I am not trying to rub salt in Detroit Lions fans wounds. I grew up in Saskatoon and watched a lot of Detroit cable. I was there for the Barry Sanders and Wayne Fontes era. It just happened to have Scott Mitchell as their QB…
In watching Megatron’s retirement talk, a couple of things came across my mind. One of them was why don’t teams pay a player like Calvin Johnson to take a year off at this point of their careers and get totally healthy.
Give him a couple of months off and then pay him to come back and work out, get back in shape and come back healthy for the year ahead. Before you discount this as crazy, consider that one of the reasons why Marcus Allen had a such a long run in Los Angeles and Kansas City is that he was rarely used in his late 20s and early 30s because of the insanity of Al Davis and that feud that only Davis really knew what he was mad about. It had to suck for Allen to go through but it prolonged his career.
The (pretty good) O.J. Anderson had a career revival in New York for the Giants on their 1991 Super Bowl team because in part he was barely used for years after the St. Louis Cardinals ground him to pieces as their feature back. His body recovered and was great in that three yards and a cloud of dust attack that New York had.
Look at Kurt Warner. It took him a couple of years for his body to heal after Mike Martz’s attack left him beaten and bruised in St. Louis. He wasn’t a great, then bad, and then great QB again. He was always great, his body just needed time to heal after the pounding his took as part of the Greatest Show on Turf.
Part me wonders if the Lions paid Johnson a reduced salary to rest up and get healthy, if he wouldn’t come back. Being in pain every day takes a toll on you both physically and mentally. Not all players would come back after a break away but other stars would be able to come back and be better than they were before. It wouldn’t be something you would do for everyone but there are select “generational talents” that giving a break too would pay off for a franchise and the game.
I was thinking the other day that my life needed a shakeup. So after looking at several possibilities, I have decided to simplify and become more like Bill Belichick. It’s so simple it is genius.
- I only have to worry about the weather. If it is cold, I wear the long sleeved hoodie. If it is warm, I put on the same hoodie and cut off it’s sleeves. If it gets really cold, I wear a matching undershirt and pull up the hood. I can wear the same hoodie to work, while traveling, and I am sure he even wears it in the pool.
- I don’t have to answer any questions directly. If Wendy asks me why the dishes weren’t done, I reply, “I’m here to talk about Philadelphia”. If she asks why I spent $1000 on the same grey hoodie, “I’m here to talk about Philadelphia.”
- I wouldn’t have to have any tolerance for dumb people (I got that part down).
- My answer to Mark’s report card, “This won’t be good enough. It wasn’t good enough today. It won’t be good enough against anybody else, either.”
- Sometimes the most obvious answer will work out, “Any time you lose yardage in the running game, there’s a mistake somewhere.” Or there is this, “Any time you have a negative play in the running game, it’s like getting a penalty,”
- When I screw something up, “That’s part of the game, … Sometimes that stuff happens.”
3. Randall Cunningham (late-’80s, early-’90s): The best video game QB of all-time. You could roll him out to either side, scramble for first downs, throw 70 yards with him, avoid sacks … and he never self-destructed like he did in real life. Regardless of how his NFL career turned out, he’ll always have his video game career to fall back on.
Blake Harris, the author of Console Wars, has written a piece on how NHL ’94 came to be. For those unaware, NHL ’94 is one of the greatest sports video games ever created. This is the sort of attention to detail that made it so great:
For example, it could emulate the ambience of a game day NHL arena by including the proper organ music. The problem, though, was that each team’s organist played different songs. ‘That’s not a problem, actually,’ explained Dieter Ruehle, the organist for the San Jose Sharks (and previously for the Los Angeles Kings), ‘I can do that.’ True to his word, Ruehle provided EA with organ music for every team; and he didn’t just provide all of their songs, but also noted which music was blasted during power plays, which tunes were used to celebrate goals, and all the other inside info needed to make each arena feel like home. Ruehle was so diligent about getting it right and capturing that home crowd essence, that during a recording session at EA’s sound studio he asked:
‘The woman who plays the organ for the Washington Capitals has arthritis; would you like me to play the songs how they are meant to be played, or the way that she plays them because of her condition?’
‘Definitely the way she plays it!’ Brook answered, after a laugh.
I never know if this falls under the category of “too soon” but the Toronto Star just published some of their favourite photos from The Star’s sports photographer, Steve Russell. Click on the link or the photo to see them all.
All of his photos are exceptional but I just love the look on the Kansas City Royals bullpen staff on this catch.
I missed the game today. We were out hiking the Mud Creek Trail in Prince Albert National Park. I did hear the train wreck that was the postgame show.
- This is a pattern of Brendan Taman. He takes over a team that makes it to the Grey Cup, won’t challenge or change the roster and within a couple of years the team is old and horrible. It is what happened in Winnipeg and is what is happening in Regina. There is a reason why Hugh Campbell turned over 30% of his Edmonton Eskimos roster during his dynasty years. Time is undefeated and the message that no one is sacred is a powerful one.
- I don’t think a CFL team should ever hire a Canadian GM. The best football in the world collegiately is being played in the SEC and has for years. I think you need a GM that has strong ties in the SEC or the ACC, like Roy Shivers or Eric Tillman. It is connection with high school coaches, university position coaches and even junior college coaches who can help you identify you players that aren’t on the national radar but can help your football team.
- Speaking of Eric Tillman, is it too soon to consider bringing him back? I think it is but some will consider it.
- While I blame Brendan Taman, a lot of responsibility has to stand with Corey Chamblin. He seems unable to identify why the Riders are playing horrible and doesn’t know how to fix it. There have been other coaches that are good when things are going along great but can’t fix things when they run poorly (I think of Mike Singletary) because they are over their head schematically. Chamblin seems lost and over his head right now. So does his staff.
- Everyone gets on Chamblin for the penalties but I think this is on Taman. It is the kind of players you get. If you looked back at the player committing the most penalties, they would have a track record of doing it college and probably high school. As Jimmy Johnson used to say, “Don’t send me stupid players because you can’t coach stupid players”. We think talent is everything. It isn’t.
- While the Winnipeg Bluebombers defense isn’t amazing, it is better than the Riders and with probably less talent. Who is coaching that defense? A gentlemen name Ritchie Hall, previously defensive coordinator of the Saskatchewan Roughriders… back when they had a strong defense.
- I love the hoardes that get upset when you criticize the Saskatchewan Roughriders as “we are all one team”. No, not really. I am not on the team. I am a fan of the team. I buy stuff from the Rider store, I cheer for the team but what is going on with that office and that field is solely the domain of the directors, the management, coaches, and players. I don’t get a Grey Cup ring when they win and I am allowed to criticize the team when they are this bad.
- Speaking of bad, Chamblin’s post game interview was horrible when he offered up that there were issues with Brett Smith being benched and not being able to go back in. Umm, why offer that up if you aren’t going to expand on it. All it does it create speculation and media attention around you rookie QB and create a distraction when you are entering week 11 and still trying to win a game. Also, I was really disgusted by CKRM (I think it was Mitchell Blair but I could be wrong) asking Chamblin if he thought he would be fired. This is a man’s livelihood we are talking about and how did they really expect him to answer that? “Yes I think I should be fired”. If It was Chamblin I would have said, “Thanks but I am done with this interview.”
- So what’s next for the Riders? New stadium coming online in two years. Do they trust Taman to be able to rebuild the Riders for that season? From his track record, I don’t think I would.
Mark is trying out for Bedford Road’s senior football team this year. After playing every position on the defense last year, he decided to test himself against some older and stronger players. If he makes the team great, if not he will have tried and gotten some work in than if he had just played junior football.
Since practices start on Monday, it meant that we had to get him some gear this weekend. His cleats and gloves fit but we ran out after work to get him some shorts and some stay dry shirts. While we were at it, we picked up some cross trainers. All this so he can increase his chance of long term brain injury by playing football or developing cancer by playing football on the shredded toxic waste we call SMF Field.
Of course Oliver was in a bad mood over this. Despite only going into grade two, he can’t figure out why he can’t play tackle football yet. Apparently all other sports suck and aren’t worth his time. He has some time to wait until Grade 6 when Kinsmen Football starts. He isn’t impressed. He’ll be even less impressed when Mark takes off to play football.
The posts on The Players Tribune are not written by the players. If I would have thought about this, I would have realized that they were too well written…
Richard Sandomir of The New York Times provides that answer in an excellent feature on The Players’ Tribune that ran this weekend. Much of Sandomir’s piece looks at how The Players’ Tribune beat mainstream media to David Ortiz’s comments about drug testing, which is notable in its own right (and has even prompted a thoughtful response from Dan Shaughnessy, of all people), but the part that’s perhaps even more interesting, and concerning, is his discussion of how articles on the site come to be:
Like nearly every post on the site, the Ortiz essay was not written directly by its bylined athlete but instead crafted from a recorded interview with a Tribune staff producer. Hoenig said these interviews are less traditional question-and-answer sessions than monologues with questions to nudge the conversation along. Editing is minimal, he added, and the athletes get the final approval. The staff producers who talk to them do not get bylines.
It may not be shocking to many that most of the well-written pieces appearing on the site aren’t actually just the result of a professional athlete sitting down at a keyboard, but the actual discussion of this process raises plenty of questions. The way The Players’ Tribune presents its pieces is at best disingenuous, and it’s problematic from a couple of standpoints.
First off, there’s the nature of the portrayal. Having these pieces appear under an athlete’s byline, with no addition of “With [journalist],” suggests they’re actually written by the athlete. They may be using the athlete’s words, but it’s the uncredited producers who are actually assembling them into a piece. Yes, Hoenig says editing is minimal, and yes, athletes are signing off on the final pieces, but presenting these pieces as if they’re essays carefully crafted by the athletes themselves rather than assembled from interviews gives the wrong impression and context to readers. It also does a disservice to the athletes (and other prominent figures) who do actually write their own material.
After 20 years and 1,609 consecutive home games, the Los Angeles Angels finally lost another game to rain.
Heavy downpours turned Angel Stadium’s outfield into virtual marshlands Sunday night, forcing the postponement of their game against the Boston Red Sox. Los Angeles will host its first doubleheader since 2003 on Monday.
The Big A’s grounds crew and drainage system couldn’t protect the grass from the remnants of Tropical Storm Dolores, which fell steadily all evening and caused a 2 1/2-hour delay before the postponement. Using brooms and rakes, the crew vainly attempted to push water around the outfield before the Angels finally called their first home rainout since June 16, 1995.
"Unfortunately, I guess you never really know how your drainage system works until you get enough water," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said after the first home rainout of his 16-year tenure in Anaheim. "There’s so much standing water in that outfield that just has nowhere to go. It’s going to be like that all night, probably be like that (Monday) morning. … The field was unplayable, with no way to remedy that."
The Angels were rained out at home for just the 16th time in their 55-year franchise history. They hadn’t even had a rain delay in a stretch of 359 regular-season home games since April 24, 2011.
As a side note, I still feel guilt for using the Los Angeles Angels tag for this post instead of Anaheim Angels. Please forgive me.
The painful Greek Olympic legacy is doubly relevant this month. Just nine days after the Greek referendum, the first test event for the Rio 2016 Olympics, the Volleyball World League Finals, start in the Maracanãzinho arena, in the shadow of the Maracanã soccer stadium.
The Athens Games were so expensive, in part, because the Greeks made such a mess of their preparations. The IOC warned the organizers repeatedly about delays. The late rush to completion escalated the costs. Rio has even bigger problems. In April 2014, John Coates, an IOC vice president, called its preparations the “worst ever,” according to the BBC.
In May, Reuters reported that the Games would cost Brazil $13.2 billion and that only about 10 percent of 56 Olympic projects were finished.
Brazil is already struggling with the legacy of the 2014 soccer World Cup, which cost it an estimated $14 billion and left it with hugely expensive stadiums it does not need. If the jungle reclaims the Arena Amazonia in Manaus, Brazilians will not even have the ruins to contemplate.
Some pundits have called for “austerity Olympics,” the name given to the London Games of 1948. While that might capture the mood of the times, IOC members, like the Greek public, have shown a marked reluctance to vote for austerity.
Yet the IOC could solve the problem of where to stage its increasingly costly Games and provide a helping hand to Greece by putting the Games permanently in Athens. Anyone who attended the 2004 Games has happy memories of the event, hot and humid though they were. The Greeks were good hosts. The country has historical and sentimental appeal. Greece was where the ancient Olympics were born. Athens was where the modern Olympics was reborn. Athens has the facilities. They aren’t being used for anything else. They need work, but putting the Games permanently in one place will allow it to become profitable for the host as well as for the IOC.
And the IOC is one of the few international institutions that owes a debt to Greece.
When I criticized Field Turf going into SMF Field, I was ridiculed when I pointed to research that showed that the heat and things like ACL and MCLs would be on the rise. The argument was that it was better then the old Gordie Howe field was often mentioned. It never occured to anyone that we could put down good turf like the Hilltops play on each and every day at Ron Atchison Field. It also never occurred to people that maybe high schools don’t need to bus down to Howe Bowl all of the time and instead they could play on their home field like other cities do.
Now there is this. Field Turf is made from tires which are hazardous waste when they are tires but for some reason we have decided to let our children play on them in pellet form.
These are the days when the Women’s World Cup becomes truly grueling. Fewer days off, better opponents, more pressure. And a persistent obstacle the men never have to face – the artificial turf.
"I have plenty of blisters on my toes," United States forward Alex Morgan said with a resigned smile on Thursday.
That’s not a good thing for any player, let alone a star on the mend from knee and ankle ailments. "Turf achiness takes a little longer to recover from," Morgan said.
Michelle Heyman of Australia was even more blunt: "You wouldn’t want to see the bottom of our feet after a game," she told one Australian newspaper. "They just turn white. The skin is all ripped off; it’s pretty disgusting. It’s like walking on hot coals with your skin ripping and slowly cracking, constantly."
Well that isn’t the worst part.
Field temperatures in Edmonton for an earlier match soared as high as 120 degrees, even though the air temperature was in the low 70s. This weekend’s forecast for the Australians’ match with Japan is calling for a high around 90. One UNLV study found synthetic turf can heat up to 170 degrees in summer months. That poses risks ranging from dehydration to heat illness.
Then there is the possibility of faster collisions with other players, and with the ground. Jeffrey Kutcher, one of the world’s leading sports neurologists, told Yahoo Sports that studies of turf vs. grass haven’t been conclusive in his field, but "I would still stand behind the concept that grass is likely safer from a concussion standpoint."
No wait, that isn’t even the worst part. This is the worst part.
Artificial turf is used for playgrounds all over the continent, and battles are taking place over whether children are safe being exposed to the crushed tire rubber that makes up the turf. A Stockholm University study from 2012 found "automobile tires may be a potential source of highly carcinogenic dibenzopyrenes to the environment."
"It’s a serious, serious problem," says Nancy Alderman, president of the Environment and Human Health, Inc. (EHHI), an organization of physicians and public health professionals. "We are concerned about the health of a whole generation now who are playing on these fields."
Research on the topic is not advanced enough to conclusively determine safety hazards, but anecdotal evidence has hit close to home for the U.S. team. Amy Griffin, assistant coach at the University of Washington and former mentor to Hope Solo, has compiled a list of 153 student-athletes, the majority of them soccer goalkeepers, who have been diagnosed with cancer over the last several years. She has sent her research to the Washington State Department of Health.
"I never said this is giving people cancer," Griffin said by phone. "But if you were me, and you saw the number of goalkeepers [with cancer] was so high, you’d be alarmed.
"The more I know about tires, the more I think, ‘What the heck? What are we doing?’ " Griffin said. "In large form it’s hazardous waste, and in crumb form it’s OK for kids?"
The EHHI has been studying this issue at Yale University, and it released a statement earlier this month revealing it has found 96 chemicals in the materials used for synthetic turf.
"Of the 96 chemicals detected," the statement read, "a little under a half have had no toxicity assessments done on them for their health effects. … Of the half that have had toxicity assessments, 20 percent are probable carcinogens."
The lead investigator on the study, Yale University professor Gabdoury Benoit, called the rubber infill "a witch’s brew of toxic substances. It seems irresponsible to market a hazardous waste as a consumer product."
FieldTurf, the company that provided the playing surface for three of the World Cup stadiums in Canada, wrote in an email to Yahoo Sports stating that "Scientific research from academic, federal and state government organizations has unequivocally failed to find any link between synthetic turf and cancer. We are committed as a company and as an industry to the safety of our fields and the athletes that compete on them – which is why we have encouraged the rigorous work from third-parties that has taken place over decades to confirm there are no negative health effects connected to synthetic turf." The company also forwarded an array of documents supporting its case.
The lack of proof of causality is not soothing to some experts, however. "Cancer is a 30- or 40-year process," Yale oncologist Barry Boyd said. "So long-term exposure may not show up until years later."
Part of the uncertainty is the extent of a player’s exposure to the crumb rubber. The preponderance of goalies in Griffin’s research is troubling, as those players are interacting more with the turf by repeatedly diving onto the ground. But American players here have said they have found the pellets all over their body even after post-match showers. "Anywhere and everywhere," defender Lori Chalupny said. If the pellets do have toxic characteristics – especially under extreme heat – the proximity of athletes to those characteristics is there after games.
So kids start playing Kinsmen Football on turf. They play three years on it at the SaskTel Soccer Centre and SMF Field. Then they play parts of four years of high school football. The best play four years of Hilltops and then Huskies on artificial turf.
Of course the reason we use turf is that it is cheap. No other reason. The NFL has known for years that it shortens careers, particularly of running backs whose knees pay the cost. Countless NCAA universities who have had artificial or field turf are going back to grass because of the injuries. Even the Arizona Cardinals who play in a dome stadium move the entire field outside during the week so they can have natural grass.
Good grief, the Blue Jays are paying $600,000 a year to Guelph University for them to develop a grass that will grow inside. Why? It is so hard on athletes, even baseball players to play on turf. Now it appears that the turf that Saskatoon just fundraised to install has a major health risk to the kids who are going to play on it. Nice job Saskatoon.
The arena is not famous, or suited to soccer, or attractive. Scratch that. It’s actively ugly. The field is circled by a track – the perfect bush-league touch that says “high school.”
In order to maintain the televised illusion of grass – the surface is artificial turf – they’ve haphazardly laid long, near-green carpets on the sidelines. Like your weirdo cousins do in their paved-over backyard.
The global audience is used to seeing this level of event played on landscape architecture so pristine it makes Versailles look like urban farmland. Canada’s version is going to look like the house that gets cleaned by piling all the junk behind the couch.
Maybe the enthusiasm of the crowd can make up for the aesthetic shortcomings. Or maybe not. The locals don’t seem all that interested. As of Thursday, the game was 5,000 seats short of a sellout according to organizers.
As an ad for the country, then, the marketing tag line of the opening match of the 2015 World Cup goes something like, “Canada: Well, you know.”
What we know is where this game should be played, and why it isn’t.
It should be in Toronto, where there is a very expensive, purpose-designed structure of which its proper name is the National Soccer Stadium (BMO Field).
You and I paid for it to be built. Why did we do that if it’s not going to be used for the most important national soccer game that has ever been played in this country? Taxpayers got talked into buying a fridge, and now the bureaucrats want to use it as a bookshelf.
Also, there is the small matter of Edmonton. This requires some delicacy.
Edmonton, God love you. In some ways you are the romantic home of soccer in Canada. But when the whole country has to stand up in front of the rest of the world, you can’t be the first one talking. We just need you to stand there quietly, looking supportive.
No, no, not in front. They’ll see you. Stand behind Vancouver. No, on the other side of Montreal. All right, why don’t you just crouch down behind Halifax and we’ll hope everyone thinks you’re Ottawa.
When England has to make a good impression, they don’t spend hours debating if it should be highlighting Sunderland or Liverpool. You know, for the sake of fairness.
They go to London, straight off and every time, because that’s what the world wants.
The world is going to tune in on Saturday expecting Toronto because that’s the city that matters. It may hurt to hear it, but it doesn’t make it less true.
This might be marginally palatable if any games of the Women’s World Cup were slated to be played in the city. But there are none. Not a single element of the most important summer-sports tournament played here since the 1976 Olympics will take place in the country’s largest, most cosmopolitan, most soccer-loving city.
(Words are too poor a vehicle here. Just imagine me staring at you for a long time, until one eye starts to twitch and you start to get a little afraid.)