Dexter Rogers

Dexter Rogers

Friday, October 30, 2009

Are the Indiana Pacers too white?

The whitening of the Indiana Pacers continues. Now it’s extended beyond the court and into the front office. The Indiana Pacers recently fired Director of Player Personnel Mel Daniels. Reportedly Daniels had problems with the general manager, Larry Bird and head coach Jim O’Brien.

President of Basketball Operations Larry Bird issued the following before showing Daniels the door. "Mel was a great basketball player who helped make the Pacers a well-known basketball franchise. We wish him well."

Daniels has been involved with the Indiana Pacer franchise for the last 40 years. To be fired in this manner is simply classless by the organization.

With the firing of Daniels coupled with a roster that includes Mike Dunleavy, Troy Murphy, Josh McRoberts, Travis Diener, Jeff Foster and first-round pick Tyler Hansbrough one has to wonder if the Indiana Pacers are meticulously making the organization too white.

Are they?

The Pacers drafted Tyler Hansbrough with the 13th pick overall. Was he the best player available or the right type of player?

Hansbrough could surprise us like Michael Jordan did and become another Larry Bird. I don’t think so. Perhaps he’ll be a poor mans Kevin McHale. If he’s lucky he could have a journeymen career like Christian Laettner. Time will tell but I don’t think he will be the savior of the Pacer franchise.

Five years ago Jim Gray did an interview with Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Carmello Anthony and LeBron James. During the interview Bird issued the following about having white players in the NBA. “Well, I think so. I think so. You know when I played you had me and Kevin (McHale) and some others throughout the league. I think it’s good for a fan base because, as we all know, the majority of the fans are white America. And if you just had a couple of white guys in there, you might get them a little excited . . .”
Is race a factor here?

Sounds like it to me.

What Bird suggested has some level of practicality from an economical standpoint. It’s a fact the vast majority of the fans are white. But where do you draw the line between becoming too white as opposed to getting the best players to win irrespecitve of the fan base?

Bird played his entire career for the Boston Celtics. Boston has a history of treating African American players less than ideal. Just ask Bill Russell.

The Celtics had a stable of white players on those great teams Bird played on. There’s the likes of Jerry Schisting, Danny Ainge, Rick Robey, Chris Ford, Jim Paxon, Scott Wedman, and Bill Walton to name a few. But this isn’t the 1980’s. Times have changed.

Is Bird having a mid-life crisis as a front-office man in trying to rekindle his Boston days by whitening the Pacers?

Say as you wish, the Daniels firing, Birds statements about the fan base, and the racial composition of the team suggests there’s enough credence to assert race has played a factor in the recent descisions the organization has made.

Monday, October 26, 2009

ESPN analyst Steve Phillips suspended for alleged affair, should he be fired?

ESPN baseball analyst Steve Phillips has reportedly been suspended for a week amid allegations of an affair gone wrong with a 22-year old production assistant named Brooke Hundley.

Phillips, who is married, tried to keep his infidelity quiet but to no avail. Phillips recently decided to end his dealings with the young lady who invariably lost control. Burkes’ erratic, which included writing a letter to Phillips’ wife prompted him to get the police involved.

This situation reminds me of another ESPN baseball analyst who was unfairly accused of sexual harassment Harold Reynolds. Reynolds wasn’t suspended for a week like Phillips though: he was promptly fired for an incident which happened in 2006.

Why was Reynolds fired?

Reynolds was accused of sexual harassment because he gave a female production assistant “an improper hug” at an Outback restaurant. Charges were filed by the woman. Before any of the allegations could be thoroughly substantiated by ESPN Reynolds was gone with the wind after 11 years of service.

Reynolds issued the following to the New York Post after the 2006 incident, “This was a total misunderstanding. My goal is to sit down and get back. To be honest with you I gave a woman a hug and I felt like it was misinterpreted.”

As we know Reynolds ended up suing ESPN for wrongful termination. ESPN settled with Reynolds in June of 2008. After the settlement Reynolds issued the following, "My family and I are ecstatic," said Reynolds, the former All-Star second baseman. "This is a matter of principle. And I stood on principle and never wavered. All of my goals were met, and now I look forward to concentrating on the game I love."

Reynolds has since moved on to the MLB Network and doing a good job.

Based on how ESPN treated Reynolds without question Phillips should be history as well. Based on the evidence, including the note written by Burke and Phillips being suspended for a week suggests the allegations of infidelity are probably true.

How ESPN can give a man who cheats on his wife get suspended for a week while Reynolds was promptly fired for giving a woman a hug?

Does ESPN handle African American personalities differently than their white counterparts?

Apparently they do.

Anyone remember Stephen A. Smith? He once had it all. Smith had his own show called Quite Frankly in 2006. Up until several months ago Smith was doing radio, writing weekly for ESPN the Magazine. He was also doing NBA commentary, and appearing on Sunday morning on ESPN’s The Sports Reporters. But suddenly Smith was dumped like a bad habit. He was tripped of all that he amassed without reason.

How can someone who had so much fall so quickly?

Whatever happened to NFL analyst Sterling Sharpe and Jason Whitlock on ESPN The Sports Reporters?

In any event it will be very interesting to see how things play out in the coming days. ESPN will do their usual damage control, keep things quiet and slide Phillips back in the mix after some social engineering of course. It will be just like the Golf Channel did with Kelly Tilghman after her bonehead “lynching” statement about Tiger Woods a year ago.

In short, it looks like Phillips will get to do what Reynolds wasn’t allowed and that’s to keep his job.

But stay tuned.

Mark McGwire hired as hitting coach while Barry Bonds remains a stranger to the game

The St. Louis Cardinals surprisingly made Mark McGwire their next hitting coach yesterday. Despite alleged steroid use the Cardinal family has lured McGwire out of hiding and welcomed “Big Mac” home with open arms.

Ever since his career ended in 2001 McGwire has been in extreme incognito mode. The only significant appearance he’s made was when he pulled a Fred Astaire and danced around the question of whether he took steroids as he stood before Congress March 17, 2005.

This is obviously a ploy to get the Paul Bunyan look a like into the Hall of Fame. Giving McGwire a job puts him back in the limelight. It also allows him a chance to subliminally seduce writers into forgiving him with his mere presence.

Remember Alex Rodriguez lying on national television about taking steroids in an interview with Katie Couric? During spring training he called a press conference and kind of apologized for lying about his steroid use back in 2003 while a Texas Ranger.

We don’t remember that now. We talk about A-Rod in glowing terms these days. We hear how he’s more relaxed, humble, and enjoying baseball. “A-Rod” is not “A-Roid” anymore because his New York Yankees are winning and he’s playing well.

Then there’s perennial black sheep Barry Bonds. Bonds has been hailed as the poster-boy for steroids even though he’s not been busted by baseball or in the court of law. We don’t even hear Bonds’ name in the media anymore.


Bonds was simply snubbed. He finds himself a stranger to the game he once played so well. Two seasons ago Bonds expressed interest in wanting to continue his career after the San Francisco Giants didn’t offer him a contract. His agent Jeff Borris notified teams of his desire to play in 2008. Not one team seriously considered signing one of the greatest players of all time who could still play.

Then there’s McGwire, whom Bonds surpassed for the single season home run mark in 2001, gets welcomed back into the game many thought he shamed.

Yes, both Bonds and McGwire have been linked to steroids. But without question when one here’s the word “steroid” and “baseball” we’ve been conditioned to think Barry Bonds.

Isn’t there a double-standard here? How come Bonds couldn’t get signed to play another season yet McGwire gets a job amidst his likely steroid use?

Here’s my take. Bonds got blackballed from the league with the blessing of Commissioner Bud Selig. Also, Selig and the great Hank Aaron are good friends. We all know Bonds broke Aarons’ all-time homerun mark and Aaron isn’t exactly president of the Barry Bonds fan club. I think Selig put the word out on Bonds for teams not to sign Bonds.

Yes, collusion.

To add insult to injury the media simply stopped talking about Bonds as if he never existed. We know during his career Bonds didn’t necessarily endear himself to the media but give me a break. He’s one of the best players of all time.

With Selig’s possible endorsement of teams ignoring Bonds coupled with the Medias intent to neglect Bonds he’ll stay out of site and out of mind.

Does race play a factor here?

Yes, but it’s not the only factor. There’s been a clear double-standard with respect to how the media has treated Bonds as opposed to McGwire. It’s also an issue of fairness.

How else can it be explained why Bonds has been snubbed from playing yet McGwire rises from the dead and lands a coaching position?

Another interesting note is this: McGwire is being hired as a hitting coach. How can a player who has a career batting average of .263 teach someone anything about hitting? McGwire was a juiced slugger, not a great hitter.

Hal McRae was fired to make room for McGwire. McRae batted .290 over 18 years in the Major Leagues he also had two stints as a manager. Seems McRae would know more about hitting than McGwire. But since St. Louis manager Tony LaRussa and McGwire are buddies from their Oakland days I guess McGwire’s hiring was a matter of taking care of your own.

In being objective the Cardinals organization can hire who they wish. It’s their money. But it’s about an issue of fairness. If Bonds and McGwire are in similar situations with respect to alleged steroid use one shouldn’t be embraced back in baseball while the other is purposely kept out.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Charlie Weis: Has the time has come to show Weis the door?

Though the final score was 34-27 it doesn’t show how thoroughly the Notre Dame Fighting Irish was dominated throughout most of the game by the USC Trojans. The Trojans came from the sunshine of California to frigid weather in Indiana to a once Golden Dome and claimed another victory.

The tough-talk from the “Great White Hype” surely hasn’t translated into victories hasn’t it?

Yesterdays loss brings head coach Charlie Weis’ record to 0-5 against the Trojans. Has the time finally arrived to show Weis the door?

Weis hasn’t won a meaningful game since he’s been at the helm. Weis softened his schedule to a point this year where he’d really had a one game that meant anything which was against USC. True to form Weis’ Irish lost the game like most knew they would.

So what’s the excuse now?

Weis was brought in to restore dominance to a once proud institution of higher learning with a tradition of playing great football. The Irish now sport a 4-2 record. Looks good on paper but they just got exposed for how good they really are. The Trojans did what Michigan St and Washington should have done to the Irish. In all likelihood the Irish should’ve been at least 2-3 heading into this the USC game.

Here are some facts:

The Irish are 1-16 against ranked teams in the last three years.

Weis surely isn’t doesn’t compare to Knute Rockne.

Weis’ team is 1-10 against teams that have ended the season ranked the last three years.

Weis surely is no Frank Leahy.

Including their loss to the Trojans the Irish have compiled a 14-16 record under Weis in their last 30 contests.

Weis certainly is no Ara Parseghian.

Weis came to the Irish five seasons ago stating they’d have such definite “schematic” advantage over other teams. The self-anointed guru hasn’t lived up to the hype even though he’s been given every opportunity to right the ship unlike Tyrone Willingham.

After three seasons both Willingham and Weis had virtually identical records yet Willingham was fired: who is to say if Willingham was given a fair shake that he couldn’t have done better?

Everyone is so quick to praise Weis and his recruiting but recruiting means nothing unless the players execute. In my opinion Willingham got more out of less talented players than what Weis has gotten from his so-called excellent recruits.

Weis should be taken to the gallows. Weis stinks as a coach and he should’ve been fired after his 3-9 season when he set records for losing. But no, he incredibly was given the benefit of the doubt.

I know it’s very hard to be objective about things we hold dear to our hearts. But what’s it going to take to get a semblance of objectivity Irish fans?

So, what’s the excuse going to be now? How will the Irish faithful spin why Weis should stay now?

The time has come to get a real head coach. Try to lure Jon Gruden out of the Monday Night Football booth. How about throwing some big money at Urban Meyer? What about getting Lou Holtz back? He still bleeds green. He even proclaimed at the beginning of the season the Irish would be playing Florida in the BCS bowl after they go undefeated right?

How funny.

Bottom line: the once proud cathedral of college football known as the Golden Dome has been downgraded to bronze under the Charlie Weis era: so much hype, so much talk, but not enough wins.

Monday, October 12, 2009

NFL players speak out as Russ Limbaugh seeks ownership of St. Louis Rams

Recently several NFL players have been very outspoken against Russ Limbaugh becoming an owner in the NFL. Players have suggested they’d never play for an owner who has racist attitudes towards African Americans.

New York Jets linebacker Bart Scott stated the following about Limbaugh, “It’s an oxymoron that he criticized Donovan McNabb,” Scott said. “A lot of us took it as more of a racial-type thing. I can only imagine how his players would feel. I know I wouldn’t want to play for him. He’s a jerk. He’s an (expletive). What he said (about McNabb) was inappropriate and insensitive, totally off-base. He could offer me whatever he wanted, I wouldn’t play for him……I wouldn’t play for Rush Limbaugh. My principles are greater and I can’t be bought.”

Then there’s defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka of the New York Giants. Kiwanuka was very forthright about his feelings about Limbaugh. He stated, "All I know is from the last comment I heard, he said in (President) Obama' America, white kids are getting beat up on the bus while black kids are chanting 'right on,'" Kiwanuka told The Daily News. "I mean, I don't want anything to do with a team that he has any part of. He can do whatever he wants, it is a free country. But if it goes through, I can tell you where I am not going to play."

Kiwanuka continued, "I am not going to draw a conclusion from a person off of one comment, but when it is time after time after time and there's a consistent pattern of disrespect and just a complete misunderstanding of an entire culture that I am a part of, I can't respect him as a man."

As the time grows nearer to a decision being made on Limbaugh buying the St. Louis Rams I’m sure there will be more comments in the coming weeks.

It was very refreshing to see athletes with a level of consciousness to make their true feelings known. The vast majority of African American athletes fear speaking out on controversial topics. Typically the brighter the star shines the less likely the athlete will speak.

Mega-stars like Tiger Woods, Derek Jeter, LeBron James, and Kobe Bryant have steered clear of taking stands on anything. Today’s stars armed with the contracts, endorsements and commercial deals fear speaking out because their corporate entities: mere puppets who fear rocking the boat when the boat needs to be rocked.

Why does the African American athlete largely remain silent on controversial topics like racism?

Don’t give me age as an excuse in LeBron’s case. A 20-year old Cassius Clay began running his mouth about the social inequities in society and sport during the height of the Civil Rights Movement, so did young warriors like Jim Brown, Bill Russell, and Jackie Robinson.

Don’t use ignorance as an excuse in Kobe’s case. We now have an African American president. Any idiot would know this has never transpired in a country that’s historically thrived on racism. It’s a big deal because of the level of oppression African Americans historically have endured because of social, political and economical inequality.

Don’t use “we’ve come so far” as an excuse for Tiger and Jeter. Yeah, the African American athlete has money, large homes, and luxurious cars. But do they know how they got those things?

African American warriors from back in the day spoke out, endured Jim Crow and sacrificed their well-being in society and sport so the athletes today can have a level playing field. The African American athlete had to do more than play their sport. They had to battle the ugliness of racism while being expected to perform at a high level.

Jim Brown ran the ball with passion in front of 80,000.00 cheering fans in Cleveland in the 1950’s and 1960’s but after he showered and shaved he was expected to abide by “separate but equal” as a man. Could you imagine the dual contradiction of being cheered as an athlete but disrespected as a man because of skin color?

African American athletes need to speak out and study their history. African American athletes need to unite like they did in the 1960’s to thwart the efforts of divisive people like Limbaugh.

Let’s look at this situation on the flip side. There could be racist owners right now in the NFL. They could just keep their feelings under wraps and not be vocal about it. Having racist tendencies and keeping them out of harms way is one thing but acting on them is another thing.

Limbaugh has consistently made his feelings known about how he feels about African Americans. In a league that’s approximately 75 African American it wouldn’t be wise to have a devout racist as an owner in the NFL.

The time has come to take the ball and run: African American coaches, players and journalists need to speak out to keep a devout racist like Limbaugh out of the NFL where, if he’s allowed in, will do more harm than good.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Rush Limbaugh wants to become an NFL owner, is this a good idea?

Rush Limbaugh wants to become the owner of the lowly St. Louis Rams. Yes, you read that correctly.

Are you kidding me?

How can the NFL allow someone like Limbaugh to own a team when he’s against all the great concepts that American sports stand for? Sports are about inclusion, harmony, teamwork, and rallying around a common goal.

Should someone who is divisive be allowed to become an NFL owner?

Limbaugh is a flaming conservative racist who doesn’t have high regard for African Americans in society or sport. It would be a serious conflict of interest for the NFL to allow a devout racist to become owner of a franchise where approximately 75 percent of the leagues players are African American.

If I were a player I wouldn’t play for St. Louis Rams if Limbaugh was an owner. If I became a free-agent and they offered me the moon I wouldn’t play for the St. Louis Rams. In short, there wouldn’t be any set of circumstances where I’d associate with a franchise with a flaming conservative racist as my boss.

Limbaugh has made racial comments about President Obama, African Americans in general, and athletes. Remember in 2003 Limbaugh stated the following regarding Donovan McNabb on ESPN Countdown? "I think what we've had here is a little social concern in the NFL. The media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well,'' Limbaugh said. "There is a little hope invested in McNabb, and he got a lot of credit for the performance of this team that he didn't deserve. The defense carried this team."

Remarkably analysts Michael Irvin and Tom Jackson for whatever reason didn’t catch the racist comments nor responded to them. At the time even Donovan McNabb stated someone should’ve at least weighed on Limbaugh’s comments. "I'm not pinpointing anyone," McNabb said. "I'm a Michael Irvin fan, Steve Young fan and Tom Jackson. But somebody should have said something to the race issue."

McNabb is correct. Irvin and Jackson should’ve been sensitive to what was said. But more importantly ESPN shouldn’t have hired Limbaugh to begin with. What does Limbaugh know about football? Has he ever played? Ever coached? No. But ESPN decided to get into bed with a racist to tap into Limbaugh’s huge radio following. Then after the voices grew louder Limbaugh was allowed to peacefully resign.

If Limbaugh is allowed in the NFL it would send a bad message. Having Limbaugh in the NFL is would be like having the slave-master overseeing his property from his luxury suite. It would be reminiscent of slave masters watching African slaves labor for their masters in the fields on southern plantations centuries ago.

Yes, I believe in capitalism. I believe in freedom of speech in all its forms. But I don’t condone racism, blatant or otherwise. Having Limbaugh involved in ownership will send the wrong message to a country that on some level, is attempting to move towards inclusion.

African Americans have more opportunities in the NFL than ever before as players and head coaches. But African Americans have never become predominate owners in the NFL. There have been attempts by African Americans to acquire a team. Back in the day even the late great Walter Payton assembled a group to buy a team but was turned away. There have been African American groups since who’ve tried to acquire NFL teams have been snubbed. Whether it was a lack of capital or being outbid I don’t know. Bottom line: it hasn’t happened. Personally I think it’s a matter of opportunity rather than lack of capital or being outbid.

It would be a travesty to turn away African American or other so-called minority groups and allow a racist to become an NFL owner. This would be a perfect opportunity for the players to make a stand. Put their collective dollars where their mouths are. Together they can make enough noise to where it would hurt the NFL’s pocketbook which will make Limbaugh retreat to his radio show.

Also, African American players and those whites who are against racism should never play for or against a team that’s subscribes to racist ideology. Sports are about inclusion, teamwork, rallying around a common goal and togetherness. How can the NFL seriously consider allowing a man who is against the latter concepts to own a team?

Current ownership would ultimately have to allow Limbaugh into their circle. It will be interesting to see how that vote goes down. If it comes to that I hope the NFL and current owners do the right thing instead of what’s profitable for once.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Braylon Edwards punches friend of LeBron James, what’s going on in Cleveland?

Let’s see. This past summer the Cleveland Cavaliers were picked by many experts to win the NBA Championship last season. Instead they got beat in the Eastern Conference Finals by the Orlando Magic. No LeBron versus Kobe. A dejected LeBron James stormed off the court and acted like a sore loser instead of being humbly professional.

Then there’s Cleveland wide receiver Donte Stallworth, who gets hammered in Miami Beach and kills a man who was crossing a busy street in the wee hours of the morning. Stallworth was partying with teammate Braylon Edwards before the unfortunate incident took place. Now Stallworth sits at his place on house arrest.

Last week, after a woeful baseball season Cleveland Indian manager and Fort Wayne, Indiana native Eric Wedge gets a pink slip from management because the team wasn’t able to live up to expectations.

Days ago I witnessed the Cleveland Browns drop an overtime game to the Cincinnati Bengals putting their record at 0-4. Head coach Eric Mangini was brought in to right the ship after a 4-12 season in 2008. His discipline doesn’t seem to be working out too well. Some fans are calling for owner Randy Lerner to oust Mangini already.

Finally there’s Browns wide receiver Braylon Edwards. After not catching a pass in the 23-20 loss to the Bengals he was out with teammates Monday morning at a Cleveland night club. He engaged in a verbal altercation with Edward Givins who is a good friend of LeBron James. As the argument got heated Edwards reportedly hit Givins giving him a black eye and a cut lip.

What’s going on in Cleveland? Is there something in the water?

This is Givins take on what transpired with Edwards, "After the club closed, I was outside greeting and saying goodbye to people. Braylon comes up and started saying things, degrading me," Givens told the Plain-Dealer. "He said if it wasn't for LeBron [James] or the Four Horsemen, I wouldn't have what I have, nor would I be able to get girls. Everyone knows Braylon has a problem with LeBron. So I had to speak up for myself. The conversation started to escalate. As some of his teammates started to pull him back, he punched me. I have a black eye and a cut. I'm not a violent guy.”

Givins continued, "As long as I've known Braylon, I've allowed him and his friends to come into our events free of charge. Whatever jealousy he has with LeBron, he felt he needed to take it out on me."

After a Cavalier practice yesterday LeBron stated the following to the Associated Press, "I've never crossed paths with Braylon before, but it seems like there's a little jealousy going on with Braylon and me and my friends. I have no idea why. I've never said anything to Braylon at all. But for him to do that is very childish. My friend is 130 pounds. Seriously. It's like hitting one of my kids. It doesn't make sense." Are you kidding me? This is the epitome of childishness. It makes little sense that situations like this transpire.

Here’s my take. If there is jealousy on Edwards’ part it should be squashed. I can see if Edwards was one of the top receivers in the NFL and helping the Browns make the playoffs but that hasn’t happened.

Bottom line, Edwards is a mega-millionaire who hasn’t produced. If he’s jealous of LeBron perhaps he should translate that energy into catching more balls and scoring more touchdowns.

In 2007 when quarterback Derek Anderson was the prohibitive starter Edwards caught 80 balls for 1,289 yards and 16 touchdowns. Excluding 2007 Edwards has caught only 12 touchdowns in the other four years of his career. He entered the Bengals contest with 10 catches and left with the same amount because he didn’t catch any.

Perhaps Edwards should have been traded instead of Kellen Winslow Jr.?

But let’s take this to another level. Edwards, like LeBron, are marquee African American athletes with huge platforms. They, and other athletes, can make a world of difference if they channeled their energies collectively. How about finding a cause and work together to provide more opportunities for the oppressed in society and sport?

I was fortunate enough to have a very brief conversation with the greatest Cleveland Brown of them all Jim Brown after the Sunday’s game. In his day such behavior that LeBron displayed after losing to the Orlando Magic and what Edwards exhibited by punching LeBron’s friend wouldn’t have happened.

In Browns day he was too busy fighting racism, taking stands, and assembling African American athletes to be model citizens and exude professionalism. Brown was doing this while being at the apex of his sport. I’m quite sure Brown didn’t endure the bitter cruelties for African American athletes to act like this. He, along with other athletic activists, created the opportunities for the African American athlete to have a level playing field in society and sport.

Many of today’s African American athletes are simply selfish. They worry about their money, image and contracts yet few really study history. They don’t even know who is responsible for them having the opportunities they have today.

Perhaps if Edwards and James worked together to rid societal ills they wouldn’t have time to be jealous, get in fights or act unprofessionally after playoff losses.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Cleveland Browns: Team plays well but can’t win, Mangini’s seat getting warmer

CLEVELAND – The Cleveland Browns fell to 0-4 after losing to the Cincinnati Bengals 23-20 on their home turf in overtime. Despite the loss and playing their best game of the season it wasn’t enough to stop head coach Marvin Lewis and his Bengals from getting the win.

Browns quarterback Derek Anderson threw the ball well. He completed 28-46 passes for 269 yards, 2 touchdowns and 1 interception. Running back Jerome Harrison rushed for 121 yards on the ground. Muhammad Massaquoi caught 8 passes for 149 and the defense played better. Even with the marked improvement it wasn’t enough to win.

Some of the Browns faithful have requested owner Randy Lerner replace Eric Mangini. Probably not likely to happen to soon but if the Browns continue to lose Mangini’s seat will continue to get hotter.

Typically when there’s a coaching change organizations look to upgrade the franchise. Was Mangini the best guy for this job? Is Mangini doing a better job than the guy he replaced?

Shakespeare once wrote, “Romeo, Romeo, where art thou Romeo?”

Yeah, former head coach Browns Romeo Crennel finished 4-12 last season. He made some strategic mistakes last year but he did lead the Browns to a 10-6 record in 2007. Did Crennel really get a fair shake in Cleveland? One is left to wonder why Crennel wasn’t given at least another season to right the ship.

Was race a factor?

African American head coaches have won 2 of the last 3 Super Bowls. Even with the recent success of African American head coaches history has demonstrated they’ve sometimes operated on short a leashes. It shouldn’t be about race but in some cases it has. Remember when Rae Rhoades was hired as coach of the Green Bay Packers in 1999? In his only, I repeat, “only” season he went 8-8 and was fired.

In 1989 Art Shell was hired by the Oakland Raiders and compiled a 54-38 record before he was fired in 1994. With such a good record no other NFL team would give Shell another chance before the Raiders recycled him again in 2006. Interesting how Shell couldn’t get a look from another team yet Norv Turner and his current 77-91-1 record continues to get recycled.

Because of the success Bill Belichick has had in New England many forget he was head coach of the Browns from 1991-1995 where he compiled a 36-44 record. He had one winning season in Cleveland yet he was recycled and given time to show what he can do. And he has done just that.

Belichick’s protégé Eric Mangini’s first mistake was keeping the quarterback situation under lock and key. Instead Mangini’s “Art of War” tactics in keeping his starter a secret backfired.

Mangini’s second mistake was making Brady Quinn the starter for the season. Mangini succumbed to the pressure of the fans wanting to see Quinn. The Browns should’ve done the right thing instead of what’s popular amongst fans.

In the case of Anderson he’d demonstrated he can play at this level. In 2007 he quarterbacked the Browns to a 10-6 and had a pro bowl year. Last year he struggled at times but not enough to lose his job.

Where is Brian Sipe when you need him?

In closing, you can’t start out 0-4, have your players filing grievances against you and assert you have control of your locker room. If Mangini isn’t getting it done, get somebody in there that can. Fans want a franchise they can be proud of in knowing ownership and upper management is doing their best to provide them a winner.

Hopefully Randy Lerner will take heed of the message and act in the best interest of the organization and the fans.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

LeGarrette Blount: Is it too late to right a wrong?

There’s a flicker of hope that suspended Oregon running back LeGarrette Blount will play this season. Blount was suspended for the entire season after punching a Boise St. player Byron Hout a month ago. As Blount was walking off the field Hout taunted Blount who in turn decked him. After “the punch” all hell broke loose with verbal sparring from fans, players and the coaches. Blount was so angry he had to be restrained by security and teammates.

After Blount calmed down he promptly issued an apology in the locker room but it wasn’t enough. Public pressure all but ensured his fate was sealed. Many think Oregon head coach Chip Kelly pulled the trigger too quickly and made the wrong decision to suspend Blount for the season.

Is it too late to right a wrong here?

Kelly reportedly has had recent talks with Jon Gruden and Tony Dungy about Blount’s situation. Kelly outlined that Blount must take specific academic and behavioral steps if there’s a chance for him to play this season. It’s good that voices of reason got involved because Blount’s season shouldn’t have been taken away to begin with.

Many think Blount shouldn’t have a second chance while some think Blount was treated unfairly. I suggested initially when the story broke a month ago it would have been just to suspend Blount indefinitely or for half the season. Instead Kelly threw the book at him.

One must wonder why the possible change of heart. Why consider lifting Blount’s season-long suspension now?

Perhaps the talks with Gruden and Dungy set the proper atmosphere for level heads to prevail. But if Blout is allowed to play it certainly won’t be in the name of morality. If Blount plays again it will be because of the almighty dollar.

Going into this weekend Oregon is 3-1 with a big game coming up against USC later in this season. With the Trojans shocking loss to Washington and losing star running back Stafon Johnson to a freak weigh lifting accident the Ducks see an opportunity to sneak in the back door and win the conference. A rested Blount potentially running the rock with something to prove could only help the Ducks stay in the thick of the PAC-10 race and secure a solid bowl game.

But what about the instigator in this whole fiasco Byron Hout? Anyone remember him?

Hout is an often overlooked part in this whole equation. Hout hasn’t received any punishments nor lost any playing time. He’s been largely exempt from blame and suspension. Mainstream media is largely focusing on Blount’s actions instead of viewing the actions of Hout and the entire situation as it unfolded. Without question Hout should’ve been subject to disciplinary punishment as well. Blount was obviously provoked by Hout’s actions wasn’t he? What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. I’m willing to wager if Hout had struck Blount Hout wouldn’t have been suspended for entire season.

You know the reason why.

In any event, my prediction is if Oregon continues to win heading into the upcoming USC game Blount will be allowed to play. He’ll simply be used as a tool to help the team win albeit for the wrong reasons.

Blount should be allowed to play because he’s doing the right things off the field. He’s obviously demonstrated remorse. Everyone deserves a second chance in most cases. It’s just not right to continue to hold Blount hostage for an error in judgment.

After all, it’s never too late to correct a wrong.