Dexter Rogers

Dexter Rogers

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Allstate Sugar Bowl 2011: Buckeyes Should Boycott; It's Time To Pay Players

Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor and four teammates have been suspended by the NCAA for the first five games of next season for selling items that belonged to them.

Pryor and his four teammates admitted to selling their Big Ten championship rings, trophies and other items for cash to help their families.

You and I can take our personal items and list them on eBay or Craigslist.  If someone pays the price, the transaction is orchestrated and it’s a done deal.

When did selling your own personal items become against the law?

What should be against the law is how the NCAA treats the athletes.  It is very interesting why the crooks at the NCAA didn’t suspend the Ohio St. players from the Sugar Bowl.  I guess they have to make sure sponsors get what they paid for and the fans see a good game.

The NCAA can exercise their power indiscriminately to make whatever decisions they want.
Isn’t that priceless?

Collegiate athletes lay it on the line for the name on the front of the jersey rather than the one on the back.  Perhaps the time has come for the athletes to worry more about themselves.

Pryor and his teammates sold items they owned yet the big, bad NCAA made a legal activity in society illegal under their regime.

ESPN analyst and former Ohio St. quarterback Kirk Herbstreit stated the following, “This is a selfish act by Pryor and the other players.”

That is utter garbage.

I have long been an advocate of paying collegiate athletes.  In my opinion there is no logical reason why the most important part of the athletic experience cannot enjoy some of the fruits of their labor.

The coaches invade the homes of prospective athletes to replace those who are departing.  The technical term for the latter is recruiting but to me it is a high-tech form of bondage.

What the athletes receive in scholarship money does not equate to what they earn the university and other entities.  I am not suggesting athletes should be paid tons of money like professional athletes; I am suggesting athletes should receive a portion of what they create.

Many college coaches sell the dream of athletics, but they fail to mention the amount of money their talents will earn the university.  The coaches fail to mention how much money they’ll earn from coaching, endorsements and their radio shows.

Sounds like the athletes are being duped.

Has the time come for collegiate athletes to band together to get some of what they rightfully deserve?
Does a collegiate athlete have to pull a Curt Flood and file a claim against an unjust NCAA?

After the 1969 Major League Baseball season Flood was traded from the St. Louis Cardinals to the Philadelphia Phillies.  The infamous reserve clause permitted players from seeking employment from the organization of their choice.  In essence, the reserve clause equated to a sophisticated form of bondage, which jammed players' rights.

In short, the system was unjust and needed to be changed.

Flood filed a $1 million claim against Major League Baseball in 1970.  Flood’s case made it to the Supreme Court.  Even though he lost, it opened the door for what we commonly refer to today as free agency.
Flood stood up in the name of justice.  Will a collegiate athlete have the guts to do the same?

The NCAA severely punishes athletes on scholarship yet they take it easy on those in authoritative positions.  How can Bruce Pearl—the head basketball coach at Tennessee—lie to the NCAA and his employer yet be allowed to keep his job and earn millions?

How can the NCAA justify suspending wide receiver A.J. Green from the University of Georgia four games for selling a jersey he legally owned?

How can the NCAA allow universities to pay coaches like the Texas Longhorns' Mack Brown $5 million per season yet suspend former Oklahoma State wide receiver—and current Dallas Cowboy—Dez Bryant last season for lying about having a meal with Deion Sanders?

When the Reggie Bush fiasco broke out months ago the media had a field day.  Personally I had no problem with Bush being on the take at USC.  I don’t blame him for trying to get every penny he could.  Everyone around Bush was making money off of his talents.
Why shouldn’t he?

If collegiate athletes were shown some level of respect by receiving a reasonable stipend over the table it would eliminate some of the need for athletes to take money under the table.

As history shows, Bush was being bashed for being on the take and told to stay away from USC yet the media gave Pete Carroll a pass for slithering his way to the NFL out of harm's way.

Should the media drop the hammer on the big, bad NCAA like it does the athletes?

Should the media force the sports to seriously consider the notion of paying athletes?

To suggest there isn’t enough money to pay the athletes is totally ignorant.  I am sick of the notion that athletes get a free education and that is enough.

Let’s be real.  After the cheering stops, many of the athletes leave campus without a degree or a bright future.  Far fewer ever sign a contract to play sports professionally.  But everyone has gotten paid over the course of four years except the most important part of the equation—the athlete.

The university, networks, the NCAA and coaches are guaranteed money yet the athletes don’t have guarantees—they just have access to an education.

The networks, the university presidents and the coaches are not on the field taking hits.  Fans don’t attend games to watch coaches roam the sidelines.  The athletes put butts in the seats.

How do you pay collegiate athletes?

First, the NCAA needs to willingly change their legislation or be forced to do so by a governing body.  As it stands the NCAA has too much indiscriminate power.

Furthermore, they should allocate money in the form of a monthly stipend over and above student-athletes' scholarships.

Secondly, networks should allocate 20 percent annually on the deals they make to televise collegiate sports to the athletes.  That means the 14-year, $10.8 billion TV deal the NCAA recently inked with CBS and TNT for March Madness means $2 billion for the pay-for-play fund.

Sean McManus is the president of CBS News and Sports.  McManus suggested the deal “has the result in more eyeballs, more gross rating points and more ratings points and more coverage of the tournament, thereby, I would say, creating more value.”

Some of that “value” McManus refers to needs to go the athletes.

Also, many who are against the notion of paying athletes suggest they are amateurs. They say if athletes want to get paid simply turn pro.

Fine, if collegiate athletes are amateurs then head coaches should earn a salary that better reflects the athletes’ status.

According to Bob LaMonte, founder of Professional Sports Representation, the average salary of an NFL coach is $3.25 annually.  New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick earns the most at $7.5 million per season.

At the collegiate level athletes are not paid yet some coaches ink deals that are sometimes larger than what NFL coaches make.

I say place a salary cap on collegiate coaches.

Let’s take Mack Brown’s $5 million contract and Alabama head coach Nick Saban's $4 million per season deal—they make more than the average annual salary for NFL coaches.  Saban and Brown earn a combined $9 million annually for coaching amateurs.  Cap both coaches at a maximum $2 million per season and the excess ($5 million) goes to the athletes' pay-for-play fund.

Between the network contributions, capping the coaches' salaries and adding a mandatory stipend to athletes' scholarships, there will be more than enough to get the ball rolling.

There will be enough money to pay male and female scholarship athletes something. 

Also, a governing body needs to be instituted to regulate the NCAA.  They have too much power to indiscriminately render decisions without oversight.

Can anyone say, "Congressional hearing?"

If wealthy baseball players can go before Congress to see if they took steroids, they can listen to a viable case of whether collegiate athletes should be paid and whether the NCAA should be monitored.

If Congress does not want to the listen, perhaps the Supreme Court might.  A group should be formed comprised of current and former collegiate athletes along with social activists to create an atmosphere where they can be heard in the media.

The key will be the athletes. They can draw the most attention because they have an ear of the media.
What if the entire Ohio St. football team decided not to play in the Sugar Bowl in protest of the recent suspension of Pryor and his teammates?

You think that would get the attention of the media, fans, networks and the NCAA?

Athletes must be willing to take a stand against something that is inherently wrong.  Many of these college athletes lay it on the line for their institution yet in many instances they are being taken advantage of.
Has the time come for collegiate athletes to step up for their own self-interest and claim some of what is rightfully theirs?

I say yes.

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Thursday, December 16, 2010

NFL, Media and Race: Are Brett Favre and Ben Roethlisberger Protected?

Brett Favre’s consecutive games streak is over, now all we need is a resolution to the Jenn Sterger situation. 

In 2008, Favre allegedly sent inappropriate texts to Sterger while Favre played for the New York Jets and Sterger was an employee with the team.

An investigation was completed by NFL league investigators last week.  The results were promptly given to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

Goodell stated he received the results of the investigation and indicated a decision is forthcoming.  Goodell stated, "I got a report last week. I expect sometime in the near future to be making a decision."

This matter has been ongoing for two months now.  Why has it taken so long to make a decision?

Either Favre sent the texts and harassed Sterger or he did not. It should not take this long to determine what did or did not happen.

This Favre-Sterger situation has been meticulously buried by the media.  Don’t you think a married star quarterback being accused of making unwanted advances and sending texts of his private parts to a female employee is a big deal?

Is Favre getting a pass?

Quite simply, Favre is a made man. This entitles him to a level of protection from the media and NFL hierarchy few others receive.  Furthermore, his complexion and celebrity grants him additional perks which equates to an even higher level of protection.

Here’s my two cents.

Both the NFL and the media hierarchy are dominated by whites. Over 94 percent of the editors at mainstream newspapers are white.  Furthermore, 75 percent of the NFL league office is white.

The latest statistics from The Institute of Diversity and Ethics show African-Americans account for just six percent of all positions at mainstream newspapers.  Furthermore, African-Americans account for just 8.6 percent of the positions at the NFL league office.

Facts indicate decision-making positions in both the media and NFL are controlled by whites.  Therefore, the stories are being written and edited by whites and the decisions are being made by a vastly white office.
Favre is being granted a pass because of the John Wayne legend created by the media and Goodell’s reluctance to make a swift decision.  

Percentages indicate African-Americans have few connections in the media and the league office that enables them to be granted a pass like Favre.

Based on the outlined facts, I’m of the opinion had an African-American quarterback been accused of the items Favre has, the investigation would have been completed sooner and a resolution already made.
Look no farther than Ben Roethlisberger for an example.  Roethlisberger has been accused of sexual assault twice in the last two years.  The second of Roethlisberger’s alleged assaults came from a 20-year old college coed in Milledgeville, Georgia last March.

The mainstream media was given the nod to keep Roethlisberger’s situation quiet.  ESPN did not cover the story with the level of persistence as it had incidents involving African-American athletes like Plaxico Burress, Michael Vick and Tiger Woods.

Even to this day, Roethlisberger’s erratic behavior has become a total non-issue.

Dating back to 2006 when he crashed his motorcycle; to being accused of sexual assault in 2008; to adding another alleged assault this past March Roethlisberger has enjoyed the perks of being a young white quarterback in the NFL.

Roethlisberger has slithered his way back into his comfort zone with gracious aid from the media and the NFL.  Instead of the media addressing Roethlisberger’s past, he's asked about his broken noise or his injured ankle.  Rarely is there mention of the reckless behavior he’s engaged in.

Let’s face it, what Michael Vick did to those dogs was disgusting, but at least he paid his debt to society.  He has also faced the media piper by not shying away from his past.

Vick has openly talked about the mistakes he’s made and has vowed to be a better person.  Up to this point, he has held true to his word.

Despite his stellar play, he is still scrutinized by a segment of the media.  The media is asking whether Vick deserves be applauded by fans despite his past.  The media is asking whether Vick deserves to be a pitchman for products.  The media is asking whether it is good for the league if he’s named MVP of the NFL.

I have no issue with the latter line of questions so long as there is a level of consistency.  If the media continues to question Vick as he tries to move on with his life, should the media request the same from Roethlisberger?
The media wants to talk about his Favre’s consecutive game streak ending and whether he’ll play again this season.  Those are legitimate topics, but it is also important for the media to cover whether Favre potentially sexually harassed Sterger.

Favre is clearly getting a pass from the NFL hierarchy by delaying a decision and the media for not pressing the issue that is partly predicated on celebrity and race.

To me, there is a clear double standard between how African-American athletes are treated compared to white athletes: different strokes for different folks.

 Again, that’s my two cents.

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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Miami Hurricanes Hire Al Golden To Resurrect the Days of Old: Is He a Good Fit?

The Miami Hurricanes made a big splash by filling their head coaching position.  In arguably the best hire in school history, the administration went out and got a perennial winner in Al Golden from Temple University to replace the fired Randy Shannon.

The Hurricanes faithful should be happy now.  They have landed a coach who was a certain upgrade and can bring back the days of old.


Al Golden?

Are you kidding me?

This is one of the most bizarre hires by a so-called premier institution in recent memory.  For a university that boasts a proud tradition of winning and excitement, in my opinion, the Hurricanes football program has taken two steps back.

What happened to Jon Gruden, Bo Pelini and Mike Leach?

What happened to getting that coach who can bring back the fire?

Al Golden?

Golden posted a losing record at Temple University.  He has a 26-32 record as he takes over for Shannon.
This hire makes no sense to me.  I wrote a commentary when Shannon was fired where I suggested race played a factor in his firing.  I still firmly stand behind by that claim.

Now that Golden has been hired, how can race not be a factor?

Let’s examine.

Typically, when an organization makes a change, they attempt to upgrade from what they released.
Shannon sported a 26-22 record.  Ultimately, his performance was not deemed acceptable, thus he was shown the door.

Weeks later, the university went to the MAC Conference and hired a coach with a 26-32 losing record to replace a coach who had a winning record.

How can a coach few have heard of with a losing record be considered an upgrade over a home-grown coach with a winning record?

How can Golden be an upgrade over a coach who played at the university, cleaned the program up and made it respectable?

If the university formerly known as “The U” landed Gruden, the hire would have been easier to digest: Then it could be suggested the administration is serious about restoring their winning ways by winning now.

But, no, you go out and hire Al Golden.

There is no way on God’s green earth loyal fans of Miami can suggest they are happy with this hire.  There is no level of logic I can embrace that justifies hiring a coach with the same number of victories as but more losses than the guy the university fired.

These recent circumstances surrounding the hiring of Golden and the firing of Shannon are quite bizarre.
It seems the administration wanted Shannon gone for a multitude of reasons.  One of them, I feel, was race.
Perhaps the university doesn’t mind having a team filled with African-Americans so long as the head coach can be white.

Complexion helps to sell tickets and foster relationships at the upper rungs of collegiate athletics.  According to The Institute of Diversity and Ethics in Sports and the NCAA, 100 percent of conference commissioners, 93 percent of university presidents and 90 percent of athletic directors are white.

The latter make up the brain trust. As facts indicate, it is largely a lily-white world.  Therefore, it can be asserted that perhaps Shannon could not make a strong enough and enduring connection because of his complexion.

Meanwhile, Golden was a perfect fit.  He looks and speaks the part like those in the majority in collegiate sports, right?

Therefore, Golden was not only the right man for the job—he was the white man for the job.
As I have stated before and I will state again: In my opinion, I believe race played a factor in why Shannon was fired.

No, not the only factor, but race played a role.

Fans of Miami will say Shannon didn’t coach to the level of his recruits.  The administration will say Shannon should have won more games and the boosters perhaps did not like him.

That’s fine.  What are those same boosters and fans saying about a coach with a losing record?
If it is about winning games, why hire a coach with a losing record?

Miami fans are stuck in the past.  The days of old are not coming back under Golden.  Just like the Notre Dame team you will be playing in the Sun Bowl, the glory days are a distant memory.

In closing, the Golden hire is an utter disgrace.  It disrespects the job Shannon did in cleaning up the program by doing it the right way.

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Cincinnati Bengals: Carson Palmer Gives Pittsburgh Steelers an Early X-Mas Gift

The Cincinnati Bengals have lost 10 straight games. The primary reason why the Bengals are struggling lies directly on the shoulders of quarterback Carson Palmer.

The Bengals, particularly Palmer, seemed to be in a festive mood on Sunday as they managed to hand the Pittsburgh Steelers a 23-7 victory by consistently turning the ball over by courtesy of Palmer’s less-than-stellar play.

Let’s be real, Palmer has stunk this year. He is throwing costly interceptions like it is going out of style. On Sunday Palmer completed 20-of-32 passes for 178 yards for one touchdown and three interceptions. Two of his interceptions were returned for touchdowns.

Typically when things go south with an organization, we have been conditioned to first look at the coach. The coach is responsible for putting players on the field who give them the best chance to win.

There are rumblings Marvin Lewis may be on his last legs in Cincinnati. When a team sports 2-10 record, it is logical to consider a coaching change.

Personally I have no issues with Lewis and his coaching: The Bengals stink this year because of Carson Palmer’s quarterbacking.

On a team that features flamboyant players like Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens, it is very interesting the media has yet to indict them. Usually when there is turmoil on a team Owens plays for, he becomes an easy target for ridicule.

Not this time.

Owens has had a nice statistical year. He has caught 72 passes for 983 yards and nine touchdowns. Not bad for a player nobody really wanted going into this season, huh?

Ochocinco has posted rather pedestrian numbers. He has amassed 67 receptions for 795 yards and four touchdowns.

More importantly than statistics, he has not been a detriment to the team in any fashion. He just wants more balls thrown his way.

If you look closely at Palmer’s career, he has not lived up to the billing of being a franchise quarterback.

Has the time come for the Bengals to get rid of the pick-six machine and go another direction?

Last season, the Bengals were 6-0 within the division. The defense played solid, and Cedric Benson had a career year rushing the football.

With emergence of Jermaine Grisham at tight end, drafting Jordan Shipley and signing Owens, fans expected to pick up where they left off from last year.

Not so fast, my friend.

This year's team has gone south, and Palmer is the main reason why.

Sports Illustrated columnist Peter King has suggested Palmer would be better off in a San Francisco 49ers uniform.

I don’t know exactly what team Palmer would be a good fit for, but in my opinion, he has worn out his welcome in Cincinnati with his erratic play.

I have long been an advocate of placing the blame squarely where it belongs. If a player is not performing, cut the player. If the coach loses the team, get rid of the coach. It’s that simple.

Despite the Palmer’s horrific play this season, I get the feeling the blame will be misplaced. Once the chants for change grow louder from Bengals fans, by way of the media, they will clamor for Lewis to be fired instead of Palmer to be traded.

I look at other quarterbacks and how they get treated around the league, and yet Palmer has escaped scrutiny.

A perennial Pro-Bowl quarterback in Donovan McNabb gets benched in favor of Rex Grossman earlier this year. Head coach Mike Shanahan suggested McNabb cannot run the two-minute offense and does not have the cardiovascular endurance to complete it.

Then there is Oakland Raiders quarterback Jason Campbell. The Raiders traded for Campbell to be their franchise quarterback—and instead he is being treated like an Arena League scrub. Head coach Tom Cable has twice benched Campbell in favor of journeyman Bruce Gratkowski.

Brett Favre perhaps is the worse quarterback in the NFL this year. For as great as he played last year as a 40-year-old quarterback, he has been substantially worse as a 41-year-old.

Despite Favre’s horrific play, he continues to get the benefit of the doubt because he is "the Old Gunslinger." Favre gets a pass from the media on Jenn Sterger and his terrible play because he is a made man in the media.

In the Bengals case, it has become crystal clear Palmer is neither the quarterback of the future nor a franchise quarterback. His play indicates he is allergic to throwing touchdowns.

Like Favre, Palmer’s play has cost the Bengal’s very winnable games. Sunday’s contest was a strong indicator of my assertion. Why has it taken the media one game to finally see what has been apparent for 10?

Why hasn’t the media consistently questioned Palmer’s play the way it has pressured McNabb’s?

Different strokes for different folks perhaps.

When the season is over and the Bengals organization seeks to make changes, don’t blame T.O., Ochocinco or the head coach: Put the blame squarely on the shoulders where it belongs.

That’s quarterback Carson Palmer.

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