The Rambles of Neil Monnery

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Archive for the ‘American Sport’ Category

‘I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay.’

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The words of Jason Collins as he comes out in the latest edition of Sports Illustrated to become the first openly gay male athlete in any of the major north American team sports. This is a big thing and it is about time it happened.

As you all may know I’m a huge NFL, MLB and NCAAFB fan but the NHL and the NBA kinda pass me by as I don’t enjoy the sports too much. So I don’t know this guy from Adam but what I do know is he is an active player and he has decided it is time to open up the conversation. A couple of weeks ago Brittney Griner came out and now just a few days later a man followed suit.

In a self-penned essay in the latest edition of the magazine 34 year-old Collins writes about his struggle and one paragraph in particular stood out, ‘When I was younger I dated women. I even got engaged. I thought I had to live a certain way. I thought I needed to marry a woman and raise kids with her. I kept telling myself the sky was red, but I always knew it was blue.‘ I would certainly recommend reading the entire article linked to above to get a full sense of what he has struggled with over the years.

The situation has changed and the tide is changing for people to be more open about their sexuality. I watch two American Sports Talk shows daily and everyone was happy that he had felt able to come out but also it was noted that this wasn’t Jackie Robinson breaking the colour barrier nor Billie Jean King beating Bobby Riggs. Sadly not everyone in the industry is cut the same way and step forward Chris Broussard:

Personally, I don’t believe that you can live an openly homosexual lifestyle or an openly, like premarital sex between heterosexuals. If you’re openly living that type of lifestyle, then the Bible says you know them by their fruits. It says that, you know, that’s a sin. If you’re openly living in unrepentant sin, whatever it may be, not just homosexuality, whatever it maybe, I believe that’s walking in open rebellion to God and to Jesus Christ. So I would not characterize that person as a Christian because I don’t think the bible would characterize them as a Christian.

Now it has been a while since I’ve read my Bible. In fact I don’t own a Bible but I know the odd passage, ‘Judge not, lest ye also be judged.’ (Matthew 7:1). ‘Do to others as you would have them do to you.’ (Luke 6:31). ‘In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.’ (Matthew 7:12). Now I grant you the bible also has texts that counter this but the bible should not be taken in a literal context as if you did then you’d get nowhere as there are so many texts that are actually polar opposite.

Mr Collins finally seems at peace with his sexuality and that is what all want to be. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, wrong with being attracted to people of the same sex. Happily the early signs coming out of follow north American athletes are seemingly full of support for the player. The thing is if you are a professional athlete in a team sport the overwhelming likelihood is that you have played with a gay team mate. As a fan the overwhelming likelihood is that you have rooted for a gay player at some point in your sports watching.

I hope this man’s decision accelerates something similar happening here in the UK. Sexuality is just part of who we all are and at some point a big name Premier League player will come out as homosexual and it will help others in the sport – and also more importantly young people – feel that there is nothing wrong with being gay. Society is coming around to this and the younger generation are – in general – far more open and accepting than previous generations. I hope we get to the point where sexuality doesn’t define us and is just a footnote in describing us akin to ‘likes soap operas, hates prawns, loves people of both sexes’ or similar.

Jason Collins is a brave man but I’m pretty sure the overwhelming majority of the NBA will support him as will the majority of the paying public. This is a huge step and one that shouldn’t be understated and now I await to see when someone still active in the major British sports feels comfortable enough to follow suit. Sadly I fear I will be waiting a while as the vocal minority are still extremely vocal.

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April 29th, 2013 at 10:32 pm

Posted in American Sport

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From Team GB at London 2012 to flying the Union Jack in the NFL?

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If you – like me – and every single other person seemingly in the UK were hooked on London 2012 then you’ll remember Lawrence Okoye. He represented Team GB in the discus and made the final. He was disappointed to come last but he was still young. With Rio De Janeiro but now just three and a half years away you might think that he is busy working on that dream but he isn’t. He is in America trying to catch on with an NFL team and the surprising thing is – he might just do it.

In America they have a draft system instead of you can just sign whoever you want out of the young talent. This is the same in all major American sports. So Okoye is over there working out at combines, which are events that players go to in an attempt to impress watching scouts. Despite never having played at a competitive level it seems that Okoye is the player impressing most. ‘Okoye looked like he could be drafted. He was unbelievably active and incredibly explosive in drills. It was a real, first-class show‘ said long time NFL scout Gil Brandt. Saying he might actually be drafted and not sign on somewhere as an undrafted free agent is quite something.

The last young Englishman to be drafted was Jack Crawford. He played collegiate football at Penn State so I saw a lot of him. They said he had all the natural ability in the world but he never converted it to the field of play. He was a good college player but was never great in his time with the Nittany Lions. He took up American Football very late as he moved to the States in his mid-teens but at least had a few years under his belt – including playing for one of the very best Defensive Line coaches in the game in Larry Johnson Snr. Okoye doesn’t have that but heck Crawford got drafted by the Oakland Raiders purely because of his raw ability.

If Okoye is going to make it then it is going to be because someone believes that he can be coached up – and pretty darn quickly. American Football is one of the toughest sports to learn on the fly because of all the intricacies of the game. The 21 year-old has said that five NFL clubs have contacted him and if that is the case then his stock is certainly improving.

With a proven athletic pedigree and dedication to training he might actually have a shot at making this dream come true. Should he succeed then he will put his discus and Team GB plans on hold. If he does get drafted it will probably be in the 6th or 7th rounds and when you consider that it is expected that one of the greatest linebackers I have ever seen – Michael Mauti – is expected to drop to those rounds due to concerns over his knee you’ve got to be impressed by Okoye because even if he doesn’t make it hell have got pretty darn close.

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April 8th, 2013 at 11:41 pm

Posted in American Sport

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#42 set to call it a day.

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The number 42 is the meaning of life if you asked anyone in the UK what that number meant to them. In the United States of America the number 42 is synonymous with just two men and one of them is about to call a day to his ring-laden career.

I am getting to that age where some of my heroes that I have followed for my whole life watching a sport have called it a day. Heck very few of them are still around. You get new heroes and new loyalties but they’ll always be a select few who you’ll love and admire. That list for me is never slender and includes Alan Ball – a Pompey hero, Ayrton Senna – a Formula driver who no fear and immense skill, Jorge Posada – a New York Yankees catcher who showed that heart and hard work can overcome a lack of natural talent, Kurt Warner – a man who showed that even when things look bleak showed that you can still achieve your dreams and Joe Paterno. Yes whatever has happened hasn’t changed my opinion on him.

So we get to today and another one of the guys that I openly rooted for has called a News Conference for Saturday morning (10 EST) to announce that he is calling it a day. He’ll play out the season but that will be it. It is not a surprise in any way, shape or form – he is 43 years of age and he would have retired last year had it not been for a freak injury but it will signal the end of an era.

Sport is so often about opinion and emotion. Is Messi better or Ronaldo? Is Pele the greatest ever or was Maradona? Was Senna better than Schumacher? I could go on but there are so many questions and so much debate. One question though results in the same answer from an overwhelming majority of people who follows the sport of baseball – ‘Who is the greatest closer of all time?’ and the name that’ll come from their lips will be that of Mariano Rivera.

The kid who learned how to pitch using a milk carton as a glove in a sleepy fishing village in Panama came from very humble backgrounds to become the greatest at his position a sport had ever seen. When you earn the nickname ‘Hammer of God’ you must be doing something right and Mo certainly did something right. It wasn’t his greatness though that made me root so hard for him. He played the game with a smile on his face and the amount of times I ever saw him openly emotional count be counted on one hand. He knew that you can’t win them all and that at times you be suffer painful defeat but he took it all in his stride.

There was a strange sense of serenity watching him jog out to enter a game. ‘Mo will save us’ was the thought that every Yankee fan felt whilst the opposition fans – and players – used to think ‘oh (expletive)’. He pitched with just one main pitch – the cut fastball. Every opposition player knew what was coming and yet they still couldn’t hit it. It was one of the strangest things in sport – if you know what is coming next then you can adjust to it but with Mo you couldn’t. Life after Mariano will be interesting for any Yankees fan who has been privileged to watch him play.

However there is another part of history that needs to be said. When Mariano leaves the field of play for the last time at some point in 2013 the #42 will walk off the field for the last time outside of Jackie Robinson Day. In 1997 MLB retired the #42 to pay homage to Jackie Robinson who broke the colour barrier in 1947, which might just be the most significant moment in north American sport. Due to the Grandfather clause anyone who wore the #42 could continue to wear it until they retired. It is fitting that the last person to ever wear it will be a man who wasn’t just great but also a wonderful person and ambassador for the sport.

I will ensure I enjoy every moment of 2013 where Mariano is on my TV screen. It genuinely was a privilege to watch greatness and I’ll miss it like anything when he’s gone. I’m sure others will get a place in my heart in time but it has been many years since someone new got into my inner-love sports wise but I’m sure others will. For now though I’ll smile when I see #42 and enjoy what he has given me – smiles on my face and the sense that you can be great and yet be humble and all class – and that sums up the kid from a small fishing village in Panama rather well.

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March 7th, 2013 at 9:21 pm

Posted in American Sport

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Did you hear the one about the girlfriend who died of cancer but actually didn’t exist?

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One story has dominated the American sports industry over the past 24 hours and it is one of the most bizarre stories that I have ever come across. Deadspin yesterday published the following story Manti Te’o’s Dead Girlfriend, The Most Heartbreaking And Inspirational Story Of The College Football Season, Is A Hoax. The story details how the girlfriend of an American Football player never existed and when he announced to the world that she had died of cancer it was not accurate because…she didn’t exist.

The thing that has stunned the journalism industry isn’t what happened but more how was the story ever allowed to happen? How come no-one picked up on the fact that she didn’t exist? Didn’t anyone do some background research that would have shown up the fact this was a hoax? As many experienced journalists have said today you take people at their word on issues like these but you do background research, you attempt to speak to the girls parents, her friends, you do something to find out other facets of the story. The fact is no-one did this and the story of Te’o and the death of his girlfriend was allowed to manifest itself is something of a black mark on the whole industry.

This girlfriend who apparently died had no obituary ever written about her. Her funeral was published at being held in two different places – one of these places as a town in California that didn’t even exist. Yet no-one picked up on it. On December 26 Te’O went to his university and told them that the story was a hoax perpetrated on him by sick individuals. The truth according to the player was that he had developed an online relationship and had never met this girl.

His version of events are believable but he knew on December 26th that the story was untrue and yet before the National Championship Game ten days ago he was asked on many occasions about his girlfriend and he still didn’t come clean. He still spoke of her – and her death by cancer – freely and with raw emotion. It just doesn’t add up.

Then a few days ago Deadspin got a tip that the story was a hoax and within a few days they were able to join the dots and release the story linked to earlier, which is in itself a fine piece of journalism. The viewpoint of many of the sports journalists are that whilst they didn’t do their jobs properly they are also under immense pressure not only to be right but more importantly to be first in this 24/7 news cycle world that we live in. Being first brings kudos and brings followers on twitter, likes on Facebook and might, views on the internet, eyeballs on the TV and even the odd extra sale of a newspaper. Being right might not be the be all and end all any more and when everyone is wrong it doesn’t seem to matter as much.

Personally I love the longer, thoughtful piece. I was talking to a friend of mine Tony a few weeks ago about the ESPN show 30 for 30 and how we both really appreciated the proper sports documentary. You can tell the time that had gone into the documentary series and I really enjoyed it. A few weeks ago ITV4 showed a documentary on Jose Mourinho and I found that well worth an hour of my time.

Longer, more thoughtful pieces still have a home in my heart but do they still have a place in sports journalism in this day and age? This story makes me think its place in sports journalism is on the very edge and its not looking in, its drifting even further away and that makes me sad.

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January 17th, 2013 at 10:32 pm

Posted in American Sport,News

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They pre-empted a football game for an Obama talk on guns at a memorial service? Are they are reals?

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Damn straight they are buckos.

In case you were unaware we saw a genuine tragedy in the United States last week as a young men went mad in an elementary school killing 27 people including himself and it is 28 when you add that he killed his mother before reaching the school. 20 of those that died were young children.

This is a huge story and it has really made a dent in the psyche of the American citizen but when the tragedy impacts the number one football game of the week then it becomes too much.

Yes last night the networks all opted-out of regular scheduled programming to bring President Obama’s speech at the Newtown Memorial Service. The issue for many was that the speech was just after 8:30 EST and at that time there is the number one weekly sporting event on network TV – the NBC Sunday Night Football telecast. So a few minutes into the game the announcer Al Michaels said they were stepping away from the game to take the President’s speech and NBC opted out. The game did continue on their cable network NBC Sports.

However far too many people thought this wasn’t good enough and took to twitter to complain about the decision to opt-out of the NFL game. Deadspin takes up the story with the quoted titled story – “Take That Nigger Off The TV, We Wanna Watch Football!”: Idiots Respond To NBC Pre-Empting Sunday Night Football.

So many of the tweets are just insane. You have to wonder if these people have a brain in their heads. This is also the reason why I think the likelihood to gun law changes in the US is so unlikely even though to sane observers it seems like the obvious thing that needs to happen. I won’t quote them all but here are a handful of the tweets of anger that the President was talking when there was an NFL game on:

WOOW THEY TOOK OFF SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL!! TO WATCH THIS NIGGER!! OBAMA TALK ABOUT THE SHOOTING NIGGA IDGAF! THE PATROITS PLAYING!!!

Obama can eat shit, trying to make a speech during the football game. Unacceptable

You have got to be fucking kidding me Obama, you stupid motherfucker. It’s football time in America not you to give a speech you fuck!

Obama instead of Football are they nuts? Who cares what the twerp has to say. #@whitehouse #POTUS #NBC

Yes the shooting is sad but Obama is ruining millions of kids lives daily & i want to watch some damn football, fuck you Obama

Just a quick reply to all of these tweets one on one. Someone doesn’t give a fuck about the shooting because the ‘PATROITS’ are playing. Classy and he can’t even spell Patriots. Yeah unacceptable that the President is making a speech during an NFL game. If someone nuked American soil on a Sunday night should the President wait to tell the nation they are at war until after the NFL? Football over lives is a stupid position to take. Lots of people care very deeply about what the President has to say and lastly if you want to watch some damn football then just change the freaking channel dumbass. I have noticed several of the people quoted in that piece have deleted their twitter accounts.

I’m cynical on whether the President has the guts to take on the gun lobby. I hope he does. I really hope he does. He is a second term President and therefore has a bit more freedom but taking on the gun lobby is a different kettle of fish. A friend of mine said last night that the biggest issue isn’t even the NRA but those anarchists who think that they need an easy supply of guns in case they ever need to overthrow the government. Just how scary is that?

Personally the fact no-one even hinted at any gun discussion after the Virginia Tech massacre appals me but it seems that when the people slain are of elementary age people care far more than they do when those gunned down are of university age.

Writing just a couple of weeks ago I wrote Bob Costas uses his Prime Time TV audience to talk gun control laws after NFL murder-suicide. It is something that America as a nation has to look at if they want to stop so many senseless deaths. After 9/11 so many laws were changed after 3,000 people died but nearly one third of a million people have died as a direct result of gun related crime this century in the United States and yet nothing has happened nor even been discussed.

When that poor girl asked Will McAvoy at Northwestern University, ‘what makes America the greatest country in the world?’ the answer certainly had nothing to do their views on guns. Guns alone may not kill people but if people have a free and easy access to a gun then they’ll be more likely to use it to harm another. Gun control is what Americans deserve because they deserve the feeling of being safe but when people say that this episode shows that teachers should in fact be armed it says a lot about how deep the gun culture is in the USA and that is the battle the anti-gun brigade face.

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December 17th, 2012 at 1:19 pm

Posted in American Sport,News,Politics

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Bob Costas uses his Prime Time TV audience to talk gun control laws after NFL murder-suicide.

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If you have any knowledge of the US Sports scene then you’ll know of Bob Costas. He has been one of the faces and voices of sports broadcasting in the country for over 30 years. Part of his duties is to front NBC’s NFL TV coverage and on Sunday he worked the nationally televised Prime Time game as per usual. Just over 24 hours earlier a Kansas City Chief had killed his wife, driven to the stadium and thanked his coach and the general manager of the team before turning the gun on himself and committing suicide in front of them. Yet the next day the Kansas City Chiefs played their scheduled game.

It was a tragedy that a young two-month old baby girl lost both her parents. That a young woman was slayed in her prime. It is hard to feel any sympathy for the man who committed these crimes but you have to sense that he was deeply troubled. This though isn’t the point. The point is would these two people still be alive today if the second amendment to the US Constitution wasn’t in place.

Now Bob Costas used his privileged position to further his thoughts on this subject following a piece by noted columnist Jason Whitlock. In his piece ‘In KC, it’s no time for a game‘ Whitlock speaks first of all about why the game should have been cancelled but goes on to make the wider point about gun culture. Whitlock is a middle-aged black man and Costas is a older generation white man. Many think this is a racial issue and have slated Costas for his views but he was referencing Whitlock’s work.

To view Costas’ monologue please watch the inserted video below:

Here is the important part of Whitlock’s piece that Costas was referencing:

In the coming days, Belcher’s actions will be analyzed through the lens of concussions and head injuries. Who knows? Maybe brain damage triggered his violent overreaction to a fight with his girlfriend. What I believe is, if he didn’t possess/own a gun, he and Kasandra Perkins would both be alive today.

I personally do not have an issue with either Whitlock writing what he did nor Bob Costas using his position to talk on the subject. A large majority of the American public seem to. A significant proportion of people believe that Costas was ripping on black people as a lot of young black men in America believe that guns are an important part of their culture. So an attack on guns is an affront to them.

I disagree strongly. If Jevon Belcher didn’t own a gun then the likelihood is that two people would not be dead today and a young baby girl would not have been orphaned on Saturday morning. Over here in the UK we see an increasing amount of young people carrying around knifes to protect themselves but of course what we see is the likelihood of you using a knife is vastly increased if you have one on your person. When the adrenaline kicks in we as human beings do not make the best choices. You are more likely to be stabbed if you possess a knife when out and about than if you do not. It is the same with guns. If you don’t have one to hand then you are far less likely to ever use one.

The right to bear arms is an antiquated law but is one that will never change because of deep rooted beliefs. If guns were illegal then a few people with illegal guns would be able to carry out more crimes but with guns being so readily available it means that many, many more people will be shot and die at the hands of someone in a moment of passion or pique of anger. If you don’t have a weapon to hand then you are far less likely to go out and get one after the red mist has dissipated.

This was a terribly sad moment but alas it is all too uncommon. A friend of mine in New York was called up to do jury duty a while back and it was a murder case. He didn’t have to sit on it but I enquired saying that murder is a pretty big crime so it must be a big case and his response was cold saying that ‘it probably wouldn’t even make the papers.’ When a murder isn’t even a crime that makes the newspapers then something is wrong.

I think my view is pretty clear but I just wanted to defend Whitlock (whom I often do not agree with) and certainly Costas who used the largest TV audience of the night to hammer home his thoughts on the issue. Gun control is an issue that no American President will ever tackle because they are too scared to do so. This is a sad state of affairs but would an frank and open national news debate about gun control be a good thing? It sure would but it will never never happen. This is the type of news story I’d want Will McAvoy and his team to take on but I doubt anyone will.

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December 6th, 2012 at 2:36 pm

Posted in American Sport,News

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Why quitting fantasy NFL has renewed my love of the sport

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For many years I have been a fantasy sports junkie. I have had fantasy football teams obviously but never was able to stick at it due to my terrible initial selections and I just couldn’t be bothered. Throw in Fantasy F1, Fantasy Basketball, Fantasy NFL, Fantasy Baseball etc… and you’ll see a deep rooted pattern.

However I made a decision this year to change this up and cut my teams down to just one – the Fratton Yankees in a fantasy baseball league that I have been a member of for now seven years and that would be that. I won a fantasy NFL league last season which was good fun and all but fantasy games are there to make the game more exciting they say – just like betting. Incidentally you can click here for online betting at Top Bet.

My issues with fantasy sports though are I found myself watching the players and fantasy stats more than I did the game itself. This season I have been able to just enjoy the games and root for the teams that I want to root for. I don’t have to think ‘oh I want the Broncos to win but I hope Peyton Manning stinks as my opponent has him’ and that is the type of issue you have fantasy wise.

With my fantasy baseball team practically all the games are in the early hours so I see so few live so it doesn’t ruin my enjoyment of the game but also I have been part of this particular league for as I said seven seasons. That is one of the main reasons I have stuck with it. I even have kept the same original name even though deep down I wanted to change it to the Fratton Yankee Posada’s in homage to the now retired and borderline Hall of Famer Jorge Posada.

Going back though to the original concept of this blog post I can now sit back and enjoy a game of American Football for what it is. I’m not concerned about those stats and whilst I can see why many believe it enhances their enjoyment of the game – remember this is a multi-billion dollar industry in the States – for me I can be more of a purist and just watch and enjoy a game.

Last year was a strange year for me as I had no real rooting interest. My team stunk (and still does) and after a few years of rooting for the old man quarterback (Kurt Warner, Brett Favre) last year I had nothing. At least this year Peyton Manning is back and looks like he can do something and I have been rooting hard for him and the Broncos. Apart from that though there aren’t any storylines that are grabbing my attention and yet I did don’t miss the fantasy aspect of the game. Maybe it is just a down couple of years for me NFL wise (although the Jags are coming to the UK next season) but at least the college game has been insane. Notre Dame being the only undefeated team in the country? Not sure anyone saw that one coming…

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November 18th, 2012 at 5:41 pm

Can you Sam Ficken believe it?

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Regular readers of The Rambles of Neil Monnery will have no idea who Sam Ficken is. As I’m kind I shall put you out of your misery. Sam Ficken is a student-athlete who attends Penn State University. He is the kicker on their football squad. He had what you might call a rather bad day on Saturday. When I say bad day I’m talking like he did a Ronnie Rosenthal but not just the once – several times during the game. You felt for him but despite the loss so much felt so right.

Ever since the Jerry Sandusky sex scandal engulfed Penn State and the NCAA decided to not bother with following their own rules football has been hard to watch. Not seeing the grumpy old man either up in the booth looking through those glasses (that he didn’t even need to wear any more) or prowling the sidelines is hard. There were no rolled-up khaki’s and no records to break. The future is now and last weeks defeat to Ohio was hard but deserved. That game was live over here on UK television so I could watch in glorious HD. This week in a late switch the game with Virginia was also on so I could watch on the TV instead of via the PC and the healing process started for me.

I like winning. Heck who doesn’t? However I also like competing and enjoying a proper match. That is what I got to do on Saturday. Penn State may have lost 17-16 to a Virginia side that they totally dominated but they competed and showed the heart that I want to see from my team. I got to stand up and yell about how great Michael Mauti is (seriously that kid is going to star on Sunday’s) and see a front seven dominate what was meant to be a very strong Virginia O-Line.

Matt McGloin even showed us that he was capable of running the new offensive system more than adequately. The O-Line looked more than decent despite losing four players to graduation last season. Yes there were downsides like our inability to stop the big 3rd down completions on Virginia’s final drive and the fact our secondary looks bad but they aren’t big issues in the grand scheme of things.

One thing I want more than anything from rooting for my team or favourite player (depending on whether it is a team sport or individual) is I want to see heart and a compelling game. On Saturday for the first time since we went into Ohio State with tom Bradley as Head Coach last year we saw that. These players have been put through the ringer and yet they chose to stay on when they all could’ve moved on and played elsewhere.

I once more found my voice and my passion for the Nittany Lions. I know Sam Ficken missed four Field Goals and had a +1 blocked but in this era of Penn State Football wins and losses don’t matter anyway. The team haven’t officially won a game since 1998 thanks to the NCAA. What matters football wise is they show what it still means to come and play for the university. Recruits will quite possibly shy away from Penn State until after the sanctions are lifted but if a team can still compete – on the road – at a pretty darn good opponent then it’ll show recruits that they can still do ok in coming to Penn State. If players like Michael Mauti can have great years and get drafted high in the NFL then the dark days might not be too dark nor too long.

Sadly for me Navy will be an internet job but luckily I have a good friend with a slingbox who gives me access so I will get to see the game. What I look for is heart and passion. These bunch of kids seem to have that and if Ted Roof can learn that blitzing on 3rd down might not be the greatest plan every single time then we might just get the first win since I started growing facial hair…

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September 10th, 2012 at 4:29 pm

Posted in American Sport

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Sky Sports sign three year extension to NFL deal

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If you are an NFL fan in the UK then until the past few weeks you have been looking forward to the new season with very few flies in the ointments. However slowly it has dawned on people that there was no TV deal in place in the UK and in fact NFL coverage could all but dry up but happily with the opening game less than 36 hours away those worries have been erased with the announcement today that Sky Sports will once again be showing comprehensive coverage of the sport in the UK.

Now other coverage had slowly been drip-fed out over the past couple of weeks as NFLUK confirmed that Channel 4 would once again be showing NBC Sunday Night Football with Nat Coombs replacing Danny Kelly alongside everyone’s favourite pundit Mike Carlson. The Sunday Night game is often the best game of the week and will be shown in HD and be available on 4oD for the first time this season.

The BBC also renewed their rights. They will show the Superbowl live and have highlights of the International Series game as well as playoffs which will be available on BBC Sport online. They also have radio rights for the forthcoming season.

However most people were worried that the big rights had still not been given out. Were Sky playing hardball? Did the NFL want to ditch Sky and get everyone to buy Gamepass? Was the size of the Thanksgiving Turkey to blame for the delay? Was Cecil Martin too cool for Sky Sports? You should read the NFL on TV thread on NFLUK if you want to see NFL fans in meltdown. Many thought no deal would ever be done. Some thought Premier Sports would be involved. Some even wanted no deal so there would be no blackouts on Gamepass.

The fact is though once the NFL announced that the Jacksonville Jaguars were to play for four years at Wembley Stadium then that assured us that the NFL were extremely keen on the UK market and that they would be broadcasting their league in the UK – and not just one game a week. The NFL genuinely has interest in placing a franchise in London so they know they have to grow the game. Taking it away from Sky and lumping it on Premier Sports or Gamepass only was never an option. ITV4 was the only other options for the NFL and that didn’t come about once they made it clear that Sky were their preferred broadcast partners a deal was imminent. All that needed to be sorted was NFL programming and red button options.

In a surprise move the BBC were given rights to Monday Night Football but will only be broadcasting it behind the red button and on the BBC website. Not like the BBC has much else to broadcast at 1AM on Tuesday morning’s but ho hum.

So there we have it. The full statement that had been embargoed until 5PM this afternoon is behind this link but here is a run-down of all the NFL TV rights in the UK:

Sky:

Two live Sunday Games – 6PM and 9:15 PM
The Red Zone on the Red Button
Thanksgiving and all TNF Games
All Playoffs and Superbowl
NFL Total Access plus more NFL programming tbc.

BBC TV:

Superbowl – Live
Monday Night Football – Live (Red Button/Online only)
Playoffs – Highlights
International Series – Highlights

Channel 4:

Sunday Night Football – Live

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Please leave any comments or contact me directly via the E-Mail Me link on the Right Hand Nav. You can stay in touch with the blog following me on Twitter or by liking the blog on Facebook. Please share this content via the Social Media links below if you think anyone else would enjoy reading.

Written by neilmonnery

September 4th, 2012 at 4:30 pm

Posted in American Sport,Media

What to do when a man is playing God? Get another man to play God and say he’s the real God

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Yes folks more on the Penn State Child Sex abuse scandal. Recently I don’t seem to have written too much jolly but there isn’t too much jolly going on in my peripheral vision at the moment.

Yesterday Mark Emmert the President of the NCAA decided to lower the boom on Penn State football. Whilst he didn’t use the death penalty he did essentially kill Penn State as a football powerhouse for the best part of a decade and relished every single moment. He had appointed himself judge, jury and executioner but what he was really doing was appointing himself as God. The moral arbiter of the NCAA. He got all the power he wanted from the other presidents and decided to not only use it – but use it far beyond his actual remit. Luckily for him you won’t find too many people trying to defend Penn State so he could’ve done whatever he wanted and the public would have backed him – or said he didn’t go far enough – he was on safe ground.

He believed that Joe Paterno had become too powerful at Penn State. So to show everyone how it should be done he used a power-play himself and became the supreme being in charge of everything the NCAA rules over. The problem was the NCAA don’t rule over criminal cases – that is done by the police but that is but a mere minor detail. To show everyone that becoming too powerful leads to bad times he usurped more far reaching power than anyone in NCAA history. Yeah that will sort it.

He repeatedly said that this was a unique situation and he had not set a precedent. Anyone with a semblance of a brain knows that is laughable. The NCAA now have the power to rule over criminal acts. Personally I am all for due process and to allow the courts to decide on what is criminal and what isn’t but why wait for the law and due process when you are Mark Emmert?

I have no idea what happened at Penn State and do you know what? No-one else reading this has an idea either. If they say that they do then they are either a liar or they are called Graham Spanier, Tim Curley or Gary Schultz. Everyone has an opinion on what happened at Penn State and most people’s opinions are set in stone before any of the key players have faced a jury or spoken in public.

The Freeh Report was a horrific read but it was also a report without subpoena power. Mark Emmert said about how it was so thorough it had talked to over 300 witnesses and was good enough for him. The only issue is he didn’t speak to anyone with any first hand knowledge except Graham Spanier – and he has already claimed that most of his testimony wasn’t even included in the Freeh Report for whatever reason. Conspiracy theorists might claim that Louis Freeh already had a narrative and much of Spanier’s testimony didn’t fit that so it was left out but those conspiracy theorists are all crazy…

Something that did cheer me up (well cheer me up is not the right wording so let’s say made me less angry) was the fact many journalists after spending months whaling on Penn State have questioned his right to step in. Many have finally said that he has over-stepped his boundaries to make this big PR stand. Some people such as Jay Bilas to Chris Fowler to Tony Kornheiser to JA Adande to Bomani Jones etc… actually think the NCAA went beyond their remit because they wanted to be seen to be acting.

For the past few months I have said that this issue is the Salem Witch Trials 2012. It is such a lightning rod story that people don’t care about due process as they just want justice and they want it now. I spoke to a couple of my neighbours about it yesterday and all they heard was ‘child sex’ and they said everyone deserves whatever they get. I tried to argue that should innocent people deserve punishment too and they didn’t care. There was child sex involved and that was enough for them. That is sadly the way things are these days.

Should the catholic church be shut down because of its issues on this front? Should the boy scouts be culled? People want Penn State football finished but does that punishment fit the crime? The crime was perpetrated by an individual and it was compounded by other individuals. These individuals are either in jail, dead or facing criminal prosecutions. These people are not involved at Penn State any more and the university is already changing its culture and following the recommendations to ensure that nothing like this ever happens again. How does penalising the innocent make up for the evilness and the criminal acts/bad decisions of others?

Losing twenty scholarships a year for four years means that there are eighty fewer scholarships for student-athletes at Penn State but it also means that eighty fewer student-athletes will get scholarships all over the country. So eighty people who will be recruited to play college football next year will not get a scholarship? Do these eighty people deserve that? How about all the businesses around State College? Do they deserve to see their incomes drop as the football programme at the university decreases?

All the other student-athletes on non-football scholarships will also suffer as the men’s football programme pays for all the other sports. These sports may well be cut as the university might not be able to afford them. How about the football players themselves? Yes they are transfer without penalty by why are they penalised for events that happened before they even got into junior high school?

What happens if Tim Curley and Gary Schultz are found not guilty at their criminal trials? What happens if the Freeh Report isn’t gospel? What happens if actually the main players in this instance actually were duped by Jerry Sandusky and actually didn’t know everything that everyone thinks they knew? There are so many questions and whilst we have heard many answers none of these answers have come from the people that know the answers. The answers have come from everybody else. At some point these people will answer these questions and then what do we do?

I know everyone wants to hit Penn State hard but was it the university that faltered or was it people? If I said that you moved into a house that five years ago a paedophile lived in would you be guilty of harbouring that person even if you didn’t know them? Should you face sanctions? The people involved in this horrific state of affairs are in jail, dead or facing criminal charges as I have already said. They are not playing football at Penn State today, they aren’t the hotel or restaurant owners in State College. Punish those who erred and not those that didn’t. That is my point of view.

One last thing – even those who have erred deserve due process. You don’t shoot first and ask questions later. Mark Emmert has played God because he believes he is serving the American’s peoples will. The general public have made up their minds and they want justice. They don’t care if the justice is fair or not but they want someone to suffer because these innocent kids had to suffer at the hands of a monster. Who suffers they don’t care as long as someone does and because Penn State employed all then they are right people to get hurt despite all the other innocent people at that institution. I’m sure these people want the catholic church shut down and the boy scouts dispensed with as well.

It is institutions that make these people evil – not individuals. If you believe that then I despair I truly do. You punish the people involved you don’t punish those that weren’t. That is maybe an old school belief but heck there is nothing like a (very) public witch hunt. Justice takes time but time isn’t something people have time for as it were. People want justice – or what they perceive as justice – yesterday. Whether they actually get justice is not important. The perception of someone paying the price is enough whether or not the people paying the price are people who should be.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Please leave any comments or contact me directly via the E-Mail Me link on the Right Hand Nav. You can stay in touch with the blog following me on Twitter or by liking the blog on Facebook. Please share this content via the Social Media links below if you think anyone else would enjoy reading.

Written by neilmonnery

July 24th, 2012 at 11:58 am

Posted in American Sport

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