant force on Sundays and a train wreck every other day tested the sense of humor of TSA agents at Los Angeles Airport when he claimed he had a bomb.   He didn’t, but those humorless TSA agents arrested him anyway as the 49ers Off-season from Hell continues.

Once is an Accident, Twice is a Coincidence, Three Times is a Pattern. Then there’s All-Pro linebacker’s Aldon Smith‘s crime spree where screwing up three times isn’t a pattern. It’s Friday.

The 49ers have to decide by May 3 whether to pick up the option year of Smith’s contract to avoid him walking away as a free agent in 2015. Or being driven away to prison. Smith would see his pay raised from $3 million to cashing checks worth $9.75 million if the team chooses to take the plunge. They shouldn’t. Smith is too volatile, too erratic, too undependable and too prone to trouble.

Check the record.

Four arrests including two for drunk driving. Gun possession charges including an assault weapon, bomb threats. These are not the acts of someone who is simply high-spirited.

“Man, thinkin’ is hard!”

Smith isn’t the most troubled player the 49ers have ever had. Besides Haley, there was Lawrence Phillips and of course, O.J. Simpson, though he hadn’t killed anybody when he was wearing the crimson and gold. At least nobody we know of.

The old NFL cliché about injuries is, “You can’t make plays from the locker room.” You can’t make plays from the courtroom either and that’s where Smith will be spending a lot of  time.   The legendary Bill Walsh was one of the least sentimental coaches in football history. Joe Montana, Ronnie Lott, Roger Craig, Tom Rathman, and Jerry Rice were all-stars for the 49ers and Walsh and his successor, George Seifert sent every one of them out-of-town. Walsh’s philosophy was cold, but pragmatic: “Better to get rid of ’em a year too soon than a year too late.”

Aldon Smith is an unquestionable talent and losing him would hurt the 49ers in the short run, but he is replaceable. Every player in the NFL is.

The Niners have been here before with a player who had All-Pro talent and an all-time head case. That was Charles Haley, another superfreaky talented pass rusher who was a terror on the field and just terrible off it.

He simply wore out his welcome in San Francisco with several well-publicized outbursts even though he was selected to the Pro Bowl in 1991.

In one notable episode, he got so upset after a 1991 loss to the Los Angeles Raiders that the 49ers called on his former teammate, Ronnie Lott, to come out of the Raiders locker room to calm him down.

Coach George Seifert of the 49ers has said that Haley’s departure “helped team chemistry.”

Hall of Famer Bill Walsh never coached Aldon Smith, but it’s hard to think he would have for very long.

“You never knew when he was going to go off,” 49ers running back Dexter Carter said. “Other guys would kid around and tease, but Charles was different. He was meaner. I didn’t like the guy, and I told him that to his face. And believe me, I’m not alone.”

Haley later learned he was bipolar. Maybe Smith should give him a call and chat?

I’ve heard on sports radio Smith needs help, not condemnation. If Indianapolis Colts Robert Irsay has alcohol issues, it’s already known Smith does after he voluntarily checking into a rehab center with 49ers owner Jeb York standing by his side in the locker room and the approval of Goodell. Neither man will be as accommodating to the troubled linebacker from here on out.

We’ve passed the point of diminishing returns on this dude. The 49ers have become the new Raiders of the NFL with all the criminality and stupidity and Smith is Public Enemy #1. Even if he somehow holds on to his place on this team (and by now it should be by the thinnest of threads), how long is the suspension going to be coming from Roger Goodell‘s office? The commissioner was probably already ticked off by the poor box office performance of Draft Day and when he heard what spectacularly stupid thing Smith had done this time he had to thinking, “Ge’ez, not THIS guy again?”

Giving Smith four games off without pay would be a gift, but Goodell could double the punishment and it still might not get through to Smith how tenuous his future employment in the NFL is. Maybe half or all of a season without football would get through to him. But nothing has before so why should believe it will now?

I hate the idea of Aldon Smith in a Seattle Seahawk uniform terrorizing the 49ers two or more times a season, but I’m beginning to hate the idea of Aldon Smith in a 49ers uniform at all.

Aldon_Smith

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The Brave One

michael-sam-brandon wade_AP

Michael Sam (photo: Brandon Wade/AP)

So we’ve got an openly gay man that wants to play in the NFL?  And he’s good enough to deserve a shot?  What’s the problem?

Michael Sam came out publicly on Sunday, likely setting himself to become the first openly gay player in the National Football League. And then a group of league executives reminded everyone why such an announcement probably didn’t happen sooner.

Speaking anonymously to Sports Illustrated, the executives said that the All-American defensive end from Missouri probably hurt his draft stock with his announcement.

“I don’t think football is ready for [an openly gay player] just yet,” an NFL player personnel assistant told SI. “In the coming decade or two, it’s going to be acceptable, but at this point in time it’s still a man’s-man game. To call somebody a [gay slur] is still so commonplace. It’d chemically imbalance an NFL locker room and meeting room.”

One longtime NFL scout said there’s “no question” the announcement will make teams less apt to select Sam in April’s draft.

An assistant personnel director said it will take “one confident general manager or head coach” with firm job security to take Sam.

Or at least a general manager or coach confident enough to go on record and declare, “I don’t care if he’s gay.  I care if he can help us win!”

I can’t remember the name of the player but a few seasons ago there was a guy the Tennessee Titans drafted who was supposedly “too cerebral” for the NFL.   This is a league that drafts guys with criminal records, “off the field” issues, disciplinary problems and drug dependencies.  This is a league that has guys who have committed crimes including drug dealing, gang affiliations, DUI’s, and a couple of murder raps (Aaron Hernandez, Rae Carruth, Jovan Belcher, O.J. Simpson, Ray Lewis(?).

Open the door, NFL or I'll kick it in."

Open the door, NFL or I’ll kick it in.”

The NFL makes all the right noises about being diverse and inclusive, but in all the ways that counts it’s no different from the days when Reggie White was saying he never played with a gay teammate.  Which of course is a crock.  White always played with gay players.  He just didn’t know they were gay and for Sam there is still a lot of  White’s homophobic ignorance in the NFL.

But this is no longer White’s NFL and in this case that is a good thing.

Maybe because of his size, Sam will have to play as a linebacker instead of a defensive end, but he’s got the credentials that say he should be able to play on Sundays as well as he did on Saturdays.

Sam never hid his sexual orientation at Missouri and from what is being reported, he went public with it before someone else did.  Let’s be real here.  College and pro football is like ham and eggs.   There are coaches in college whom are friends with coaches in the pros and they talk.   Does anyone really think they don’t talk about the players on their teams who might be gay or are?

There will be proclamations of how wonderful this is for gay rights and how far we’ve come as a country and my, look how progressive and enlightened we are!  Which is why in 2014 an openly gay football player is the lead story on programs that don’t do football stories, right?   Let us not be naive.  Homophobia and gay-baiting/bashing won’t be ended in a NFL team’s locker room anymore than it has in Vladimir Putin’s Olympic games.

Sure Michael Sam will be called names and subject to gay-baiting.  So what?  What rookie isn’t given a hard time? What Sam will go through will be a bit different sort of hassle.  As long as he makes plays on the open field that will matter far more than what he does behind closed doors.

I don’t concern myself with the sex lives of grown-ups as long as its only with grown-ups in their sex lives.   If Joe Montana and Jerry Rice turned out to be secret lovers on the down-low creep it wouldn’t lessen one bit the joy I received from all those victories they racked up.

We will see who’s brave enough to get past the ignorance on Draft Day.  The NFL is on the clock.

It will be a great day when the NFL is troubled less by players who kiss men than players who have killed men.

Coming to sack a QB near you next season?

Coming to sack a QB near you next season?

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The Grammys, Pro Bowl and Super Bowl Week Are All Good Reasons to Read a Book.

Forget it kid. She’s WAY too old for you.

Sunday night.   It’s The Grammy Awards vs.the NFL Pro Bowl. Decisions, decisions…what should I not watch first?  It’s a movie night!  The Grammys vs. The Pro Bowl: Great Moments in Counter-Programming.

1.  I had more important things to do than to watch a show celebrating music I haven’t listened to made by “artists” I don’t care about.  Stuff like peeling a potato or clipping my toenails or something. I’m taking the Public Enemy stance on the Grammys: “Who gives a fuck about a goddamn Grammy?”

2.  Still trying to figure out why such an utterly ordinary song like “Royals” gets all this slobbery love for Lorde. Back in the day she would have been a one-hit wonder on Casey Kasem‘s America’s Top 40.

3.  For pure superficiality, pomp without circumstance and puerile insignificance, it’s hard to trump the Grammys, or as I prefer to call them, the awards show for the group sitting at the little kids table.

4.  But the NFL’s Pro Bowl (a.k.a. “Thanks for choosing me, but I’d rather stay home and watch The Grammy Awards than play in this bullshit game) comes close.   Roger Goodell has threatened to end this cluster fuck and the only questions are why not and who cares?   The worst part of the NFL is the pre-season where the fans are charged full-price tickets for games that don’t count and have no meaning beyond watching a starting player lost for the year with a blown-out MCL.    The Pro Bowl doesn’t count and what makes pro football great is every game counts.   This isn’t like the NBA or baseball where if you lose four or five games in a row it’s called a bad week.   Lose five games in a row in the NFL and your team will be looking for another coach soon.

5.  Media Day:  The biggest bag of bullshit in the whole bullshit week that is the run up to 6:25 pm on Super Bowl Sunday.  A herd of reporters sticking cameras and microphones in front of a bunch of guys who either have nothing to say or can only speak in jockspeak (It’s gonna be a tough game.  We respect those guys.  We have to play our game.  It’s gonna be a war, blah, blah and more blah).

Then you get someone like Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch who doesn’t want to play nice with others.

This is what I want to see repeated about a dozen times Sunday night.

The media-adverse Lynch only “spoke” to the press for six minutes on Media Day and dropped a “shit” on the NFL Network while speaking to Deion Sanders (well, that’s appropriate.  Neon Deion and the NFL Network is shit).   Oh golly, oh gee, oh gosh!  My Super Bowl viewing experience has been ruined by Marshawn blowing off the media.  Whatever shall I do?

Yawn.  Who cares a lot?  Breathes there a single, solitary soul that has ever found the Super Bowl’s Media Day to be anything but more hype of an already over-hyped game?   I’m sure there must be a reason I should care, but I can’t think of what that reason could be.

6.   On ESPN the big game is a possible NBA Finals preview between the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder.   Pass.  There are few things I care less about than the NBA until the playoffs when the players awake from their stupor and get interested.   CBS is striking back with the Super Bowl’s Greatest Commercials.  Seriously?  An hour of 48 years worth of commercials? There must be a book somewhere I haven’t read.  Or need to re-read.

7.   Am I bitter that the 49ers aren’t in the Super Bowl?  Does their absence lessen my interest?  Would I be more into Super Bowl week if Jim Harbaugh was preparing for the game by practicing how he would meltdown on the sidelines at a perceived bad call?  Yes, yes, and yes.   Am I bad loser?  Yes, but I’m a worse winner.

8.   Oh, the President gave his State of the Union speech Tuesday night.   The State of the Union is there ain’t a damn thing getting done if the Republicans have their way and so far they’re having their way.

9.    I guess should make a Super Bowl prediction.   I predict a cold and boring game.  I predict Bruno Mars will be short.   I predict the fans of Bruno Mars will wonder who the hell The Red Hot Chili Peppers are.    I don’t even know why The Red Hot Chili Peppers are playing during the halftime show.  They’re old and when they were young, they still weren’t all that good.

10.   Broncos 31  Seawhores 20.   But I don’t give a damn if it happens the other way around.  It’s just another game.

Payton is pretty fast for a slow old White guy.

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Ndamukong Suh: Blowing Up In Public

This is when we noticed Mr. Suh had anger management issues. (photo: Andrew Weber-US PRESSWIRE)

This is when we noticed Mr. Suh had anger management issues.
(photo: Andrew Weber-US PRESSWIRE)

Ndamukong Suh has a job.   On fall Sunday afternoons he wreaks havoc on offensive linemen and terrorizes quarterbacks.  This is something the 6-4, 307 pound defensive tackle, who was the number two overall draft pick in 2010 by the Detroit Lions, excels at.   He is big, nasty and mean.

He is also the dirtiest player in the NFL.    Suh doesn’t simply play hard and intimidate opposing players.   He tries to punish them.   Even after repeated fines and suspensions as well as a one-on-one meeting with Commissioner Roger Goodell,  Suh remains undeterred and unrepentant in his roughhouse style of play.

The 2010 Defensive Rookie of the Year and a two-time Pro Bowl selection, Suh has also the physical and mental gifts to be a dominant force in the league, but his wrecking ball approach has gotten him in trouble from the beginning.

As a rookie, Suh was fined twice for hard hits on quarterbacks Jake Delhomme ($7,500) and Jay Cutler ($15,000).  He was fined again for using an opponent for leverage on a field goal ($5,000). In 2011, Sue was $20,000 lighter in the wallet for a vicious preseason hit on Andy Dalton. Last year, Suh was fined $30,000 for kicking Houston Texans quarterback Matt Schaub in the groin on Thanksgiving.

Suh must not like playing on holidays because it was on Thanksgiving in 2011 when he was  suspended two games for stomping on the arm of Green Bay Packers offensive lineman Evan Dietrich-Smith.   Last season , he tried to top that with his kick to Matt Schaub’s man zone.

“I’m not a dirty player. Would a dirty player do this?”

That ugly incident and Suh’s total denial that he had done anything wrong is when “dirty player” and “Ndamukong Suh” became synonymous.

Suh didn’t wait long to get back into the rotation of hot topics on sportstalk radio.   On opening week against the Minnesota Vikings,  Suh’s teammate De’Andre Levy intercepted a pass and rumbled toward the end zone.   Trailing behind in pursuit was Vikings center, John Sullivan.   On a change of possession such as an interception or fumble recovery NFL rules state a player can’t be blocked below the knee.  It’s a nasty and illegal hit that can blow out a man’s knees and end his career.   Suh, a defensive team captain, should know this rule.

If he did it didn’t matter.  Suh came up from behind Sullivan, dived at his knee and took Sullivan down in a heap as he crumpled in agony.   Levy went on to score only to have the TD wiped out due to the clipping penalty Suh picked up.   Fortunately for Sullivan, he wasn’t badly hurt.

Chalk it up to dumb luck because Suh’s dumb play could have had far worse consequences than six points coming off the scoreboard.

Sullivan told an interviewer,  “I don’t think he was trying to hurt me,” Sullivan said. “But there need to be consequences when guys don’t respect the careers of other players.”

Suh doesn’t respect the careers of other players.  He lumbers around stadiums crashing into people and acts the innocent when asked why he seemingly doesn’t care if he hurts someone.  For two consecutive years he’s been named the NFL’s dirtiest player  and if wants to make it three years he’s well on his way.

Suh has lost more than $342,000 in fines and missed game checks due to player-safety violations. He can afford it.  He’s made more than $51.7 million in his career from the Lions so far.

“It’s unfortunate that that had to happen and it kind of overshadowed his performance, but we stick with him. He’s a guy that’s an integral part of our team and a great player on defense and hopefully we can put this behind us and just move on.”  said a happy Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford who is relieved he is on the same team as Suh and can’t be hit by him.  Presumably.

Suh remains unapologetic and shrugged off the fine (which he is appealing) and the cheap shot on Sullivan.  “Really you just play football, that’s all I can do,” Suh told reporters. “… I don’t change, I’m going to always play tough, hard, that’s the way I was brought up at Nebraska, where I really learned football from the Pelinis and that staff and continue to play hard, play blue-collar football.”

“I think it’s just, player safety is the league’s concern,” Suh said. “You’ve got to only respect it, and that’s one of the reasons I spoke to Sullivan as we walked into the halftime, and he understood where I was coming from. No hard feelings and same thing if he cut me so forth, so on, no hard feelings and go from there.”

Lions coach Jim Schwartz has been an apologist and enabler for Sue’s dirty play since he came into the league.   After the win over the Vikings at the post-game press conference Schwartz made it clear he had no regrets for Suh’s bonehead play which negated a touchdown.

“I’m not (going to) apologize for any win. We won this football game. There (were) a lot of positives in this game. We were resilient, we played hard, we played physical, and we went out and beat a playoff team at home in the opener, and I’m not (going to) apologize for anything this team did.”

Schwartz is one of the most mediocre coaches in the NFL.    He’s been with the team since 2009 and compiled a record of 23 wins to 42 losses, with one division championship.  The Lions have never made it to a Super Bowl and they never will with Schwartz coaching the team.

Here’s the problem for the Lions:  They have a bad coach leading a mediocre team starring the league’s dirtiest player in a bankrupt city.  If it wasn’t for Calvin Johnson, the Lions would be right down there with the Jacksonville Jaguars for lack of watchability.

Suh isn’t going to change how he plays over a record-setting $100 thousand fine.   He says he’s not going to change.  Schwartz—who is no Bill Parcells or Bill Cowher type of take-no-shit coach—doesn’t have the balls to tell Suh, “Your dumb plays are killing us, so knock ‘it off before I bench your ass!”

What does $100K fine mean to somebody with a $51 million contract?  That’s nothing but a speeding ticket to Suh.  You pay the fine and go right back to speeding.

In 2011, Suh asked for and received a meeting with Goodell to find out exactly how aggressive his style of play could go before going too far.  He emerged from the conversation promising to continue to play his way, but within the rules.

“The way I play, the way I have played in the past, is to continue to play within the rules and just have an understanding of what they look for,”  Suh said.  “I’m the type of person that doesn’t like to repeat mistakes. That was the main thing that, more or less, (Goodell) was emphasizing. I haven’t made the same mistakes I made in the past.”

That’s half-true.  The mistakes continue to happen but they are happening to different players.

Despite efforts to regulate, control and reduce the violence of pro football there is an unspoken code of conduct among the players and cheap shot artists who seem to be deliberately trying to hurt others make themselves a target for retaliation.  It only takes one offensive lineman to blindside, leg-whip, crackback block, or set Sue up for a high-low hit that seriously injures him or ends his career.

ESPN football analyst Herm Edwards, a former coach and player himself issued a caution to Suh and Schwartz.

“You as a coach, you have to make this young man understand, ‘If you want to continue to have a long career in this league, look, there’s only so much I can do,'” Edwards said. “They can fine you. They can take games away from you. But when the players that play against you, they watch you on tape, you’re setting yourself up.”

“Right now, the way you’re going, these players know how to fix it.”

Actions have consequences.  If Ndamukong Suh doesn’t find a way to harness the fury he plays with and channel it into a less malicious approach to playing defense, someone is going to fix him in a way that could leave him broken beyond repair.

Don’t drop bombs on Syria. Suh can do the job.

Hatin’ With Mr. Cooper

Lone Eagle

Riley Cooper is a NFL wide receiver for the Philadelphia Eagles and he’s never heard of you either.

Riley Cooper went to a Kenny Chesney concert and tried to get backstage.  Concert security not recognizing or caring who Riley Cooper is did their jobs and refused to allow him to get backstage to see Chesney.

Riley Cooper did not like that.  So he let everyone within earshot know precisely how much he didn’t like the security guard stopping him.

“I will jump that fence and fight every nigger here, bro,”  Riley Cooper proclaims though there are no niggers in sight of the camera and presumably not that many Blacks showing up for a Kenny Chesney concert.

Deadspin received a message from a tipster about a possible reason for Cooper’s bad behavior.

Riley was going fucking nuts because he wasn’t allowed backstage. He didn’t have passes like some of the other players and was SO pissed that the stadium people wouldn’t let him back just because he was Riley Cooper. He had been drinking since 11 AM (Kenny didn’t go on until 8).

Few things are more divisive in a locker room than a racial controversy and quarterback Michael Vick, no stranger to controversy, threw Cooper a life-preserver, “What if your son or daughter made a mistake of this fashion, how would you want people to proceed? I’ve been there before. It’s a very delicate situation that we all understand. Somehow we’ve all got to find a way to get past it.”

However, there are many Blacks on the Eagles roster and even more Blacks playing cornerback, safety and linebacker in the NFL and many of them will not take kindly to Cooper’s ethnic slurs or his feeble apologies.    Cooper’s teammate, running back LeSean McCoy certainly doesn’t seem ready to get past it.

“I guess the real him came out that day,” McCoy told  Albert Breer. “The cameras are off, you don’t think nobody’s watching or listening, and then you find out who they really are. And to hear how he really came off, that shows you what he’s really all about.”

The refusal of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to take any action against Cooper for his repulsive racism underscores his growing uselessness.  Goodell sends his sneaks and snitches to every game to watch for players wearing the wrong kinds of socks because it’s bad for the league’s image, but refuses to suspend Cooper for bigoted slurs.

If Goodell refuses to enforce any sort of corrective behavior for Cooper off the field,  someone on the field will do it for him.

Riley Cooper should probably keep his head on a swivel the next time he runs a slant pattern in the middle of the field.   Defensive backs love to smack the hell out of wide receivers as a matter of principle.  Imagine the sort of wood they are going to lay on Cooper when they are motivated.

Cooper has been in the NFL three seasons and has played in 40 games and started in 10. These are his stats as a wide receiver:

Receptions: 46
Yards: 679
Average: 14.8
TD’s: 5

This guy is a perennial backup and bench warmer. A special teams scrub and if starting wide receiver Jeremy Maclin hadn’t torn his ACL last week knocking him out for the season, Cooper would likely be just another training camp body hoping like hell to even make the team.

There are a lot of things that are tolerated on a football team.  You can cheat on your woman,  be a drunken idiot through the week as long as you show up ready to play on Gameday, you can be a degenerate gambler or just a plain old degenerate.   You can be juicing on steroids or smoking weed around the clock, but nobody wants to play with someone when you hate their bigoted guts.

He’d better catch every pass thrown his way and just because he apologized to the Eagles doesn’t mean every team on their schedule isn’t going to look to put a kill shot on him each and every play.

I predict…PAIN.

Have a nice season, Riley.  For as long as it lasts.

The Refs say “we’re here.” The Browns say “wait ’til next year.”

Heard ya missed us. We’re back!

The NFL is the most successful sports corporation in America.   All the major sports, baseball, basketball, hockey run along similar business models, but football more than any other is run and acts like a corporate entity.  The bottom line is money and power and  with the money the NFL makes it is the unquestioned king of the hill  Every knee  bends and every head bows when the mighty NFL speaks.

This week though, the NFL heard the voice of the commoners as all hell broke loose following a spectacularly bad blown call by the scab referees the league hired to stand in for their real referees.   You don’t need me to tell you how awful the replacement refs were in the Packers/Seahawks debacle on Monday Night Football.   Everyone within earshot of a television heard all about it the next day as the worst case scenario for the NFL came to horrifying life.   The refs screwed up in a way that not even the NFL could cover up for their rank incompetence.   When the Today Show, Morning Joe, and other non-sports programs began to drop names that should only be familiar to Sportscenter viewers that’s not good.  When politicians from union busting Governor Scott Walker to President Obama agree its time to get the real referees back on the field, Commissioner Roger Goodell  had to drop his hardball negotiation position from “take it or leave it” to “what’s it gonna take to get you guys back?”

The NFL is very sensitive to what its image is with the public and these poor saps in stripes were putting the brand in jeopardy with their blown calls, extra time outs and deer-in-the-headlights reaction to large, smelly, 300 lb men screaming and spitting obscenities in their face.   The NFL was getting killed in the press with even ESPN jumping on the pile to pummel the league as greedy bastards who would rather sink the entire season than make 32 teams cough up an extra $100,000 each to cover the locked out refs pay raise.    You won’t find a gathering of more smugly arrogant men than a NFL owner’s meeting, but they aren’t deaf either.   When your bad refs are getting more publicity than  your good players, things have gone too far.   That was the breaking point where enough owners must have pulled Goodell’s coat sleeve and said, “Make the deal and get this done NOW.”

The real deal refs returned Thursday night to a standing ovation from the Baltimore Ravens crowd prior to the game against the hapless Cleveland Browns.   Their return will be scrutinized more than the game itself which was typical of everything that’s bad about the Browns since their former owner Art Modell ditched Cleveland to move the team to–wait for it–Baltimore.

It’s been a long, hard road for Browns fans.

I feel sorry for Browns fans.  They have to be going straight to heaven when they die because they’ve already been through hell.  Between bad owners, bad coaches, bad players, bad teams, it’s been a bad 13 years since the Browns returned.   Every few years it seems like there’s a new owner or another coach and a new face of the franchise, but nothing changes and the sucking never stops.   The NFL is a league where doormats can challenge for Super Bowls if they are run by smart people, get lucky, guess right and follow a plan to be competitive.

None of that seems to work for Cleveland.    There’s really no reason for the Browns to suck for 13 years since their return.  Everyone has had their share of  busted draft picks, incompetent GM’s, absentee owners, lousy coaches, free agents you wish had been free and just plain  bad luck.   The Browns have all this and they keep having it.

It’s hard to believe the Browns will suck forever, but until they don’t they have the misfortune of being bad and boring.    Their defense is short of stars while their best player, cornerback Joe Haden sits out a four game suspension, but they try hard and hit harder.  But bless their little hearts, they’re out there all day because the offense is simply offensive.   The Browns are starting rookies at wide receiver, right tackle, running back and quarterback which is a trial by fire.   One day they may be good, but now they’re simply learning to play together which means this is a work in progress instead of a finished product.

The NFL Network is the league’s in-house television network and it puts out a pretty ragged product.   I don’t think much of it’s “personalities” such as Rich Eisen or “experts” like Deion Sanders and Michael “Mush Mouth” Irvin who anchor the network’s game highlights show.   What’s worse is the package of Thursday games suck hard because the  match-ups usually are games the broadcast networks don’t find all that attractive.    Pro football dominates our collective consciousness on Sunday and Monday.     I love football too and between NBC, CBS and Fox as well as the NFL Sunday Ticket on Direct TV in addition to the NFL Network, I can see every game,  but the Thursday games run the risk of overexposure.

This made the Ravens/Browns game perfect for the NFL Network.   A divisional tilt between the up and coming Ravens and the gritty Browns is the difference between a team that knows it can win and the other that hopes they can keep the score respectable.    The defense did their part, but the Browns inept offense couldn’t finish and the Ravens beat their rival for a ninth consecutive time as the Browns finished the first month of the season with four losses.    That’s all, folks!   The leaves haven’t turned brown yet and the season is already over for the Brownies.

Welcome back refs.  Bye-bye Browns.  Better luck next year.  Again.   Your new owner spent a billion dollars to buy the team.   Next year he can start putting together his own instead of these leftovers that came with the purchase price.   The NFL realized they couldn’t get away with lousy officiating but charging an exorbitant price to watch lousy football for over a decade?   That, they have no problem with at all.