NFL

So Long, Raiders

Is this really going to make anyone happy?

The Raiders will file relocation papers to move from Oakland to Las Vegas, according to NFL Media's Ian Rapoport.

Funding has already been approved for the Raiders' new $1.9 billion NFL stadium. The money approved by Nevada law makers includes private and public money. The initial plans showed the Raiders would contribute $500 million and casino owner Sheldon Adelson would contribute $650 million. Hotel tax funding may contribute another $750 million.

The move would have to be approved by 24 of the NFL owners at their upcoming meeting in March.

There used to be an understanding that, because of legalized gambling, no professional sports team would move to Las Vegas, Nevada. I think that, give we're about to see an NHL expansion team start up there, those days are gone. It's hard to come up with $2 billion for a stadium, but if the Raiders were, indeed, looking to move, why not another major city in the United States? It seems like a temporary fix to me. Why not go to St. Louis, San Antonio, or Louisville? Why not find a city that wants an NFL franchise? Oklahoma City wouldn't be a bad idea, either. Notice I did not say Des Moines.

 

 

Rex Ryan and Rob Ryan

Not much love from the local media in Buffalo:

Rex Ryan came to Buffalo full of bluster and boast, proclaiming himself as the man who was going to end the Bills’ unfathomable playoff drought, which in January 2015 stood at 15 years.

Rex was going to build a bully, the kind of team that no one was going to want to play against. The No. 4-ranked defense he inherited would become No. 1, just you wait and see. Playoffs? Of course the Bills were going to make it.

“I’m not going to let our fans down,” the bombastic Ryan said the day he was introduced as the Bills’ head coach, two weeks after Doug Marrone had quit. “I’m not going to do that. I know it’s been 15 years since the Bills made the playoffs. Well, get ready man, we’re going. We’re going. Am I guaranteeing a Super Bowl and all that? I’ll tell you what I will do; I will guarantee the pursuit of it. Through hard work, through preparation, we’re going to see how many teams match our work ethic, and all that.”

Well, two years later, Bills fans are let down, way down, not to mention aggravated, and now they have to saddle up for another bumpy ride as the Bills — yet again — will hit the reset button after announcing Tuesday that Ryan and his brother, Rob, have been fired.

Offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn will serve as head coach when the Bills close their season Sunday in New York against the Jets. It was also announced that general manager Doug Whaley - who has had a hand in hiring the last two Bills head coaches - will lead the search to find Ryan's replacement, a strong indication that Whaley's job is safe.

Owner Terry Pegula released a boilerplate statement that read, “I spoke with Rex earlier today and we mutually agreed that the time to part ways is now. These decisions are never easy. I want to take this opportunity to thank Rex for all his efforts and wish him all the best moving forward. Kim and I and our entire Bills organization share in the same disappointment and frustration as our fans, but we remain committed to our goal of bringing a championship to western New York.”

Rex is walking out of town with his tail between his legs, having never backed up any of his big talk. The Bills won just 15 of the 31 games he coached; they tacked on two more years to their postseason drought; their defense got much worse as the players never bought into, nor understood, Ryan’s complex scheme; and while no one ever questioned the work ethic of Ryan or his players, it was clear the Bills were not a well-prepared team, and they were often an out-coached team on game days.

When you lose in the NFL, it's worse than anything on Earth. It is quite possible that, fifty years from now, aggrieved Bills fans will burn the Ryan brothers in effigy. But, the funny thing is, the Ryan brothers will be back next season, standing on the sidelines somewhere, and they'll have good jobs and good contracts and all of this will be forgotten.

Jeff Fisher

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Jeff Fisher was fired yesterday, and everyone seems to think they know why:

Jeff Fisher, whose job security became baffling as he led the Rams through years of mediocrity, was fired today as the team’s head coach. The team announced the move this afternoon.

Fisher was fired after perhaps the single ugliest loss of his coaching tenure, a brutal blowout at the hands of the Falcons on Sunday that ensured he would have his fifth consecutive losing record at the helm of the team.

Fisher's record was awful, but there are plenty of teams with losing records this season. There are plenty of teams in the NFL right now that are under-performing. Fisher wasn't fired because he was losing. Fisher was fired because the front office of the Los Angeles Rams is in complete and utter disarray. They extended his contract and then they fired him? That's dysfunction at the franchise level. What did the recent franchise relocation have to do with this? Who knows? 

Were it not for the close loss in Super Bowl 34 to the Rams, Fisher (then coaching the Tennessee Titans) probably would have ended up a more obscure figure. I believe his finishes this stage of his career with as many regular season losses as Dan Reeves, but don't give up hope. Fisher will probably come back as a coach in some capacity.  Guys like him end up being someone's coordinator for offense or defense almost immediately.

Roger Goodell is Doomed

If you consider that the NFL, as a business, has no time for failure, what to make of Roger Goodell?

Today, a Federal judge reinstated Tom Brady because the due process he was supposed to get from Goodell turned out to be a laughable excuse for jacking off in public. The man in charge of the NFL is a serial incompetent.

Let’s take a moment to reflect on the recent failures of Goodell’s tenure as commissioner:

  • He suspended Ray Rice just two games after Rice knocked his fianceé out in an elevator, then suspended Rice indefinitely after video tape of the incident turned the original, paltry suspension into a PR nightmare for the league. A judge later overturned that second suspension because Rice was essentially being punished twice for the same crime, and because the NFL had no real evidence that Rice had lied during the league’s investigation into the incident.

  • He hit the New Orleans Saints with sweeping and severe penalties after determining that the team had instituted a bounty program. Those suspensions were later overturned by ex-commissioner Paul Tagliabue on the grounds that Goodell had overstepped his bounds and reached his decision based on faulty evidence.

  • He eagerly exploited the Adrian Peterson child abuse case as a way to restore his authority and brand as a stern, tough-minded disciplinarian. That suspension was later overturned by a federal judge because Goodell had retroactively and unfairly applied the league’s new domestic violence policy to Peterson’s case.

And now this. This particular defeat feels more meaningful than the previous ones, though, in part because of how truly benign the original “crime” was. Those other suspensions being vacated were big victories for the NFLPA, but Goodell’s flanks were still protected by the fact that he was facing off with a child abuser, a wife-beater, and a football team that purposely tried to hurt people. No matter how slapdash and wrongheaded Goodell’s ersatz judicial processes were revealed to be, he was always able to position himself as a good guy, just trying to get tough on bad people and do the right thing. He was able to point to his failures as evidence that all he needed to Get Things Right in the future was more power.

How much longer with the ownership of the NFL tolerate this kind of thing? Goodell no longer has a friend in Robert Kraft. When you lose friends like that, you're done. Why not dump him before the season opener?

They'd never allow it, but do you know who'd be a great NFL commissioner? Anybody but Goodell, that's who.

If I had to pick a name, I would say Condoleeza Rice. The league needs an image overhaul, and it needs to have a new public face. The sooner, the better. Barring that, Mitt Romney needs a job. If Romneyshambles can run an Olympics, he can run the NFL. He's great with rich people.

And, by the way, Brady was guilty as hell. His due process was violated, but the fact that he's the face of the franchise and he was grabassing with the clowns in charge of keeping the balls inflated should have made this an open and shut case. Jim McNally was Rosencrantz and John Jastremski was Guildenstern and I'm not sure who Brady was because he just doesn't sound moody enough to pull off Hamlet. Brady's culpability was wiped out as a factual matter because Roger Goodell couldn't use due process to prove a ham sandwich is made with bread and ham. I think Brady should have been given the chance to be a gentleman of the sport. He should have been given the chance to defend himself and he should have been asked to apologize to the Indianapolis Colts. I didn't agree with the four game suspension but I sure as hell think someone who plays sports for a living should have the maturity to apologize when caught cheating.

Where Was Warren Sapp's Fall Guy When He Was Beating Up Prostitutes?

The utter lawlessness of the National Football League continues unabated:

While wearing his Hall of Fame jacket, Carter told them:

“Y’all not gonna all do the right stuff. I gotta teach yall how to get around all this stuff too. If you gonna have a crew, one of them fools got to know he going to jail.”

In an interview with ESPN, Chris Borland, who retired because of concussions, mentioned that a veteran player told them to get a fall guy so they could skirt legal trouble. It appears that player was Carter, with Warren Sapp by his side. Sapp is probably not who the NFL wants modeling behavior for rookies, since he was recently charged with domestic violence.

Cris Carter had to have had a fall guy when he played in Minnesota all those years ago. It was likely third lackey from the right when he entourage entered the strip clubs of downtown Minneapolis. I'll see if I can dig up any of those photos.

Doesn't anyone think before they speak at these things? Who was the clown who didn't speak up when Cris Carter boasted (because Cris Carter not boasting is a thing that I cannot imagine not happening) about teaching the rooks about the whole legal fall guy strategy for dealing with the people who are going to focus on the NFL player who is throwing money around in the club?

Here's what they're never going to say to the rookies--go get a house. Not a condo, not an apartment--get a house. When you own a house, mow your own lawn and rake up your own leaves. Spread some fertilizer around. Everyone will see you doing this. When you want to be up in the club with your boys, go home and work in your yard instead. There is no possible way you can get into any kind of legal trouble when you are on your own property taking care of how it looks. You will quickly develop a reputation as a player who plays the game the right way and as someone who is a leader in the community. Sports writers eat that shit up left and right. And if you take all the money you would have wasted in the club and put it into a good riding lawn mower, you'll never have a problem in the NFL again.

Don't go to the club, rookie. Get your ass to a John Deere dealership. Get the one with the leaf picker upper, especially if you buy a house with oak trees.

Oh, but I forgot. Warren Sapp was actually chosen to speak to the rookies? What was he doing there in anything other than his jumpsuit?

Here's a man who beats women and goes bankrupt and loses his only lucrative post-NFL gig, all within a few years of retiring. I think he was the one Cris Carter was talking to, not the rookies. How passive aggressive can you get? 

Hey, don't do what he did, rookies. Here's Sapp to tell you how to make some better life choices. I think the effect of being led onto the stage by his probation officer would have had more of an impact, but oh well.

Tom Brady is a Handsome Fellow

Personally, I think criticizing the work of a courtroom sketch artist is like going after a fifth grade orchestra for muffing their third piece of music for the day. Tom Brady is guilty as sin and the NFL is obviously in collusion with the courtroom sketch artist to make him look like a Bulgarian sex offender.

Somehow, they gave him the most subtle fu manchu in Patriots history.