Thinking out loud … while conjuring my inner Cecil B. DeMille.
— Patriots fans feel persecuted. I get it. Point your fingers in a lot of directions, if you must. But the court decision this week had nothing to do with air pressure in footballs, or even Tom Brady’s cell phone destruction. It had everything to do with legal process, and the fact that the NFL players signed away their rights to fair hearings with the NFL in the last collective bargaining agreement.
— So, in effect, as an NFL player Brady is guilty of screwing himself. That might seem a little harsh, but it’s reality.
— “You can’t handle the truth!” A classic movie line that seems appropriate, from “A Few Good Men.” Which the NFL does not seem to possess, btw.
— Here is where a problem exists with Deflategate droning on ad nauseam — legally speaking, we have a tie. Sports Illustrated’s Peter King was the first to point this out this week — and he’s spot-on correct. Judge Berman originally sided with TB12. Judges Parker and Chin ruled for the NFL’s right (and Roger Goodell’s contractual right, thanks to the CBA) to become judge, jury and executioner in this case. Judge Katzmann, the Chief of the entire Second Circuit, dissented, siding with Brady.
— By my scorekeeping, that’s a legal, New England Revolution-like 2-2 tie. We need (and TB12 deserves) a tiebreaker. We need extended overtime. This screams for a Brady appeal — which he and his side undoubtedly will pursue — and ultimately will subject us all to another several weeks and months of Deflategate drivel.
— Conceivably, any appeals process also would allow Brady a stay of his punishment. Which would mean the current hand-wringing over Jimmy Garoppolo’s readiness or bringing in another QB is rendered moot. Until the courts un-moot it again.
— Unfortunately (or not, depending on your point of view), the process is going to win out over facts here. How the law is meted out wins over what the truth might actually entail.
— “Seven years of college down the drain.” My appreciation for John “Bluto” Belushi from the timeless classic “Animal House.” Also my current feelings over the length of this fiasco.
— Not for nuthin’, but if TB12 doesn’t destroy his cell phone, methinks this issue is as dead as a doornail. I realize many believe the phone to be a red herring here, but when the two judges who decided for the contractually agreed-upon “process” over the facts of the case bring the phone up in their arguments, you know it was most certainly in the back of their minds throughout.
— All we have right now is “ties go to the commissioner.” That’s not healthy for the NFL, even if it is what the players bargained for. They chose money over principle. I’d be willing to bet their salaries they won’t make the same mistake next time around.
— Among my favorite reactions to TB12’s re-sentencing, the Buffalo Bills trolling the Patriots with a Week 4 schedule tweet. Forget Weeks 1 through 3, which will come first. This was a simple tweet with the two team logos with the text “Week 4″ and had smiling Bills fans’ faces taunting us all with their eyes. It was an “in your face” moment if there ever was one.
— Facebook post of the week comes from WJAR-TV’s Jeff Kolb, moments after the decision was rendered: JUST IN: The Patriots sign Peyton Manning to play first four games of the 2016 season (JUST KIDDING).
— Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain — the Great and Powerful Oz has spoken! The downside to this entire escapade is that Roger Goodell is the winner. I fully expected a long, loud Rhode Island Red strut down Park Avenue in New York, cock-a-doodle-doodling that he is all-knowing, all-powerful. Bow before Pharaoh!
— Yes, I just dated myself with movie lines from “The Wizard of Oz” and “The Ten Commandments.” Classic movies have classic lines, do they not?
— Roger Goodell’s need to boost his own power and credibility has existed from the very first day he assumed command in the NFL from Paul Tagliabue. And with his (several) failures in meting out punishment for crimes and/or violations that have come previous to Deflategate (hello, Ray Rice?), unfortunately TB12 and the Patriots are paying the price for his, um, need to strut …
— … and for his shortcomings as an intelligent arbiter.
— No one would argue he has the ability to do what he can do. This much we certainly know now. The problem here is that his predecessors (Tagliabue, Pete Rozelle), who also had this ability, never felt the need to abuse this privilege. They also never felt the need to kowtow to a renegade group of butt-hurt owners, incessantly spanked on and off of the field by the Patriots, whether through NE’s intelligence, athleticism and trickery or their own stupidity.
— Pharaoh Roger I is indeed the first with the apparent need to prove he is a universal ruler over all things pro football, good and bad.
— And in his case, it’s mostly bad. Helluva legacy you’re building, Great One. Stupid is as stupid does (Tom Hanks as “Forrest Gump”).
— I love a good conspiracy. So, prove me wrong here. The Patriots knew Brady would be suspended, and as a result bargained with the league for a favorable home schedule to start the year (which they received). In exchange, their (so far) silence. Also knowing TB12 would be doomed to process, they renegotiated his deal downward to save him some cash — ostensibly under the guise of “restructuring” an extension. Uh-huh.
— Oh yeah. The NFL draft is here. Funny, but don’t you get the feeling the NFL was just lying in the weeds, ready to pounce on upstaging the NBA and NHL playoffs with another round of Deflategate as a perfect lead-in to draft coverage? Just sayin’, but follow the money.
— The last line? Courtesy of Deep Throat in “All the President’s Men,” the 1976 classic on the Watergate break-in that changed history — if not culture — in our country forever.
— Or we could use “Show me the money!” from Tom Cruise’s portrayal of sports agent Jerry Maguire in the movie of the same name. That seems appropriate right about now. “Just show me the money.” — Rod Tidwell (as played by Cuba Gooding Jr).
— What doesn’t make a lot of sense, and never has to me, is why the NFL has been so hell-bent on taking down one of its (if not THE) most marketable players they have? Clean cut, married to a supermodel, no apparent vices of any kind — and still, he’s got to go down? Here is my real conspiracy theory — Deflategate is all about the commissioner’s ability to pee on the fire hydrant that is the NFL.
— In other words, this is MY territory, MY league, and YOU can’t do anything about it. No one individual, player or coach can be bigger than the boss. Now kiss the ring (remember Marlon Brando as Vito Corleone in “The Godfather”?) and pledge your loyalty to the family. Or in this case, the NFL.
— If you doubt this last one, consider this quote from an unnamed NFL general manager in the aftermath of this week’s decision, courtesy of NFL beat writer Mike Freeman: “The Patriots aren’t victims, but they are a cautionary tale for the rest of the league. They’re a reminder the commissioner can do whatever he wants, and there isn’t a damn thing any team can do about it.”
— As that slow, steady twist of the knife in the Patriots’ backs begins to inflict its pain, suddenly, there’s some com … com … compassion out there? Whoa.
— ICYMI, WEEI.com’s Chris Price pointed out earlier this week the Patriots aren’t the only team to have a draft pick (or picks) taken from them this week. There’s grumbling in Kansas City (which lost a third-round pick this year and a sixth-rounder next year for tampering with Jeremy Maclin), Atlanta (docked a fifth-rounder for pumping in artificial noise) and now Los Angeles (fifth-rounder for a supplemental pick taken last year).
— But the Patriots’ penalties ($1 million, two draft picks and Brady’s four-game suspension) is all over, well, hot air. As has been described previously, Pharaoh Roger I killed an ant with a sledgehammer.
— With the NFL draft returning to Chicago, and several other cities asking for a chance to host it — what opportunity do you think there would be for Boston/Providence/New England to ever entertain draftniks and the entire football world? With Roger Goodell still commissioner? Even he’s not that dumb, is he?
— The answer, of course, is slim and none. And Slim just left town.
— He never knew it, but veteran sportswriter and columnist Blackie Sherrod was my mentor. He passed away this week at 96 years of age, having served for more than six decades as one of the country’s preeminent sports writers and editors. As a kid, I couldn’t wait to get up on a Sunday morning, fetch the paper (Fort Worth Press, Dallas Times Herald and later, Dallas Morning News) and read what Blackie had to say about the games people play — and, of course, about my teams, favorite athletes and coaches growing up in North Texas.
— He brought sports to life. He also discovered the human side of the athletes and coaches he covered, making them relatable to us mortals. Which then made them more God-like in my eyes. The Dallas Morning News’ Kevin Sherrington said this about Sherrod, on the occasion of celebrating his 90th birthday in 2009: “The name still looks good in print: Blackie Sherrod. It evokes late-night bull sessions and Runyonesque prose and the gentle clink of ice cubes.”
— He’s all I ever wanted to be, until broadcasting somehow got in the way. He was cooler than cool, always in the know, and respected by his peers as well as his readers. In fact, this very column is styled after his work — short, sweet stories, sometimes snarky, sometimes funny, but hopefully always opinionated and informational. Godspeed, Blackie. And thank you.
— Former Patriots and Boston College defensive tackle Ron Brace suddenly passed away last Saturday at his home in Springfield, only 29 years old. He suffered a heart attack. At 29.
— Brown lacrosse is ranked No. 2 nationally and clinched an undefeated Ivy season with a win over Dartmouth this week. At 13-1, the Bears have tied the school record for wins in a season. The only other time they finished Ivy play unbeaten (6-0) was in 1994, when they reached the final four. Led by 10 seniors, the Bears lead the nation in scoring (almost 17 goals per game) and face off with former coach Dom Starsia and traditional lax power Virginia this weekend.
— Bryant baseball continues to tear it up — 30-7 on the season with a national-best 10-game winning streak. The Bulldogs put that on the line this weekend, hosting Sacred Heart in a series that could decide the NEC regular-season title. These two teams have combined for the last five NEC championships, just so you know. Bryant has four wins over Top 25 teams this season, which could put the Bulldogs in good shape if they need the at-large route to the NCAAs.
— The latest mock draft from NBA Draft Express has PC’s Kris Dunn slotted at No. 5 overall, going to the Minnesota Timberwolves. Ben Bentil? He’s at 52nd overall, to the Utah Jazz in the second round. Is that good enough to leave school? That’s eight spots from the bottom — or being left out altogether.
— Of note, Marquette’s Henry Ellenson is at No. 9 (Toronto), Michigan State’s Denzel Valentine at No. 16 (Boston) and North Carolina’s Brice Johnson at No. 31, as the first pick of the second round, to Boston again. Unless Bentil can top Johnson in the eyes of the pros, I don’t see how he can benefit from leaving Providence this summer — as opposed to next summer, perhaps.
— ESPN’s Chad Ford has a mock draft with Dunn going fourth and Bentil 22nd. I like Ben, a lot. He is a very good player and will be a very good player for some time. I also realize that one man’s treasure is another man’s trash. As Dunn has said previously, do you want to be an NBA player or stay an NBA player? Get about halfway into the first round, you’ve got a great shot at the latter over the former.
— But 22nd? Two things: One, Ford probably has never seen Bentil play, other than on video. And two, the team that sold Ford a bill of goods on Ben (in this case, Charlotte) probably hasn’t seen him play, other than on video, either. This is no knock on Ben. But he’ll struggle defending as a stretch four in the NBA right now, and the idea is to stick around for a while, isn’t it?
— The perks (or pain) of winning a national championship — Villanova’s Jay Wright has been mentioned as a candidate to become coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, according to several reports this week. UConn’s Kevin Ollie also has been mentioned, and he might actually be a fit. Not that Wright isn’t, however.
— Wright’s name surfaced originally with an opening in Phoenix, when he then professed his allegiance to the Main Line. We’ll see. You know what talks and what walks. Former Friar Billy Donovan moved from Florida to Oklahoma City last year for a cool $6 mil.
— Did the Celtics’ Brad Stevens really finish sixth in the NBA Coach of the Year voting? Sixth? The man deserves a raise, and the 130 media members who regularly cover the league and voted for the award need lobotomies. Or a clue.
— Not having Avery Bradley certainly hurt the Celtics’ cause in their series loss to Atlanta. But he wasn’t the only reason the Hawks won. Boston needs a consistent, knock-down shooter, as 38 percent field goal shooting in the series would indicate. Get a go-to guy, whatever you want to call it. That should be the goal in the offseason.
— Half his life ago, the San Antonio Spurs’ Tim Duncan was in college, ballin’ at Wake Forest after Providence College couldn’t find room for him. It’s true, but the worm (and PC’s near-brush with greatness) turned when then-coach Rick Barnes moved on to Clemson. Duncan is still ballin’ in the NBA playoffs, and turned 40 this week. That deserves a “holy moly.”
— While the Red Sox’ David Price hasn’t exactly been right, neither has Craig Kimbrel been a shutdown closer as expected. Yet. Their most recent play this week was encouraging, but the one thing the two have had in common so far this season is enough to knock most pitchers off the bump. Both have been throwing more meatballs over the middle of the plate than an Italian momma (so I’m told) serves on Sunday.
— I have eaten (and thrown a few) meatballs on Sundays myself. So there’s that.
— My buddy Statbeast sez he was at one of those husband-only marriage seminars held at church, and last week the priest asked an older Italian gentleman who said he was approaching his 50th wedding anniversary how he had managed to stay married for so long. The old man said, “I’ve tried to treat her nice, spend money on her and take trips with her. I took her to Italy for our 25th anniversary!” The priest then asked, “What are you planning for your 50th?” And the old man replied, “I’m gonna go pick her up.”
— I’d feel a lot better about Price’s last outing against Atlanta (eight innings, two runs allowed, 14 K’s) if it weren’t for the Braves having baseball’s worst record. Shouldn’t he be dominating these guys?
— Although, really good number thrown up on CSNNE this week: Red Sox pitchers have more strikeouts through the first 20 games played this season than any other Red Sox staff has had in the last 100 years. That’s another whoa.
— Rick Porcello. Steven Wright. Who knew? The big difference between these two guys and Price or Clay Buchholz? Their stuff “moves.” Price and Buchholz have had their pitches traveling down Main Street — not a good place to be if you’re expected to keep major league hitters off of the base paths.
— And Buchholz? Dude, you told us not to worry. The team is 0-5 with you as a starter. Your last two losses are to teams that are a combined 12-32 to start this season. When should the worrying start?
— Were my eyes deceiving me, or does the American League East Division standings board on the Green Monster at Fenway show the New York Yankees in last place? Every time I catch a glimpse of it on TV, I feel like grabbing my camera to take a snapshot. Mainly because I still don’t think it will last. But it’s fun to see, for now.
— Eduardo Rodriguez began his rehab with the PawSox, and it’s hard to gauge where he might be in his recovery process. In 3 2/3 innings he gave up six hits and two earned runs in a 3-1 loss at Syracuse Thursday night. Still, I’d take what he has right now over Buchholz.
— Glad to see that Brad Faxon (of Barrington, Rhode Island) will stay a part of Fox’s U.S. Open golf coverage for 2016. Panned widely by critics in its majors’ debut a year ago — and much of it undeserved from this point of view — Fox is going to show 10 hours of coverage on Saturday, eight more on Sunday. You’ll get your fill.
— Is it just me, or is Rhode Island’s latest stab at tourism creativity — “Make it Yours” — styled after the DIY (Do It Yourself) phenomenon, just another cop-out? I mean, there isn’t one clever, creative soul in this state? I know we have sarcasm, so really, how far behind can creativity be?
— I learned something this week about legendary filmmaker Cecil B. DeMille. He’s a Massachusetts native, born in Ashfield in 1881. DeMille passed away in 1959, but not before becoming a true founding father of the American film industry. “The Ten Commandments,” starring Charlton Heston as Moses, was his last and perhaps best-known film, and 60 years after its release it is still in the top 10 highest-grossing films of all time after adjusting for inflation. DeMille also was an actor, probably part of the reason why his films had a penchant for overt theatrics within them, but the man could tell a story. He also knew what work ethic was all about. As the story goes, while filming “The Ten Commandments” he suffered a serious heart attack, and despite doctor’s orders he was back on the set shooting the very-demanding exodus from Egypt scenes for the movie only a week later. DeMille, whose son-in-law was former Rhode Island resident and actor Anthony Quinn (who passed away in 2001), has two stars on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame — the first for his contributions to radio in the industry’s early days. He loved theatrics, worked hard and appreciated radio for its power to captivate. My kinda guy.
— Chris in Arctic, Rhode Island, posted this week: What do you think of the news that PC signed [Alpha] Diallo? With the incoming class plus Isaiah Jackson being there last year as well, I think they will have a very solid team. Chris: It’s rare to get a top-100 commitment from a player at this stage of the recruiting year, since most are already spoken for. Diallo is an ESPN top-100 recruit, having prepped at Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire. He appears to solve part of the Friars’ needs for next year, by being a scoring wing. You can never have enough scoring, or enough length, and he appears to bring both. Now get some size and the Friars will have something next season. The intrigue here, however, comes from presently not having a lot of wiggle room in the scholarship department.
— Interested in having your questions on local Rhode Island sports (and yes, that includes the Patriots, Red Sox, Bruins and Celtics) answered in a somewhat timely fashion? Send ’em to me! It’s your chance to “think out loud,” so send your questions, comments and local stories to email@example.com. We’ll share mailbag comments/Facebook posts/tweets right here! Follow me on Twitter, @JRbroadcaster, and on Facebook, www.facebook.com/john.rooke.
— Don’t forget to join Scott Cordischi and me on Providence’s 103.7 FM every Saturday from 7-9 a.m. for Southern New England Sports Saturday! Call in at 401-737-1287 or text us at 37937.