STEVE LAVIN FLIRTS WITH PC POLICE TWICE IN ONE HALF

To be one of eight broadcast crews for CBS/Turner throughout the first weekend of March Madness is demanding and calls for coverage of six games in a 48-hour period.

That leaves plenty of opportunity for situations to go viral, such as Verne Lundquist taking a basketball to the head during warmups.

Then there is long-time commentator and former UCLA and St. John’s coach Steve Lavin who made two comments on Xavier players during the Musketeers second-round rout over Florida State.

First Lavin referred to a two-handed dunk by Tyrique Jones as delivered ‘gorilla style’.

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The term ‘gorilla slam’ has been coined by announcers since the days of Darryl Dawkins. But the PC slippery sloped has changed, especially after ESPN tennis announcer Doug Adler was fired earlier this year. In an early-round Australian Open match, Adler appeared to say ‘gorilla effect’ after Venus Williams pounced on the second serve of an opponent.

Adler later said that he actually said ‘guerrilla’, but the social media backlash damage had been done. Adler was fired and later sued ESPN, and reportedly suffered a heart attack days later.

Obviously the Williams sisters carry the torch for African-Americans in tennis while black players consist of the majority of basketball. Also never mind that first baseman Dave Kingman was known as ‘Kong’, or that business in Pittsburg, Kansas feature gorilla statues to pay homage to a local university, or that King Kong himself is currently featured at your local mega-plex.

Mild eyebrows were raised when Lavin made the gorilla comment. Then minutes later he made what could be termed Xavier big man Sean O’Mara as a ‘polar bear with a Paul Bunyan/lumberjack physique.’

Research uncovers that Lavin also referred to Wisconsin’s Brian Butch as a polar bear when he broadcasted during the 2007-08 season (between his UCLA and St. John’s tenures).

It is safe to say that the likes of Charles Barkley, Kevin Garnett and Shawn Kemp were not referred to as polar bears in their playing days. So those two references within minutes of each other is an eye-opener.

Unlike journalists, on-air talent do not have the safety net of an editor to cover them. The ground rules have been slowly established over the years, Billy Packer kept his job after referring to Allen Iverson as a ‘tough monkey’, Howard Cosell referred to wide receiver Alvin Garrett as a ‘little monkey’ on Monday Night Football in 1983 – which marked the beginning of the end to Cosell’s career.

With an entire weekend of March Madness TV coverage, this hopefully blows over without repercussions.

FORMER NFL QB DAVID CARR STILL ALIVE

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If you watched the Texans v. Raiders Monday Night Football from Mexico City, you heard the family lineage of Oakland  quarterback Derek Carr. Older brother David Carr was drafted by the Houston Texans in 2002 and had a nice decade-long NFL career but did not reach the lofty expectations expected of a number one draft pick.

Today, David Carr does work with the NFL Network and coaches high school ball in Bakersfield along with his middle brother and father.

At the end of the game I received a strange text from someone who (a) does not watch the NFL and (b) does not watch ESPN.

It said ‘David Carr died?’, along with a Bing screenshot.

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At this point I checked sources from that old globalist standby Google along with Wikipedia, who said the retired QB is still alive.

But I remained curious on where Bing dialed up the February 12, 2015 death date.

It turns out a public figure named David Carr did die that day. He was age 58 and said to be an acclaimed columnist for the New York Times.

So there you have it, quarterback David Carr alive – reported by me, confirmed by ESPN and why I stay away from Bing.

 

CHANGES NEEDED IN GREEN BAY

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For Green Bay fans who just tuned in…

No, you have not had a bad dream.

You have not done the ultimate mannequin challenge only to find yourself in the depths of Hell, or worse, Minneapolis.

This is the world you now live in, the Packers 2016 season has officially become a disaster, most recently outmatched by the Indianapolis Colts and Tennessee Titans, teams not confused with the NFL’s elite.

Let us start at the top. Mike McCarthy defended himself this week, he referred to himself as ‘a highly successful coach‘. The resume shows support with a 108-60-1 record and one Super Bowl title in 10 1/2 seasons.

It should have been two Super Bowl appearances except for Brandon Bostick cementing his status of Green Bay’s version of Steve Bartman.

The fact that McCarthy has been the Packers coach since 2006 may be part of the current problem. Mike Holmgren is recognized as the coach who helped turn Green Bay fortunes around. By the time of his seventh season in 1998, Holmgren seeked his next challenge and soon headed for Seattle.

Even the legendary Vince Lombardi stayed in Green Bay just nine years. He resurfaced as a NFL coach in Washington in 1969 and would likely had stayed there long-term had he not died a year later.

Only one player has been in Green Bay for the entirety of McCarthy’s tenure, but friction between McCarthy and Aaron Rodgers has bubbled to the surface in recent weeks.

If the Rodgers/McCarthy relationship is indeed on shaky ground as reported by one media outlet, someone leaves and that person is unlikely to be number 12.

Rodgers has taken criticism as well, and the question on whether he has the staying power of Brett Favre or Tom Brady is legitimate. Rodgers also remains on pace to throw for 4,000 yards with 22 touchdowns against just seven interceptions, in line with previous years. But Rodgers’ quarterback rating of 93.9 ranks 16th in the league and his personal lowest since the 2008 season.

Much fault falls on general manager Ted Thompson. Injuries remain a fact of NFL life, but the offense has been forced to navigate the season with zero depth at the running back. Injuries have also ravaged the defense, the team survived an epidemic of injuries six years ago, but most years losing top-line talent such as Clay Matthews and Sam Shields proves fatal.

With a 4-5 record, the only positive news pertains to the Packers location in the NFC North. The Minnesota Vikings have played equally bad football over the last month and the Detroit Lions share the division lead at 5-4. With divisional opponents comprising the final three games of the schedule, the Packers could still claim the division title and then peak  come playoff time.

Barring that scenario, McCarthy and possibly Ted Thompson could see walking papers not long after Jan. 2. The 21-0 deficit the team dug this past Sunday represented the first such early deficit since the dark ages of Forrest Gregg in 1986.

As was the case with Mike Sherman 11 years ago, the time has come for changes in Green Bay so the rest of Aaron Rodgers career is not wasted.

DONALD TRUMP’S PREQUEL – THE USFL

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This week Donald Trump cemented a year-long transformation to claim the nomination of President of the United States, a scenario unlikely to many as recently as Election Day itself.

Those of a certain age first heard of Trump in the 1980s when he owned the New Jersey Generals of the United States Football League.

Like most endeavors that dared compete with the National Football League, the USFL did not last long. The league’s premise was for spring football as opposed to the fall. The plan involved signing some NFL-level talent, but also contain costs for long-term survival.

Many USFL owners could not contain themselves. As predicted on the cover of SPORT magazine months earlier, underclassman and Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker signed with the New Jersey Generals rather than return to the University of Georgia The publication only hit on one of five other prognostications. Other USFL signees included Joe Cribbs, Steve Young, Reggie White, Mike Rozier and University of Oklahoma phenom Marcus Dupree.

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Steve Young signed a 43-year contract with the Los Angeles Express which would have escalated $3 million annually by 2027. Young elected to take a settlement up front when the Los Angeles owner went bankrupt.

In 1983 Donald Trump was an original owner with the Generals, sold the team prior to the season but returned as owner the following year.

Trump was never commissioner, but might as well been. His vision differed from the leagues initial plan. Trump would either go big or go home, his goal was to compete directly with the NFL and ultimately force a merger as the American Football League had done.

Although many teams hemorrhaged money by 1984 (six expansion teams added for quick cash), the league stayed in the headlines during baseball season thanks to Trump.

‘Master of the USFL’, one front page sports headline on USA Today read.

Trump nearly lured Don Shula as coach, a story that went viral in the 1983 NFL season. Reports had Shula holding out for a Trump Tower apartment and the coach backed away when the story became a distraction to his Miami Dolphins. The Generals did sign several NFL veterans and inked legendary Boston College quarterback Doug Flutie in 1985.

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By that time, the writing was on the wall, the league now contracted to 14 teams. Trump wanted a fall schedule for 1986 and to sue the NFL on anti-trust grounds.

Trump met resistance from owners who did like him controlling league dialogue. Tampa Bay Bandits owner John Bassett penned a letter to Trump (CC’d to Commissioner Chet Simmons), vowing to punch the Donald smack in the mouth if he got scorned again in an owners meeting.

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Trump vowed a ‘dream team’ when he merged the Generals with Jim Kelly’s Houston Gamblers for a 1986 fall season that never happened. A court victory over the NFL netted three dollars and Trump and the other seven remaining franchises folded their tents, vowing a 1987 return (a year the NFL went on strike).

Trump also sought to buy the Cleveland Indians in 1983, offering $13 million for the team, an offer later bumped up to $34 million. The belief was Trump would move the team to Tampa – at least Trump would likely had built a venue better than what the Tampa Bay Rays currently call home.

After the USFL Trump’s sports endeavors returned to golf courses, boxing events – along with real estate, beauty pageants, The Apprentice and everything else.

And finally throwing his hat into the 2016 GOP presidential ring, a bid most considered a pipe dream.

 

CLEVELAND NEEDS WORLD SERIES GAME 7 MORE

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The Karma.

Yes, the dinosaur media has already dubbed Cleveland’s next potential heartbreak, assuming the Chicago Cubs will win Game 7 of the World Series.

The ‘karma’ refers a summer of celebrating the Cleveland Cavaliers rally from a 3-1 deficit to win the NBA championship. To lose a similar lead in baseball would provide just desserts to those who gloated on the demise of the Golden State Warriors the past four months.

‘The Karma’ would join Red Right 88, The Drive, The Fumble, The Move, The Decision and Jose Mesa in Cleveland sports lore.

This is why the Indians need Game 7 more.

The Cubs own Chicago, and everywhere else. Millions have abandoned the DNA of loyalty towards local teams and Fly the W on social media.

Outspoken college football coach Mike Leach chimed in on the phenomena in a weekly presser. He suggested ‘every yuppie with a BMW or some special attachment to its computer or designer set of jeans is a Cubs fan. My Cubbies, if you say ‘my’ in front of your team, that’s dubious’

Leach continues to cement himself as a classic discussing baseball over potential game plans for his next Pac-12 opponent. And Washington State athletics is not unlike the Cleveland Indians, what they do does not often make a sound.

That is also the case of another American League Central baseball team. At the start of the series a TV outlet out of Connecticut presented a graphic comparing titles between Chicago and Cleveland over the past 50 years. Six Bulls logos, three Blackhawks trademarks and a Bears logo appeared on the Chicago ledger.

I guess the 2005 White Sox World Series sweep of the Houston Astros did not count, must have been too easy. The South Side team gets the respect of an independent league entry.

On the field, the Chicago Cubs future is outright scary and should be admired. Although MLB teams do not stay intact for long, the Cubs represent one of the youngest teams in baseball and will likely knock on the playoff and World Series door for the foreseeable.

In other words, forget about the past 108 years, this franchise has quickly become a juggernaut.

For Cleveland, forget the fact that they struggle to draw 10,000 on many weeknights during the season. Outside of the mid-1990s, title chances come along with the frequency of Halley’s Comet. Most so-called experts predicted a third or fourth place finish for the club who this month somehow rolled past the Red Sox and Blue Jays to reach the Fall Classic.

But with a meager payroll and limited revenue streams, Cleveland’s window for playoff success is about one shot every ten years. A loss in Game 7 will be compared to a similar 3-1 lead squandered in the 2007 American League Championship Series.

So it is Corey Kluber against Cubs Nation (a.k.a the world) in Game 7. If baseball gods have a heart, Indian Summer lasts one more night.

 

ON KAEPERNICK AND ANTHEM ETIQUETTE

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In 1990, San Diego Padres owner Tom Werner (an ABC television executive) thought it would be a bright idea to bring Roseanne Barr in to sing the national anthem before the second game of a doubleheader. A local radio station promoted the event as ‘Working Women’s Night’.

What occurred was predictable. Knowing Barr’s role as a top comedian of the day, her performance met expectations – complete with a spit and crotch grab at the end.

I attended that game and for two innings myself and others around me talked about what we had witnessed, and wondered if it would be mentioned in the postgame radio coverage. Ultimately I concentrated on the game and forgot about Roseanne and wrote her off for what she is.

Then I turned on the car radio for the short drive home.

“The Padres swept a doubleheader, but I think that is not what we will be talking about.”

Made it home in time for the 11 p.m. news. One station started with an ongoing sensationalized local murder case. The other two opened with Roseanne Barr.

I scanned the radio to hear Barr being talked nationally and realized the instant media firestorm, long before the internet and social media. The next day President George Herbert Walker Bush chimed in and called out Roseanne.

Which leads us to Colin Kaepernick’s antics, when he sat the anthem to protest the recent social climate of racial unrest.

What will the San Francisco 49ers do – fire him? His $12.3 million salary for 2016 became vested in April just for being on the roster. That makes staging a protest a little easier, even if it overshadows his football exploits from 2012-13.

Kaepernick, who reportedly converted to Islam, has been debated plenty on social media. Former NBA player Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf (Chris Jackson) also protested against the anthem during his career.

Yes, there is the First Amendment and freedom of speech, but sit the national anthem at your own peril.

Like his commercial where he faces angry faux-Seattle fans throwing bananas (just to get the racial angle in) and everything else as he sits on the team bus, I guess Kaepernick puts on the headphones and tunes everything out.

Most of us know the drill attending an event. Someone who keeps a hat on when the anthem hears about it. I attended a game last fall when bumped from behind during the anthem by someone holding his son trying to reach his seat.

He would hear about it immediately.

“Disrespectful!”, a fan said.

I saw both sides, it was bad timing. It was a parent concerned that his son remained safe.

Over the years I have tried to be careful with this etiquette. In a concourse most stop movement when the anthem is played. Activity also ceases at  concession stands and ticket windows. Many do not know that when a color guard is involved they should remain standing after until they walk off the field and retire the colors.

When LeBron James wants to wear ‘I Can’t Breathe’ shirts during warmups or a WNBA team refuses to answer basketball questions at a postgame press conference or if St. Louis Rams players emerge from the tunnel with hands up gestures to protest happenings in nearby Ferguson, they have made their point. Pro athletes can make a statement provided they don’t cross a line. How many people in other professions can keep their jobs by doing or saying something that disrupts the workplace.

Dissing the anthem is not worth the trouble.Many wondered if Kaepernick would dare repeat for the regular season opener, when most teams play on the 15th anniversary of something called 9/11. The 49ers happen to play at home on Monday night, Sept. 12.

Considering the distraction caused in his own locker room along with rapidly declining play on the field, there is a good chance Kaepernick will not be active that night.

But he just likes to hear what he wants to hear.

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WEATHER AND SOLDIER FIELD GO TOGETHER

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Chile and Colombia met in a semifinal match of the Copa America Tournament last night. The Chileans scored two quick goals in the first 12 minutes and saw out the remainder of the match for a 2-0 win, aided when a Colombian player received a red card in the second half.

Colombia now plays the United States for third place, a rematch of a 1994 World Cup fixture.

That is enough for the tetherball discussion. Weather took center stage in Chicago during an extended two and a half hour halftime and took more shots on goal than the two teams combined.

Weather and Soldier Field continue to have quite a history.

  • A rare late-fall severe weather event delayed the Chicago Bears and Baltimore Ravens in a regular season NFL game on Nov. 17, 2013.
  • No lightning involved, but a Halloween night game between the Bears and Green Bay Packers took place in a virtual car wash in 1994. The Bears were blown out by the opposition and the driving rain, and many fans departed even before a halftime ceremony to retire the numbers of Dick Butkus and Gale Sayers.
  • The Bears and Kansas City Chiefs closed the 1996 exhibition season in a nationally televised game and tried to play through the third quarter through frequent ground zero lightning strikes and an inundated field. With 4:20 remaining in the third quarter, referee Red Cashion turned on the field mic and announced that the weather would continue to be monitored. Before he was finished, the loudest boom yet sent both teams home for the night. Kansas City team president Carl Peterson pleaded ‘let’s not get anyone killed’ to league officials before common sense prevailed. That was the night the NFL realized discretion is the better part of valor with severe weather.

We also approach the 40th anniversary of the infamous ‘Chicago All-Star Game’. For decades the defending NFL champion played a team of ‘college All-Stars’. By the mid-1970s the idea had run its course. NFL teams no longer wanted highly invested rookies with the ‘All-Star’ team and not their teams during  training camp. The 1974 game was scrapped during a league labor dispute and no one missed the game’s cancellation.

The final ‘All-Star’ game was played on July 27, 1976, the first of SEVEN exhibition games for the Pittsburgh Steelers, followed by 14 regular season games. Crazier yet, the starters played into the second half and built a 24-0 lead. And everyone thinks starters play in the pre-season too much now.

Then the storm hit. The game was televised on ABC, usually with the normal Monday Night Football crew. But since the Summer Olympics was in progress, Howard Cosell was in Montreal coving boxing, leaving Frank Gifford to call the game alongside college football analysts Bud Wilkinson (Oklahoma Sooners and later St. Louis Cardinals) and Lee Grosscup.

Second-string QB Terry Hanratty entered the game as rain, wind and lightning began. A commentator made reference to golfer Lee Trevino at the Western Open (another classic Chicago sports/weather event). The Steelers ran two running plays before a wobbly Hanratty pass was picked off by Shafer Suggs (nice career with New York Jets).

The All-Stars offense then took over with a 50 MPH wind in their faces, with the Steelers employed all 11 defenders at the line of scrimmage.

The field became unrecognizable as Archie Griffin was buried for a five yard loss and nearly drowned. “It looks like a snowstorm, Michigan against Ohio State”, a commentator said. On the final play, the All-Stars quarterback botched the snap and simply fell on the ball.

In this era, games continued through hell and high water. So Chicago fans came to the rescue. One spectator ran onto the field followed by others, demonstrating slip and slide routine as Wilkinson reminisced about his Southern Plains severe weather experiences.

Hundreds of fans soon took to the artificial turf as the playing surface resembled a water park wave pool. ABC caught closeups of companions in full embrace, WasserTanzen actually occurred on the 35-yard line. Players took matters into their own hands and headed for the locker room.

Within moments, one goal post was torn down – giving officials no choice but to call the game. Gifford hastily ran through some credits as the second goal post came down and said ‘Good Night…’

The night the Chicago All-Star Game died, but thankfully no one else.