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America, Friday Night Lights and Ditka Is An Ass Trash

_91332625_091716-woodrowwilsonhighschoolfootballteam-ss14Colin Kaepernick started something when he sat, and then kneeled, for the Star Spangled Banner. Not sure he knew or fully intended the scope of reaction he generated, but generate it he did. It has led to much consternation and discussion across sports, media and the nation’s conscience. Not yet to the significance of the #BlackLivesMatter effort, but remarkably substantial.

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick said of his decision to kneel during a pregame performance of the national anthem.

The action, which Kaepernick said was intended to draw attention to the way law enforcement, and American society in general, treats minorities, has since been adopted by other athletes, professional and otherwise, around the country.

Critics, like Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, have upbraided Kaepernick and others for an action that they say is disrespectful and unpatriotic. Kaepernick recently shot back, saying “there’s a lot of racism in this country disguised as patriotism.”

I always had some doubts about Kaepernick as an upper tier QB in the NFL, but nobody who has listened to him talk about his basis for doing what he has, and read about his backstory, can doubt his sincerity and motivation in what he is doing as to seeking social commentary, action and remediation.

Oh, and before you get too wrapped up in your flag, patriotism and the holier than thou national anthem, take a gander at the third verse Francis Scott Key wrote, and that is now oh so conveniently omitted from the hallowed singing of it:

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion,
A home and a country, should leave us no more?
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps’ pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:

And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave,
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Yeah. Our precious national anthem, from the conveniently omitted third verse, to other descriptions of only “free men”, was really a racist ode to slavery and oppression. Go figure. How dare Colin Kaepernick, or any other citizen possibly object??

Now there is a distinction, often poorly understood, between free speech, and free speech that is protected by the Constitution. The former is what we pretend to ascribe to, the latter is that which the Constitution, mostly, protects from from impingement from government law and/or censorship. There is a difference. And, no, please, do not even think about netsplaining to me that there are limits because “fire in the theater”, lest I have to reach through the inner tubes and strangle the last ounce of life out of you.

Even the craven cop unions which have predictably displayed their belligerence and ignorance over national anthem protests are likely not government actors per se impinging on Kaepernick and others free speech. Unamerican jerks who have no clue what the founding principles (including life other than those in blue) stand for, sure, but that is it.

Before this morning, I might have ended there with a few more words about the dubious antics of jacked up militarized police unions. But then Hall of Fame coach and player Mike Ditka went off in full ignorant racist bigot mode:

Anybody who disrespects this country and the flag, if they don’t like our flag then get the hell out,” he said on Dallas’ 105.3 The Fan. “That’s what I think. So if you’re asking me, I have no respect for Colin Kaepernick.

Yikes. That is not the lovable, if cantankerous, “Da Bears” guy Ditka has made a living existing on. Not to be impolitic or anything, but Mike Ditka can go fuck himself. And, since we are all entitled to our opinion without having to leave the country of our birth and residence, there will be no call here for him to go elsewhere. But I’d sure rather have a thoughtful human like Colin Kaepernick, concerned about racism and fundamental rights, than a blowhard fat jackass like Mike Ditka if it came down to a choice for a neighbor.

And then I saw the story of Coach Preston Brown and the Woodrow Wilson Tigers of Camden, New Jersey. The Tigers don’t play on Sunday like the oh so important NFL, nor even on Saturday with the NCAA elite. They play on Friday nights (okay, sometimes Saturdays), and make it through the week to get there through grit, determination, character and the love of their coaches, led by Preston Brown.

As the head coach of the Woodrow Wilson High School Tigers, he took on the 24-hour-a-day job of being a mentor and a father figure to 68 young men and boys who are growing up in one of the poorest cities in the US. The 31-year-old spends his own money to feed them when they’re hungry. He gives them a place to stay when they have nowhere to go.

So why do so many strangers want him out of a job?

“You are a disgrace to your high school and a coward.”

“I will help them fire you … I hate you with all my heart.”

“Get the f*ck out of this country if you don’t like it you anti-American asshole.”

Brown – a married father of three – wakes up every morning to emails, Facebook messages and voicemails questioning his intellect, his humanity, his patriotism.
For the past two weeks, the Camden City School District has received dozens of calls from across the country, calling for Brown’s dismissal. A local radio personality denounced his “ignorance, shame and stupidity” on the air.

The sin that Brown committed: on 10 September, at the Woodrow Wilson Tigers’ first game of the season, Brown refused to stand for the playing of The Star-Spangled Banner. Instead, he took a knee in a silent protest.

With the exception of two players, the entire Tiger football team joined him. A local sports reporter captured the incident on video – a row of players kneeling in their black and orange uniforms – and posted it online. By evening, the story had gone viral.

Ain’t that America? It is not all little pink houses and white picket fences. The American ethos will not succeed from the top down. Decades of income inequality, land barons, corporate depravity and arrogant Trumpism have proven that. It will come, if at all, from the streets and ground up.

Read the full story. I implore you, read the thing. It is long, but oh so worth it. Preston Brown is a man, a teacher, a leader, and everything that is America. At least that we are supposed to cherish and that we deign to claim with the drumbeat of “American exceptionalism”.

Colin Kaepernick and Preston Brown clearly don’t know each other in the least. but while Kaepernick started a valuable conversation, let the story of the Preston Browns, and the students he is shaping, be the bigger story. And that is the thing, a single man like Brown or Kaepernick can start a fire, even tend it somewhat, but it is up to those it touches to absorb the heat and take it further. So, for all the focus on Preston Brown, let the admiration also be for the students and players at Woodrow Wilson High who are buying into the message and taking it to heart. This is how a difference is made, both small and large.

Okay, moving along to the games, there are a few good choices in the NCAA. The best of the lot is probably Wisconsin at Michigan State. Sparty, despite their 2-0 record looks off this year, and the Badgers look on. But the game is in East Lansing, so I rate it a pick em. Georgia is at Ole Miss, and I will take the home team in an upset. Jim White’s Gators are at Neyland stadium to take on the Vols. Shaky on this, but will take another home team for the upset. And then there is the Stanford Trees at UCLA. There is an old joke that goes “what happens when the smog lifts in Southern California”? The answer is “UCLA”. Okay, lame joke, can’t pick against a McCaffrey, but this has trouble for the Trees written on it.

In the pros, Jacoby Brissett and the unstoppable Patriots have already dispatched Houstonians. But Brissett injured his thumb, and I am calling for the signing of Tebow to play and win the next game. That would truly cement the Belichick legacy. Broncos at Bengals and Lions at Green Bay will be critical games. The Cheese has looked Swiss with holes early on this season. The Kittehs look dangerous. We shall see. The really exciting matchup is the Steelers versus the Eagles in Philly. Carson Wentz and the revamped Iggles under Doug Peterson have been great so far. But Big Ben, Antonio Brown and D’Angelo Williams are rolling. This should be a great game, but have to take the Stillers. Lastly, Honey Badger and Pat Peterson are coming for these two clowns.

Music this week by John Mellancamp. That is it. Go, set forth, and make America great again (by voting against Trump).

Bmaz is a rather large saguaro cactus in the Southwestern Sonoran desert. A lover of the Constitution, law, family, sports, food and spirits. As you might imagine, a bit prickly occasionally. Bmaz has attended all three state universities in Arizona, with both undergraduate and graduate degrees from Arizona State University, and with significant post-graduate work (in physics and organic chemistry, go figure) at both the University of Colorado in Boulder and the University of Arizona. Married, with both a lovely child and a giant Sasquatch dog. Bmaz has been a participant on the internet since the early 2000’s, including active participation in the precursor to Emptywheel, The Next Hurrah. Formally joined the Emptywheel blog as an original contributing member at its founding in 2007. Bmaz grew up around politics, education, sports and, most significantly, cars; notably around Formula One racing and Concours de Elegance automobile restoration and showing. Currently lives in the Cactus Patch with his lovely wife and beast of a dog, and practices both criminal and civil trial law.
emptywheel

I’m On The Lamb, But I Ain’t No Sheep Trash Talk

Hey, what do ya want for nuthin, rubber biscuit? We did Blue Brothers last week. That was awfully right and proper. And this week we are gonna go back to some deeper roots. Keeping in the blue theme, some early Blue Oyster Cult with I’m On The Lamb, But I Ain’t No Sheep.

First up, because I’m up and it is what’s on right now, is the Singapore Grand Prix. Qualifying is just getting underway on CNBC, and it is spectacular. Singapore is the only true night race in the circus tour, and Marina Bay Circuit is amazing all lit up. It is also a very competitive circuit for drivers, which at this point means Red Bull and Ferrari stand a fighting chance. In fact, Sebastian Vettel won the race in 2015 in the Ferrari, his fourth overall win at Marina Bay. Fernando Alonso is also a multiple time winner, though is unlikely this year as the McLaren Honda is still off the pace from the front of the grid. Coverage of the actual race is on NBCSN and starts off at 7:30 am EST Sunday. If you like F1 at all, the Singapore is must see TV. Oops, Vettel had a small shunt, and isn’t going to make it out of Q1, thus will be starting well back on the grid tomorrow. That hurts.

The Cubs win, The Cubs win! Their division anyway, and did so quite early. There, that is the extent of Emptywheel’s baseball coverage.

On to the gridiron, the Jets actually looked pretty good in thrashing the Bills Thursday night. But, by the same token, the Bills just don’t look very good, so it is hard to get a real bead on the Jets, but they may have a very good team if Fitzpatrick keeps playing like that. The Bengals at Stillers should be excellent. Cinci think this is their year, but no way Big Ben does. Expect the same old result, i.e. a Pittsburg win. Cowboys at Skins is interesting because I am fascinated by Dak Prescott. Is he for real? Other than that though, two middling teams at best, so blah. Same question applies to Carson Wentz as the Iggles take on the Bears. Marcy’s Kittehs though may be for real, and they host the still rebuilding Titans in Detroit to try for the key 2-0 start to the season. I say Detroit gets it. Kansas City goes down to Houston to play for all the barbecue. These are both pretty solid teams, and the one with the best QB play will emerge 2-0. Can Brock Osweiller get it done? This rates a pick em in my sports book, we shall see! Pack is in Minnesota to open the Vikings’ fancy dan new stadium.

On the college front, unlike last week, there are several top match ups. Alabama is down at Ole Miss. Saban and the Tide have lost two in a row to the Rebs and Chad Kelly will be trying to make it three. Kelly by the way, is the nephew of Hall of Famer Jim Kelly. Florida State visits Louisville, so obviously I will be rooting for the Cardinals. Ohio State is at Oklahoma. Somehow the Sooners are still ranked number 14, but don’t think that will be the case after today. Colorado is horrible as usual, and will be an easy meal for the Michigan Bradys. The other top 20 matchup to watch is the Domers hosting the Spartys from Michigan State. It is in South Bend, so the Irish have a chance. Frankly, neither team, despite their reputations, has looked very good yet, so this is a pick em.

Well, that is it for this week. As a parting shot, if you want a few laughs, I live tweeted closing arguments in an….um….amazing trial earlier this week. The case involved a yoga instructor who got an amazing boob job, and then a little tipsy at a seriously wild bar mitzvah party at her boss’s house. Here is a good backgrounder from the Washington Post.

And here is my Storified live trial coverage, and I think you will find it much superior to the stale WaPo work! This really was a pretty hilarious trial, even though it was quite serious for Lindsey Radomski. She is very nice, and I am glad she was acquitted, that was the right verdict.

Bmaz is a rather large saguaro cactus in the Southwestern Sonoran desert. A lover of the Constitution, law, family, sports, food and spirits. As you might imagine, a bit prickly occasionally. Bmaz has attended all three state universities in Arizona, with both undergraduate and graduate degrees from Arizona State University, and with significant post-graduate work (in physics and organic chemistry, go figure) at both the University of Colorado in Boulder and the University of Arizona. Married, with both a lovely child and a giant Sasquatch dog. Bmaz has been a participant on the internet since the early 2000’s, including active participation in the precursor to Emptywheel, The Next Hurrah. Formally joined the Emptywheel blog as an original contributing member at its founding in 2007. Bmaz grew up around politics, education, sports and, most significantly, cars; notably around Formula One racing and Concours de Elegance automobile restoration and showing. Currently lives in the Cactus Patch with his lovely wife and beast of a dog, and practices both criminal and civil trial law.
emptywheel

Are You Ready For Some Football? Week One Trash Talk

We may have started Trash Talk last weekend because of college football, but we start it in earnest this weekend because not only are the student athletes back in action, the NFL regular season is officially underway.

Now, before getting to the games, let’s talk about the so called “student athletes” for a moment. The Charleston Southern Buccaneers are a small school playing football in the lower NCAA Division 1 tier. Today they play a non-conference game against nationally third ranked Florida State in Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee. On television. Maybe the biggest game setting the players at tiny Charleston Southern will ever experience. Except not all of the student athletes will get that chance, because the NCAA, as led by Mark Emmert, are usurious assholes, and the administrators at Charleston Southern are worthless idiots. 14 of the Buccaneers are suspended.

You see, mistakes were made. From USA Today:

Fourteen football players for Charleston Southern have been suspended for the school’s game against No. 3 Florida State on Saturday.

The punishments announced by the school Friday are part of NCAA violations involving 32 players in the program related to book purchases. Each player is serving a one-game suspension with the school staggering the penalties across multiple games. During Charleston Southern’s first two games,16 players serve their punishment. Two additional players will serve their suspensions at a later date.

What heinous crimes did these pirates engage in? Rape? Murder? No, those are crimes that Florida State Seminoles routinely engage in and get away with. Charleston Southern players don’t get that kind of coddling. These Bucs – gasp! – bought some school supplies at the campus bookstore. Buccaneer player Ben Robinson explained it thusly:

“So basically about 30+ players on my team including me have been suspended for using book money to buy other things in the book store like pencils, binders, and electronics, out of our school bookstore. We would have left over book money and the workers in the bookstore advised us to spend the money because we would not get it back, so we did. Now the school and NCAA are saying that is against the rules. So we all have to pay a fine and sit out a game. About 30mins before practice started I was given the option of sitting out this week against FSU or next game against a conference opponent.”

Thats right, the players used scholarship money placed on their accounts at the school bookstore to buy pencils, binders, lab books and other items necessary to attend class. BECAUSE THE COLLEGE EMPLOYEES TOLD THEM TO. And now they are being punished for it. Not the college administrators that failed to guide them, the players that did what they were told.

This is shameful and unjust. The fact that a pompous jackass like Mark Emmert and the worthies at the NCAA allow this to occur is reprehensible. The further fact that the administration at Charleston Southern appears to have blithely accepted this bogus punishment without fighting tooth and nail, loudly and publicly, for their students is despicable. Nobody would even know about this atrocity if Robinson and a couple of other players not have discussed it on their social media. The Charleston Southern Buccaneer players have now been punished as much, if not more, for buying necessary school supplies than Jameis Winston was for raping Erica Kinsman. What a pathetic joke Emmert and the NCAA are.

As for the actual games this week in the NCAA, the schedule is a little thin. Last week had ridiculously great matchups and exciting games, given that it was just the first week. Wow, that was fun. Not this week though. There are no ranked matchups, and, really, few even interesting games. Penn State at Pitt may be okay. The two best bets are probably out west, where high scoring Texas Tech comes here to Tempe to face the Sun Devils. The game may be in Sun Devil Stadium, but I am not sure ASU can keep up with the Red Raiders in a shootout. And Todd Graham’s gambling blitz all the time defense is pathetic. Devils are 2.5 point favorites, but I wouldn’t take that bet, I think Klif Kinsgbury’s boys leave with at least a double digit win. BYU at Utah could also be interesting.

But the pros are another thing. The NFL is already rocking and rolling with Thursday night’s barnburner at Mile High between Denver and Carolina. Speaking of sick, it is hard to fathom how Goodell and the NFL can claim to be so concerned with player concussions and let Cam Newton blithely continue playing dazed and confused as he was Thursday. So, the money grubbing craven nature of the NFL is unchanged.

Probably the best game of week one is the Patriots here in Phoenix Sunday night to face Larry Fitzgerald, Pat Peterson, Honey Badger and the Cards. Jimmy Garoppolo will be at the controls instead of Brady, who was of course screwed by the petty lying ass dishonest Roger Goodell because the duplicitous morons at the NFL can’t understand the laws of physics. But not just Brady will be be missing against the Cards, so too will Gronk and starting offensive tackles Nate Solder and Jonathan Cooper, who are all also out. As in didn’t even make the trip with the team. So, this means a Cards win at home, right? Nope, not going there, the Pats still have Bill Bel you know. Game is NBC’s Sunday Night entry, and should be a great one.

The Steelers at Skins on Monday Night should be excellent. I may be in the minority, but I don’t think Kirk Cousins and Washington were a fluke last year. They are finally letting professional football people run the ship instead of Dan Snyder, and it is paying off. Big Ben and the Steelers are, as always, formidable though. I rate it as a pick em. Giants at Cowboys also seems kind of interesting, if for no other reason than to see how Dak Prescott does in a real game. Kid seriously tore up the preseason, and Trent Dilfer is all over ESPN saying Tony Romo will never get his job back. I’m not buying that in the least, Jerry Jones loves Romo, but am excited to see Prescott.

The Raiders at Saints might also be of interest. Saints are always tough at home in the dome, but it just feels like the Rayduhs are a better team now. Packers at Jags should also be good. Jacksonville is a team on the rise, but Aaron Rodgers is getting Jordy Nelson back, so I’ll take the Pack.

In a bit of hilarious news you can use, things got a little dicey last night on Long Island. There was a sushi chef fight! From the New York Post:

A knife fight broke out at a Long Island sushi restaurant Friday, with one angry chef nearly turning a rival into human sashimi.

The violence at the Ichiban Sushi restaurant on Montauk Highway in Oakdale left one of the kitchen combatants so sliced up, he had to be rushed to Southside Hospital. His injuries were not life threatening, police said.

Police busted Kong Chen for assault. It was not clear what caused tempuras to flare.

Well, that’s it for this week. Crack open a few cool ones and enjoy the games. This week’s music is via Aretha and Blue Lou Marini from the Blues Brothers.

Update: emptywheel here, sneaking in to show off what Tommy was doing while his team was beating the Cardinals.

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Bmaz is a rather large saguaro cactus in the Southwestern Sonoran desert. A lover of the Constitution, law, family, sports, food and spirits. As you might imagine, a bit prickly occasionally. Bmaz has attended all three state universities in Arizona, with both undergraduate and graduate degrees from Arizona State University, and with significant post-graduate work (in physics and organic chemistry, go figure) at both the University of Colorado in Boulder and the University of Arizona. Married, with both a lovely child and a giant Sasquatch dog. Bmaz has been a participant on the internet since the early 2000’s, including active participation in the precursor to Emptywheel, The Next Hurrah. Formally joined the Emptywheel blog as an original contributing member at its founding in 2007. Bmaz grew up around politics, education, sports and, most significantly, cars; notably around Formula One racing and Concours de Elegance automobile restoration and showing. Currently lives in the Cactus Patch with his lovely wife and beast of a dog, and practices both criminal and civil trial law.

The Return of Football Trash Talk: Brady Versus the Ess Eee See

Oh, hai there, I am back from a very busy day at the law biz and then a long night at friend’s 60th birthday party. Complete with mini Michael Buble knockoff. Dude had everything but the voice recorded, and then sang the vocals. Weird. Anyway, football is back, even if only college this weekend. But there are some important goings on in the NFL too.

I like the move by the Vikes to get Bradford. The first rounder is a large price, but Bradford is a proven NFL starting QB, who occasionally looks very good. The AZ Cards proved three years ago what happens to Super Bowl level teams when they lose their starting QB, and it wasn’t pretty. The Vikes have a pretty good O-Line and Adrian Peterson. If Bradford stays healthy for the year, this could be a brilliant move. And if Bridgewater’s knee is as bad as feared, he may be dicey for next year too.

Man, the Houston Cougs destroyed the Sooners. I guess it is not that big of a shock, especially as the game was in Houston. But still. Houston doesn’t have the most difficult schedule, they may be in the mix late into the year. And for Bob Stoops,another one of those brain farts he has come to be known for.

UCLA has played a miserable game against Texas A&M. The Bruins have been a flaky team for a long time, maybe still are. LSU and Wisconsin on the hallowed Frozen Tundra is a pretty good game through one half, with the Badgers up 6-0; second half should be great. Alabama should dispatch the chain gang the USC Trojans are fielding this year pretty easily, as should Florida with UMass (this would be a better basketball game). Locally the Arizona Wildcats are hosting BYU in Phoenix at Cardinals Stadium. Year five is make or break for Rich Rod, and BYU is never an easy out. We shall see on that. Notre Dame/Texas and Ole Miss/FSU are featured Sunday and Monday games respectively; I’ll go with the favorites in both.

Some interesting cut downs in the NFL today. Kap stays on the Niners (but they did cut Jim Whit’s favorite, Jeff Driskel), but Sanchez was released by the Broncs and is already in Dallas. Sanchez is better than the current backup for rookie Dak Prescott, but the Cowboys better hope the rook is as good as he looked in preseason. But regular season NFL defenses are another thing, and the Cowboys may be in serious trouble. The Packers cut Josh Sitton, a very good O-Lineman and the Ravens Justin Forsett, very recently a 1,300 yard starting RB. Both are a little stunning.

The Jets are keeping four QB’s on their roster, and it is not clear that any of them are really winners. But that’s the Jets Jets Jets. And then there is the Pats, who have only four receivers on their 53 man roster, and two of them Amendola and rookie Malcomb Mitchell have injury issues as the season starts. So, it is not real clear who exactly Jimmy G will be throwing to while Brady whiles away his time cheering for the Wolverweenies. Of course, having a couple of tight ends like Gronk and Bennett sure helps things. And undrafted free agent DJ Foster, from ASU, who looked good in pre-season, is very adept at the slot from his college days and has a little experience outside to boot.

So, as I update this post, UCLA and the Aggies are in overtime and Phred’s Wisconsin Badgers have completed the upset of LSU. Tough start to the new season for Les Miles and the Ess Eee See. Let’s hope there is some well deserved hurt put on the Bama Tide later on tonight. Well, that is it. Thanks to Marcy for getting up a stub post while I was cavorting about. It remains in its entirety below. Music is a very early live take by the Stones of Mercy Mercy. It is very tasty.

The real (college) football has already started and yet Mr. bmaz says he has better things to do than post a Trash Talk.

So I’ve decided that since 1) Brady has donned a classic 90s hair doo so he looks like he did when he and I were both Wolvereenies 2) he’s headed back to his our stomping grounds to honorarily lead the team while he’s prohibited to even show up in Foxboro 3) Jim has already been yapping his mouth about the Ess Eee See, I thought I’d make this the first of a series of four tributes to Tommy, until Mr. bmaz gets around to posting something more substantive.

In another very important development, the FBI has just revealed that Hillary will have to stay away from the White House during her first four months as President because she was exonerated on the underlying crime but destroyed a few phones.

Hillary Phones

This may or may not mean Tommy Brady is bound to become President sometime later in life.

 

Bmaz is a rather large saguaro cactus in the Southwestern Sonoran desert. A lover of the Constitution, law, family, sports, food and spirits. As you might imagine, a bit prickly occasionally. Bmaz has attended all three state universities in Arizona, with both undergraduate and graduate degrees from Arizona State University, and with significant post-graduate work (in physics and organic chemistry, go figure) at both the University of Colorado in Boulder and the University of Arizona. Married, with both a lovely child and a giant Sasquatch dog. Bmaz has been a participant on the internet since the early 2000’s, including active participation in the precursor to Emptywheel, The Next Hurrah. Formally joined the Emptywheel blog as an original contributing member at its founding in 2007. Bmaz grew up around politics, education, sports and, most significantly, cars; notably around Formula One racing and Concours de Elegance automobile restoration and showing. Currently lives in the Cactus Patch with his lovely wife and beast of a dog, and practices both criminal and civil trial law.

Blame It On The Bossa Nova: Lochte and Brazilian Police

The travails of the Ryan Lochte gang of American Swimmers has been playing out for a full week now. The result has been almost universal scorn, if not hatred, for Lochte et. al, and almost complete credulous acceptance of the somewhat dubious, if extremely strident, pushback and claims of the Brazilian Police.

Frankly, neither side’s story ever sat quite right with me. But Lochte’s story, among other exaggeration/fabrication, always, from the start, indicated that the swimmers were pulled from a taxi at gun point, by people in uniform with badges, who pointed guns at them, and took money from them.

And then came the dog and pony show press conference staged by the Brazilian Police for a worldwide audience during mid-day on Thursday August 18. It was a bizarre and rambling presser, that was nearly comical in its staging during its opening portion. It did, however, make clear that there was a lot more to the full story than Lochte had told, and that some of his story was flat wrong. But, if you listened carefully, as I am wont to do with cops making self serving statements, it, along with previous statements made by the police, also pretty much confirmed the swimmers were pulled from a taxi at gun point, by people in uniform with badges, who pointed guns at them, and took money from them.

So, then the question was what “crimes” and/or “vandalism” had Lochte and the swimmers really caused? There was an early news crew, I think NBC, that went to the site and did not really find all that much damage. As the statements by both Lochte and the other swimmers, notably Gunnar Bentz, came out, it was clear that there was a real question as to what, if any, real damage was done. And a question of who engaged in exactly what criminal behavior at that gas station in the early morning of August 15.

Well, now it is starting to come out. And, as expected, the Brazilians have ginned up every bit as much “over-exaggeration” as Ryan Lochte. From today’s USA Today Investigative Team of Taylor Barnes and David Meeks, which confirms some of the work previously seen from (again, I believe) NBC. It is a pretty thorough and convincing report:

But a narrative of the night’s events – constructed by USA TODAY Sports from witness statements, official investigations, surveillance videos and media reports – supports Lochte’s later account in which he said that he thought the swimmers were being robbed when they were approached at a gas station by armed men who flashed badges, pointed guns at them and demanded money.

A Brazilian judge says police might have been hasty in determining that the security guards who drew guns on the swimmers and demanded money did not commit a robbery. A lawyer who has practiced in Brazil for 25 years says she does not think the actions of Lochte and teammate Jimmy Feigen constitute the filing of a false police report as defined under Brazilian law.

An extensive review of surveillance footage by a USA TODAY Sports videographer who also visited the gas station supports swimmer Gunnar Bentz’s claim that he did not see anyone vandalize the restroom, an allegation that in particular heightened media portrayals of the four as obnoxious Americans behaving recklessly in a foreign country. Meanwhile, Rio authorities have declined to identify the guards or offer any details beyond confirming they are members of law enforcement who were working a private security detail.

Now, we can’t compare that with everything the Brazilian police have, because they have been hiding a lot of their material and, apparently, misrepresenting substantial portions of it from the start. But everything within the USA Today piece corresponds with the various videos obtained by the various media outlets, whether Brazilian, American or international, and corresponds with Gunnar Bentz’s statement, which nobody, even, quite notably the Brazilians, including police, seems to contest in the least.

In short, the overall picture of the incident seems to be bigger and more complex, with some outrageous conduct by not just the American swimmers, but also, and substantially, the Brazilians. Oh, and about that “bathroom trashing damage”? That appears to be vapor too:

At a news conference Thursday, Rio police chief Fernando Veloso characterized the athletes’ actions at the gas station as vandalism. He said they also had broken a soap dispenser and mirror inside the restroom. Reports quickly grew that the Americans had trashed the restroom.

A USA TODAY Sports videographer who visited the bathroom Thursday found no damage to soap dispensers and mirrors and said none of those items appeared to be new. Some media accounts suggested the men had broken down a door, which USA TODAY Sports also did not observe.

Bentz said in his statement that he believes there are surveillance videos shot from different angles that have not been released. He also said he did not see anyone damage the bathroom or even enter it.

Oh, and that much ballyhooed “sign” supposedly damaged? Reports are that it was a minor crack in a cheap plastic cover and that the swimmers were made to pay out somewhere between $100 to $400 to cover what appears to be mostly ginned up nonsense. Additionally, irrespective of what the “security guards” extracted from the swimmers at gunpoint, swimmer James Feigan was made to pay the amount of $11,000 as a “donation” simply in order to leave the country and return home. That is not a “donation”, that is a flat out outrageous extortion demand and payment extracted by Brazilian authorities.

I wonder what bloviating sports columnists so full of righteous outrage and apologia will say now? Brazil is to be commended for putting on a great Olympics, and doing so under difficult constraints and conditions. But for the green pools (that affected nothing in the long run), they really pulled off a fantastic, admirable and beautiful show. Even the rain did not phase or slow down the glorious closing ceremonies Sunday night.

But one point on which Brazilian authorities “over-exaggerated”, overreacted, and failed to acquit themselves well on was in relation to the randy American swimmers. According to the USA Today report, even judges in Rio are wondering if they were hoodwinked in the rush of outrage by the authorities.

The distress of the Brazilian authorities over the emerging story from the swimmers is perfectly understandable given the dynamics. But, if an international scandal was created by this incident, it appears as if it is every bit as much the fault of the Brazilan police and authorities as it is the American swimmers.

It took two for this little tango.

Bmaz is a rather large saguaro cactus in the Southwestern Sonoran desert. A lover of the Constitution, law, family, sports, food and spirits. As you might imagine, a bit prickly occasionally. Bmaz has attended all three state universities in Arizona, with both undergraduate and graduate degrees from Arizona State University, and with significant post-graduate work (in physics and organic chemistry, go figure) at both the University of Colorado in Boulder and the University of Arizona. Married, with both a lovely child and a giant Sasquatch dog. Bmaz has been a participant on the internet since the early 2000’s, including active participation in the precursor to Emptywheel, The Next Hurrah. Formally joined the Emptywheel blog as an original contributing member at its founding in 2007. Bmaz grew up around politics, education, sports and, most significantly, cars; notably around Formula One racing and Concours de Elegance automobile restoration and showing. Currently lives in the Cactus Patch with his lovely wife and beast of a dog, and practices both criminal and civil trial law.

Training Camp Trash Talk

Welp, the NFL and Olympics have both descended on us. There is not much up in F1, the same usual boring Mercedes dominance with intra-team squabbling and petulance. Yawn. There is some really decent racing behind the Mercs, but the crappy coverage afforded in the States by the craptastic NBCSN shows little of it. So, unless you have a foreign feed, or are actually there, it is yet another worthless and boring season. F1 needs to get its act together fast, or become increasingly irrelevant.

On to the good stuff. training camp and the “pre-season” are here in the NFL. As you know by now, Tom Brady and the NFLPA got hammered and reversed by a split panel of the 2nd Circuit. The dissent, by the Chief Judge for the Circuit, Katzmann, was spot on, but he was outvoted by a majority who truly did not seem to be particularly prepared or knowledgeable in the nuances of the lower proceedings record. Either that, or just did not care and were determined to uphold the iron vise grip of arbitration no matter what.

Be that as it may, the majority prevailed, and Judge Katzmann did not. That’s the way the cookie crumbles sometimes. Everything you could possibly want to know is covered and/or linked in our friend Dan Werly’s superb blog, The White Bronco, including the pleadings and opinions, most importantly the 2nd Circuit majority and Katzmann dissent.

To put a coda on the affaire du Deflategate, this week the 8th Circuit, finally after months of waiting, issued its decision in the Adrian Peterson case. It tracked the anti-labor nimrodery of the 2nd Circuit militating against any semblance of Due Process if there is a collective bargaining agreement. A sad and terrible end, and an unfortunate one not only for the labor in the NFL, but all labor subject to CBA’s.

With Deflategate finally receding in the rear view mirror, NFL training camps have opened and the pre-season games are approaching. The first, as always, is the Hall of Fame game from Canton Ohio. That will be Sunday night between the Packers and Colts. But there will be little Aaron Rodgers, and little Luck, so view at your own peril. But the Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony is tonight, starting at 7 pm EST on ESPN. The draw is, of course, The ‘Ole Gunslinger, Brett Favre, who will be the last inductee tonight. Here are some interesting notes on Favre from Andrew Brandt, who worked with him in Green Bay. If every player in the NFL played with the same pure joy as Favre, it would be a better place.

In other news and notes, the Bolts can’t even sign their first round draft choice (or maybe they should have steered away from Ohio State lunkheads that have been under Urban Meyer’s dubious tutelage) in spite of the fact the rookie caps and specs are supposed to avoid this type of situation. It really looks ugly, and the Bolts will have to either trade Joey Bosa or risk having him sit the year out and turn into draft vapor. What a mess.

In local news, the Cardinals have extended both Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald for an extra year. Both are no longer spring chickens, but incredibly productive and absolutely critical for the Cards chances of staying near the top of the league. Seems like a good move as to both, but let’s wait to see what the toll of another full NFL season brings. Also recently signed up by the Cards long term is Tyrann “Honeybadger” Mathieu. He is an injury risk, but such an awesome player and even better person in the community here, it had to be done. Let’s hope the Honeybadger stays healthy for a while.

There are news and notes all through the league. Please, bring them from your team and area. I know Scribe is dying to drop some Steelers info on us, and maybe JoeSixPac from the Niners (who still look dicey to me!). Maybe Marcy will even bring some updates on the Kittehs and Pats!

Rock on folks. This weekend’s music, Seasons of Wither, is an older classic cut from Aerosmith off of their second album, Get Your Wings. This is a live and unplugged version they did later, just because live music is the best music. It goes out, along with best thoughts and wishes, to our good friend Jason Leopold.

Bmaz is a rather large saguaro cactus in the Southwestern Sonoran desert. A lover of the Constitution, law, family, sports, food and spirits. As you might imagine, a bit prickly occasionally. Bmaz has attended all three state universities in Arizona, with both undergraduate and graduate degrees from Arizona State University, and with significant post-graduate work (in physics and organic chemistry, go figure) at both the University of Colorado in Boulder and the University of Arizona. Married, with both a lovely child and a giant Sasquatch dog. Bmaz has been a participant on the internet since the early 2000’s, including active participation in the precursor to Emptywheel, The Next Hurrah. Formally joined the Emptywheel blog as an original contributing member at its founding in 2007. Bmaz grew up around politics, education, sports and, most significantly, cars; notably around Formula One racing and Concours de Elegance automobile restoration and showing. Currently lives in the Cactus Patch with his lovely wife and beast of a dog, and practices both criminal and civil trial law.

Tom Brady Taps Out of Deflategate and Other Trash Talk

Just posted a few minutes ago on Tom Brady’s Facebook page:

Screen Shot 2016-07-15 at 10.46.18 AM

Frankly, I am stunned. From the jump, Brady seemed to be a guy that would fight to the bitter end because he truly believed he was innocent and that the conduct of Roger Goodell and the NFL was dishonest and oppressive. And, frankly, every bit of research and evaluation of the case indicates that is exactly the case. My early analysis, which I still believe holds up nearly 100% is here. I touched significantly on why the Deflategate litigation was critical not just to Tom Brady, but to all organized labor operating ind a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). That is quite so, and the NFLPA has already indicated they may – may – continue on as a union to litigate this issue. We shall see, though they will be weakened without Brady being involved.

Having said that I am completely stunned Brady has tapped out, there are cognizable reasons for it. His best shot of success was with his petition for wn banc review in the 2nd Circuit, but that was denied Wednesday morning. To go further, Brady would have to file a petition for certiorari with the Supreme Court and seek to obtain a stay of his suspension while the cert petition was processed. That would have been a tall order. The first stop would have beed the 2nd Circuit itself, which just dumped him, and then with Ruth Bader Ginsburg as the assigned Circuit Justice for the 2nd Circuit, and lastly to the full SCOTUS (which is not even in session currently).

I have a couple of sports law attorney friends I have found along the Deflategate way that thought Brady had a shot at a stay, maybe even odds as good as 50%. I thought that was probably entirely too optimistic, and not we will never know as the NFLPA does not have any need for a stay without Brady’s suspension hanging in the mix.

Just spitballing here, but I am going to guess that Bill Belichick, Bob Kraft and the interests of the team were the deciding factor for Brady, and not the thin odds. You see, even if Brady had been granted a stay, unless the Supremes granted cert, there is a real chance that the four game suspension rears its ugly head again at the end of the season and/or even the playoffs. If the Patriots are going to lose Tom Brady, it is far better that it be in the first four games, most of which they may have a decent shot at winning even without Brady, than have it be at the end of the year or playoffs. Nathaniel Grow at Sports Law Blog has a good discussion of the timing issue it Brady had actually obtained a a stay. So, dollar to donuts, this was not just the deciding factor, but the only real factor. Money was never an issue.

Just so you know, the Pats open here in Arizona against the Cardinals on Sunday Night Football on NBC, and then are at home in Foxborough against the the Dolphins, Texans and Bills. They can win some, if not most, of those games with Jimmy G at QB.

So, there you go, Deflategate comes to an ignominious end, at least as to Tom Brady. But there are other sports issues in the air, not to mention a boatload of politics and other matters. So feel free to use this thread as an open forum.

Bmaz is a rather large saguaro cactus in the Southwestern Sonoran desert. A lover of the Constitution, law, family, sports, food and spirits. As you might imagine, a bit prickly occasionally. Bmaz has attended all three state universities in Arizona, with both undergraduate and graduate degrees from Arizona State University, and with significant post-graduate work (in physics and organic chemistry, go figure) at both the University of Colorado in Boulder and the University of Arizona. Married, with both a lovely child and a giant Sasquatch dog. Bmaz has been a participant on the internet since the early 2000’s, including active participation in the precursor to Emptywheel, The Next Hurrah. Formally joined the Emptywheel blog as an original contributing member at its founding in 2007. Bmaz grew up around politics, education, sports and, most significantly, cars; notably around Formula One racing and Concours de Elegance automobile restoration and showing. Currently lives in the Cactus Patch with his lovely wife and beast of a dog, and practices both criminal and civil trial law.

Super Bowl 50 Trash Talk

It’s the most wonderful time of the year again…..Super Bowl time! Yet, for all the incessant hype, this one feels a little flat to me. Maybe it is because I so wanted the Cardinals to be there. Maybe it is because, just as much, if not more, I wanted the Patriots there so as to drive bilious jackass Roger Goodell crazy. Maybe it is because the thought of cobbled together halftime show of Coldplay, Bruno Mars and Beyonce makes me want to vomit. What, was Nickelback not available? Maybe it is the fact that ESPN seems to have cloned the unctuous Stephen A. Smith so that he can annoyingly be on their air 24 hours a day for the last two weeks. Maybe it is because I have heard horror stories from pretty much every person I know in the Bay area about how interrupted and on security lockdown status the entire area has been. Maybe it is because everybody thinks it will be a blowout, like Super Bowls of yore, instead of a great game like last year.

But all griping aside, the game is nigh. Two truly superb defenses. For all the talk of Denver’s kick ass defense, Carolina strikes me as being nearly as good, with excellent strength in all three levels. Allen and Johnson upfront, Kuechly and Davis in the middle and Josh Norman on the back end. That is pretty damn formidable. The rest of the Carolina DB’s are decent, but not great, and if Manning is going to make hay, that’s where it will probably be. So, while the Broncos may have a slight edge on defense, it really is slight.

Which brings us to the offense. The conventional wisdom is that Carolina is overwhelmingly superior, and that is were the game is lost. Frankly, that is probably right. The Donks won, but certainly didn’t light the field up against the Pats, who have a good defense, but nothing like the Panthers have. But Manning has two more weeks of relative rest and practice. Several people watching him are saying he looks as good or better than at any time this year. That is good news as he was mostly horrible this year. I think Manning has a little magic left in him and will play well. Will it be enough? I wouldn’t bet on it. The current line is Panthers by 5.5. Both teams have all players as probable or better, so come in healthy and ready to go.

What else is up in random sports musings? Johnny Football is officially Johnny Fucked now. When even your father is saying you are on a death track, it’s bad. The Dallas cops took the report from his rather bizarre reported incident and then promptly announced the investigation was closed and there would be no charges. I am not privy to how it came to be closed without charges with a report containing such bad facts. But, generally, my experience is it means that the alleged victim was seen as not particularly credible AND indicated she didn’t want to cooperate in prosecution. The facts reported would appear to indicate both misdemeanor and felony conduct if believed. Cops and prosecutors still charge that if they truly believe the complainant, whether she wants to cooperate or not. So, my bet is there is a credibility issue. But, suddenly yesterday, Crowley got a restraining order and told the cops she wants to cooperate, and the “investigation” is reopened. We shall see what comes of it all, but the whole thing is pretty sad. Looks to me like Manziel and his ex-girlfriend Crowley both need some serious help. Let’s hope they get it.

Noticed how so many ads surrounding the Super Bowl refer to “The Big Game” instead of “The Super Bowl”? I have, and it turns out there is a reason. Could it be that Goodell and the NFL are sociopathic jackass asshole bullies? Of course. From BostInno:

The obvious reason for this is that the NFL fiercely protects its brand, allowing only a handful of “official sponsors” who pay exorbitant fees to use the term Super Bowl. Everyone else risks trademark infringement if they say Super Bowl. This is why most choose to say “big game” instead.

“But the NFL is a bully and has been known to send cease & desist letters to advertisers of all sizes using “Super Bowl,” and when you get a C&D from someone known to be litigious and to have really deep pockets, you usually cease and desist.”

Is there really legal precedent clearly on the NFL’s side here? No, of course not. The better argument is that it is an ubiquitous phrase and incidental use of it is “fair use”. But no one wants to take on supremely litigious assholes like Goodell and the NFL, so they all cower. By the way, a Stanford study found that Super Bowl ads are an ineffective waste of money in most instances.

In more Goodell and NFL assholery, at this big Super Bowl press conference, Goodell got asked about the data and results from the league’s year long ball inflation testing. Well, that was just another #Deflategate lie from Goodell and the league, like everything else they put forward against Brady and the Pats in #Deflategate was a lie. When the excellent Tom Curran of CSN asked Goodell about the league data, boy did he get a load of horseshit from Goodell:

Aren’t you glad we got to the bottom of that PSI thing with White Shoes Goodell?

Brutal.

His 309-word answer when I asked at his Friday press conference what constitutes a ball pressure violation and whether any balls measured under 12.5 PSI in 2015 was a study in deflection.

He didn’t so much answer as he did orally ejaculate syllables for a prescribed length of time before he felt safe to go on to a stuttering query about whether the Pro Bowl will ever be played in Austria.

Before I left the ballroom where Goodell held his press conference at a dais made up like an altar, I realized – with some help – that the NFL doesn’t care about PSI.

They don’t care to know how much air pressure a football will lose on a 28-degree evening with freezing rain or on a crisp 46-degree day under bright sunshine.

They didn’t go into the 2015 season trying to find out if they’d convicted Tom Brady of a crime he didn’t commit.

So, #Deflategate was the giant fraud I said it was from the get go? Yes. And it continues to so be.

Gronk is at the Super Bowl. Here he is, with brother no less, in a Buffalo Wild Wings chicken wing eating contest. Here he is giving a lap dance to a rather attractive Fox Sports reporter, Julie Stewart-Binks, who asked the Gronk about his Magic Mike lap dance prowess. Pretty, uh, wild, but all seemed to genuinely have fun. Perhaps the best take came from Stewart-Binks’ Fox Sports colleague Katie Nolan (who is great):

“It’s Gronk. He’s gonna do what he’s gonna do. He’s a really nice guy who knows what his brand is. People pitch him segments based on his brand, so he won’t be like “NO!” become something might make him look uncool. But I think when were we’re in sports, and there are only so many women, and that’s how a show chooses to use them… I would love a lap dance from Gronk. I wouldn’t televise it. I wouldn’t use that time to be like, ‘Here’s what it’s like to get a lap dance from Gronk.’ I don’t think anyone meant any harm by it, but the most shared moment from my network today is gonna be a woman getting titty-fucked by Gronk on a couch.”

Anyway, that’s a wrap, enjoy the Super Bowl. Music today by Bob Marley, as requested by our very long time reader and commenter, RadioFreeWill, who I had several beers with last night.

Bmaz is a rather large saguaro cactus in the Southwestern Sonoran desert. A lover of the Constitution, law, family, sports, food and spirits. As you might imagine, a bit prickly occasionally. Bmaz has attended all three state universities in Arizona, with both undergraduate and graduate degrees from Arizona State University, and with significant post-graduate work (in physics and organic chemistry, go figure) at both the University of Colorado in Boulder and the University of Arizona. Married, with both a lovely child and a giant Sasquatch dog. Bmaz has been a participant on the internet since the early 2000’s, including active participation in the precursor to Emptywheel, The Next Hurrah. Formally joined the Emptywheel blog as an original contributing member at its founding in 2007. Bmaz grew up around politics, education, sports and, most significantly, cars; notably around Formula One racing and Concours de Elegance automobile restoration and showing. Currently lives in the Cactus Patch with his lovely wife and beast of a dog, and practices both criminal and civil trial law.

NFL Pro Bowl Trash Talk

Hahahahaha, psyche!

No, there is no substantive Pro Bowl Trash Talk. Because the Pro Bowl is a complete worthless joke.

This is a let loose on idiocy in general post. Which is more than what the NFL Pro Bowl is at this point.

Have fun and let yer hair down.

Music by Jefferson Airplane. Paul Kantner was an incredibly nice, and extremely under appreciated, seminal musician. RIP Mr. Kantner, and thanks.

Bmaz is a rather large saguaro cactus in the Southwestern Sonoran desert. A lover of the Constitution, law, family, sports, food and spirits. As you might imagine, a bit prickly occasionally. Bmaz has attended all three state universities in Arizona, with both undergraduate and graduate degrees from Arizona State University, and with significant post-graduate work (in physics and organic chemistry, go figure) at both the University of Colorado in Boulder and the University of Arizona. Married, with both a lovely child and a giant Sasquatch dog. Bmaz has been a participant on the internet since the early 2000’s, including active participation in the precursor to Emptywheel, The Next Hurrah. Formally joined the Emptywheel blog as an original contributing member at its founding in 2007. Bmaz grew up around politics, education, sports and, most significantly, cars; notably around Formula One racing and Concours de Elegance automobile restoration and showing. Currently lives in the Cactus Patch with his lovely wife and beast of a dog, and practices both criminal and civil trial law.

NFL Conference Championship Sunday Trash Talk

It is early Saturday afternoon here in the comfy confines of Casa de Bmaz in the desert cactus patch. Snowly Shit is afflicting everywhere from the northeast to southeast. Bad. It is kind of sick, but I have been watching the news and fielding Twitter feeds from good friends in the afflicted area for 24 hours now. All from the comfort of 74º high days. Wearing a suit, I actually had to use the air conditioner in my cay yesterday afternoon. Don’t fret, in a few more months, it will be 110º here and they can all laugh at me.

Frankly, I would kill to be in the winter maelstrom in New York and Washington DC, just to experience it. With plenty of food and booze properly stocked up, along with backup power, of course. But I am here, and so many of you and other friends are there, and my heart and best wishes go out to you. There are conference championship games afoot, and hopefully all can enjoy them comfortably, wherever you are.

First up is the Patriots at Broncos. Peyton Manning versus Tom Brady. Yadda yadda yadda. But there are 10 other people on the field for each on offense and 11 on defense. Brady will not lose the game. Manning could given his old age infirmities, but I would be stunned if that were the case. The Pats, despite Belichick’s infamously worthless injury reports, seem to be pretty healthy. Especially so as to Edelman and Gronk, which mean everything to Brady. The Donkos, maybe a little less so because of DB Chris Harris’ shoulder. If he is weak opposite Aqib Talib, that will be an exploitable problem.

It would be pretty easy to take the Pats here, all things being equal. But things are never equal, especially in this kind of battle. There are two other factors that I think – think – may be key. First, the Broncos are home in Mile High. And that is a brutal place for any team to play, anytime. But it has been especially toxic for the otherwise invincible Patriots, Brady and Belichick. It is not that they have never won there, but it has been an uncommonly black hole.

Secondly, the Broncos, under Mike Shanahan, had the best head to head success against Belichick, Brady and the Pats of anybody. Gary Kubiak was the OC on most all of those matchups. Shanahan altered his offense against Belichick to have a balance two tight end set on offense to compensate and pitch up the Belichick tactic of overloading the weak side. This not only protected the QB, but facilitated the run game. Kubiak knows the tricks that Shanahan used to be so successful. I bet Kubiak draws off that. Is it enough?

I dunno, but if I was betting real money, it would be on the Pats and Brady. I think they want to see Roger Goodell at Super Bowl 50, and I think they will. Even the New York Times now recognizes that Goodell and the NFL were horse’s asses in Deflategate. Which I explained from the start, both on Twitter and here. Also, ESPN has a real problem with ignorant assholes. First it was Curt Schilling, then Chris Mortenson perpetuating the patent fraud of Deflategate, and now blithering idiot Danny Kanell who is literally calling for the Broncos to take Tom Brady out with dirty hits.

The second game is Cardinals at Panthers. I probably have too many emotions wrapped up in this one to be overly fair. The Cards versus Packers was tough for me. Cards versus Panthers, however, is beyond an easy call. The Panthers are very good, and Cam Newton has turned into one hell of a pro quarterback, but the Panthers are basically not that easy to like for me.And certainly not this weekend.

The quarterbacks, on paper, look to be nearly a draw. If there is any justice, they will seriously finish first and second in the league MVP voting. Newton should absolutely win, but Carson Palmer is an arguably close second. Palmer is a better read and throw guy, and arguably better passer, but Cam Newton has gotten very good at that and can run in ways that Palmer can’t dream of. Edge Newton and Panthers. But Palmer and the Cards have better receivers and packages to exploit them, by a light year. Huge edge to the Cards there. The battle of offenses will come down to which offensive line plays and protects better. Frankly, that is probably what the game comes down to as well.

Which leaves the defenses. Both are better than average on the defensive line. Carolina has a big advantage at linebacker, and Kuechly is simply killer. Despite Josh Norman, the Cards may, if they play well, have a slight advantage in the secondary. This would be a no brainer in the Cards’ favor if Tyrann Mathieu was on the field, but, alas, that is not to be.

So, what is the bottom line? Carolina is at home, which is always to be paid attention to. These are very clearly the two best teams in the NFC this year, and it is perfect they are playing for the Championship. I have no idea who wins, but they match up well against the Panthers and the two teams played in Carolina last year. But there is a hell of a difference between a healthy Arizona team with Carson Palmer at QB than a decimated Cards team with Ryan Lindley at QB. By the same token, Palmer and the Panthers are far better too. It is a tossup, but heart is very much with the Cardinals. Go #BirdGang

Alrighty then, that is a wrap for this Trash. Music, in honor of all the winter weather affecting the east is by the Bangles, with an incredibly awesome version of Hazy Shade of Winter. Rock and roll hootchicoos.

Bmaz is a rather large saguaro cactus in the Southwestern Sonoran desert. A lover of the Constitution, law, family, sports, food and spirits. As you might imagine, a bit prickly occasionally. Bmaz has attended all three state universities in Arizona, with both undergraduate and graduate degrees from Arizona State University, and with significant post-graduate work (in physics and organic chemistry, go figure) at both the University of Colorado in Boulder and the University of Arizona. Married, with both a lovely child and a giant Sasquatch dog. Bmaz has been a participant on the internet since the early 2000’s, including active participation in the precursor to Emptywheel, The Next Hurrah. Formally joined the Emptywheel blog as an original contributing member at its founding in 2007. Bmaz grew up around politics, education, sports and, most significantly, cars; notably around Formula One racing and Concours de Elegance automobile restoration and showing. Currently lives in the Cactus Patch with his lovely wife and beast of a dog, and practices both criminal and civil trial law.