Monday, September 15, 2014

Statement games

I'll admit I was stunned by the news that Minnesota Vikings' star RB Adrian Peterson would be allowed to play this Sunday in light of charges of reckless/negligent injury of his 4-year old son. Since the NFL Commissioner's office has not doled out any punishment, the ball was essentially in the Vikings' court on how to proceed in the short term.

Here was the statement released by owners Mark and Zygi Wilf:

Today’s decision was made after significant thought, discussion and consideration. As evidenced by our decision to deactivate Adrian from yesterday’s game, this is clearly a very important issue. On Friday, we felt it was in the best interests of the organization to step back, evaluate the situation, and not rush to judgment given the seriousness of this matter. At that time, we made the decision that we felt was best for the Vikings and all parties involved.

To be clear, we take very seriously any matter that involves the welfare of a child. At this time, however, we believe this is a matter of due process and we should allow the legal system to proceed so we can come to the most effective conclusions and then determine the appropriate course of action. This is a difficult path to navigate, and our focus is on doing the right thing. Currently we believe we are at a juncture where the most appropriate next step is to allow the judicial process to move forward.

We will continue to monitor the situation closely and support Adrian’s fulfillment of his legal responsibilities throughout this process.

I am compiling this post little more than an hour after the Wilf's statement, so I'm still processing the repercussions of this.

A few initial thoughts:

- I couldn't help but be struck by the excerpt indicating the Vikings brass believes "this is a matter of due process and we should allow the legal system to proceed so we can come to the most effective conclusions and then determine the appropriate course of action." Sure, that's a perfectly rational and common sense policy. However, the Vikings have been woefully inconsistent on this philosophy in recent history.

In 2011, then rookie DB Chris Cook was charged with battering his girlfriend. Now, did the Vikings allow the "legal system to proceed" as opposed to immediately releasing Cook? Yes. However, Cook was essentially deactivated the remaining two months of the 2011 season. He wasn't even allowed at the Vikings' facility. Cook was eventually acquitted in a trial and returned to the Vikings as an active player in 2012.

How about last year when DB AJ Jefferson was charged with domestic assault? Jefferson was released by the team literally within hours of his arrest. So much for letting due process play out.

My point is clear: there's no question the caliber of player is a substantial factor in how team punishment is meted out.

- From a pure football standpoint, the Vikings may want to see if Peterson has anything left. Since he is slated to make at least $14 million per season from 2015-17, the Vikes could cut ties with Peterson after this season (he turns 30 in March) with little salary cap implications. Therefore, they'd have all that salary cap room to upgrade the roster next year. Or maybe it's the Vikings' intention to cut ties after this season regardless, but they just want to squeeze one more year out of Peterson.

- Say, now would be an opportune time to reduce the three-game suspension of Special Teams coach Mike Priefer, thus allowing him to return to the team this week. That potential sideshow would certainly get lost in the shuffle of the Peterson saga, eh?


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Box Score of the Week

The then California Angels took on the Seattle Mariners - October 2, 1995.



Sunday, September 14, 2014

It was a whole different game being played back when I was a kid....

It's a beautiful fall day as I will be broadcasting The Closer from 1:00 until 3:00 PM Central Time, live from The Patriot bunker.

It was a very news intensive week this past week, so there's a lot to get to in two hours. As an NFL fan and an observer of society I have plenty to say about the domestic incidents involving NFL players Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson. I will also comment on President Obama's speech from this past Wednesday regarding ISIS as well as my own 9/11 retrospective.

At 2:45, my friend and Northern Alliance Radio Network colleague Mitch Berg will check in to pimp his co-hosting appearance taking place this evening on Armed American Radio

So please give me call at (651) 289-4488 if you'd like to discuss any of the topics I plan on addressing. You can also text comments/questions to (651) 243-0390.

You can listen live in the Twin Cities at AM 1280 on your radio dial. In and out of the Minneapolis-St Paul area, you can listen to the program on the Internet by clicking this link, or check us out via iheart radio

Even though I have a face for radio, there is a UStream channel where you can watch the broadcast, if you so desire. Check it out here.  

And if you're so inclined, follow along on Twitter at #narn or "Like" our Facebook page.

Until then.....



Saturday, September 13, 2014

Shining the light on an everyday problem

In this country, the abuse of women and children is, sadly, not news. It's estimated that 1.3 million women are victims of physical assault by an intimate partner each year. And per an organization called ChildHelp, there are more than 3 million reports of child abuse involving approximately 6 million children.

Unfortunately these issues seemed to gain their just due only because of two high profile instances week this past involving the NFL. I wrote about the Ray Rice saga earlier this week, and how an in-elevator video was finally released to the public. It showed Rice delivering a literal knockout punch to his then fiancee. Rice's employer, the Baltimore Ravens, quickly terminated his contract upon the video going viral and the NFL upped his suspension from a paltry 2 games to an indefinite period of time.

Just when one began to think there couldn't be anything more disturbing than the Rice saga, we hear a story of a 4-year old boy suffering terrible injuries at the hands of his NFL father.

Minnesota Vikings star running back Adrian Peterson has been indicted by a Montgomery County, Texas, grand jury on charges of reckless or negligent injury to a child and a warrant has been issued for his arrest. The team deactivated him for Sunday's home game against the Patriots.

Peterson's attorney, Rusty Hardin, told in a text that Peterson "certainly will" surrender to authorities.

Hardin issued a statement Friday saying his client's conduct "involves using a switch to spank his son." According to a report by Sports Radio 610 in Houston, Peterson removed the leaves of a tree branch, which he referred to in a police report as "a switch," to strike the child.

"This indictment follows Adrian's full cooperation with authorities who have been looking into this matter. Adrian is a loving father who used his judgment as a parent to discipline his son," Hardin said in his statement. "He used the same kind of discipline with his child that he experienced as a child growing up in east Texas. Adrian has never hidden from what happened."

Hardin said Peterson has cooperated fully with authorities and voluntarily testified before the grand jury for several hours.

"Adrian will address the charges with the same respect and responsiveness he has brought to this inquiry from its beginning," Hardin said. "It is important to remember that Adrian never intended to harm his son and deeply regrets the unintentional injury."

Look, I'm not going to get into the merits of corporal punishment. Whether you think it's OK to spank your kid or not isn't the issue here. What Peterson did was excessive. I saw some of the photographs of the child's injuries. Upon seeing them, my initial reaction was a desire that Peterson never don the uniform of my favorite NFL team ever again. I can't begin to fathom what a 4-year old child could have possibly done to warrant that kind of punishment.

On the football end, Peterson was a fan favorite here in Minnesota, given he was one of the most dynamic running backs the NFL has ever seen. He was also viewed as a good guy in the community, given all of the charitable endeavors in which he's involved. As such, many reacted with shock and devastation at these charges. Personally, I learned a hard lesson long ago about hero worship. Over a decade ago, it was revealed that one of my all-time favorite baseball players, Kirby Puckett, was not the fun-loving jovial human being we witnessed on the ball field. Allegations of adultery as well as assaulting a woman in a restaurant bathroom certainly tarnished his reputation. From that day forward, I could certainly celebrate the impressive accomplishments of a professional athlete without really needing to know anything (nor caring) about his/her private life.

I guess the one positive aspect of the Peterson saga is that he's been fully cooperative and up front about his actions. Whether or not that will make a difference in a courtroom trial is another matter. Lest we forget, Peterson is represented by the same Rusty Hardin who somehow got Roger Clemens acquitted on charges he lied to Congress about PED usage.

Sheesh, so much for sports being a superficial distraction from real life, eh?



Friday, September 12, 2014

NFL Trivia: Livin' La Vida Loca

It's back!!! After taking a hiatus during the 2013 NFL season, Twin Cities station 1500 ESPN is back this year hosting Thursday night football trivia live at various locations. Last evening the festivities took place at Burrito Loco in Dinkytown with ESPN Twin Cities personalities Judd Zulgad and Phil Mackey acting as MCs.

The preliminary round entailed a written portion of 10 questions (some having multiple answers). This week's opening portion was worth 23 points. This was to determine how the teams were to be seeded. 

Having achieved 21 points out of a possible 23, I earned a #3 seed and a first round bye. Since trivia savant Brendan Byrne (who was a 10-time winner in 2011 and 6-time champ in 2012) was the #1 seed, I wouldn't have to face him until the finals, if indeed we both got that far. 

In the quarterfinals, I faced a team called the "Step Dads." This was a best 2 out of 3, with each question requiring only one answer. 

Question one: Name one Vikings player who attended college at USC. 

Brad (buzzing in first): Everson Griffen. Correct. 

1-0, Brad

Question two: Name one Vikings player who attended college at Notre Dame. 

Brad (buzzing in first): Kyle Rudolph. Correct.

Brad wins, 2-0!

The final four is also a best 2 of 3, but the questions are in category format, meaning there are multiple answers. This year has an interesting twist. The rule now is if each player gets one correct answer, it moves to sudden death. That means the first person to give a wrong answer loses the point. 

In this the semifinal round, I faced the "Floor Eaterz." 

Question one: Name the 10 RBs in U of M Gophers football history who rushed for at least 2,000 yards in their collegiate careers. 

Brad (buzzing in first): Laurence Maroney. Correct.
Floor Eaterz: Darrell Thompson. Correct.
Brad: Marion Barber III. Correct.
Floor Eaterz: Amir Pinnix. Correct.
Brad: Marion Barber, Jr. Correct.
Floor Eaterz: (No guess).

1-0, Brad

Question two: Name the ten teams in college football's Big 12 conference. 

Floor Eaterz (buzzing in first): Oklahoma. Correct.
Brad: Oklahoma State. Correct.
Floor Eaterz: Texas. Correct.
Brad: Kansas. Correct.
Floor Eaterz: Iowa State. Correct.
Brad: Kansas State. Correct.
Floor Eaterz: TCU. Correct.
Brad: Baylor. Correct.
Floor Eaterz (taking nearly all the allotted 15 seconds): UTEP. Incorrect.

Brad wins, 2-0!!!

So it's on to the finals!! As we've heard so often in regards to a competitive venue: You have to beat the best to be the best. With that in mind, Brendan breezed through his first couple of rounds and was awaiting me in the finals. Again, this is a guy who captured a whopping sixteen wins in a two season span. I personally have gone head-to-head with him at least 5-6 times with nary a victory. 

The finals are the same categorical, sudden-death format for each question, though it's now a best 3 out of 5. 

Question one: On the Vikings current roster, nine different players have played in a Pro Bowl at some point in their career. Name them. 

Brendan (buzzing in first): Adrian Peterson. Correct. 
Brad: Chad Greenway. Correct.
Brendan: John Sullivan. Incorrect. 

Brad leads, 1-0.

Question two: Seven different QBs have thrown for at least 40 touchdowns in a single season. Name them. 

Brad (buzzing in first): Dan Marino. Correct.
Brendan: Peyton Manning. Correct. 
Brad: Drew Brees. Correct.
Brendan: Kurt Warner. Correct. 
Brad: Tom Brady. Correct.
Brendan (taking the entire 15 seconds) Bledsoe? Incorrect

Brad leads, 2-0. 

WOW!!! Could it be happening?!?! Clearly Brendan seemed somewhat flustered by the new "sudden death" format. I guarantee you I wasn't feeling the least bit cocky at this point. As such, I wasn't going to let up. Going for the jugular here. 

Question three: In the 45-year history of Monday Night Football, there have been 11 play-by-play announcers (between ABC & ESPN, including playoffs). Name them. 

Brad (buzzing in first): Al Michaels. Correct.
Brendan: Mike Tirico. Correct. 
Brad: Frank Gifford. Correct.
Brendan: Chris Berman. Correct
Brad: Keith Jackson. Correct
Brendan (taking the entire allotted 15 seconds; No guess).

To quote the aforemetioned Mr. Michaels: Do you believe in miracles? YESSSSSS!!!!!!

Brad prevails, 3-0. It was my first time defeating Brendan and, more importantly, my first trivia championship!!!

On top of that, I received a $50 gift card for fine dining at the host establishment (in this case, Burrito Loco) as well as a $50 Visa gift card. 

After several miserable failures in Super Bowls in the late 1980s (losing by an average of 32 points in three appearances), the Denver Broncos finally prevailed in Super Bowl XXXII in January 1998. They would go on to win another title the very next year. Is my situation analogous to the '80s and '90s Broncos? I guess we'll find out at Lord Fletcher's next week.


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Thursday, September 11, 2014

Remembering 9/11/2001


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Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Just walk away, Ray

It was nearly seven months ago when Baltimore Ravens RB Ray Rice engaged in a physical altercation with his then fiancee (now wife) Janay Palmer. At the time, there was a grainy video released showing Rice emerging from an elevator dragging an unconscious Palmer out into the lobby. It seemed pretty obvious that Palmer was on the worse end of this domestic dispute. Rice would eventually be charged with third-degree aggravated assault.

A few months later, the Ravens organization inexplicably thought it would be a good idea to hold a joint press conference with Rice and his wife. Rice took the time to apologize to the Ravens fans as well as Ravens officials like owner Steve Bisciotti, GM Ozzie Newsome and coach John Harbaugh. Strange that he didn't immediately think to make a public apology to his wife, no? Two months later, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell suspended Rice a mere two games.

After that disastrous May press conference, the Ravens' official Twitter feed chose to tweet out the following:

If that tweet seemed incredibly tone deaf then imagine the context when TMZ released video footage Monday of how Ms. Palmer wound up in an unconscious state. While exchanging slaps and shoves with Palmer before entering the elevator, Rice culminated the fracas by hitting her so hard that she went airborne before smacking her head on a railing. The outcry from this video being released was so rampant that the Ravens organization had no choice but to terminate Rice's contract immediately and, in the process, delete the aforementioned May 2014 tweet.

As I went through the timeline of the aftermath of the February 2014 incident, I couldn't help but see a complete bungling at every level.

- First, the legal process. How could the state of New Jersey be so lenient on Rice as to slap him with a mere third degree assault, with a chance to have the conviction removed from his record if he successfully completes a diversionary program? Shameful.

- When it was learned that Rice would be suspended for only two games, outrage ensued. A month later, Goodell announced a change in the personal conduct policy regarding domestic violence. First offenders would receive a six game suspension, with a second offense constituting a one-year ban with no guarantee of reinstatement. Since this is Rice's first offense, the letter of the law indicates only a six game ban. But the embattled commish upped Rice's punishment Monday to an "indefinite" suspension. It'll be interesting to see how the NFL Players Union addresses this, if it does at all.

- At best, the commissioner's office acted incompetently and at worst is guilty of a cover up. If Goodell's office didn't see the video of the actual punch, did they not think to make an attempt at obtaining footage? The NFL is a mutli-billion dollar entity that has acted as judge and jury when meting out player punishment. Wouldn't it behoove them to have all the arsenal at its disposal before deciding Rice's fate? Ah, but Goodell et al claim to have never seen the footage of the punch. If indeed that's a lie, it would be very difficult to prove unless a rogue NFL employee can substantiate that statement being false.

While many feel Rice finally has been sufficiently punished (at least from a football standpoint), a lot of people expressed anger at how the NFL and the Ravens organization had to be shamed into making the decisions they did on Monday. But if you feel that Rice should never play in the NFL again, you've likely gotten your wish, so who cares how we arrived there? Plus there has to be some satisfaction that the stuff-shirt NFL execs got their lunch eaten by a Hollywood gossip web site.


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Monday, September 08, 2014

Box Score of the Week (The 2,000th post on this blog!)

The Milwaukee Brewers hosted the Cleveland Indians at the old Milwaukee County Stadium - August 26, 1987.


Only six players in MLB history have ever had hitting streaks of at least 40 consecutive games. Going in to this contest, the Brewers' Paul Molitor had hit in 39 straight. He was 0 for 4 when the game entered the 10th inning. The game ended in the bottom of the tenth when Rick Manning knocked in the game-winning run......with Molitor in the on deck circle.