Football

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1st Amendment and Other Concerns On Appeal of Redskins Decision

JusticePicThere has been a lot of commotion over Wednesday’s decision by the US Trademark Trial and Appeal Board to cancel several trademark registrations of the Washington Redskins originally recognized back in the 1960′s by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (PTO). The full decision is here. It is quite long, detailed, and, at least facially, pretty compelling in its finding that the trademarks are “disparaging to Native Americans”.

Before I go further, let me say that I agree with those who think Daniel Snyder and the Washington Professional Football Franchise should change their name. It may not be the most pressing issue in our society, but it is something for which the time has come. Josh Marshall posted his thoughts on this subject at Talking Points Memo, and I think he put it all in excellent perspective and I agree with his conclusions.

The simple fact is we shouldn’t be using whole peoples as mascots for sports teams. Whether or not Indians in America today find it offensive is almost beside the point. The fact that most do is just an extra reason to do away with the practice.

With all I’ve said, there’s a part of me who feels like, ‘We really can’t have the Cleveland Indians anymore?’ It feels like a loss – part of the landscape of American sports I’m attached to. But it’s time.

Well said and, again, I agree. Josh’s entire piece is not long and is worth a read.

That said, and as much as I would like to see the name changed, I have trepidation about the government forcing the issue through agency decisions on what is proper speech, and what is not.

Tradenames and trademarks are, by their nature, really public speech and, thus, at least where they interact with the government, should be entitled to First Amendment protection. Now First Amendment protection is never absolute, but it is presumptively extremely broad. Likewise, First Amendment protections are against governmental action restricting free speech, not necessarily against private persons or entities. If I refuse to listen to you or to print what you have to say, that would be censorship, but it is not First Amendment action. If I am the government and censor you, then that is a different matter and there is a First Amendment issue.

So, here, the TTAB has taken it upon itself to restrict, at least in some regards, the free expression of the Redskins, via refusal to extend the same protection offered other “acceptable” speech and they do so by obvious decree of a governmental entity. Now the TTAB decision made out a VERY thorough and facially compelling case for Continue reading

Pat Tillman Was A Man, Not Just A Symbol

As you probably know by now, yesterday was the tenth anniversary of the death of Pat Tillman. The media has been replete with stories, remembrances, tributes and the like from the sad tale of a fellow Army Ranger who lives with the fear it was he who shot Pat, to calls for Pat to be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, to Dave Zirin’s renewed questions on the events surrounding Pat’s death and many others.

To be honest, I have mixed emotions about it all. It is fantastic Pat Tillman is so fondly and deeply remembered, but at the same time, it stirs negative emotions from how much Pat became a symbol, first for the pro war crowd, and then the anti-war crowd upon his death. The Pat Tillman I knew would have been more than uncomfortable with both and, similarly, uncomfortable with much of the hagiography over the last couple of days.

For these reasons, I vacillated with whether to join in the fray; part of me just felt uneasy with it all despite my respect for Pat. In fact, it is my deep respect for Pat that gave me pause. But there is another side of Pat Tillman that really needs more emphasis.

The article I most suggest is a long and beautiful piece in The Arizona Republic centered on Marie Tillman, Pat’s long time love and, now, widow. Marie talks a lot about Pat the man, their growing up together in California, move to Arizona, and how she has come to both accept, and at the same time move on in peace from, Pat’s death. It is really beautiful, please read it.

As Marie Tillman wants to focus on who Pat Tillman the person was, so too do I. Back on the day the Phoenix Cardinals played the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Super Bowl, on February 1, 2009, we did a post here at Emptywheel entitled “Pat Tillman’s Super Bowl”. The first part was by Marcy and was a great discussion of the problems and questions with the government’s conduct after Pat’s death, and I suggest you read that.

The second part of “Pat Tillman’s Super Bowl” was written by me and was exactly what I am trying to convey today: Pat was a man, not just a symbol. He stood for so much that is good as a human, and that seems to get lost in all the rah rah symbolism and martyrdom. I cannot say it better than I did then, so I am going to reprint that portion here in this post:

Earlier this morning, Marcy posted this serious and wonderful piece on Pat Tillman, and the Super Bowl he is missing. Unfortunately, it has turned somewhat, and predictably, into a knock down drag out on conspiracy theories and acts, I would like to return for a moment to the subject of her post, namely who Pat was, and what he did, which is why the answers his family seeks are so important in the first place.

First off, Pat gave up a large contract with the Cardinals to join the Army after 9/11. That is well known and part of the lore. What you should also know is that the contract offer could have been much bigger than that, but Pat was willing to take less money than he was worth on the open market to stay with the Cardinals because he believed in their redemption and he loved the community of Tempe and Phoenix. He had grown roots here from his four years at Arizona State and was determined to see the Cardinals through the transformation into a winning team. The contract he walked away from with the Cardinals was for about 3.6 million; he had turned down previously a 9 million dollar multi-year contract with the St. Louis Rams, right in the middle of their Super Bowl years, in order to stay with and build the Cardinals in what he considered to be his home at the time. That is the kind of man that Pat was.

Pat didn’t give a damn about money and the trappings of celebrity. Years after already being a high paid and wealthy NFL star, you would still find Pat traversing the streets of Tempe on his bicycle, looking like a hippy with his long hair and book bag. This was literally how he would go to work every day at the Cardinals training center in South Tempe. Pat was an avid reader. Of everything. He loved politics and world events, and there was nothing he loved more than spirited discussion of the same, whether it was current events, WW II, or ancient European battles. And he could discuss all intelligently, deeply and passionately. Pat knew business and marketing as well, that was his major at ASU and he was brilliant at how he understood, and could see through, the forces at work in our economy.

Pat was an iconoclast. He was his own man and would back down from nothing, and no one, if he thought he was right. This is what made him an odd fit for the military. He had every ounce of the heroism, valor, trust and honesty that the military has always purported to stand for, and then some. But he was not a yes man and was trained, from my estimation since birth, to question authority, especially if it was malignant and wrong. I believe this may have caused a rougher ride for him in the military than most would have expected, or would suspect even now, from the outside, and almost certainly played a huge role in how his death was handled, irrespective of how his death occurred. LabDancer spoke the word in comments:

Pat’s death was caused by our side; our side covered that up, employing things our side knew were untrue; our side used that same cover to distort, turn and pervert the story of his death into a symbol aimed at promoting a falsehood: that Pat died pursuing a myth our side knew for a fact he’d personally determined beforehand to be a lie – meaning that, in end, our side rendered an obscenity from Pat’s death. That’s more than enough to earn him the status emptywheel submits as his due.

That is right on the money. It is also what motivated me to write this, the use of Pat is, at this point, not just by the Bush Administration for their glory, but by the contra for theirs as well. From being a player who loved football as a game, Pat has become the football in the game. That is wrong, very very wrong.

As you may surmise here, or as some may recall from discussions at The Next Hurrah long ago, I had the privilege of knowing Pat Tillman a little. I did not know him well, but well enough to get the measure of the man he was. I used to live a little less than a mile from the Cardinals headquarters and practice facility in South Tempe. On days when I worked at home, I used to ride my bicycle to a little deli, Capistrano’s, between my house and the Card’s facility. It was there that I met Pat, who also stopped in on his bicycle, and had a few long lunch conversations with him. He was everything he has been made out to be and more. He was twenty years younger than I, but you would never know it. He was such a deep and diverse thinker that he was almost the antithesis to the world as we currently know it.

The nation, and the world, lost a lot with Pat Tillman’s death. When we talk about the type of people we need to foster and grow to lead into the future, he was a prime example. That, to me, is why his loss stings, and lingers, so deeply. Pat’s family, the nation, and the world deserve the answers to what happened, it is, and remains, important.

But, above and beyond all else, what people should be taking away is not the dickering over the mechanism and coverup of his death, although that is important; but more importantly, the facts and honor of his life, beliefs and hopes. Honor and fight what he stood for, and what he wanted the country to stand for, that is what he would want.

Pat Tillman was quite a guy. He learned, and lived, a lot in his all too short stay on this earth. He was so much more than the football and war hero, and symbol, that has comprised most of the remembrances on this tenth anniversary of his death.

Pat Tillman had a love for life, for his wife Marie, for literature, and for all knowledge he could possibly absorb, and he could absorb a lot. He was a critical thinker. And he was a great guy. Let him be remembered, and honored as a role model, for that too. RIP.

Super Bowl Sex Trafficking Trash Talk 2014

Now that the super exciting Pro Bowl is over (shoot that thing and put us all out of its worthless misery), we are down to just one last football game. But it is a good one, with the top ranked team in each conference representing, and the best offense versus the best defense. And all that jazz.

And, really, what else is there to say about the game at this point? It has been the fascination of sports, general and entertainment media for two weeks of hype now. I could take you through the normal rundown on the teams, but why? My one real take is that the game boils down not to Denver’s offense or Seattle’s defense, but rather to Denver’s defense. Peyton and the Broncos will score some points no matter how well they are defended. The same cannot necessarily be said about the Seahawks. So, if the Broncos defense plays big, Denver wins. If not, they don’t.

Can’t wait to find out; will be one hell of an exciting game to watch. If you can’t wait and want a simulation, this Breaking Madden piece is pretty great.

So, let’s talk for a bit about the game itself in terms of what it means and does for the host city. Does hosting a Super Bowl mean as much to a city as is commonly claimed?

Here is a report on the effects of 2008 Super Bowl XLII on the greater Phoenix area by the Arizona State University WP Carey School of Business. The results claim:

Super Bowl festivities generated a record $500.6 million in direct and indirect spending by visiting fans and organizations, according to the newly released Super Bowl impact study produced by the W. P. Carey MBA Sports Business program.

The gross impact of a half billion dollars in the Arizona marketplace brings rejuvenation to an economy that has been weakened by a recession.

The ripple effect of return visits, family and company relocations, and word-of-mouth marketing nationally could equal or exceed the record Super Bowl spending in years to come.

That is in line with many of the claims that are commonly pitched for Super Bowls, but is that right?

Well, maybe not. There are a lot of demands on a host city, and they really add up. One of the best journalists out there writing on the intersection of sports and society is Travis Waldron, and he reported this on the eve of last year’s Super Bowl in New Orleans:

Those estimates, though, are likely fool’s gold, according to an assortment of academic research into the actual economic impact of Super Bowls and other major sporting events. When professors Victor Matheson and Robert Baade studied the economic impact of Super Bowls from 1973 to 1997, they found that the games boosted city economies by about $30 million, “roughly one-tenth the figures touted by the NFL” and an even smaller fraction of what New Orleans officials predict. A later Baade and Matheson study found that the economic impact of a Super Bowl is “on average one-quarter or less the magnitude of the most recent NFL estimates.”

Similarly, a 1999 paper from professor Philip Porter found that the Super Bowl had virtually no effect on a city’s economy. Research on other events New Orleans has hosted, including the men’s Final Four, is similar. When Baade and Matheson studied Final Fours, they found that the events tend “not to translate into any measurable benefits to the host cities.”

There are multiple reasons the estimates are often overstated. Impact estimates usually take into account how much money will be spent in the city during an event like the Super Bowl without examining how much potential spending will be lost because people don’t visit or leave the city to avoid the crowd — that is, the impact studies account for gross spending, but not net spending. And the estimates rarely include the additional cost of putting on the event, further distorting the disparity between gross and net spending figures.

Frankly, I find the Williams College study undergirding Travis’ argument far more persuasive than the happy face one put out here by ASU that is cited above. Still, even if the net impact is “only” 150-200 million dollars, that is a good thing for a city’s economy. And I don’t know what people going to the Super Bowl in cold weather place like New Jersey/New York are going to come away Continue reading

The Conference Championships Trash Talk

Sadly, this is our penultimate weekend of football here at the Wheelhouse. Down to two games, San Francisco versus Seattle and New England versus Denver. And, really, it is fitting, as these were probably the two best teams in their respective conferences when the season started, were throughout, and are now. So, we are where we are supposed to be.

Patriots at Broncos: While the NFC Championship features two new school mobile kids on the block, the AFC features two of the classic, and classiest, traditional pocket passers in NFL history. Any discussion of best ever quarterbacks has Peyton Manning and Tom Brady in it, irrespective of who you put at the top of the list. Personally, I have Joe Montana still at the top and think some older players, to wit Otto Graham and Bart Starr, are given far too short a shrift. But Brady and Manning have earned their spot in the discussion, and this is a real treat to be able to see them face off, yet again, in such an important playoff game.

The Patriots seem to have stabilized on defense, the Broncos seem to still be reeling from the loss of Von Miller. On paper, Denver has a significantly better defense, both against the pass and the rush. But paper doesn’t count for this game, and I think it is a draw on the D side of the ball. On the offensive side, both teams have been known to rely on their quarterbacks too much. But both have recently found, and relied on, their running game. LeGarrette Blount was a monster for the Pats last week, and Knowshon Moreno ate the Pats up earlier this year. You already know about the QB’s; they are a wash. There is one area where there is a difference though. Receivers. Bill Bel and Brady have been geniuses with what they have gotten out of rooks and scrubs, but Denver has serious ballers in Welker, Eric Decker, Demaryius Thomas and Julius Thomas. That is a real edge. Then give the coaching edge to Bill Bel….and you end up with a pick em.

49ers at Seahawks: They may be newfangled, but both QB’s in the NFC Championship are superb, and, apparently, evenly matched too. But not so fast. Kaepernick has been rediscovering his groove down the stretch, and Russell Wilson has been looking a little shaky in the confidence (and performance) category. Edge to Kap. Niners also have far better receivers, with Anquan Boldin, Vernon Davis and Crabtee, than do the Squawks. Percy Harvin would have helped level that playing field, but he won’t be playing. Gore and Lynch are both studs, and thus a wash, but the QB and receivers are a huge plus for SF.

The defensive paper actually seems to favor the Niners but, again, toss the paper out the window. Seattle’s defense is bad ass, and they will have the 12th Man noise that comes with their home field. That is an edge. Coaching is a wash between Harbaugh and Carroll, but man do they completely dislike each other. The game is really probably another pick em, to slight favorite for the Niners; however, I am going to take a flyer on the Squawks. I don’t feel good about it, but there you have it.

Penalty Flag Department: Yeah, the hanky has to be thrown on Peyton Manning. Really? Bud Light? Get the fuck out! And, big ups to the Colorado craft brewers for calling him out on it.

Music is by by It’s A Beautiful Day, featuring Pattie Santos and David LaFlamme. A completely killer band out of the 60′s heyday of San Francisco. Shame they never hit it bigger and are mostly forgotten now, because they were really good. And to tie it all together, this song, White Bird, is a song about some melancholy times LaFlamme and his wife spent in Seattle. See, it all ties together for the NFC Championship Game!

Divisional Playoffs 2014 Trash Talk

Before we get to the news and notes for the Divisional Playoffs round in the NFL, lets take a quick look at two great NCAA games last night. Unfortunately, I missed both as I was at a wedding at the Desert Botanical Garden where they had the most incredible Chihuly glass display (click on the 2013 photo link). Very cool, especially lit at night.

But, while I was away, the Clemson Tigers dealt the B1G another blow by handily taking out Ohio State in the Orange Bowl. I saw a replay later, and it was a good game until late when the mistakes by OSU and the talent and speed of Clemson took over. Sammy Watkins is unreal, he’s going to be a star in the pros. In the Cotton Bowl, again another close game, but Missouri just had too much for Oklahoma State. For all the talk of ex=Big 12 teams Missouri and Texas A & M not belonging in the SEC, they seem to have done rather well so far. As a last thought, just like to note that vaunted geniuses Nick Saban and Urban Meyer were a combined 0-4 to close out the season.

In the pros, my first comment is on the somewhat startling difficulty of the NFL in selling out three of the four games this weekend, which could have meant local blackouts for home team fans. Bolts/Bengals in Cinci, Niners/Packers at Lambeau and Chiefs/Colts in Indy all struggled to sell out and needed corporate help swooping in to buy up the last blocks to get the required sellout. Maybe, maybe, you can see that at the other two, but the thought of a non-sellout at Lambeau in Titletown? Sacrilege. Our friend Peterr from FDL wrote in with some thoughts:

Reading some of the news stories about this over breakfast, various folks point to the cost of tickets and the prevalence of 55 inch flat screens at home as reasons for people not going.

This strikes me as yet another symptom of the two-tier economic world we’re in these days. For all the 1%ers who have enjoyed the rise in the Continue reading

New Year’s Trash

The dawn of a new year always brings with it hope and change. Unlike the hollow rhetoric at 1600 Pennsylvania NW, there is a whole lot of real change going on in the football world. And some actual football too!

Let’s start with the hope and change. Because that is always wonderful when it is actually in play. So far, there has been change noted in Detroit, Washington, Houston, Minnesota, Tampa and Cleveland. They may all think they have immediate hope, but Detroit is the place where it really may be true. The Lions are chock full of talent and if they pick the right new coach to bring some discipline, both mentally and physically on the field, they have a real shot at being elite.

The team that everyone is talking about, the Skins, is going to be a tougher road. RG 3-13 is a self centered basket case with a father that needs to find a different hobby. And while Griffen is the focus, the root fact is Washington is pretty bereft of on the field football talent and leadership on both sides of the ball. And the retirement of London Fletcher is only going to make the situation worse. Houston might have some hope, but their QB situation is a real problem that new coach Bill O’Brien will have to solve. Matt Schaub went from solid to flimsy in less thatn a year. Will O’Brien try to coach him back up, or will the Texans cut bait?

Okay, on to the bowl games. There were a couple of big ones yesterday, and the big ones start up today. Yesterday the story was, as it probably should have been, the most exciting man in college football. Johnny Football. Give the Dookies credit, they put up an unexpected hell of a fight in the Chick-fil-A Eat More Chickn Bowl. But they don’t call him Johnny Football for nuthin. The evidence is in the video above. Wow. In two seasons at Texas A & M, here is the kid’s bottom line: 63 passing touchdowns, 30 rushing touchdowns, 20 wins and a Heisman Trophy. Not bad.

In two other New Year’s Eve games, the Pac-12 kicked some ass. Which was good seeing as how the ASU Sun Devils got their ass kicked the night before. UCLA killed Virginia Tech, and Rich Rod’s Arizona Wildcats put a licking on Boston College.

But that was all then, it’s a New Year baybee! We have games to be played in the new year. Bowl games, including the Grandaddy Of Them All. Which, of course, will feature a conifer tree instead of the Devils and, thus, Bmaz will be watching from the comfy confines of his couch instead of Pasadena as he was hoping for. Oh well, whadda ya gonna do? The Tree is ranked number 5 in the country, but Sparty is number 4 and has an absolutely killer defense. My gut tells me to go gang green here, but there is one hard and fast rule in life that, while not totally perfect, is close to it: NEVER BET THE BIG-10.X IN THE ROSE BOWL. Never. Remember hallowed names like Bo and Woody? People in the Pac do. Cause they kicked their asses so consistently.

Nebraska has no business being in a New Year’s day bowl game and you have to think the Dawgs will remind them of that. Same goes for Iowa, and LSU will so instruct them too. Wisconsin is a closer call with South Carolina, although the ‘Cocks are a lot better team on paper and should win the game on the field. If all goes according to plan, it will be yet another 0 for New Year’s Day for the B1G. Yeah, I know, nobody saw this coming.

Which leaves UCF versus Baylor here in the Fiesta Bowl. Looks boring from the names, but could be an excellent game. Nobody knows the Knights of UCF, but they have a good coach, George O’Leary, and a really good QB, Blake Bortles. For all the hype surrounding Johnny Football and some other college QB’s, I wouldn’t be surprised if Bortles is the first QB off the board come NFL draft day. Baylor has the better reputation and national profile, but I am taking the Knights in an upset.

On January 2nd, look for Alabama to take out their frustrations on Oklahoma. Big time. Well, that is it for now, more trash this weekend.

Crunch Time Trash Talk

Sorry about the late start here, but I have been otherwise indisposed for the last day and a half or so. An old friend was around and we went walkabout downtown. Among the festivities taken in was the Phoenix Suns game against the 76ers. The Suns won, but it was really atrocious basketball by both teams. The current NBA is just not very appealing right now. Ugly and selfish play; little teamwork. It is almost unwatchable, which is a shame.

As to the oblong ball, there was apparently a game at Sun Devil Stadium last night. Earlier in the month, I invited David Dayen, a Michigan alum, to come over for the big Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, but he demurred. Good choice as the Wolverweenies got their ass kicked by Kansas State it appears. The game of interest locally is tomorrow night in So Cal, the Holiday Bowl with ASU and Texas Tech. ASU looks on paper to be a solid favorite, but the Red Raiders are pretty scary and can really score points. Also tomorrow, Mack Brown’s last game at Texas, with the Whorens taking on the Quack Attack of Oregon. Take the Ducks.

Today the biggest game is obviously the Packers at Bears, but I won’t be able to see that because I have to watch the Niners slaughter the paper thin playoff hopes of the Cardinals. Oh well, GO PACK! Aaron Rodgers is back, hope that is enough, cause the Pack defense is like Swiss cheese.

Also exciting, and just about to kick off, is the Ravens and Bengals. Baltimore has the pedigree, but I am taking Cinci and Dueling Dalton here. the Pats should pretty easily put the Bills out of their misery. And for that matter, the Eagles should do the same for the Cowboys.

With a late start and all, I am going to wrap this up and we’ll just hit the rest of the games in comments. Rock on!

Emptywheel’s Christmas Trash Talk

Well, Trash is harder to gin up for without the regular season college games in action. And, no, the Royal Purple Bowl was not enough to overcome that fact. The only bowl game even halfway interesting between now and next weekend is Boise State versus Oregon State in the Hawaii Bowl on Christmas Eve. Take Boise.

The NFL game that most interests me is, of course, the Packers and Steelers on the Frozen Tundra of Lambeau. The Cheese has won two in a row with Matt Flynn at the helm, but have looked shaky doing so. At least they are scoring points, which is good because their defense is atrocious. The Steelers have rebounded to be very respectable. Pittsburgh’s defensive secondary is pretty good, so Green Bay will have to hope for a huge game from Eddie Lacy. Big Ben and the Stillers will score on the Pack, and I will take them in only the mildest of upsets.

Probably the best game today is Baltimore hosting New England. The Ravens have won four in a row and seem to be on a playoff run that seemed unlikely mid season. And the Pats always have a tough time in Baltimore. Plus Brady is throwing to the midget brigade again. Oh, and Justin Tucker has not missed a field goal since the second week of the season. Kenbrell Thompkins and Nate Solder have been downgraded to OUT & will not play. I am trying to find the positive note here that points to Brady and Belichick winning this game, because I think they will. But I sure don’t see it on paper.

The ‘Boys at Skins could be a fascinating game to see which sad sack team manages to pull out the win and how. Mostly, it will be interesting to see how Kirk Cousins plays in his second straight start. Take the ‘Boys I guess but, really, who cares? Colts at Chefs also interesting. Colts are sliding and Trent Richardson has been none of the help he was brought in to be. Chefs on the other hand are starting to open their offense up for Alex Smith and still have that great defense. Chefs smoke some horsehide.

Bears are at the Iggles and Giants at the Lions. This weekend really seems to favor the Lions. Both the Pack and Bears have to play tough games, and the Kittehs draw the hapless Giants and Bad Eli Manning’s ever more contorted dour face. At home in Deetroit. Card and Squawks would be a great game….if it were anywhere but Seattle. A hellish place to play. Cards are a pretty solid team, but no way they will win in the Squawk Palace. Which will probably put an end to the Cards’ playoff hopes for the year.

The final Monday Night game of the year is also the final game ever in famed (or infamous as the case may be) Candlestick Park. Cleveland may talk about their Mistake By The Lake, but, damn, they got nuthin on San Francisco and the Stick. The old story was that the only real site survey was done at a time of day when all was calm there, and no one ever told Horace Stoneham and the other poohbahs that it was a swirling wind hell during afternoons and nights when most games would be played. Ooops! At any rate, take the Niners big over the hapless Falcons (sad end for Tony Gonzales’ storied career). Here, thanks to PJ Evans, is a great photo history of the Stick.

Emptywheel’s Pro Football Trash Talk – Week 15

Only one college game left before the endless series of bowl games starts up. The annual Army Navy game from Philadelphia. Both teams have among the best rushing offenses in the country, and among the most anemic passing offenses. Seems like a close match, but it’s not, Navy is the clearly better team, and they are favored. They should be, GO NAVY!

The pros, as the post title indicates, are into week 15 of the regular schedule. Already the Bolts have shocked the Donkos in Denver. Peyton seemed off and the Broncos never really got untracked. They abandoned Knowshon Moreno and the running game that has served them so well of late and really missed Wes Welker, who was out with a concussion. A bit about that. Much has been made about how the NFL treats it’s players with respect to concussions (and the lame settlement) but, really, the NFL teats its players like meat in pretty much every area of the body. Here is a great longform about just how true this is: My Injury File: How I Shot, Smoked, And Screwed My Way Through The NFL. It is blunt and gruesome.

Probably the best matchup on the Sunday slate is Pats at the Dolphins. Gronkowski is out again for the Pats, this time he is done for the season with an ACL/MCL injury. That hurts, because Gronk is not only Brady’s best receiver, but also draws tons of pressure off the other young kids at WR. Brady too appears to be a little banged up in the throwing shoulder and has been limited in use in practice, but no reason to believe he won’t be the same old Tom once the game starts. On paper, the Fish match up pretty well, and their defense is young and good. If the depleted Miami O-line can give Ryan Tannehill some time to throw, this could be an upset. But now that Brady and Belichick have home field in the playoffs in their hands, due to Denver’s Thursday night flop, I sure wouldn’t bet on it. Take the Pats.

Ravens at Detroit on Monday night also looks pretty interesting. The Lions are flaky and should be (and are) the favorite at home. But Baltimore has won four of their last five and are worried about their own playoff push. Maybe the Ravens’ secondary should not have pissed off Megatron. Still, Kitties better watch out, this game has upset alert written all over it. As does the Bears at the Brownies. Cutler returns for the Bears, though I would have left hot hand Josh McCown in were it me. The browns are better than their record. Hard to see the Packers coming out of Big D with a win over the ‘Boys. Actually might be possible for all three NFC North leaders to lose this week. And Dallas needs the win because the Eagles figure to dispatch the Vikings.

The last bit of real interest is to see just how crappy the game between the Redskins and Falcons is. These are surely the two biggest disappointments in the league this year, both teams are just a mess. Would be a hell of a sight if new Skins starting QB Kirk Cousins lights up Atlanta. And he just might. RG3 and 10 is not even the backup, instead he has been deactivated and Sexy Rex Grossman will be the backup.

Well, what else ya got to yammer about? Music by the incomparable Lou Rawls.

Conference Championships and NFL Week 14 Trash Talk

Pretty big weekend of football. After some thrills from Rivalry Weekend, and one very big disappointment from the Wolverweenies’ failure to slay the Sweatervests of Ohio State, this weekend serves up some great conference championship games and excellent late season matchups in the NFL. Let’s see what’s on tap:

In the college ranks, Louisville topped Cincinnati Thursday night, in overtime, in their farewell to the American Athletic Conference. And Bowling Green State absolutely put a licking on previously undefeated BCS Buster darling Northern Illinois. The busters are done for this year, we are on to the big boys. Oklahoma and Oklahoma State tee off in an early game, starting at 12 noon EST on ABC. That is strictly for masochists, and the Cowboys should roll the Sooners.

The real fun starts at 3:30pm EST on Fox when the Longwhorens kickck off against the Baylor Bears in the Bears’ den in Waco. Pretty easy to take Baylor here, and I will, but this might be close. Hard to believe, but Mack Brown got the Whorens gelled and playing fairly decent and probably saved his job. Which is just fine by me, I think the Whorens and Mack Brown deserve each other forever!

Then, only a half hour later, is the SEC title game at 4pm EST on CBS from the dome int Atlanta. Auburn is the favorite by a point over Missouri in the Battle of the Tigers. Auburn sure appears to be a team of destiny this year after their last second crazy wins over Georgia and Alabama to close out the regular season. Auburn has a great rushing attack and seems to score just enough on offense to win (also of course, special teams are solid). But Missouri, with James Franklin back in full charge of the offense after a mid season injury, has a far superior passing game and a plenty competent rushing game. Missouri has a clear edge on defense. I’ll take Missouri in a mild upset.

Sadly, it will take intervention from aliens to give Duke a chance against the crime concealers of Florida State in the ACC title matchup. game starts at 8pm EST and is on ABC. Unlikeliness aside, I will be rooting for the Dookies I just cannot shake that slimy press conference where a laughing and joking asshole of a public servant, DA Willie Meggs, gleefully announced he would not charge homeboy hero Jameis Winston with rape. Let me make one thing perfectly clear, and I can tell you this from experience: rapes cases are sent to juries every day, in every general felony jurisdiction court in the country, with exactly the “problems” Meggs claimed exist in the Winston case. Meggs and the Tallahassee Police had a victim who called rape from the very start and there was DNA evidence. That kind of case usually gets filed, irrespective of what the eventual outcome is. So DA Meggs, and the Tallahassee PD, which affirmatively tried to scare the victim out of cooperating and seeking prosecution, are gaint embarrassments to the law and their communities. What scum. As an aside, contrast the coddling of Jameis Winston with what happened to an ordinary male student at Auburn, who had his whole life sucked out from him by the university with no proper due process an confrontation ability. College athletics are run by a craven NCAA and controlled by boosterism and double standards for coddled athletes. Normal college life for regular students is increasingly a “zero tolerance” nightmare. Neither standard is appropriate, there must be a responsible middle ground.

And speaking of cowardly game over propriety scum, Ohio State is right back at it. Urban Meyer, Jim Sweatervest, whatever, same difference, just a different year. Marcus Hall sucker punched a Michigan player, and brutalized equipment and items in a fit of rage on the sideline before giving the double bird to the fans in the Big House last weekend. But, don’t fret, Mr. Morality, Urban Meyer (the moral compass behind Aaron Hernandez and the Pouncey brother’s college upbringing) has decided that simply “not starting” Hall, but letting him play the rest of the game, is really tough and more than enough punishment. Nothing has changed at Ohio State, and how Meyer ever got, much less maintains, his reputation as a “clean” coach is beyond baffling. As to the game, it is a pretty good match. OSU has the number two rushing attack in the country and Sparty has the number one rushing defense in the country. Power on power. Both have mediocre, at best, passing offenses, but Sparty has a far superior passing defense. The game is in the dome in Indianapolis, so weather not a factor. This game is too close to call, and is therefore a pick em, but GO SPARTY!

Last game is what, of course, really has me nervous. The Pac-12 Championship Game right here in Tempe, to be played on Frank Kush Field. The Sun Devils and The Tree. A grudge match between me and Fearless Roving Reporter Rosalind. The Sun Devils have had the feel of being the better team the second half of the season, after getting drubbed early in the year in Palo Alto. ASU has a better passing offense with Taylor Kelly, which is odd, because I think Kevin Hogan is actually a better QB. Both teams have solid run defenses, with a slight edge to Stanford, but the Devils have a lot better pass defense. Stanford has giant smart lugs on both lines, and they flat wear you out over the course of a game. It will be a real test to see if ASU can hang for an entire game (and not let the Tree take a huge lead early, like the first game). This and the B1G game are the two best games today, and they are both on at the same time. Shame.

Went long with the colleges, so only a quick look at the pros. Obviously, the biggest game is the SeaSquawks at Candlestick to visit the Niners. Seattle killed SF the first time around, but that game was in Seattle and the Niners have gotten their act together in last couple of weeks it appears. I think Seattle is the better team, and Russell Wilson the better QB and the game will be closer but the Squawks win. Other big time game is Panthers at the Saints. Carolina is the sexy pick lately, but I’ll take Drew Brees at home in the dome.

The Rams at Cardinals could actually be a great game. Pretty evenly matched teams, but the Cards are tough at home. Lastly, the Pack host the Dirty birds of Atlanta on the Frozen Tundra. No, this doesn’t look to be a great game, but if the Cheese can’t find a way to win, the season is done. If they can pull out a win by some means or another and get Aaron Rodgers back for the last three games, they might, possibly, have a chance. Looking grim though.

Music today is by the Glenn Miller Orchestra with a great big band jazzy version of Sleigh Ride. Very tasty.

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Emptywheel Twitterverse
bmaz RT @gregorydjohnsen: As much as everyone might dislike Congress at the moment it isn't some quaint little body that can be ignored when inc…
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bmaz RT @MiriamElder: Obama has 48 days to make his assault on ISIS legal, by AUMF expert @gregorydjohnsen http://t.co/fRnQritC8U
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bmaz @joanmccarter Yeesh.
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bmaz @joanmccarter Welp, this is not going very well. #BroncoBlues
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bmaz @shaneharris @columlynch No, not in the least. Seemed worth noting though.
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bmaz Does Power ever look in the mirror? RT @CBSWalsh: Strong words from @AmbassadorPower: Russia has to stop lying+has to stop fueling conflict
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bmaz @shaneharris @columlynch Well, that is pretty dubious.
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bmaz @kevinjonheller No kidding. Also, Sam Power chastising Russia for lying is pretty hilarious. Does she ever look in the mirror??
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bmaz RT @kevinjonheller: Pretty sure the US is the last country that should be criticising #Russia 4 violating #Ukraine’s sovereignty. Something…
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emptywheel Why are they teaching Johnny Football w/binders rather the Surface?
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emptywheel SEC Commissioner calling SEC punishment a wrist slap. http://t.co/bm0nFW4W6S
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emptywheel RT @eisingerj: #SEC chair Mary Jo White's commissioners are now in open revolt. Aguilar's amazing dissent on weak enforcement move: http://…
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