Tag Archives: football

Did the Saskatchewan Roughriders work out Jonny Manziel?

From Sportsnet

The Saskatchewan Roughriders find themselves at the centre of yet another controversy after a report from 3Down Nation alleged the team worked out former college and NFL star Johnny Manziel in January prior to the Senior Bowl.

Since Manziel is on the Hamilton Tiger-Cats’ negotiation list, a workout with the Riders would be a violation of CFL rules.

“We are investigating,” the league’s director of communications Paulo Senra said in a statement provided to Sportsnet. “The Riders tell us that they did not work out Manziel. So at this point, it appears the report is false. Should other evidence come to light, we will deal with it accordingly.”

Chris Jones, Saskatchewan’s head coach, GM and VP of football operations, denied the allegations with the following statement: “The Saskatchewan Roughriders have not held or attended a workout involving Johnny Manziel. With that, I will not be commenting further on the report.”

f the report turns out to be true, it’s unclear at this point what the possible punishment will be but this wouldn’t the first time the Riders have broken league rules. The team was fined and had its salary cap reduced during the 2016 season for practising with ineligible players.

I am going to believe Chris Jones on this but if it comes out the Riders did work out Manziel, I am not going to be surprised. 

How many more sickening Baylor details does college football need before it changes?

Speaking of Baylor

In truth, it’s not surprising.

Outrageous? Yes. Infuriating? Of course. But surprising? Nah.

Late Thursday night, just a day after college football’s biggest off-season holiday (National Signing Day), more ugly news about Baylor’s sexual assault scandal hit the Internet. The details were stomach churning: In a libel lawsuit filed by former director of operations Colin Shillinglaw, former head coach Art Briles and his assistants are accused of actively trying to protect players from discipline and law enforcement, creating a disciplinary “black hole” where a variety of offenses like assault, domestic violence, drug use and more magically “disappeared.”

Color me shocked. Or not.

Briles appeared on ESPN’s College GameDay this fall for in a sit-down interview with Tom Rinaldi, in which he apologized (for nothing specific) and choked back tears when asked what he would say to his deceased parents about the scandal and his subsequent firing. I’ve sat in Briles’s office and discussed the importance of second chances; he talked throughout his career about not casting the first stone and wanting to show others grace. Because of those conversations, I wanted to believe his tears that day were real.

What I see now is that this pathetic excuse for a man would stop at nothing to win. Granted, he had plenty of company: The lawsuit also details a meeting that Baylor alumni and donors had with regents, with alums and donors demanding to know more about why Briles and others were let go. When a regent explained that keeping Briles & Co. on staff would not uphold “the mission of the university,” one donor allegedly responded, “If you mention Baylor’s mission one more time, I’m going to throw up … I was promised a national championship.”

Sic em, Bears.

But my disgust right now is not with Briles or Baylor. As far as I’m concerned, Briles is a lost cause. He’s had multiple opportunities to come clean, to own his mistakes and come across as truly remorseful. He’s passed on all of them. No, my issue today is with Todd Graham, Tom Herman and Lane Kiffin.

During the football season, after interim coach Jim Grobe was plugged in at Baylor with Briles’s former assistants, multiple colleagues tried to tell me those assistants would have trouble finding jobs when the off-season and coaching carousel rolled around. I rolled my eyes at all of them. If I’ve learned anything from covering big-time athletics, it’s that people will turn their head or bury it in the stand when faced with horrific off-field events if it means a player or a coach can help them win (see Tyreek Hill and Joe Mixon for examples). Can you help someone win and/or make them money? If so, please sign on the dotted line.

That’s why Graham, Herman and Kiffin hired former Baylor assistants to work with them at Arizona State, Texas and Florida Atlantic, respectively. Graham hired former defensive coordinator Phil Bennett, a man who bragged to Baylor fans that Sam Ukwuachu was expected to be eligible for the 2015 season and would add depth to the Bears’ defense. In August 2015, Ukwuachu was found guilty of raping a former Baylor soccer player. That doesn’t make Bennett untouchable though? Arizona State needs out of the Pac-12 South cellar, and he can probably help them improve on a defense that gave up a conference-worst 520.5 yards per game in 2016.

The sad part about college athletics is that it isn’t about sports and the students at all, it is about boosters and donors thinking they are a apart of a winning team.  They are the ones that need the glory and the attention and the need to be a part of the “winning” team.   The reason this happens is not for the sake of winning, it is for the sake of keeping millionaires and billionaires happy so they keep giving more and more to the university and feel good about themselves when “coach” recognizes them at a dinner.  It’s really pathetic when you consider that every year women are asked to have sex with young boys who they are recruiting, other women are raped, assaulted, and later covered up to keep the machine going.

Baylor rocked by wave after wave of ugly allegations

Baylor at one time had aspirations of being the evangelical equal of Harvard University.  Then it lured into big time college sports.  It became successful and wealthy from it and recruited players based on their 40 yard dash time, not their character.  There were rapes and cover-ups from the coaching staff.

School regents had released few details behind the investigation that led to the firing of Briles, the ouster of former President Ken Starr and the eventual resignation of athletic director Ian McCaw, who is now at Liberty University.

The lack of details drew fierce criticism from students, alumni and donors, including Bears for Leadership Reform, a group that includes several prominent Baylor donors and Briles supporters, notably Drayton McLane, whose names adorns the Baylor’s new $250 million football stadium.

The regents’ court filing Thursday said they had no choice but to reveal some of the details of what they found.

”There is no question that the Regents, after a long, self-imposed silence, had to respond with truthful statements, to correct the record in an attempt to end the widespread misinformation,” the filing said.

Some of the lawsuits against Baylor were filed by students who alleged the school ignored them or bullied them into silence. One woman who said she was attacked accused Baylor of creating a ”hunting ground for sexual predators.” Other women claim the school used its student conduct code, which prohibits drug and alcohol use and premarital sex, to pressure them into dropping claims of abuse .

The school reached settlements with two women who had not sued but reported being gang-raped by football players. It has battled others, but the lawsuit alleging more than 50 attacks by football players was a stunning escalation beyond the 17 previously acknowledged by Baylor regents.

Bears for Leadership Reform demanded more details Friday, a day after the court filing revealed detailed allegations against Briles.

”We are shocked and appalled by the information in this court filing, and the fact that the regents, with full knowledge of this information, reportedly paid Art Briles and others millions of dollars in severance is deeply troubling,” said group leader John Eddie Williams.

”Full transparency, not an ongoing dribble of select information, is what the Baylor family wants and deserves,” Williams said.

Baylor faces broader questions of possible sanctions from the NCAA or the Big 12.

NCAA and Big 12 officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Friday, but conference officials have previously asked Baylor for a ”full accounting” of the school’s investigation.

Baylor academics have been put on notice as well.

The Southern Association of College and Schools, a leading university-accrediting body, has said it will closely monitor Baylor in 2017 on standards for student support services, institutional control of athletics and whether the campus is a safe and secure environment.

Gary Kubiak is stepping down in Denver

You can read the story from Yahoo! Sports

In a bit of a surprising development, Denver Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak has reportedly will step down from his post because of health concerns after Sunday’s game.

Less than two years after taking his dream job to coach for his close friend, Broncos general manager John Elway, and less than a year after beating the Carolina Panthers in the Super Bowl, Kubiak will pass the baton, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

In his short, brilliant run as the head coach for the team he spent the majority of his playing career, Kubiak compiled a 20-11 record heading into the season finale and won Super Bowl 50.

It’s believed that Kubiak, 55, would be stepping down following Sunday’s Week 17 game against the Oakland Raiders. Schefter reported that Kubiak would be finalizing his plans next week.

I like Gary Kubiak as a player.  I liked him as an offensive coordinator.  I liked him Houston as the head coach of the Texans and I liked him as the coach of the Denver Broncos.  I hate to see him leave as a coach but as someone wrote, he has made millions in the game and football is taking a toll on his health.  I assume he will step away for the game and become a studio analysis for a network where the hours are far less and the stress is non-existent.

I hope he enjoys his retirement, his place in Broncos lore, and his next stage in a career that will also probably pay him very well.

Some thoughts of the Saskatchewan Roughriders

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Speaking of Eric Tillman, is it too soon to consider bringing him back?  I think it is but some will consider it.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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. 
  7. 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.
  8. 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.”
  9. 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.

Back to Football

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.

Is Saskatoon making a dangerous mistake relying on Field Turf?

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.

Rehab for Johnny Football

Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plains Dealer reports that Johnny Manziel has entered rehab

Johnny Manziel enters rehab

Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel, who’s been photographed partying from coast to coast since the day he was drafted, entered a treatment facility Wednesday and is getting the help he needs, according to a family friend and advisor.

“Brad Beckworth, a friend and advisor to Manziel and his family, has confirmed that Johnny entered treatment on Wednesday,” a statement from Manziel’s publicist read. “Johnny knows there are areas in which he needs to improve in order to be a better family member, friend and teammate, and he thought the offseason was the right time to take this step. 

“On behalf of Johnny and his family, we’re asking for privacy until he rejoins the team in Cleveland.”

The Browns also released the following statement from general manager Ray Farmer:

“We respect Johnny’s initiative in this decision and will fully support him throughout this process. Our players’ health and well-being will always be of the utmost importance to the Cleveland Browns. We continually strive to create a supportive environment and provide the appropriate resources, with our foremost focus being on the individual and not just the football player.

“Johnny’s privacy will be respected by us during this very important period and we hope that others will do the same.”

Manziel’s partying was chronicled over the last year, from floating on swans to rolling up a bill in the bar of a bathroom, which the Browns found most “disturbing,” sources told Northeast Ohio Media Group.

I am not a big fan of Johnny Manziel as a football player.  I think he is better as a CFL than a NFL qb but I am happy for Manziel as a human being.  His season was a train wreck last year in most part of his partying and alcohol consumption.

I also think that the jump from the SEC (or any team in the NCAA) is so big that only a few can make it.  The talent is one reason but also you are no longer big man on campus.  Coaches like Mack Brown, Kevin Sumlin, or Jimbo Fisher aren’t covering for you.  The school president isn’t there to make excuses for you and there are no more professors who just want to be part of the “team”.   Vince Young never made the transition from college star to professional.  Even Tim Tebow never seemed to get it (especially after he had some success in Denver).  Hopefully Manziel finds some answers in rehab.  Not about football but about life.

What every professional sports league can learn from Donald Sterling

Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio is talking about the NFL learning from the debacle that is Donald Sterling but the lessons are universal.

While it remains impossible to open a window into a person’s soul to see whether the poison of racism resides there, it is possible to screen those whose words and actions suggest that they harbor such beliefs.

Donald Sterling’s words and actions suggest that he does. And the evidence existed long before TMZ published its tape of his voice.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Sterling agreed in 2009 to a $2.765 million settlement of charges that he discriminated against African-Americans and others at an apartment building he owned. The Times also reports that a lawsuit filed in 2003 accused Sterling of saying “Hispanics smoke, drink and just hang around the building,” and that “black tenants smell and attract vermin.” The case was resolved with a confidential settlement, but Sterling reportedly paid $5 million in legal fees to the plaintiffs.

Amazingly, those claims and the settlements of those claims generated little or no publicity or scorn of Sterling. If an NFL owner were accused of such conduct, the mere allegations would become major national news. If an NFL owner ever settled a case involving such allegations, the league office undoubtedly would be forced to take decisive action or face strong contentions of the existence of a double standard.

It’s all the more reason for the NFL to treat this occasion as the catalyst for ensuring that its house — specifically, its 32 houses — are in order. Existing owners should be warned clearly about the potential consequences of such conduct. Potential owners should be screened even more carefully to determine that they have done or said nothing that would suggest that their hearts are rotten with racism or other qualities that could result in their wealth and power being used to violate the rights of others.

Per a league source, NFL owners already expect Commissioner Roger Goodell to address the situation in some way at the next ownership meetings in May.

It’s often impossible to get to the truth of a person’s attitudes regarding matters of race. But the Sterling situation underscores the importance of taking all reasonably available steps to ensure that the country’s biggest sports business is doing business with people who have not only the wealth to assume such an important responsibility, but also the character.