Monday, February 10, 2014

Quick Hits: Volume LXXXVI

-The NFL draft is three months away, yet anticipation is already building among football fans. While said fans are eager to see how their respective team fares in the early rounds, there is likely going to be some extra focus from non-football fans on, say, the middle rounds. Why?

Michael Sam, an All-American defensive lineman from Missouri and the Associated Press' SEC Defensive Player of the Year, said that he is gay in an interview with ESPN's "Outside the Lines" on Sunday.

Sam stated publicly what his teammates and coaches at Mizzou have known since August: "I am an openly, proud gay man."

Sam is eligible for the NFL draft in May. Assuming that he is drafted, Sam could become the first openly gay player in the history of the NFL.

"I understand how big this is," he said. "It's a big deal. No one has done this before. And it's kind of a nervous process, but I know what I want to be ... I want to be a football player in the NFL."

From the projections I have seen, Sam is considered the 14th best defensive end of those entering the NFL draft. That places him at about a fourth or fifth round draft choice. I don't know the success rate, but I have to believe that the number of fifth round selections who have actually had any semblance of an NFL career is less than half.

Despite the odds, I know a lot of people are rooting for Sam to make it, myself included. However, my motives are likely different from most. Admittedly I'm hoping for Sam to have at least a modest NFL career so that we can finally cease with all of the overwhelming fanfare of an openly gay man potentially playing in one of the four major sports leagues (NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL). If Sam's NFL career comes to fruition, then gay athletes don't feel as though they need to hold a press conference to announce how they're living their private lives. I'd rather not know, regardless of sexual orientation.

- Say, you remember this from the White House's Twitter feed when there were rumblings that House Republicans were going to craft a measure to repeal Obamacare?

That's right: It's the law.....until it isn't.

Most employers won't face a fine next year if they fail to offer workers health insurance, the Obama administration said Monday, in the latest big delay of the health-law rollout.

The Treasury Department, in regulations outlining the Affordable Care Act, said employers with 50 to 99 full-time workers won't have to comply with the law's requirement to provide insurance or pay a fee until 2016. Companies with more workers could avoid some penalties in 2015 if they showed they were offering coverage to at least 70% of full-time workers.

The move came after employers pressured the Obama administration to peel back the law's insurance requirements. Some firms had trimmed workers' hours to below 30 hours a week to avoid paying a penalty if they didn't offer insurance.

A senior administration official said the shift was a response to businesses' concerns, though the official said no one reason was behind the change.

Under the original 2010 health law, employers with the equivalent of at least 50 full-time workers had to offer coverage or pay a penalty starting at $2,000 a worker beginning in 2014. Last year, the administration delayed the requirement for the first time by moving it to 2015.

Say, I thought only rulers and kings could unilaterally change laws to satisfy their sense of whimsy. Oh, and did you notice the latest delays were conveniently put off past the November midterm elections? Hardly an accident when you consider most polling data indicated the ACA would be a major campaign issue.

Nevertheless, the ACA has already had a detrimental affect on families, whether it's rising costs in their current health plan or elimination of coverage altogether. Multiple delays aren't going to change those dilemmas, meaning health coverage will remain a salient issue this campaign season.

- For some time now, we at the Northern Alliance Radio Network have been in search of a "NARN babe." Oh sure, we've had many attractive, conservative ladies appear as guests on the show. However, because many of these ladies are so passionate about politics, there's no way they would ever acquiesce to being exclusive to weekend programming on AM 1280 The Patriot. As such, these same ladies often make guest appearances on a certain Clear Channel station to our left (physically, not politically), which broadcasts local political talk on a daily basis.

Fast forward to this past Sunday when I welcomed as a guest Miss Minneapolis 2014 Julia Schliesing. Now I knew coming in that she was gorgeous and politically conservative. However, I know many women who are very proficient in those two areas but I wouldn't let them within a mile of a radio mic. But the minute Julia began conveying her insights, I had a feeling she was the one, especially since she has aspirations for a career in media.

As her guest appearance was ending, I pitched her the idea of being the NARN babe and she seemed very open to it. I even told her about Miss Minnesota 2012 Siri Freeh, who sharpened her radio chops on a certain morning show on the aforementioned Clear Channel station. But what clinched it for me is when I asked Julia if she had ever heard of said morning show. When she replied "no", I immediately proclaimed "YOU'RE HIRED!!!"

I think she's all in.

With that, ladies & gentleman, I'd like to officially welcome the first ever NARN babe -- Julia Schliesing:

If nothing else, attendance at remote broadcasts will skyrocket!


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