Nocturnal Lives

Musings from the mind of Amanda S. Green – Mother, Writer, Possessed by Cats

Tag: NFL

Free Speech, the NFL and More

I hadn’t planned on writing this post. After all, you can’t turn on the news this morning without seeing what happened at the beginning of the NFL games yesterday. The story isn’t over, either, because there is another game tonight. But comments by Pittsburg Steelers coach Mike Tomlin force my hand. His attitude, combined with the events — or non-events — at UC Berkley over the weekend, are indicative of a problem in this country that the media refuses to cover. Very simply put, free speech is approved only so long as you are doing or saying what the “cool kids” approve of. In this case, the cool kids are the media, Antifa and the like.

We saw a perfect example of someone doing what he felt was right yesterday. Steelers player Alejandro Villanueva came out of the tunnel and stood, hand over his heart, during the playing of the National Anthem. He was the lone Steeler to take to the field. Villanueva, a former Army Ranger, had the courage to stand in respect and in support of the flag he served and the country he loves. None of his other teammates can say the same.

Not that they had the choice. Coach Tomlin made the call they wouldn’t take the field until after the Anthem was played. Here’s what Tomlin (who, along with several of his coaches, did take to the field and stand for the Anthem) had to say:

We’re chasing something special here in 2017 and we’re not going to play politics. We’re football players. We’re football coaches. We’re not participating in the anthem today. Not to be disrespectful to the anthem, but to remove ourselves from the circumstance.

People shouldn’t have to choose. If a guy wants to go about his normal business and participate in the anthem, he shouldn’t have to be forced to choose sides. If a guy feels the need to do something, he shouldn’t be separated from his teammate who chooses not to. So we’re not participating today. That’s our decision. We’re going to be 100 percent. We came here to play a football game. That’s our intent.

Now, at first blush, this seems reasonable. However, look a little closer. He says they aren’t going to play politics but that’s exactly what they did. It was a political statement made in response to President Trump’s comments about firing those players who don’t stand for the playing of the Anthem. There’s no way they would have responded in the same way had it been anyone else to say what Trump did. they might have given the reporters a soundbite but that would have been all. No, this was exactly what Tomlin claimed it wasn’t. It was a political statement. But there’s more.

He goes on to say people shouldn’t have to choose. But isn’t that exactly what he, and the rest of the coaching staff, did for the players? They chose to make a statement by staying inside the tunnel, a choice that was not unanimous. In fact, I have yet to find out how many of the players actually voted to remain off the field. Was this a case where the few made the decision for the many? Even if it was a majority, that took the decision away from those who, like Villanueva, wanted to pay respect to the flag and the anthem.

But there is another quote, even more telling, that came from Tomlin later.

When asked by a reporter about hero Alejandro Villanueva coming out of the locker room to stand for the national anthem, instead of staying inside like the rest of his teammates, coach Tomlin said, “Like I said, I was looking for 100 percent participation, we were gonna be respectful of our football team.”

That doesn’t sound like he’s willing to let his players make a decision, to make a choice. Will any of us be surprised to find he disciplined Villanueva for not standing down? If so, he will have simply proven the double-standard that is so evident right now when it comes to the topic of free speech. And no, I’m not talking about “freedom of speech” as guaranteed in the Constitution. I’m talking about the ability to say what we want, as long as it doesn’t violate the law, without fear of reasonable reprisal.

Yes, an employee has to consider how what he says or does reflects on his employer. If he does something that reflects negatively on his employer or that could negatively impact the brand, it is reasonable that he will face reprisal from the employer. However, the key is “negatively impact”. Standing for the National Anthem will not reach that threshold. Now, it is debatable if kneeling for it will. Considering the decline in rating for NFL games, it can be argued that it does. However, that is for the bean counters to decide.

What is so troubling about what happened Sunday is that there were those who wanted to show their respect for the flag, for the anthem and for this country and were not allowed to do so by their coaches. How dare they! If you say in one breath that the NFL isn’t going to play politics and then, with the very next, do something like that, you are worse than those you condemn.

Like it or not, those players who choose to take a knee can do so. I don’t have to like it but I won’t attempt to stop it. I will simply make my feelings known in ways that can impact their bottom line. I won’t buy their jerseys. I won’t go to games they play in. However, when management inserts itself into the equation and claim politics isn’t involved, I will call bullshit. I will turn off the TV when their team is on. I won’t buy from the businesses advertising with them. Since I have no doubt Roger Goodell, head of the NFL, will do anything about the situation, I have no qualms about tuning out. I will also recommend the Pentagon and other governmental agencies withdraw any financial support, through ads etc., from the NFL as well. After all, why should the NFL benefit financially when it won’t take a stance to allow all its players to have a voice in this issue?

If Tomlin wants an all or nothing proposition, I’m more than happy to give it to him.

Zeke Elliot and the NFL

No one living in the Dallas-Fort Worth area can avoid the Zeke Elliot/NFL controversy that has been stewing for months. Dallas Cowboy fans cheered last season as Zeke, along with quarterback Dak Prescott, lit a fire under the offense, making the team so much more fun to watch than it had been in years. Unfortunately, where Zeke is concerned, he didn’t keep his fireworks contained to the gridiron. In the last year or so, he has been accused of physically abusing a former girlfriend, he was videotaped lifting a young woman’s top and baring her breast as they rode on a float in the St. Patrick’s Day parade. There’s been at least one incident at a bar where he was accused of being in a fight. None are the sort of behavior he should have been taking part in and the abuse accusation brought him to the attention of the cops as well as the NFL.

Earlier this summer, after months investigating the allegations against Zeke, the NFL announced he would be suspended 6 games this season. If I remember correctly, that is the minimum number of games he can be suspended for this kind of offense. This ruling came months after the police and DA in the jurisdiction where the alleged offense took place decided there wasn’t enough evidence to charge him. That, as you can imagine, had many of the Cowboy faithful up in arms, asking how the NFL could say he did something when the authorities didn’t not.

That really isn’t the issue. The Cowboys and, by extension, the NFL are Zeke’s employers. Just as other companies have the right to fire employees, or place them on probation, for behavior they feel is detrimental to the company, so do the Cowboys and the NFL. After years of having football players brought up on charges — and often convicted — of spousal abuse, the NFL finally decided to take a hard stand where such accusations are concerned. I have no problem with that. Where I have an issue is with how the investigations are conducted and the appearance the NFL did not want to hear anything against the accuser, including the recommendation of the only investigator to interview her. But that is for another post.

Today’s rant comes to you as a result of a sports editorial I saw this morning. In it, the reporter took on those who fault the NFL for suspending Elliot even though the DA involved with the case chose not to file charges against him. The reporter said this is no different from all those times when the NFL, or any other professional sports group, suspends a player for drug violations. He pointed out how, in the majority of those cases, there are no charges filed. That, according to him, set the precedent for what happened with Zeke and he had no problem with that.

There is one problem with his logic in this. With the drug violations, the NFL has conducted drug tests and have received positive results. That is something tangible with which to base their decision on. That’s not the case in situations like the Zeke Elliot case. There is no drug test on which to base the decision. There is testimony and expert opinion.

If the NFL had listened to all the evidence and had talked with the investigator who interviewed the accuser, I’d have no issue with their decision — other than the fact it took them so long to come to a decision. That smacked of them waiting until Zeke did something else they could use to hang him. — and would, in fact, support it. But when I hear things like they didn’t want to talk with the investigator, a woman who talked with the accuser and who would have told them she had doubts about the accuser’s veracity, I have to wonder why. Then, to hear they didn’t call her because they were “aware” of her recommendation, seems to say they didn’t put much weight in her professional judgment. Why hire someone to investigate if you aren’t going to bring them forward to explain not only what they found but what their recommendation is and why?

Do I know if Zeke Elliot hit or otherwise abused his accuser? No, I don’t. If he did, I want to see him hung out to dry. This is a young man who needs to grow up and fast. Other examples of bad behavior show that. However, the NFL needs to be fair and open in how it handles these cases. The league will do more harm than good to bringing awareness to the seriousness of spousal/partner abuse if it goes into investigations with preformed conceptions of guilt. One major lawsuit proving bias will undo any and all good the league has done to not only show its players that it will no longer abide by abusive behavior but it will also undermine it with the public.

That sound you hear

is my head exploding — again. One of these days, I’m going to learn to quit reading the news before I’ve had enough coffee to function at something close to human levels. For one thing, once caffeinated, I know what stories not to read. You know the stories I mean: the ones that have you wanting to either throw the computer against the wall or that threaten to send you out onto the streets, looking for the idiot in the story so you can “discuss” the situation with him.

I hate to say it, but I’m a slow learner about this one thing. At least it seems that way, especially this morning. There are any number of stories that have me grinding my teeth and looking for something to throw. But I’ll touch on only two of them. One of them has me shaking my head and wondering about some folks’ priorities. The other is a continuation of a story that has been more than a year in the making and yet it still continues to aggravate me to no end.

The first happened in the Kansas City – Baltimore football game this weekend. Fair admission here: I didn’t watch the game. I’m not a huge fan of either team. But I did scan the sports section this morning and saw a mention of an incident in the game. Then, when I went online, I found more about the game and what had to be one of the biggest “WTF were you thinking” moments in NFL history. Even if it wasn’t, it is one of the most embarrassing moments — or it should be.

KC’s quarterback Matt Cassel isn’t the best quarterback in the league and yesterday was not a shining moment in his playing history. If I remember correctly, he threw three interceptions in a game KC lost in what looked like a baseball score: 9 – 6. This was also a home game for KC and, as you can imagine, the fans weren’t impressed by Cassel’s playing.

Coming from Dallas, home of the lukewarm fans, I can understand that. Dallas fans have been known to turn on their own team in a heartbeat. We love winners and demand that of our pro teams. Ask poor Tony Romo after his performance last week. But, to the best of my knowledge, Dallas fans have never cheered when a Dallas QB has gone down to injury.

And that is what happened in KC yesterday. Early into the fourth quarter, Cassel took a hit that left him laid out on the turf for several minutes. During that time, KC fans — and not just a few of them, by all accounts — cheered the fact that he’d been hit and would have to come out of the game. That’s right. These people, and I use the term loosely, were glad someone had been hurt and were not afraid to let others know it. After all, I guess it’s more important that their team win than it is to worry about how badly a player might be injured.

As appalling as that is — and, considering just how seriously some football players have been inured over the years, it is very appalling — something good came out of it. Eric Winston, one of the KC players, was so angered by what happened that he called an impromptu conference after the game. With reporters crowding into the locker room, Winston let loose on the fans for their behavior.

“When you cheer,” Winston said, “when you cheer somebody getting knocked out, I don’t care who it is, and it just so happened to be Matt Cassel – it’s sickening. It’s 100 percent sickening. I’ve been in some rough times on some rough teams, I’ve never been more embarrassed in my life to play football than in that moment right there.”

All I can say is good on Mr. Winston. The behavior exhibited by those cheering fans was sickening. I can’t help but wondering if they are the same parents who stand on the sidelines of their kids’ little league games and yell when their child doesn’t slide, cleats first, into base. Or maybe they are the parents who yell at their child for not taking cheap shots in football or soccer. After all, winning is all that matters — who cares who gets hurt in the process.

Gah. That’s all. Just Gah.

Now for the second head exploding moment of the morning. A little background first. Last month I wrote a post over at Mad Genius Club about Bob Kohn, his comic-strip style brief asking to intervene in the DoJ’s price fixing law suit against Apple and five major publishers, among other things. Funny thing is, my head was exploding over that post too. Guess it’s a good thing my head grows back as quickly as it does. 😉

Any way, glancing through the headlines over at Publishers Weekly, I see Kohn is in the news again. Judge Denise Cote denied Kohn’s motion to intervene in the lawsuit. In fact, her judgment — which I assume wasn’t written comic book style, proving she has more respect for Kohn than he has for the court — was ten pages of explanation of why she was denying his motion, focusing on the fact he doesn’t have standing in the case.

Not that that is going to stop Kohn. As is his right, he’s already filed an appeal of her judgment. My issue with this is Kohn’s reasoning for wanting to intervene. He says, “My aim is to get this case thrown out,” Kohn states, “before it does further damage to consumers, authors and the book industry.” That sounds good. Usually I wouldn’t have any problem with that. The problem is that this is a law suit about price fixing — not about whether or not publishers should be allowed to use agency model pricing. That’s an issue so many folks seem to forget.

Let me repeat that. This is a case against price fixing. The Department of Justice has alleged collusion on the part of Apple and the five publishers to fix prices. It has not said “Agency model pricing bad. Must stop it.” Quite the contrary, in fact. It has said there is nothing inherently wrong with that pricing model. The issue is how the publishers and Apple allegedly decided to implement it across the board.

But this case has become a classic smoke and mirrors defense for the named parties — except the three publishers who have agreed to settle with the DoJ and state attorneys general. They want to put Amazon, a non-party to the suit, on trial. You see, according to them, “Amazon bad. Amazon might do something in the future that might harm us. That means we must be allowed to break the law now to protect ourselves.”

Like I said, smoke and mirrors.

If they realize that argument won’t win you over, they then turn to the “but e-books prices haven’t risen since agency pricing went into effect.” They point to studies that show just how the opposite is true. What they don’t do is break those sales down between the publishers following the agency model and those who don’t. And let’s not forget all those e-books being put out by authors and not through publishers. Those also tend to be much lower than the price of agency model books. But, gee, that’s using logic and that mustn’t be done in this suit.

So here come Kohn, saying he wants to protect the industry and the readers from further harm. What harm? Where has the industry, the consumer and the author been harmed?

Oh, here come the boo-birds, pointing out how Amazon has killed the local bookstore. Nope. Don’t buy it. Why? Because that forgets, oh-so-conveniently, the fact that the big box stores basically killed off the local indie bookstores. Those same big box stores then over-expanded and didn’t adapt to changing economic times or technology demands. Nor does it look at the fact that, in many areas, the local indie bookstores are making a resurgence.

Did Amazon hurt bookstores? Sure. They hurt the big box stores the same way the big box stores hurt the local indies. By undercutting prices. But no one seems to worry about that. After all, as I’ve said before, Amazon is the big evil.

So, how does Amazon hurt the authors? Hmmm….it offers them the opportunity to put their backlists out without having to go through a middle man. It gives them 70% royalty if the author charges at least $2.99 for that book. Show me a publisher that pays that much to the author. Oh, wait, you can’t.

And the boo birds will be back, telling me how much it costs for a publisher to put out a book. Sorry, nope. The figures don’t work, especially if that publisher is also putting out the hard copy of the book. Authors need to get over their feeling that they owe publishers something and remember that they, the authors, are the creators. Without them, publishers wouldn’t exist. Well, I guess they’d find someone who just has to be “published by a real publisher”. Sigh.

How has the publisher been injured? Look, the biggest problem with legacy publishing today is that it continues to insist on operating the same way it has for decades. It has been too slow to adapt to changing times and demands. To fight possible economic ruin, they allegedly stooped to collusion to fix prices. But, according to so many of their supporters, that’s okay because Amazon is bad and might just do something evil in the future.

Whether Bob Kohn has standing or not and, from what I can tell, the judge was right in ruling he doesn’t, he has the right to appeal. But please, quit playing smoke and mirrors and actually address the issue before the court — did the named defendants collude to fix prices or not?

And folks wonder why my head keeps feeling like it’s going to explode.

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