1) Just a couple of quick notes here. First, kudos to Bomani Jones of ESPN’s page 2, for pointing out the absurdity of the $100,000 fine the NFL levied against Brian Urlacher for wearing a baseball cap during Super Bowl week that had a non-NFL sponsor on it. When I heard this fine reported on Mike and Mike this morning, I was surprised at how little attention they gave it. Surely, I thought, they would comment on how steep that number is in comparison with the amount the NFL usually fines players for doing things like stomping on other guys’ heads. Well, Jones did the leg work and pointed out the following:
Urlacher was fined a whopping $100,000 for wearing a hat promoting vitaminwater at Super Bowl media day. That’s more than the total fines against Bill Romanowski for kicking Larry Centers, spitting on J.J. Stokes, breaking Kerry Collins’ jaw with an illegal hit and three separate illegal hits and a punch on Tony Gonzalez.
Well, that about tells us everything we need to know about the NFL’s priorities. For the record, the NFL is playing “the kind of gangsta” that is “to be respected” in Jones’ view:
Gatorade pays to be down with the program, to be part of the league’s unwavering consistency. It’s part of the league’s fabric, which keeps it in the public eye at all times. Gatorade knows we’re going to tune in every week and, just like us, it wants to be down.
So does Reebok, whose apparel contract with the NFL prevented coaches from wearing suits on the sidelines. Coaches weren’t allowed to wear suits until 2006, once Reebok developed a line of suits. Reebok didn’t sign its 10-year sponsorship deal with the NFL so Jack Del Rio could look sharp in someone else’s duds. It signed on to be part of the money-making machine.
Vitaminwater didn’t give the NFL a damn thing. Gotta pay to play, baby.
Brian Urlacher, about as large a star as the league allows for, isn’t going to interfere with the machine with any personal agenda. Don’t be surprised if the next guy who tries something like this faces a much stiffer penalty, perhaps even a suspension. When money is on the line, the NFL will do what is has to do to get what it wants.
Now that’s gangsta.
Next time Commissioner Goodell talks about the league’s “values” just – remember – multiple attempts to seriously injure players < wearing an errant cap.
2) Mike and Chris had Jim Dolan on their show on Tuesday (their afternoon show – not the absolutely brutal morning show they’re doing as temporary fill-ins in the Imus time slot. Truly painful to listen to). Mike and Chris have their likes and dislikes. If they dislike you, they can be unfair, but they can also become tenacious journalists, holding sports decision-makers accountable for bad decisions in a way that really serves their listeners. On the other hand, if they like someone, and they like Dolan, Mike and Chris go soft. Dolan is a disaster – an incompetent manager, an egotistical maniac, and a disaster for the Knicks. Mike and Chris know this, and they half-heartedly asked him about the general direction of the team. Francesa asked him with evident skepticism whether he honestly thought the Knicks were headed in the right direction. They’re not – for the record. They haven’t been over five hundred in six years, they’re tens of millions of dollars over the cap with more bad contracts than any team in the league, and they will now have to surrender a lottery pick for the second year in a row because of the Eddy Curry trade. When Dolan talks about the Knicks being on the path to a championship team (which he actually said), you have to laugh.
Russo did directly challenge him on the Curry trade, telling Dolan:
“you have to admit that was a terrible trade. “he a heart condition, the Bulls didn’t like him…they were dying to get rid of him. The point is, Isiah didn’t just give up last year’s pick, which was Tyrus Thomas, who’s playing great, but this year’s pick and the Bulls were dying to get rid of him…”
Dolan did concede that if the Knicks knew then what they know now (that the team would miss the playoffs these past two seasons), maybe they would have thought differently. And, Mike and Chris both criticized Isiah for failing to lottery-protect the draft choices, a standard of NBA trades nowadays. But, Dolan insisted, the Knicks “weren’t the only ones competing for Curry.”
I don’t know whether Dolan is lying, has a bad memory, was lied to by Isiah or what, but here’s what the New York Times had to say about the demand for Curry shortly after the trade, in October 2005:
the Knicks were apparently the only team willing to make that gamble (on Curry’s heart). No team offered Curry a contract this summer when he was a restricted free agent. And, according to Paxson, no other team offered to trade for Curry. ”I had several teams tell me they weren’t interested because they were scared about his health,” Paxson said.
Paxson could be lying, too, except that he has no reason to in this instance. I have written about this ad nauseam, I know. And, in it’s in own way, it’s no worse than the unconscionable decision to give thirty million dollars to Jerome James as a reward for having played one good week of basketball in his entire NBA career. But, given how Mike and Chris treat other guests, the way they let Dolan slide is unacceptable.