What I’ll remember about the 113th U.S. Open Golf Championship:
Have we totally lost our sense of humor? Have we become so politically correct we read something bad into meaningless comments? Have the media become so sensational they turn every mole hill into a mountain?
A Florida assistant coach calls Alabama Coach Nick Saban the devil and he has to apologize. Does anyone really think the Gator assistant thinks Saban is an evil man with devilish power? Of course not. A lot of folks who aren’t Crimson Tide fans have referred to Saban as Nick Satan? Hell, it’s practically a compliment.
Ohio State President Gordon Gee, speaking to his school’s athletic council in a private meeting, jokes about SEC schools being football factories and Catholics (i.e. Notre Dame) being two-faced. He’s unmercifully slammed by the media and the criticism no doubt factored into Gee announcing his resignation, effective July 1.
We poke fun at other schools all the time, questioning the character and intellect of their players. Examples: Criminoles and dumb jocks.
And, really, who among non-Catholics hasn’t tossed a barb in the direction of Notre Dame and the Vatican?
Can’t anyone take a joke?
Almost always these barbs are thrown out at booster and other school-related functions. The coaches and school officials are trying to be entertaining to like-minded audiences, but social media have created a new dynamic. Sometimes comments are tweeted out innocently to share a funny line with boosters could didn’t attend the meeting. Other times there’s a “snake in the grass” – often someone from the local media – who think they have uncovered a story.
I’ve attended hundreds of these meetings. Obviously I’m not going to ignore a coach admitting to breaking a rule. “We beat Rival U. for that linebacker because we paid him 50 thou under the table.” But I’ve certainly ignored humorous – or attempts to be humorous – comments.
I realize there is an element of being mean-spirited in most of these comments. In fact, most humor is based on being mean-spirited. When rivals refer to Gainesville as Hogtown they are inferring there are a lot of unattractive women on the Florida campus. FSU was given the Criminole label by rivals because more than its share of players had run-ins with the law. Jokes about Tennesseans and West Virginians being rednecks were created because . . . well, I better not go there. (See my point?)Unfortunately, I don’t expect my rant to change anything. Coaches will become more boring and even less informative at booster meetings because of these problems. That’s a shame, but I really can’t blame them.
OTAs for NFL teams are important. I’ve never questioned that. But what players gain from them is something only they and their coaches know.
I bring this up because I’m always amused when I hear coaches, media and fans heaping praise on players following these spring workouts.
“Joe Blow had a great workout today,” the coach will tell the media.
Does that mean Joe Blow is in great physical condition? Does that mean Joe Blow didn’t trip over the water bucket?
“Quarterback John Doe is making great strides,” you’ll hear on the radio.
Does that mean with no fear of being hit and no game pressure that QB John Doe threw a spiral? Does it mean he didn’t fumble a center snap?
OTAs are for teaching and learning, not playing the game. Players wear helmets and shorts. Are they absorbing the info being taught? That’s the question, and no one knows the answer until the games begin – and even if they do it doesn’t matter if they can’t play.
I’m not trying to rain on anyone’s parade, but I’m merely cautioning fans and media to keep in touch with reality. Getting excited about the upcoming season is great. Being positive about the team is better than being negative.
But false – or at least unfounded – expectations only make the disappointment all that greater in the fall.
Fans would actually be better off if they heard nothing about what happens during OTAs except for injuries that could impact the season. But the popularity of the NFL won’t allow that. Fans can’t seem to get enough coverage of the NFL. The teams, of course, love the year-round free advertising and promotion. Fans and media are going to take in every nibble they can. Teams are going to continue to feed the herd.
Just be ready to be disappointed or, better yet, pleasantly surprised come fall.
For now I’m giving Maurice Jones-Drew the benefit of the doubt.
While MJD has made several PR blunders in the last year – last summer’s holdout, not communicating with the new coaching staff, making excuses and blaming others for Justin Blackmon’s problems – the Jaguars’ All-Pro running back has never done anything I’m aware of to call his character into question.
Until now, maybe. And, I think, it’s important to point out MJD wasn’t hanging out at a strip joint in the middle of the night. Whatever happened happened at 8 p.m. at a popular restaurant-bar. There were hundreds of people – no doubt some families -- celebrating a holiday.
And the stink from the Memorial Day weekend incident at The Conch House in St. Augustine is coming from all sides.
If the victim and his attorney have video evidence of MJD throwing a punch, then show it instead of talking about it. Is this a classic case of someone and a lawyer trying to squeeze money out of a celebrity; looking for their 15 seconds of fame with a nice payday to boot?
If MJD is guilty and lying about it, he deserves double punishment. The cover-up would be as bad as the altercation.
In the meantime, I have his back.
In my world summer begins with Memorial Day. That calls for some lazy, hazy summer time thoughts . . .
Another birthday is near and that’s not something I look forward to at this stage of my life . . .
How I dread listening to so many of you, including my colleagues, whine about how much you miss football. It will get here soon enough . . .
The NBA season finally ends and, while I enjoy the playoffs, should the NBA season still be going on in late June? . . .
Wonderful nights at the Baseball Grounds eating a brats and watching the Suns . . .
Looking forward to taking a long weekend trip to St. Petersburg and watching the Rays . . .
Not understanding why so many people complain about Tropicana Field. It ain’t Wrigley or Fenway, but there are no rainouts . . .
Watching Wimbledon, the only tennis tournament that excites me . . .
Remembering how my youngest son and I celebrated my 60th birthday in St. Andrews, Scotland watching the Open at the Old Course and drinking ale. It doesn’t get better than that. . .
Wondering how many kids spending their summers playing all-star baseball and softball would rather be riding their bikes, going to the pool, just hanging out with friends and taking a vacation with the family . . .
Whatever happened to the three-month break from school? . . .
Counting the days until the first Major League Baseball manager is fired . . .
Dreaming of another three-day trip to Chicago and sitting in the Wrigley Field bleachers . . .
Let me get this straight: 17 years ago when Julie Hermann was coaching the Tennessee volleyball team she screamed at her players and called them names, obviously trying to get them to perform better.
And now her job as athletic director at Rutgers is in jeopardy because of it?
Is this a wonderful country or what?
Exactly when did “verbal abuse” become a fireable offense in coaching?
Listen, I’m not naïve. I realize this story has an edge to it because Rutgers recently went through a scandal that resulted in its basketball coach and AD being fired after video surfaced of the coach screaming insensitive things at his players and throwing basketballs at them.
And I’m not defending Hermann. I don’t know her, but isn’t it reasonable to assume Rutgers did a decent job of checking out her past, professional and personal? Going after her for such old “news” seems way over the top.
Actually, it seems so 21st century, and that’s sad.
We live in a time when the slightest verbal hiccup – intentional or not – becomes a major story and the offender is more often than not thrown to the wolves. I believe in a watchdog media but too often the watchdog becomes a witch hunt: keep digging until you find something negative. How many of us have nothing in our lives we want to remain hidden?
The irony is we also live in a time when second and third and fourth chances for drug abuse, alcohol abuse, reckless behavior and bad character are handed out so freely.
For example, drink too much, get behind the wheel of a car and put lives at risk and get forgiveness.
But utter an insensitive word and be labeled a racist, sexist or homophobe for life.
Think about it: Fuzzy Zoeller is still painted as a villain while Ray Lewis is portrayed as a role model.