Posts Tagged ‘War Room Sports’

What To Make of the Tired and Disturbing Case of Ezekiel Elliott

Sunday, November 5th, 2017

by Gus Griffin

gus

 

 

 

 

EE

The only thing that I am certain of in the battle between the Dallas Cowboys star running back Ezekiel

Elliott and the NFL, which wants to suspend him for 6 games over allegations of domestic violence, is that

I am tired of it and want it to end!

Beyond that, all bets are off.

My initial thinking when pondering writing this was to rail against the self-interest obsessed Cowboy

fans, Jerry Jones’ white male wealth privilege and those apologists, mostly men, for abusers.

Then I did what I hope every opinion writer does: I actually engaged in a more detailed researching of

the “central charge” (I’ll explain why the quotations for this later) against Elliott. After doing this I have

come to the only conclusion anyone could come to, which is that I have no idea who is the victim

between Elliott and his accuser. The inquire raises more questions than it answers. To briefly summarize

the reasons for doubting the accuser are the following:

1) Text messages secured by the NFL show the accuser discussing blackmailing Elliott with a sex

tape;

2) The accuser tried to convince a friend to lie on her behalf and support her claim that Elliott was responsible for her bruises. The friend refused and cited a fight between the accuser and another lady in an affidavit as the possible source of her bruises; and

3) She verbally threatened to ruin Elliott

It’s important to be an ally of women in the fight against domestic violence. As a man, I believe that I can

play a similar role in this struggle as Whites can play in combating racism. I also believe that I have taken

concrete steps to be an ally. The data is clear in that the overwhelming number of allegations of

domestic abuse are true. Having said that, the quest to be an ally does not mean that I am obliged to

blindly endorse the allegations of everyone. Basic fairness demands that allegations, even from a

historically abused demographic, be scrutinized and when that is done in this case, the only conclusion is

that the accuser’s credibility is suspect, so much so that the NFL’s own lead investigator recommended

no suspension for Elliott.

So why is this still a pending issue dangling over the head of Elliott, you ask? There are two primary

reasons for this:

1) Ezekiel Elliott has been a knucklehead with enough documented acts that indicate a lack of

respect for women and poor impulse control and judgment in general. When the totality of his

record is considered, it is not that much of a stretch to believe Elliott is capable of what he is

being accused. The NFL collective bargaining agreement, which the players sign off on permits

the commissioner to consider such incidents in a cumulative manner when pondering discipline.

Therefore, any reviewing of the “central charge” alone is incomplete. It cannot be refuted by

“the police did not charge him” common claim because it’s not a legal process but a workplace

disciplinary process;

2) The NFL has an inconsistent track record when dealing with its players accused of violence

towards women, be it Ray Rice, Greg Hardy, or Josh Brown. As a result, there is tremendous

pressure to get this one right;

3) Elliott is the best player on the most popular team in the most popular sport in America. Anyone in that position, regardless of race, with these accusations is going to draw more scrutiny than say a punter, as was the case with kicker Josh Brown.

You may ask how the NFL can get it right if the player is literally not guilty of the accusation. That’s when

it gets even more complicated. Like it or not, there are at least 2 factors that the NFL considers BEFORE

the actual merits of the accusation. Those two are money and public relations. The actual merits of the

charges are at best a distant third . Money is easy enough to understand. Anything that the NFL deems as having the potential to dip into its bottom line must be dealt with ASAP. Then there are the public

relations of the issue, which is a direct extension of the money factor. This can be best summarized by

saying that the NFL is more concerned with damage control than it is the damage itself. That means

actually caring about domestic violence is not nearly as important to them as appearing to care about

the issue. What this all means is that in the wake of botching the Ray Rice and Josh Brown cases, they

needed a pound of flesh.

Enter Ezekiel Elliott!

So, after multiple court injunctions and stays and no clear ending to the stalemate, here we are.

Based on history, it’s highly unlikely that Elliott will avoid a suspension. It’s not a question of if he will sit

but when, and for how long. After all, even the golden boy, Tom Brady, eventually had to sit. Judges are

very hesitant to overturn provisions of a collectively bargained agreement and that is what the NFL has

as its trump card. Given that, what I have never quite understood is why the Cowboys didn’t play this

differently. Why not take the precedent of Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger back in 2010? He got the

same 6-game suspension for multiple accusations of sexual assault. It was eventually reduced to 4

games, during which the Steelers went 3-1. They would win the AFC that year, making it to the Super

Bowl, a highly unlikely accomplishment had they taken the Cowboys approach to Elliott’s situation this

year. Even if Elliott’s suspension were not reduced, the 6 games would be over by now. They could have

gone 3-3 (their record with him after 6) without him. They would have him back, healthy and rested for

the second half of the season, including both games against the high-flying, first place Eagles. Now that is all in doubt, as are the Cowboys’ playoffs hopes.

So why didn’t they take that approach? I can only come up with 3 possible reasons:

1) Jerry Jones is used to getting his way and would not back down;

2) Elliot, like most professional athletes, is programmed not to back down and is engaged in this process in the same way; or

3) He actually did not abuse her.

I do not know which one, two, or all three might have been at the heart of the Cowboys’ strategy.

That disturbs me but not nearly as much as the fact that this saga has given a platform to misogynist and

apologist for those who abuse women.

 

Gus Griffin, for War Room Sports

Dear Michael Jordan…STFU: How We Should Think About Super Teams and Corporate Monopolies

Thursday, October 26th, 2017

by Gus Griffin

gus

 

 

 

 

MJ

Michael Jordan is upset about the Warriors and Cavaliers being super teams while the other 28, in his words, “are garbage”.

Never mind the insult to the San Antonio Spurs, who would not fit the description of garbage in any era of basketball. Let’s keep the focus on Jordan the player and Jordan the owner.

Michael Jordan the player, was quite possibly the greatest ever and was the primary reason that his Chicago Bulls won the NBA title every year of his last 6 full seasons with the team. It wasn’t just his ability on the court. It was his willingness to play for a “mere” $3-4 million per season (he was making in the range of $36 million in endorsements). This gave his team a huge unfair advantage that they would eventually use to help secure Dennis Rodman and keep Scottie Pippen from leaving before his prime was up.

Michael Jordan the owner, apparently does not want other teams having the kind of advantage his Bulls had in his playing days.

The irony of it all is that the max deal restrictions on player salaries today is a direct result of Jordan’s last 1-year deal with the Bulls.  For the 1997-98 season, Jordan earned just over $33 million, which is still the single season record for a player. This salary was also more than the entire roster of 19 teams that year.

Back to Jordan the player, who once suggested if Wizards owner Abe Pollin could not afford the team that he should sell the team. Jordan would later work for Pollin in his last comeback.

The only conclusion that I can make about the contradictions between Michael Jordan the players vs Michael Jordan the owner is that when people win and/or get the outcomes they want, fairness is not a principle that is very important to them.

The same is true of American capitalism and its production of corporate monopolies. Despite the lessons that should have been learned from the near crash of 2008, less than 10 years later, the U.S. economy is increasingly being dominated by corporate mergers. Walgreens bought up Rite Aid, Heinz bought Kraft, and American Airlines bought US Airways. On Wall Street, the source of the near collapse, the 5 biggest banks hold nearly half the nation’s assets. An increasing trend is to mandate its customers and employees to agree to arbitration in disputes, thereby signing away their constitutional rights to a trial.

Why should we as sports fans care? Because the trends going on with super team formations in the NBA, though largely driven by a handful of the game’s superstars, will not affect your pension, civil liberties, or living wages. The trends going on with corporate monopolies absolutely will affect all of the aforementioned and yet we don’t personalize our indignation about corporate monopolies anywhere near to the degree that we do when attacking pro athletes.

I am not suggesting that this whole super team thing is something I particularly like as a fan of the game. It, without question, leaves a competitive imbalance. I am suggesting that we have idealized the NBA past as if this has never happened before.  The Bill Russel era Celtics won 11 titles in 13 years and the aforementioned Jordan era Bulls won 6 in 8 years. And yet the league survived just fine.  Even the Showtime Lakers, who won 5 titles, also lost 4 times in the NBA finals. Before the 1982-83 season, the 76ers added the late great Moses Malone, arguably the best player in the league at the time. He would be the final piece to a team that had made it to the NBA finals 2 of the previous 3 years, and already had Julius Erving. They cruised through the regular season and playoffs before sweeping my defending champion Lakers for the title.  It looked like at the time that the Sixers would win multiple titles.

They never won another.

In sports, the impact and collateral damage of super teams is relatively minimal and history has shown that the game will survive their fluctuating eras. The same cannot be said of capitalistic America and its corporate monopolies. I would hope we reserve our outrage for the real danger between the two.

 

Gus Griffin, for War Room Sports

Dusty Baker is a Hall of Fame Manager

Friday, September 29th, 2017

by Gus Griffin

gus

 

 

 

 

Washington Nationals manager Dusty Baker looks on from the dugout before a baseball game against the New York Mets at Nationals Park, Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2016, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Washington Nationals manager Dusty Baker looks on from the dugout before a baseball game against the New York Mets at Nationals Park, Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2016, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

As the Washington Nationals prepare for the post season, it should be noted that this is old hat for manager Dusty Baker. In fact, it’s as good of a time as any to make the case that Dusty Baker should one day be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

That’s right, I said it, and the reasons people resist this idea are as interesting as the case that he is, so let’s start with those reasons.

Not only has Dusty Baker never managed a World Series winner, but he has presided over some of the most infamous pennant race and post season collapses in recent baseball history.

He has been the Marty Schotenheimer of major league baseball managers.

The list is as follows:

  • 1993 Giants had an 8 game lead over the Braves in August. Though the team would win a franchise record 103 games, they would lose the Western Division on the last day of the season (losing to those damn Dodgers). That team would not make it to the post season. Many consider that season’s outcome to be the primary basis for the development of the wild card in baseball, giving the best second place team a place in the post season;
  • 2002 Giants have a 3 games to 2 lead over the Angels in game 6 of the World Series and are 5 outs from winning their first world series since 1954. Then it all fell apart and the Angels go on to win in 7 games;
  • 2003 Chicago Cubs and the infamous Bartman game and series. The Marlins win that game 6 and eventually game 7 in Chicago, and beat the Yankees in the World Series.
  • 2012 Reds win the first two games in San Francisco of a best of 5 series, only to lose 3 straight to my Giants in Cincinnati. The Giants go on to win their second World Series of 3 in a 5 year span.

As sports fans, we tend to remember individual failure more than cumulative success.  Ask any fan what they remember most about Billy Buckner and they are likely to cite the 1986 World Series error rather than the 2700+ career hits and 1980 NL batting title.  The same is true of Ernest Byner in football.

It is fair to cite Baker as the only common denominator in all of the above noted collapses.  My primary response is that only an exceptional manager would continually be in these situations.

The case for Baker is as follows:

  • His 1800+ wins are more than Earl Weaver, Tommy Lasorda, or Dick Williams, all of whom are in the Hall of Fame;
  • He is one of only 4 managers to take 4 different teams to the post season, along with Williams, Billy Martin, and Davey Johnson. Martin and Johnson each have their own Hall of Fame cases;
  • He has ten 90 win seasons. All managers with this number or more are in the Hall of fame;
  • He managed Barry Bonds and Jeff Kent over multiple 162 game seasons, which is every bit as difficult as coaching Shaq and Kobe.

So exactly what factors most impact a manager’s success? I say 4, which are communication skills, baseball tactics, instincts, and situation. The manager actually only has control of the first three.  By all accounts, Baker is a great communicator. The problem is that this skill is the least observable to fans and even the sports writers who vote for the Hall of Fame.  So Baker’s greatest skill is the least measurable. His baseball tactics and instincts would have to be above average to win nearly 2000 games. Sure, anyone can find a decision on bullpen or bench management here or there, to dispute over the course of 23 years and 162 game seasons. But surely not enough to question his deserving of Hall of Fame status. The last factor would be the situation, and the manager has little to no control over that factor.  Situation includes the owner, timing, talent, etc. Let’s be clear about this, Joe Torre managed 3 different teams before he took the reins of the Yankees.  In the years before he got there, notoriously meddling owner George Steinbrenner was suspended from the day to day operations of the team.  His history was to win now, future be damned.  What this resulted in was young talent being traded away for veterans.  Due to his suspension, this did not happen in the mid-90s, and thus, Bernie Williams, Jorge Posada, Andy Petite, Mariano Rivera, and Derek Jeter remained in their system and awaited Torre’s tutelage.  The rest is history.  From 1996-2000, the Yankees would win the World Series four times.

Joe Torre did not suddenly learn how to manage in New York with the Yankees.  But the fact is, if you take away his Yankees tenure, his career managerial record is sub-500.  Situation matters.

Dick Williams found working under A’s owner Charlie O Finely so difficult, he resigned from a 2-time defending champion team after the 1973 season, in a similar way that Jimmy Johnson left the Cowboys. Situation matters.

Regardless of the situation, Dusty Baker has won and he has won a lot. This should earn him a bust in Cooperstown someday.

 

Gus Griffin, for War Room Sports

Where Jemele Hill Went Wrong

Friday, September 15th, 2017

by Gus Griffin

gus

 

 

 

 

JH

“Trump is the most ignorant, offensive president of my lifetime.”

“His rise is a direct result of white supremacy. Period.”

“He is unqualified and unfit to be president. He is not a leader. And if he were not white, he never would have been elected.”

“Donald Trump is a white supremacist who has largely surrounded himself w/ other white supremacists.”

“The height of white privilege is being able to ignore his white supremacy, because it’s of no threat to you.”

“Well, it’s a threat to me.”

“Donald Trump is a bigot. Glad you could live with voting for him. I couldn’t, because I cared about more than just myself.”

“I hate a lot of things but not enough to jeopardize my fellow citizens with an unfit, bigoted, incompetent moron. But hey, that’s just me.”

These are the tweets that landed ESPN commentator Jemele Hill into hot water.

Every last word is true!  

At the very least, it’s much easier to support what she says about the current president of the “Divided” States of America than it would be to refute them.  

And still yet often in America, truth is not the point! The denial of truth is.

Hill’s comments addressed the truth.  They did not address the denial of the truth, which is a prerequisite.  

It’s like trying to administer treatment or medicine to someone that does not acknowledge being sick.

I realize that this is a hard thing for truth loving people to stomach, especially those of us who are either more likely to be vulnerable to the adverse effects of the current president’s mindset and policies.  It is equally troubling for those who thought that they could find refuge from political commentary in sports.  

The point is that in America we have tacitly understood sacred cow subjects around which we are required to steer clear of under all circumstances, and race in sports is right at the top of that list.  

Full disclosure: Jemele Hill, along with Bomani Jones, Tim Kurkjian, and Jay Bilas, are my favorite ESPN commentators. Unlike Erin Andrews of Fox (throw a nickel out the window and you could hit 20 others who can do what Andrews does), she actually knows sports. She is insightful beyond sports, which is why she had to know that she was violating the code. What code you ask? The code that says as a sports commentator you are to, above all and foremost, insure that your white audience is comfortable with your commentary. Calling a man that more than a few of them voted for, a white supremacist, though absolutely true, is a violation of the code. One of the requirements to maintain a position such as the one Hill occupies is self-censorship.  

Now the other end of this is Jason Whitlock, who either consciously or subconsciously talks about race all the time, but in a way that placates the very element that is currently outraged about Hill’s comments.

As a result, his place in the mainstream sports media is secure.

I am not saying that she should not have said what she did. I am actually always happy to hear “insiders” rock the boat.  I am saying that when you do, understand that the pushback will be fierce and swift, and if one is not prepared to absorb such pushback without apologizing, why say it at all?  

My first degree from Howard University was in Journalism. My desire was to be what Hill is today, which is part of why I am a fan and have such great respect for her. I actually wrote for a Washington Black weekly paper upon graduating and was offered an internship with ABC News under Sam Donaldson. I turned it down and have no regrets. My thinking even then, over 20 years ago, was that to progress in such an environment would require I engage in the type of self-censorship that would have kept Hill out of the hot water she is currently in, and I knew that I simply could not adhere to “the code”.  

In the end, the issue is not Jemele Hill or even ESPN. The issue is the delusional notion that sports is some isolated haven, free of political commentary, or even that it should be. History proves this to be a fallacy.  Be it the influence of Jackie Robinson’s breaking the color line in baseball, or the civil rights movement, or Muhammad Ali’s stand against the Vietnam War, sports has always been a platform to address larger issues to include politics as well it should be. But until the contrary myth is debunked, the likes of Jemele Hill and others of her valuable consciousness have a decision to make: is it best to maintain her current platform and speak truth to power from within the existing mainstream system or leave it and all of its perks and restraints to do so from the outside?  Neither you nor I can make that decision for her. If she leaves on principle, I’ll miss her on ESPN but respect her decision.  If she remains, she will surely have to understand that the push-back she is receiving is indeed the price of the party.

Gus Griffin, for War Room Sports

I Changed My Mind: The Case for Guaranteed NFL Contracts!

Monday, September 11th, 2017

by Gus Griffin

gus

 

 

 

 

Image via The Point After Show

Image via The Point After Show

That’s right. For years, I have been of the opinion that NFL owners should not be at risk for fully guaranteed contracts in a sport where the risk of injury was so great.

Then a fiscally-conservative buddy of mine expressed surprise at my position.   

Whenever those types are to the left of me, I get concerned. LOL

So I began to rethink my position, which was based on “reasonable owner risk”.  

The good part is that the term reasonable is so broad and subjective that it was not hard to undermine my own position with factually based reasoning.  

First of all, player health risk should be, at the very least, as much of a concern as the financial risk of billionaires. Sure, players signed up for this and thus certainly assume a degree of health risks. That does not mean that they absolved themselves of any right to advocate mitigating those risks. Speaking of signing up for risks, that is what any business owner does when he/she starts a business. For NFL owners, guaranteed contracts should be among those risks.

But even with that, are the owners really at risk? The TV money is divided up evenly among all 32 teams.  Owning an NFL team is like having a cash printer in your basement. Your team doesn’t even have to be good. Even the sorry winless 2008 Detroit Lions made big profits. If owners can’t simply write bad contracts off on their taxes, I’m sure they will TELL their Congressional lackeys….I mean representatives, to simply rewrite the code for their benefit. The 1 percent has been doing that since the beginning of the tax system. The only obstacle on this front would be an adjustment to the salary cap, allowing the injured players debt to be removed which would allow a team to replace him without taking a cap hit.

So capacity is not the issue. NFL revenues are projected to surpass $13 billion when all the receipts come in for the 2016 season, and that number will only increase. Yet, of the 4 major sports, NFL players have the lowest career earnings, even when the comparison is adjusted for the same number of years.   

Simply put, they got the loot and between tax loopholes and insurance policies, owners wouldn’t lose a dime.    

There are two primary issues that will make this an uphill battle: 1) a lack of player unity; and 2) the owners’ control of the narrative that the public largely believes.  

On the first issue, NFL players must have unity if they are to have any chance of getting guaranteed contracts. That will be especially challenging given that they have a very small window to make as much money as they can. Getting nearly 1700 guys to come together would be no small task, even for the best of labor organizers, and the owners know this. The 32 owners, on the other hand, are far better equipped to miss a few checks than are the 1700 players. A good place to start would be to abandon these ridiculous long-term deals. They are highly misleading and the sports media is complicit in the deception.  For example, say a player signs a 6-year deal worth $100 million. Unless he is an upper echelon QB, chances are that the majority of the money is back loaded and everyone, including the player, knows that he will never see that money. This leads us to the second issue, which is the capacity of owners to craft a narrative that appeals to a critical mass of the 99%, and thus undermines the player position in the court of public opinion. That narrative basically says that “you are being paid good money to play a game. You play at your own risk. Shut up and entertain us!”   

Such a narrative exploits the envy that many fans have of NFL players and their obsession to themselves join the 1% so much so, that they are willing to do the ideological bidding of the owners. The line of thinking is not that much different from the fact that most whites supported slavery, even though very few were themselves slave owners, which was a sign of aristocracy. Or many of today’s poor supporters of the “crony capitalist” in the White House. The reality is that players will get guaranteed contracts BEFORE the cartel of NFL owners or any other element of the 1% permit the fan class to join them. Ask Marc Cuban, the very wealthy owner of the Dallas Mavericks. He is both rich and white.  But it was not enough to gain his admittance when he attempted to buy the LA Dodgers. Major League Baseball literally allowed the team to go into bankruptcy rather than allow an “outsider” into the fold. The NFL cartel is even more discriminating than that of baseball.

So what it comes down to is organized people vs organized money. Contrary to the misleading narrative promoted by owners and their mainstream media PR firms, the players are not among the organized money class. If as fans, you can say that you watch football more so because of who owns the team as opposed to who is playing, then disregard everything that I have said.  But if you are honest and get on the right side, then the players have a chance to reap a more secure piece of the pie that they largely bake.

Gus Griffin, for War Room Sports  

Ode to Venus Williams

Friday, July 14th, 2017

by Gus Griffin

gus

 

 

 

 

VW

Venus Williams is the single most underappreciated athlete in the world over the past 20 years!

The primary reason for this is understandable: when your little sister is on the short-list of greatest athletes of the last century, your accomplishments just might get a bit overlooked.

Just to summarize, Venus has won 7 Grand Slam titles and 49 tournaments overall.  Her lifetime record against top 10 opponents is 321-159, which amounts to a winning percentage of 67%.  Her lifetime record against the world’s number 1 ranked player is 10-5.  Even on clay, her worst surface, she has a winning percentage of 63%.  In Grand Slam finals, she is sub .500 at 7-8.  Seven of those eight losses have come to her little sister.  Simply put, Venus Williams has only lost one Grand Slam final to anyone not named Serena.

It is often noted if it were not for Venus, Serena would have even more Grand Slam titles.  But the opposite is true as well.  Without Serena in the picture, Venus could very well have 14 major titles.  That would have her in the G.O.A.T. conversation.

Those numbers alone are enough of a resume, but there is more.

It was Venus who was the most vocal active player in the fight for equal pay at Wimbledon for the women’s champion compared to the men’s champion.

In 2011, she was diagnosed with a rare ailment called Sjogren’s Syndrome.   Two of its symptoms are pain in the joints and fatigue; no small factors for a professional tennis player.    Being north of 30 and having already been a seven-time Grand Slam winner, it would have been understandable if she called it a career.  She did not, and as a result she is entering her second Grand Slam final of the year Saturday morning at Wimbledon, after having dominated up and coming Brit Johanna Konta in Thursday’s semi-final.   She is now 21-7 this year and will re-enter the world’s top 10, all at the age of 37 years old.   If she wins it will be her 6th Wimbledon title and she will become the oldest woman to win a Grand Slam event in tennis history!

Beating Garbine Muguruza for the Wimbledon title, a Grand Slam champion in her own right, will be a tall task.  I consider her to be the most likely to succeed Serena as the world’s undisputed best player.

But losing won’t take away from the fact that despite age, an ailment that would retire lesser competitors, some media that have been flaky at best to embrace one half of what is arguably the greatest story in the history of American sports, and the huge shadow of her little sister, VENUS IS RISING AGAIN.  We should not only notice, but we should show her the love and give her the standing ovation she so richly deserves.

 

Gus Griffin, for War Room Sports

Dear Kevin Durant Haters: Let It Go!

Saturday, June 17th, 2017

by Gus Griffin

gus

 

 

 

 

KD

Russell Westbrook averaging a triple-double this past year brought much deserved attention to the great Oscar Robertson, who previously had been the only player to accomplish such a feat, way back in 1962, his second year in the league.  Robertson came close to doing it his first 5 years in the league, usually missing because he would “only” average 9 assists one year or 9 rebounds another year.  He also had 5 different seasons in which he averaged over 30 points a game.

But as for rings for NBA titles with the Cincinnati Royals, he had nothing to show for his greatness.  While his teams made the playoffs 6 straight seasons from 1962-67, they lost to either Bill Russell’s Celtics or Wilt Chamberlain’s 76ers in 5 of those six seasons.   Four of those 5 defeats were to the eventual NBA champions.

It was not because he did not elevate his game in the big moments.  He averaged a triple-double in the 1962 playoffs.  Over that 6-year period his average playoff numbers were 29 points, nearly 10 assist, and over 8 rebounds a game.  Oscar Robertson spent his first and best 10 years in the NBA losing year after year in the playoffs because his team was simply not good enough.

Here is my question for the Kevin Durant (KD) critics who insist that he should have never joined the team that he could not beat: do you honestly believe Oscar Robertson would have stayed in Cincinnati all those years with the same foreseeable outcomes if he had the choice to join Wilt in Philly or Bill in Boston or even Elgin Baylor and Jerry West in LA?

Would you have?  If your GPS tells you that you can shave 10 minutes off your commute to your destination, can you honestly say you would ignore it and insist on going the hard way?

The fact is he didn’t have a choice because free agency at that time was a mere shadow of what it is today.  As a matter of fact, Robertson would go on to become the National Basketball Players Association president and in that capacity, in 1970, would file an anti-trust suit under his name against NBA owners which challenged, among other things, to do away with the option clause which bound a player to one team.  Though the suit was eventually dismissed as part of a collective bargaining agreement, it was an important piece of leverage that led to the free agency today enjoyed by players like KD.

With this important piece of historical context and the larger issue of LABOR RIGHTS, I am at a loss for why all this shade is being thrown at KD for joining the Warriors?

Whatever happened to “if you can’t beat them join them”?

That’s what Deion Sanders did when he left the Falcons to join the division rival 49ers to win a Super Bowl ring.  That’s what Greg Maddox did in leaving the Cubs to join the Braves to win the World Series.  What KD did is not new in sports.

Ok, if KD tweeted criticism of LeBron for going to Miami, he set himself up for some of this.

Furthermore, admittedly there is a competitive romantic side of me that would have admired KD even more as a champion had he done it from Oklahoma City.  There was an additional gratification when seeing the long-suffering likes of Andy Murray in tennis and Phil Mickelson in golf finally win major titles after multiple heart-breaking disappointments.  The same feeling came watching the Cubs in baseball and of course the great Akeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler with the Houston Rockets.

But that romanticism will always be trumped by the necessity to appreciate the struggle, yes even among professional athletes, for labor rights.  The fact that most of us in our lifetime will not have the leverage to impact our compensation and place of labor the way professional athletes do is not a basis to begrudge them.  After all, the simple reality is that millions of people have no interest or willingness to pay to watch you nor I do our jobs.   It should be an incentive to improve our own collective 99% lot and not hate on them, be it John Elway or Eli Manning maneuvering out of Baltimore and San Diego, or KD leaving Oklahoma City.

I suspect that the common sports myth of loyalty is a factor of the KD hate.

Weather we as fans want to continue to deny getting the memo or not, sports loyalty has always been at best the exception and not the rule.  Don’t let the final chapters for Kobe Bryant and Derek Jeter fool you.  The more common finality between a player and a team is that of Babe Ruth who ended his career with the Boston Braves when he could no longer hit homers for the Yankees.  Or Johnny Unitas who ended with the San Diego Chargers when he could not throw enough TD passes for the Colts.  The reality is under capitalism, even the all-time greats are mere commodities for the enrichment of the owners.  And yet you can find more needles in a haystack than you can fans that hold never-ending grudges against teams for their lack of loyalty to players.

Chris Rock once declared that men are only as loyal as our opportunities.  That bit of truth is not restricted by gender or other aspects of life to include sports.   So, I urge you KD haters; chill, get your favorite mind-altering substance, plug in some Toni Braxton, and LET IT GO!

 

Gus Griffin, for War Room Sports

Bob Dandridge Visits The War Room!

Thursday, June 8th, 2017

BD

Milwaukee Bucks’ legend, Bob Dandridge will be in The War Room this Thursday, June 8th, to discuss a myriad of NBA topics, past and present!

Tune in Thursday, June 8th at 6pm EST to hear our conversation with the NBA Champion/SHOULD-BE Hall of Famer!  To tune in, go to www.WarRoomSports.com and click the “Listen Live” button…or dial 323-410-0012 to listen live by phone.  If you can’t catch us live, listen to the replay at ANY time after the live show on the War Room Sports Podcast Network, at www.WRSPN.com.

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When Facts are Not the Truth: The Blackballing of Colin Kaepernick

Monday, June 5th, 2017

by Gus Griffin

gus

 

 

 

 

CK

It seems Dan Orvlovsky will be calling it a career.

Yes, that Dan Orvlovsky was still in the league in 2016.  The same one who in 2008, made the 2nd most egregious (after a throwing a pick 6 inside your own 20) hustling backwards move a QB can make.  He literally sacked himself!

While with what would become the 0-16 Lions, Orvlovsky retreated away from the Vikings Jared Allen and with absolutely no awareness of the back of the end zone, which by rule is a safety and two points for the Vikings, and gives them the ball.

This play was literally his claim to fame.

Nevertheless, he was never subjected to the ever sticking “he can’t read defenses…I mean the back of end zones”.  In fact, after that season and play, 3 other NFL teams, the Texans, Colts, and Buccaneers thought he was good enough to be a backup.  Simply put, a guy who was not good enough for arguably the worst team in NFL history still got 3 other jobs with NFL teams.  Still, yet some are still trying to rationalize with a straight face that “system” incompatibility explains why Colin Kaepernick doesn’t have a job?

You may as well piss on me and try to tell me it’s raining!

This is a perfect example of when an analysis can be factual and well-based and yet not be truth at the same time.  Facts are statements or analysis that can be supported with verifiable reality.  Truth are facts within the full context of contributing factors.

The facts are that Colin Kaepernick is not, nor ever has been a traditional drop back passer.  It simply is not his strongest skill-set and thus a system calling for that is not a good match.  Some pitchers have a great fastball but not much of an off-speed pitch.  Some guards are good at penetrating but don’t shoot well from the outside.  Most professionals are incomplete.  It doesn’t mean that there is no job for them.

But when these facts are offered up to explain why he doesn’t have a job in the NFL, they are not truthful.

Always be leery of the “he can’t read defenses” critique, which is a dog whistle way of calling Black quarterbacks dumb.  The fact is he has had a poor offensive line which has contributed to an unreliable running game and non-threatening receivers.  Under such circumstances, knowing when to get the hell out of Dodge is actually a sign of intelligence.  Staying in the pocket to take an unnecessary beating would be dumb.

The truth is, the overwhelming number of NFL QBs, both historically, present day, and even the Hall of Famers are system dependent!

Only one today is not burdened with such limitations and that would be of course Aaron Rogers!  He is the beginning and end of the current list to have all the specialized skills that can accommodate any of the common offensive schemes/systems of today.  In short, one must be able to throw the deep out, be accurate in traffic, avoid the rush, and extend plays when the pocket breaks down; and also know when to get rid of the ball, usually with a 3-step drop.  Historically, for me, only 4 others come to mind; Roger Staubach, Warren Moon (you must remember the Moon at Washington and in the CFL), John Elway, and Steve Young.

No, Tom Brady cannot run the read-option or avoid pressure, nor could Peyton Manning.  Big Ben has never nor ever could be a traditional 3-step drop West Coast passer.  In fact, that would be contrary to his strength which would be to extend plays.

So, if 95% plus of NFL QBs are system dependent, then that could not possibly be the reason for a QB not being able to get a job.  The truth is that the NFL is arguably the most exclusive cartel in the world.  Its owners only answer to a commissioner that they have the authority to fire.  Even if their product is bad, every team prints money.  Such people are not very interested in anyone posing serious questions about the society that allows them such privilege, and that is what Kapernick did.  They didn’t have to all agree on a conference call or meet at some golf club for the blackballing to take place, any more than drug lords need to verbally agree that potential witnesses need to be taken out.  It’s understood.  Common interests often are reflected in common motives and behaviors.

It is warranted to “peacock” about American freedom of speech.  I am not aware of such a principle being written into law quite the way it is here.  But part of that pride should come from having the capacity to stomach the speech or expression one does not like or agree with as well.  Thus far, the NFL has not mastered that aspect of the principle.

 

Gus Griffin, for War Room Sports

Bryce Harper was Right And the Myth of Code Loyalty

Wednesday, May 31st, 2017

by Gus Griffin

gus

 

 

 

 

BH

I so appreciate the sports of the San Francisco Bay Area.  Be it Colin Kaepernick or the Golden State Warriors, they give me material.  And now Bryce Harper and my San Francisco Giants.

Yes, my San Francisco Giants.  Full disclosure for those who have been under an FB rock, baseball is and has always been my favorite sport, and the Giants are my favorite team.  I got it from my pops.  I modeled my pitching motion after high-leg kicking Giants pitchers Juan Marichal and Vida Blue.  I lived long enough to see them win 3 world series rings in 5 years to lap the hated Dodgers in titles.  Simply put, over the past 8 years, it’s been good to be a Giants fan.

And with all that being said, I am 100% in support of Bryce Harper for going after Hunter Strickland for intentionally hitting him with a pitch upwards of 97 miles per hour.

This all played out with the larger backdrop of baseball trying to reign in “bean ball” wars.

Good luck with that.

Since its inception, baseball has long had an unwritten code that says if you throw at one of ours, we will throw at one of yours.  Of course, the likes of Don Drysdale, Bob Gibson, Nolan Ryan, and Roger Clemens took this internal vigilantism to an entirely different level, both for retribution and intimidation.  It was all understood that this was how things were done.

Of course, the other complication is that there is a legitimate tactical justification for pitching inside.  The gentlemen’s agreement has long been that the outside part of the plate belongs to pitchers and the inside belongs to hitters.  If a hitter gets greedy trying to crowd the plate to take aggressive hacks at pitches on the outside corner, things must be put back into order and the inside fastball is the mechanism for doing so.  While this will surely result in some batters being hit, to ban the tactic in of itself would tilt the balance of competition so far in the direction of hitters to the point of the game ceasing to be what we have known it to be.

Baseball’s challenge is against whom and when does it intervene; against the first violator or the second?  On the first shot, a pitcher could have legitimately simply lost control of a pitch.  Should he be thrown out of the game?  If second offender (or retaliator) is ejected, that will essentially give the initiators a free shot.  The bottom line is that as MLB moves to eliminate this internal policing of the game, hitters can no longer count on their pitcher to keep things in order.

So, when a guy throws a 97 mph baseball at a hitter, what the hell do we expect him to do?  If Harper does not make a stand, then the message to the rest of the league is clear; you can throw at him with impunity!

None of that contextual backdrop applies to what Strickland did Monday in San Francisco.   He was simply pissed off because 3 years ago in the playoffs, Bryce Harper hit not one, but two moonshot home runs off him.  The espoused offense was that Harper ran around the bases too slow.  I was at the game in Washington.  The ball cleared the Jackie Robinson number in the upper deck.  While I did not think it was funny at the time, you could not help but be impressed.  The one in San Francisco cleared the stadium and landed in McCovey Cove.  Simply put, if Harper decided to walk around the bases, I would have had no problem with it at all, and if Strickland did, he should have learned to throw a damn change up!

The other aspect of the incident that has garnered a lot of attention was the Giants’, especially all-star catcher Buster Posey, lackluster attempt to “protect their guy”.  Admittedly, it is unusual for the catcher not to grab the hitter or at least attempt to do so in that situation.  Some have speculated if this will affect how Posey is perceived in the locker room.  That is an assessment that cannot be made without knowing how Strickland is perceived in the locker room.  If he is viewed as some out of control lone wolf who takes matters into his own hands, Posey’s place in the locker room will not be affected one iota.

The truth is that these “ride or die” loyalty codes we men swear to adhere by unconditionally are anything but unconditional.  We espouse to believe in them because they are often a rites of passage for peer group, cultural and societal acceptance.  But the graveyard has its share of dudes who actually took that nonsense literally at a party or on the streets.  Such blind loyalty is romanticized in the media.  Buster Posey is neither Cookie from Empire nor Marines from A Few Good Men.  No matter how sincerely committed, there will come a time when one must use your capacity to think for yourself, to dismiss the group code in favor of your own individual best interests.  Doing so doesn’t make one cowardly or disloyal.  It makes one intelligent.  In the real world, when the rubber meets the road, the sheer practicality of self-preservation will rule the day, be it among the Bloods and Crips or the Mafia.   We should expect no less from baseball players.

Simply put, if a loose cannon like Strickland fires off a 97 mph fastball at a hitter for no legitimate tactical reason, and without any pre-approval or reassurance from the leadership or team collective that they have his back, HE IS ON HIS OWN!

 

Gus Griffin, for War Room Sports