Category Archives: Sports

Coverage of punishments over bounties shows problem with sports media

In rehashing the draconian, overdone, heavy-handed and absolutely excessive penalties against the New Orleans Saints, so many have said what I feel better than I could have:

  • Dave Zirin, of The Nation, had to make up the word “shock-raged” to describe his emotion, and pointed out Goodell’s need to appear strong about player safety in the face of a tidal wave of law suits coming the NFL’s way.
  • Lamar White, of CenLamar.com, pointed out that the damning evidence used to justify a yearlong suspension of Sean Payton was this: “PS Greg Williams put me down for $5000 on Rogers [sic].” He points out that if there were worse, Goodell would have listed it in his long-winded documentation.
  • Mike Wise, of the Washington Post, exposed the hypocrisy of such a severe statement by noting that the Saints are getting singled out for something that likely goes on in EVERY team.

What really gets to me is the dramatic, over-the-top condemnation from sports media organizations. High-and-mighty columnists are gladly spreading Goodell’s hypocritical message of player safety, effervescently championing the commish for acting in the name of player safety. Columnists are coming close to scolding Saints fans for thinking that this punishment did not fit the crime, accusing us of being homers with our morals out of whack.

As much as I want to list examples, the list is too long, even for a blog. Instead, I’d simply like to make an observation:

The NFL has billion-dollar contracts with Fox, CBS, NBC and ESPN.

Of course the Saints are going to be a scapegoat. Those TV networks are propaganda arms of the NFL. Throw in how the NFL has its own network, and would love to make broadcasting on it exclusive, and that means you won’t find many columnists calling out Goodell for the hypocrite that he is. That’s why Fox will let Mike Pereira bubble effervescently about Goodell’s commitment to safety, why Ray Ratto can suggest that Goodell acted in favor of players and why Ashley Fox says that players will never ever issue bounties ever again.

Judging from the comments I read on each moronic, pro-Goodell column, football fans know the truth. The punishment doesn’t fit the crime. This is all about Goodell’s motives, not what’s truly fair and respectful for the game of football. I’d argue that Scott Fujita, one of the players who could be targeted for issuing bounties, has done more to protect players than Goodell.

Only Mark Kreidler, of ESPN, came close to calling Goodell out. In a “special commentary.”

National sports media is not news media, yet it acts like it is entitled to information the way an education reporter should get the agenda for a school board meeting. But all the TV reporters, columnists and others working for the major sports networks are indentured servants. They are hired by bosses and corporations who are absolutely petrified of not scoring big future contracts and have no problem throwing any illusion of jouranlistic integrity in sports out the window.

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Bounty of bullet points about Saints’ scandal

I’m still not really getting the whole impact about the New Orleans Saints’ scandal dealing with bounties. There’s been an investigation into it that says former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams set up a pot where players threw in money, then got rewards for certain in-game accomplishments, such as recovering a fumble or sacking the quarterback.

Where the Saints are in trouble: There were also rewards for knocking players out of the game, allegedly. The NFL said that violates the bounty rules.
A few thoughts about the scandal:

  • As a Saints fan, I’m more upset about the Saints placing its franchise tag on quarterback Drew Brees. Getting a long-term deal signed with him should have been a no-brainer, and that would have let the Saints use the tag on guard Carl Nicks — a big reason Brees broke Marino’s passing record last year.
  • Rewards for knocking players out of the game were like $1,000 or $1,500. Linebacker Jonathan Vilma allegedly offered $10,000 to take Vikings quarterback Brett Favre out of the game during the 2009 NFC Championship. These guys make hundreds of thousands a week, and $10,000 is supposed to motivate them? And if they got flagged for a bad hit, they’d likely pay a penalty equalling twice that? C’mon.
  • This bounty thing is not exactly cheating. The players can still get called for penalties. Remember in that NFC Championship that there was a high-low hit by Bobby McCray and Remi Ayodele on Favre that, if it had been called, would have reversed an interception and kept a drive alive. It might have altered the Saints’ Super Bowl destiny. And, again, a penalty on that play would have resulted in a five-digit fine, easily. You’re telling me that hit was fueled by a $1,000 bounty? While this may be morally worse, it’s not the level of cheating that Bill Belichick and the Patriots got busted for.
  • I don’t exactly believe the NFL is concerned about player safety. If so, they’d say something to every other team in the NFL about how they’d be watching. They would also drop the idea of an 18-game season. Or have rules against ALL helmet-to-helmet collisions, not just for “defenseless receivers” or quarterbacks.
    The NFL isn’t mad at the Saints for player-safety reasons. The NFL is mad because the Saints circumvented the salary cap. Allegedly.
  • I am a Saints fan, which means I am a Saints apologist. I likely do not have my head in the right place on this issue. But I tend to agree with the Cajun Cannon.
  • The most important thing about these bounties is what parents tell their football-playing children about this. I wrote the Globe’s editorial last week about what parents can do, and I recommend parents get hypervigilant about monitoring what their kids are asked to do by coaches.
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TV producers: For the love of Deuce, stop splicing the ‘Who dat’ chant backwards!

As referenced in my column in this week’s Enjoy, my plea for sports TV editors is to stop showing the “Who dat” chant backwards.

Listen to the clip above: It clearly goes, “Who dat say dey gon’ beat dem Saints? Who dat? Who dat?” But when editors and producers for TV segments splice together pieces about us crazy, passionate Saints fans, they edit it so that the chant is backwards. To spell it out:

WRONG: Who dat? Who dat? Who dat say dey gon’ beat dem Saints?

RIGHT: Who dat say dey gon’ beat dem Saints? Who dat? Who dat?

It’s scary how many times I hear this backward version. It’s regularly on ESPN. It was featured prominently in the DVD covering the Super Bowl season. Even quarterback Drew Brees got it wrong in a nationally-televised interview with a doting Katie Couric.

I guess there is some reason for confusion. Over the last few years, Saints fans have adopted “Stand Up and Get Crunk” by the Yin Yang Twins as an official anthem. As others have done versions with lyrics rewritten for the Black and Gold, the chant got incorporated in a backwards fashion. (Note: That link also shows a great moment of fans going crazy.)

But the reason it bugs me is that the correct version has such a great rhythm to it. It’s musical, it’s moving and almost spiritual. Compare that to the mushy, mealy-mouthed “Who dey” chant from Bengals fans. It’s no contest. And wow, is that song terrible.

Some bonus history about the musical clip above: It’s sung by Aaron Neville, and members of the ’83 team. All those “bum bum bum bums” aren’t just a chorus — they are a shout-out to then coach Bum Phillips, who brought some success and hope to a beleagured fan base that suffered through a 1-15 season two years prior. The New Orleans Times-Picayune published a pretty good history of “Who dat,” enough to effectively render any Cincinnati claim of originality null.

“But Joe,” you ask. “I see several times in that Times-Pic story above, where the history shows the two ‘who dats’ come first.” That’s true… enough to almost destroy my entire point. But the ’83 Neville song, with its order of lyrics gave the chant the life it has today. That’s the way it should be shown on TV, as far as I’m concerned.

Eh, none of this matters. All that matters is the upcoming season and defending the title. Instead of “Who dat,” it’s “Two dat.”

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New Orleans Saints’ victory super sweet

Those who know me know exactly what I’m geeked out about right now.

For years, I have been a fan of the New Orleans Saints. Tonight, the Saints became super by upsetting the Indianapolis Colts 31-17 in Super Bowl 44.

Let’s get one thing out of the way: Though I was born in New Orleans, I had the South kicked out of me at an early age: My family moved to New Jersey when I was 3 years old. Hurricane Katrina had only a spiritual impact on me. I hated seeing my birth city underwater — the hospital where I was born was flooded — but I had no family and only one or two friends living there when Katrina hit. My story is much more geeky, and not at all heartbreaking.
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Joe: Geeked out about his new blog

I’m enjoying the fresh digs around here.

For those of you who followed me on Show You State, my apologies. I was recently promoted to Features Editor, and my understanding editor agreed that I had my hand in too many cookie jars. So no more Show You State… expect it to be deleted soon.

This blog is going to stick pretty close to the features world. Updated once every whenever-I-feel-like-it, I’ll post all about pop culture, from the major Hollywood releases to the latest viral videos. Should be fun.