Monthly Archives: August 2013

Gigantic Flacco Banner in Denver is Ridiculous

This is absurd.

Several months after the Baltimore Orioles stiff armed the NFL after the NFL tried to bully their way into making Baltimore’s other birds reschedule their September 5th game against the Chicago White Sox to make room for the Ravens-Broncos Thursday night NFL season opener (catch your breath…), that Week 1 matchup is back in the news. The first game of the season—which has taken place at the home of the previous season’s Super Bowl champion—was shifted to Denver, which is sorta kinda a big deal in a way if you’re one that hates to veer away from tradition, but not what is causing a stir in the Mile High City No, not by a long shot.

The reason Denverites (?) aren’t happy (and rightfully so) is the fact that the NFL has started to deck out the stadium with all sorts of decorations for the game which includes an ENORMOUS banner of Joe Flacco. Granted, there’s an equally-large image of Peyton Manning opposite Flacco, this is still complete B.S. I mean, look at this thing:

flacco banner denver

For any fan, your home stadium is a source a pride, a home away from home, a place of worship if you will. For the NFL to waltz in and splash images of another team’s star player all over your turf should be seen as sacrilege. Not only is Flacco’s likeness on the side of Sports Authority Field, it’s also on nearly every other light post around the stadium and throughout the city of Denver…

flacco light post

…some of which have been vandalized. A local Denver sportscaster was even shown partaking in the Sharpie-ing of Flacco’s mug.

Just for a second, imagine that a giant banner of Tony Romo or Eli Manning or RGIII was plastered on the side of Lincoln Financial Field, or (for you Steel City fans) imagine these Flacco images were on the side of Heinz field, or if Claude Giroux’s face was all over Consol Energy Center. What real fan, in their right mind, wouldn’t be outraged by that? And let’s not forget about the fact that it was this same Ravens team (well, minus about 75% of last years roster, so calling them the same might be a bit of a stretch) that knocked the Broncos out of the playoffs on a miraculous overtime play, so forcing their fans to stare Flacco in the face in the days leading up to this rematch is just like ripping the scab off of a not-completely-healed wound, and then dumping a bucket of salt in there. It’s just not right.

Even Manning was caught off guard by the banners popping up around Denver: “Yes, it is [strange],” he told KOA 850 AM, the Broncos’ flagship radio affiliate, according to ESPN. “I’ve never heard of anything like that for a regular-season game.”

The NFL’s response to all of this? Pretty typical if you ask me:

“We appreciate the fans’ passion and their desire to protect their team but think of this game as more of an opening ceremony, a celebration of the new season for the entire league,” Brian McCarthy, NFL vice president of corporate communications, told ESPN. “This game will be viewed by an audience of millions and reflects the opening of the season. There will be similar banners hanging in Baltimore at the events there next week as well.”

Computer graphics have come a long way in the last several, um, decades. I’m pretty sure the NFL has enough monies that they could have used some CGI or other special effects to make it look like those images were actually there for the people watching at home, and saved the residents of Denver the heartache that they’re surely causing them.


The Losses of Dan Gable

“I have these kids… How can I possibly tell them that they can’t be an Olympic champion? It’s in their blood.”

—Dan Gable’s daughter Annie on the International Olympic Committee’s decision to remove wrestling from the core competitions of the Summer Games

The quote comes from a tremendous article in the Sept. 2nd edition of ESPN the Magazine on Dan Gable’s fight to save Olympic wrestling.

Stop Being So Grim On the NFL’s Concussion Settlement

Stop me if you’ve heard me say this before, or something very close to it: Mike Wise is such a negative Nancy. His column today, which calls the $765 million settlement in the concussion suit between the NFL and 4,500 former players a loss for e future of the game, takes the complete opposite view of the situation as the one this sports blogger has.

He accuses the attorneys for the former players and the players themselves of not thinking about the future of the game (which is already lost, in his opinion) and being more concerned with their own needs and getting the instant gratification—getting paid—rather than let the thing play out and be caught up in the court system for years. “The concussion litigants didn’t have that kind of staying power, perseverance. They lacked the fortitude they used to play with,” he wrote. If they had? A jury would have awarded them millions and millions more, in Wise’s opinion.

True, their payday could’ve been much greater had they decided to dig their heels in and fight the league on this, but I couldn’t disagree more with his sentiments on their not thinking about the future of the game. Had the former players waged the war and decided to not settle, the very game that gave (some of them) them fame and fortune and (all of them) a paycheck could have possibly ceased to exist. Say it did go away, football that is. Could we really sit here and say that it would have been worth it that the former players and league didn’t reach an agreement? Players would’ve been safer, I guess, because they’d be sitting on their asses at home on Sundays instead of marching out on the gridiron.

Despite the criticism the NFL and Roger Goodell get for all of the ridiculous new rules they make up that attempt to remove a good portion of the violence from the game, at least they’re showing that they are willing to take some steps to try and curb the head injuries. The moves they’re making now don’t necessarily help the players that have come and gone and are suffering through retirement, but this settlement is a way to make good for that (arguably not good enough, but hey it’s something).

Further, as Wise notes, a portion of the NFL’s payment is designated to education on and research for concussions. Classified as “Baseline Medical Examinations” and “Research and Education Fund,” they are described as follows in the settlement document:

Baseline Medical Examinations: Eligible retired players may receive a Baseline Medical Assessment, the results of which will be used to establish a qualifying diagnosis, either now or at a point in the future. The baseline examination program will operate for a period of 10 years. After 10 years, any funds allocated for this program that have not been spent will be added to the fund for payment of monetary awards. [cost for this will be capped at $75 million]

Research and Education Fund: The NFL will allocate $10 million toward medical, safety, and injury-prevention research, and toward educating retired players on NFL benefits programs. A portion of this fund will be used to support joint efforts by the NFL and retired NFL players to promote education and safety initiatives in youth football.

So for this Post columnist to say that this settlement is bad for football is absolute garbage. Could it have been better? Possibly. But putting the future of the game of football on the line for a few extra million bucks just doesn’t seem worth it.

NFL Reaches $765 Million Settlement in Concussion Lawsuit

Holy mama…

The sports news story of the decade as first reported by SI’s Peter King:

This is a dramatic change in position for the league, which, for a time, seemed highly unlikely to reach any sort of agreement in this case. The settlement helps the NFL avoid what could have been years of an EXTREMELY costly litigation process that many predicted could have bankrupted an institution that pulls in roughly $9 billion per year. So while that $765 million is a huge chunk of money, it’s a total that the NFL and it’s billionaire-owners will be able to manage.

“This is a historic agreement, one that will make sure that former NFL players who need and deserve compensation will receive it, and that will promote safety for players at all levels of football,” former U.S. District Judge Layn Phillips, the court-appointed mediator in the case, said in a statement. “Rather than litigate literally thousands of complex individual claims over many years, the parties have reached an agreement that, if approved, will provide relief and support where it is needed at a time when it is most needed. I am deeply grateful to [U.S. federal judge Anita B.] Brody for appointing me as mediator and offering me the opportunity to work on such an important and interesting matter.”

More details to come on this.


NFL Commish Attends Fairfield Giants Practice

Roger Goodell was in attendance for the Fairfield (CT) Giants Pop Warner football practice yesterday. Today, the NFL Health & Safety Twitter account send out this image of the Commish watching a heads up drill.

According to inside sources, number 3 (the kid “tackling” that there pad that’s twice his size) was benched for the remainder of practice, suspended for the first three quarters of the team’s first game (which isn’t even on their schedule yet), and fined six weeks allowance for leading with his facemask. The league is also considering an additional 2-weeks-allowance fine because the kid was wearing unauthorized cleats, his socks were too low, and he was seen on his cell phone just minutes after practice ended “calling his mom to see where she was because practice had ended.”

Kids these days are trouble…


Dirk and the Mavs Win the Internet

That’s all she wrote, folks. Pack it in and call it a day—you may even want to call it a week. There will be no topping this.

Sound Structure: Transparency, Mission Help Code Council Succeed

[Blogger’s note: I previously posted about the tragic accident at Turner Field involving Ronald Lee Homer, the fan who fell 65 feet over a railing during a rain delay. For my day job, I had the opportunity to talk with a staffer from the International Code Council about how they go about setting standards and revising those standards. Here is the result of that conversation as originally published on]
The standard-setting International Code Council relies on a thorough and transparent review process to avoid overreacting to tragedy—such as the recent death of a spectator at an Atlanta stadium—and a focus on safety has resulted in widespread adoption of ICC’s voluntary codes.

Turner Field in Atlanta, home of Major League Baseball’s Atlanta Braves, is known for spectacular views and design. But it’s also become the source of a debate over spectator safety after Ronald Lee Homer fell 65 feet to his death over a fourth-level railing earlier this month.

The incident was the third in Atlanta in the last year and the second death at the stadium since 2008. Similar incidents have occurred at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, the Ballpark at Arlington in Texas, and Reliant Stadium in Houston, among others.

The International Code Council (ICC) is the standard-setting body that produces 15 model codes—from the International Building Code (which includes guidelines for sports stadiums) to fire codes to property maintenance codes—which are the accepted minimum standards for those fields in the United States.

“These codes are widely used, and they’re all comprehensive and coordinated with each other,” said Sara Yerkes, vice president of government relations for ICC. “It’s a tremendous process that never ends. The codes are in constant cycle and constant revision, and the key to the success of the codes, of course, is enforcement.”

While the spate of deaths and injuries at athletic facilities hasn’t yet prompted an outcry for code revisions for stadium design, ICC has seen revisions proposed in the past that were driven by emotion, especially as a result of loss of life.

“What happens after a major catastrophe or a natural disaster, we learn from those unfortunate incidents, and then there will be code changes introduced by the different stakeholders,” said Yerkes. “What happened in Atlanta could lead to changes in the codes if the experts deem that to be necessary. They’re based on science and engineering principles and so forth, so the changes are vetted by these experts, so the process works well to keep emotional response in check.”

Standards are reviewed, revised, and republished on a three-year cycle, Yerkes explained, with the final say on any changes belonging to public safety officials. The process [PDF] “is transparent, allows for input from all interested parties, has an appeals process, and provides open forums.”

The affected industries participate heavily in public hearings. “We’ll see the code officials, design professionals, trade associations, builders, contractors, manufacturers, government agencies, advocacy groups, just about anyone who would want to have their voice heard,” Yerkes said.

For ICC, it all boils down to public safety, the focus of the council’s mission, she said. It’s what she believes has led to the widespread adoption of ICC’s voluntary codes.

“The benefit to adopting these building codes that are based on science and technical knowledge is that they establish the minimum requirements necessary to provide safety and guard public health,” Yerkes said. “That is why it’s so important and why we push so hard to make sure that the jurisdictions stay current on their building regulations and safety codes. It’s all about public safety, and it’s terrible when you hear about accidents that happen and people getting seriously hurt or killed when they should be having fun and [being] safe.”

“Reprinted with permission. Copyright, ASAE: The Center for Association Leadership, August 26, 2013, Washington, DC.”