Tatum was the bad ass who became the poster child for over-the-top violence in the NFL. There were stories that the NFL was too violent, that Stingley’s plight might be the undoing of the league’s growing popularity.
If Tatum played today, he would have been forced to adjust. Those hits that made him famous now get huge fines. Suspensions come as well. The hit on Minnesota Vikings receiver Sammy White in the Super Bowl knocked White’s helmet off with a helmet-to-helmet blow. That’s illegal now. But the fans, and those who market big-hit videos, would have loved him.
With the way the game has changed, Tatum might have even been a linebacker now. The big-hitting safety that hits like a linebacker is no more. The back two are now speed, cover-the-field players. Tatum ran well, but at 200 pounds he was considered a powerfully built safety. Add 20 pounds and move him to the weak-side linebacker might have been his path.
That’s for debate. His talent isn’t. But one hit makes most out there forget that. It didn’t help that Tatum never really showed remorse for the hit.
Days after LeBron James’ ill-advised one hour ESPN special, “The Decision”, Hornets PG Chris Paul reportedly offered a toast at Carmelo Anthony’s wedding in which he predicted he’d soon join ‘Melo and Amar’e Stoudemire on the New York Knicks. Weeks later, Paul was said to be angling for a trade to Orlando. After meeting with New Orleans brass yesterday in which Paul pledged his loyalty to the Hornets, Scratchbomb writes, “coming on the heels of LeBron’s move, Paul’s machinations had the feeling of a shameless attempt to exploit a fad that’s already passed…if LeBron is Rambo, then Paul is Cobra.”
You could argue that what Chris Paul did was worse than what LeBron did. After all, LeBron’s free agency was anticipated by every human being on the planet for years (at least that’s what ESPN says). As crappily as he handled the whole thing, everyone and his mom (especially your mom) knew he might leave Cleveland. Paul’s demands to be traded, on the other hand, came out of nowhere, and were seemingly motivated by little more than LeBron’s histrionics
The overall lameness of Paul’s move is accentuated by the fact that he didsn’t have a leg to stand on. The Hornets had neither the incentive nor the imperative to trade him. Paul couldn’t opt out of his contract. Basically, he had zero power in this situation, but operated as if he was in total control. Depending on your perspective, that either takes an enormous amount of balls or an amazing lack of brains.
Paul seems to realize this now; on Monday, he had meetings with the Hornets, and made statements afterward that indicated he was throwing in the towel. Because when it comes to the offseason, no one wants to be the free agent equivalent of Delta Force 3 or Death Wish 5.
[CarlosZambrano in happier days, hobnobbing with Broadway's Carol Channing.]
Last December in this space, I predicted two things. Carlos Silva would be in good hands with the Cubs‘ Larry Rothschild and Carlos Zambrano would replace Milton Bradley as Jim Hendry’s Player To Be Hated Later. Silva was a bigger bet than the Z. I wrote then:
The question in my mind isn’t who will replace Bradley in CF, but who will replace him as Hendry’s next problem player. I’m guessing another mediocre year from Zambrano will mean Big Z v Hendry in 2010. Z fits the pattern right now: expensive, once great, an ego problem, and possible trade bait. He’s also not white, which is another unfortunate pattern here.
Zambrano’s shouting match yesterday with Derrek Lee, the need to separate them, and Z’s instant suspension (not to mention his mercurial 2010 overall) means I should have put some money down last December. Zambrano and Bradley are obviously head cases, but so are other players around the league who don’t end up exploding on the field. Hendry has a history of miserable management of personalities back to Dusty Baker’s 2nd year (when he fired Dusty’s unhappy SF holdovers), the Steve Stone v Dusty incident that caused Stone to leave the WGN booth, dealing with Sosa in decline, then Bradley. It’s typical of what we’re seeing now with Z. It’s not Hendry’s fault that Z is what he is. But whatever Hendry is as a General Manager, he’s not built for keeping difficult personalities productive and has cost the Cubs a lot in pure drag. Think of the temperaments, egos, haters, heels, and negative creeps who have played all over the league for different teams over the years — they rarely pull in public what the divas on the Cubs do year in and year out. Sports is a celebrity-obsessed world like every other kind of entertainment, so we know Bradley and Sosa and Z’s names first. Still, they all leave. Not Hendry, year in and year out, he and the meltdowns remain.
I’ve skipped commenting on most of the season because I can’t watch much of it, but right now I wish I’d been following the Chicago brain trust of reporters covering the Cubs to see if they treat Z much different than Milton. Since Milton had no problem calling reporters on their bullshit, I’m guessing they just view Z as a spectacle and not a threat to the White Man’s Burden of Chicago sports writing.
With apologies to Cindy Lauper for the above headline, as you’ve probably heard by now, former Mets phenom Dwight Gooden’s latest in a long line of publicized transgressions is allegedly having abandoned his wife and two children. With next weekend marking Gooden’s induction into the Mets Hall Of Fame — alongside former manager Davey Johnson, former GM Frank Cashen and teammate Darryl Strawberry, Fanhouse’s Greg Couch pleads with Wilpon, Inc., “Don’t honor Gooden…the only good I can see coming from this is that Gooden’s wife and kids will know where to find him for a day.”
Why keep applauding him? He has been applauded, honored, cherished too much in his life. That’s part of the problem for a lot of these athletes who keep getting into trouble, cheating, doing things that society does not allow.
You have things handed to you, are given too much money, have people solving your problems for you and covering your mistakes, and then it comes time for you to solve a problem for yourself, show some toughness.
And you don’t know how. In some ways, it’s almost cruel to keep honoring Gooden, who doesn’t need another pass while the Mets use him to sell tickets for a day.
Should a Hall of Fame be about the personal side? I guess I don’t know, honestly. Maybe it shouldn’t be.
So I can’t even come up with a hard-and-fast rule here for reaching a Hall of Fame. If you want to have a Hall of Fame with acceptance by numbers, then fine. Set the standards and say if X number of strikeouts are thrown, or Y number of homers hit, then a player is in.
But they use a vote for a reason. It’s subjective. And at some point, a guy like Gooden does not deserve to be applauded anymore.
If Couch wishes to argue that a deeply flawed person like Dwight Gooden is a crummy role model, he’ll get no argument from this corner. But if a Mets Hall Of Fame & Museum is meant to be any sort of accurate reflection of the franchise’s history, it would be thoroughly dishonest to banish Gooden, without question the second most important starter in Amazins’ history and for a brief spell, one of the exciting professional athletes in all of organized sports. In light of the recent accusations leveled at Doc, perhaps it would be a bit creepy if the Tampa product received a long ovation at Citi Field next Sunday, but if Gooden’s too shitty a human being to include in the Mets’ Hall of Fame, they might as well bury the 1986 World Series trophy while they’re at it. At the risk of going Dick Young on Couch’s ass, said title was captured with major assistance from all sorts of reprobates, including but not limited to the sniffles-afflicted Keith Hernandez, future domestic violence poster kids Straw, Wally Backman and Kevin Mitchell, and oft-mocked captain of industry / human chemistry experiment Lenny Dykstra. At some point, you’ve got to separate the art from the artist. If I can enjoy Roman Polanski’s “Knife In The Water”, surely Couch can acknowledge Gooden’s artistry and simply hope or pray the artist gets some help?
Of Cowboys rookie WR Dez Bryant’s refusal to endure a rather mild hazing ritual — ie. lug around veteran Roy Williams’ gear — the Dallas Morning News’ Todd Archer calls it “a diva act…it’s the result of too much enabling and entitlement.” Indeed, were Bryant making such a stand against a player slightly less vilified as Williams, chances are he’d be on the receiving end of more critical beatdowns like the one provided by 700 Level’s Andrew, who reminds us, ” Imagine if Charles Haley was still on the team, ferchrissakes. It could be a lot worse.”
“I carried pads,” bemoaned Williams (above). “I paid for dinners. I paid for lunches. I did everything I was supposed to do, because I didn’t want to be that guy.” In turn, Williams told reporters that his efforts would be bumped up to “Step Two” to make “that guy” regret his not being a team player. I don’t know what “Step Two” is, precisely–and neither does Williams, it sounds like–but it sounds like the best vaguely menacing euphemistic sound byte since Bobby Bonilla threatened to show a reporter “The Bronx” a decade and a half ago.
In the meantime, Bryant can take pride in the knowledge that he was able to maintain his pride, at the expense of his reputation, his locker room, and perhaps his own personal safety as this invariably balloons to be the most over-reported story of the NFL off-season. WUUUUUU TAAAANGG!!!!
Though I’d already heard of the The Wrestling Observer’s eagerly awaited Abdullah The Butcher shoot interview DVD, t’was with considerable surprise that I opened a copy of this morning’s New York Times while on an airplane and recognized a photograph of The Madman From The Sudan on the The Gray Lady’s front page. Incredibly, a wrestling story that concerns neither Mickey Rourke nor Linda McMahon’s senate campaign, has been deemed relevant enough for The Paper Of Record. From the NYT’s Mike Tierney :
Currency is a constant in his conversations. Another wrestler, who has relied on Abdullah for promotional duty, says: œEverything™s business to him. He charges for everything. Doesn™t need the money, either.
When first approached for an interview, Abdullah demands payment. œEverything has a price, he says. œI™ve got to make a living.
On the night of his match, before an interview is mentioned, Abdullah™s first words are, œWhere™s my money? When reminded that he will receive no compensation, he points to a stack of autographed photographs that sell for $10 apiece and says, œBuy one of these.
A $9 dinner at Abdullah the Butcher House of Ribs and Chinese Food in Atlanta, which he founded and operates, loosens his tongue somewhat. He cuts short most answers, reminding himself not to disclose too much before the imminent release of a DVD that unspools his life story.
Each visit to Japan, he says, is worth $10,000 for a series of matches. The middle school gig paid him $1,500.
œFor what, two minutes? he says, exaggerating to point out that the workload is not taxing.
While most wrestlers peddle bric-a-brac, like action figures an masks, to supplement their ring income, only Abdullah would think of marketing the fork with which he jabs his foe.
His cellphone rings. His son conveys Father™s Day wishes. Abdullah says he will call more often if the son sends him money.
“(Saban’s comments) brought to mind my favorite such lament. Late In 1987, Pitt’s star RB, Craig “Ironhead” Heyward, was declared ineligible for signing with an agent, Bruce Allen, now the Redskins’ GM and always the son of NFL Hall of Fame coach George Allen.
After announcing that Heyward was out, done, Pitt coach Mike Gottfried, now an ESPN analyst, ripped the agent for “depriving Craig Heyward of his college education.”
Heyward, at the time, hadn’t attended a class for at least two consecutive semesters.
And that brings to mind my favorite college football joke: The midterm grades for the team’s star are out — four Fs and a D. So the coach calls him in.
“Son,” he says, “I think you’re spending too much time on one subject.”
Having already fucked over the University Of Tennessee in favor of the far more glittering USC head coaching position, Lane Kiffin (above) caused yet another stir Saturday when Titans head coach Jeff Fisher accused Al Davis’ least favorite collegiate coach of having poached his RB coach, Kennedy Pola, without so much as a courtesy heads-up. From the Tennessean’s Jim Wyatt :
Fisher said Kiffin, the former Tennessee Vols coach who left for the same job at Southern Cal, never contacted him as Kiffin tried to persuade Kennedy Pola to join his coaching staff. On Saturday morning, Pola accepted a position as offensive coordinator at USC, leaving the Titans without a running backs coach a week before training camp.
“I am very disappointed in Lane Kiffin’s approach to this,” Fisher said. “Typically speaking, when coaches are interested in hiring or discussing potential employment from coaches on respective staffs, there is a courtesy call made from the head coach or athletic director indicating there is an interest in talking to the assistant.
“So I am very disappointed in the lack of professionalism on behalf of Lane, to call me and leave me a voicemail after Kennedy had informed me he had taken the job. It is just a lack of professionalism.”
“As far as Kennedy is concerned, he is a fine coach and was a great addition to our staff. I am disappointed on one hand that he is leaving, but I can’t fault anybody from having an opportunity like he has. This is a chance for him to coordinate, and financially it was an attractive package,” Fisher said. “So I can’t fault Kennedy for that. But I can express my disappointment in his lack of commitment. Kennedy is a fine ball coach. The timing is just a little unusual, a week before training camp.”Fisher said he’d heard on the “coaching grapevine” that Kiffin had been trying to recruit Pola, but thought he would have heard from USC, where Fisher played.
Kiffin has attempted to clarify “the timeline of events” that led to Pola’s hiring, but it’s the sort of press release-rhetoric that neither addresses nor apologizes for Fisher is bitching about. But left unexplored is why becoming the offensive coordinator for a scandal-tarnished program (led by a pariah such as Kiffin) is a more attractive job than working in the professional ranks alongside a respected fella like Fisher. Perhaps Pola wasn’t nearly as confident that Chris Johnson could run for 2500 yards next season?
“Every team got caught up with them,” one marketing maven says of former Citi Field signage fixure SpongeTech.com. “If it™s too good to be true, maybe it just is. You saw their product on TV, but I don™t ever remember seeing anyone who actually owned one. CNBC’s Darren Rovell considers the fate of SpongeTech and suggests franchises should’ve asked, “just how much is your marketing budget anyway and how does that compare to sales?
SpongeTech, the self-dubbed œSmarter Sponge, gained its fame through its infomercial plugs, but in the end, there were too many things that didn™t add up. It led to the SEC filing civil fraud charges against the company and its top two executives, Michael Metter and Steven Moskowitz. The FBI arrested them in May and they were charged with conspiracy to commit securities fraud and obstruction of justice. Metter’s lawyer told reporters that he denies the charges made against him. The public relations e-mail listed on SpongeTech™s Web site bounced back and two lawyers representing the company’s executives did not return calls seeking comment.
On Friday, as part SpongeTech™s bankruptcy filing, more than 100 creditors must declare themselves to the court along with the money that they are owed. A who™s who of sports teams are expected to line up for money they might never receive.
Lawsuits alone have shown us that Madison Square Garden (Knicks, Rangers) is owed $430,880 and the New York Mets received bounced checks totaling $300,000.
“We are acting to enforce our contractual rights through the courts, a Mets spokesperson told CNBC.
The New York Islanders are waiting for $405,000 and the New York Giants are hoping to recoup the $360,000 they were promised, which includes SpongeTech not paying for its suite food at games. Throw in the Chicago Bears™ lawsuit asking for $260,000 the team is owed and SpongeTech owes $1.4 million from just six teams.
If ESPN’s Chris Berman isn’t the most universally mocked/vilified sportscaster in the business, that’s probably because Joe Buck is isn’t on television very often. “In this day and age of the increasingly malicious media eating its young (or elders),” writes Broadcasting & Cable’s Ben Grossman, “I wondered if anyone ever had the gumption to ask the 55-year-old Berman about all this to his face.” Get ready, then, for a GUMPTION OVERDOSE (link courtesy Tom Enstice)
A lot of people think that your personality and golf don™t go together.
Except that the USGA, ESPN and the golfers love it. So, who am I broadcasting for? The viewers, the people in golf, at my place and the USGA. I ask every year what can I do to change it, and they say, œJust do it. The USGA put me on golf; it was their idea to make it more regular, to make it not just golf. But I™m not trying to be funny. I follow the golf tour pretty closely. I™ve done this since 1986, so now I™m no good at it? So, I don™t know anything about golf?
For example, they said, œHow could he say Dustin ˜The Wind™ Johnson? [Citing a Berman- esque nickname for a pro golfer.] I was on for 10 hours, not 10 seconds. I said it once. It™s OK, relax a little, would you please? It™s sports. Just relax. It is 10 hours.
I wasn™t sure anyone had ever asked you about the criticism.
[The criticism] is disappointing, but I™m not sure where it comes from. Did I get bad all of a sudden? My heart is still in the same place. I quote music from my day, and when the music today is better than in my day, I™ll quote it. And maybe a lot of the people commenting today haven™t seen me earn it. They™re young. It™s true.
Do you see a more rabid media today?
I guess. People are angrier now than we were. It™s OK.
Monique Gooden said she and her children — 5-year-old son Dylan and 4-month-old daughter Milan — are living with her parents in their home in Columbia, Md., as the troubled 1985 National League Cy Young Award winner is nowhere to be found.
“He’s left us with no money,” his slighted spouse said. “When I got here to Maryland, I had to go apply for social services, food stamps and health insurance for the kids. He has offered no financial assistance to us.
Monique, a former flight attendant, said she is unaware of her estranged husband’s whereabouts — only that the 1984 National League Rookie of the Year had been holed up in a hotel somewhere in New Jersey back in May.
The couple wed in January 2009, but Monique claims they haven’t lived together since May 1.
“You know what, right now I’m so stressed, I’ve been so stressed that every day has been a struggle for me,” she said. “I just want support for the kids at this time . . . I just want to take care of them.”
The exploits of Garrett Wittels and, uh, Isiah Thomas aside, who amongst us hasn’t stayed up late at night wondering when Florida International University’s athletic program would receive more column inches? Hello, anybody? The Miami Herald’s Pete Pelegrin (above) previously covered FIU sports and upon see his contributions routinely minimized, fired a doozy of a parting shot at his former paymasters. Here’s some excerpts from Pelegrin’s final blog post, since deleted by the Herald (link swiped from Rumors & Rants)
I™ve always believed when you undertake an assignment or any kind of work that you value, you have to dedicate yourself 100 percent to it to make sure it™s done right or don™t do it at all.
By only being able to cover FIU on a part-time or less basis “ as is the case now “ I cannot provide you the type of coverage you have been accustomed to the last 9 years.
Hell, they even took my photo and name out from the front of the blog and replaced it with some hokey logo “ not even the FIU sports logo. At least, get the FIU sports logo right if you’re going to do this.
And if the blog was really going to be maintained by just me like the Dolphins and Hurricanes blogs are by their sole respective on-line writers, then why change the blog slogan from Pete Pelegrin covers FIU sports to œWe™ve got FIU sports covered.
Plus, the paper™s schedule for me to go out to an FIU game or practice has been whittled down to being very limited with the new non-FIU duties I have been assigned — as you were able to tell by me not being at the Sun Belt Conference Baseball Tournament in late May.
So therefore, I am leaving the paper today and getting out of the newspaper business altogether.
I just thought it was important for you loyal FIU readers to know that FIU doesn™t always get a fair shake with this paper.
Maybe the green and orange Miami Herald sign (photo, left) on the right field wall of UM™s Mark Light Field has something to do with it. Who knows? I sure don™t see any Miami Herald signage on any FIU Stadium, ballpark or arena.
(above, allegedly obsolete arena, though it is very close to an In & Out Burger)
Awesome news for Oklahoma City, right? Speaking with the Las Vegas Sun’s David Toplikar, Mayor Oscar Goldman argued for the construction of a publicly-funded NBA and/or NHL arena, saying a referendum on the matter “would let the public decide whether they want to be a world class city or they want to go to Los Angeles.”
“There are no free lunches,” the mayor said, when told it was difficult to find much support for public financing. “With that kind of attitude, that kind of philosophy, we’ll never have an arena. End of story.
“We’ll never have a professional team here, end of story. I mean, that’s it. We can’t make up our own rules. We have to live in the real world. And the real world says that there has to be some kind of public financing,” he said. “And if people don’t like it, then they can live here without a team. I don’t want to live in a city without a team. I think a team makes a city a great city. “
Goodman, who supports building an arena in the downtown’s Symphony Park area, said public financing through a bond initiative on the ballot would make the project happen.
Two years ago, Goodman said he met with NBA Commissioner David Stern about getting an NBA team here, Goodman said. Stern told him that UNLV’s Thomas & Mack arena was antiquated compared to the newer arenas.
“Las Vegas was always at the cutting edge, always at the forefront,” Goodman said. “We were the example-setters. Now we drag our feet.”
How might the no. 2 overall pick of the 2008 draft have ended up in Minnesota for the mere price of two-second rounders? In the case of Michael Beasley, it has a bit to do with Miami’s limited cap space following the additions of Chris Bosh and LeBron James, but to hear T-Wolves GM David Kahn — who most recently managed to offend Chris Webber — tell the tale, it’s all about the Beaz’ Rush To Relax :
“He’s a very young and immature kid who smoked too much marijuana and has told me that he’s not smoking anymore, and I told him that I would trust him as long as that was the case,” Kahn said Thursday during an interview with 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.”
“He has developed a really good support system around him this past season in Miami. He’s hired people to help him grow up. He is growing up — he’s not grown up. He’s 21 … and he just turned 21 last January, and if you think back, as I do all the time, to when I was 21 and if you had given me this kind of money and put me in this kind of world with these kinds of pressures attached to it and some of the demands, I don’t know (that) I would have handled it any easier than, say, he has.
“I think that if Michael was 25 or 26, maybe I would have felt differently about things. But I feel very strongly that some of these kids simply deserve the opportunity to make mistakes and grow up. The issue is, will they learn from their mistakes? Will they grow from them? In Michael’s case, there’s no evidence yet to suggest he won’t, meaning that he should be able to grow from these mistakes.”
Thursday’s 2-0 defeat to Los Angeles dropped the Mets’ post-ASG mark to a putrid 1-7, and if they’ve not been shutout every game of the current West Coast trip, it just feels like it. While manager Jerry Manuel has received an inexplicable vote of confidence from GM Omar Minaya — presumably prevented from making any moves because the only player with less trade value than Jeff Francoeur is Ryan Church — there’s not been a peep about the job status of hitting coach Howard Johnson. On the matter of team morale and professionalism, however, SNY’s Bobby Ojeda was unsparing in his criticism of the club after Wednesday’s 14 inning, 4-3 loss to Arizona (“so far, everything Jerry’s done isn’t working”, and night owl Bob Raissman of the New York Daily News stayed up for the invective.
“This is when it hits home. This is when those men in the locker room realize this is for real, we’re awful,” Ojeda said. “We’re going through the motions. We face the worst bullpen in history and manage one hit.”
Ojeda, pounding out answers to inquires from a wide-eyed Gary Apple, even returned to Tuesday’s 3-2 loss to the Diamondbacks.
“There were people laughing in the locker room,” Ojeda, in a disgusted tone, said. “Are you kidding? Laughing?”
“… Eleven walk-off losses? There’s no place for that,” Ojeda moaned. “And you’re not going to get past that. Unfortunately, it sets a tone that’s awful. What they do to overcome it? I don’t know.”
“After he (Pagan) clearly outplayed Jeff Francoeur he still wasn’t given a vote of confidence. That spreads throughout the ballclub,” Ojeda explained. “With the bullpen it has always been the hot hand goes. You turn cold on me, you’re buried.”
To get regular publicity these days it seems players have to fall into one of three categories: overrated, very good or plain rubbish. And in the latter case, just as Bramble once did, they can almost certainly expect plenty of ridicule on Facebook and YouTube, and in fan forums, newspaper columns and those “worst ever” lists that papers like the Daily Mail take a pride in compiling.
Scrutiny comes from a proliferation of media outlets, all competing for more hits, viewers and sales, with the internet blurring the lines that once separated the experts and analysts from the fans. No longer seeing their brief as merely to inform or even to criticise, an increasing number of writers and pundits now seek to entertain, to be one of the lads and, above all, to avoid being bland. And if not being bland means upsetting the sensibilities of a few overpaid footballers, then so be it. Should anyone take offence, you can always pass it off as banter.
The people in the know will argue that wealthy players can handle the darts and brickbats. But when you read that Bramble’s self-confidence was once so fragile that he used to watch Match of the Day with the volume down and that his mother was often on the point of tears, it becomes clear that money doesn’t buy you a thick skin. I’m just pleased to see the former butt of everyone’s jokes doing well for himself and kept out of the media mainstream. I bet he is too.