July 24, 2014

Sumlin brushes off Manziel questions at Texas A&M media day

Johnny ManzielJohnny Manziel questions aren’t all that relevant to Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin now that Manziel has been drafted by the Browns. Of course, that didn’t stop him from getting some Manziel questions just the same.

I’m not surprised at all that Sumlin got the questions and good for him for not entertaining them. What Manziel does right now is not his concern anymore for the most part.

Sumlin’s done his time under the Manziel microscope. I’m not saying he didn’t benefit from Manziel’s time at the school, but remember he had to answer for every little body-language “incident” over the past few years like this one when it was suspected that Manziel wasn’t minding his coach’s instructions on the sidelines.

“For people to say ‘You know what, he’s not listening to his coach and there’s no discipline on this team,’ they’re not around this football team,” Sumlin said. “They’re not around this program. A lot of people who have made statements about that weren’t anywhere near the sideline. I haven’t heard one guy or any person who was near that sideline, who heard (what) was said, speak up about what happened. So, you can get different perspectives sitting in a studio or behind a television than you would have gotten live. That’s where we are with that. “

With that in mind, you begin to understand why he might relish the opportunity to pass off all the Manziel questions to the Cleveland Browns from now on. Coach Pettine, the media would like a word or 200 with you.

Brian Windhorst talks about LeBron coming home – WFNY Podcast – 2014-07-15

WFNY Podcast LogoI talked to Brian Windhorst a year ago when the Cavs re-hired Mike Brown and I was taken aback when I started to think about all the things that have changed since then. Brian was gracious enough to join me for about a half hour to talk about LeBron coming back to the Cavaliers. Here are some of the things we discussed.

  • The free agent market shakeout after LeBron signed
  • The Houston Rockets’ bad off-season (so far)
  • LeBron’s relationship to the player’s union and being involved with the CBA
  • The culture of the Miami Heat vs. the culture of the Cleveland Cavaliers
  • Reporting on a story that directly impacts your home town
  • LeBron’s visit to Cleveland for the Zydrunas Ilgauskas number retirement
  • What’s next for Brian


Check out this episode!

Is LeBron James worth $500 million per year to Cleveland?

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Update: Apparently Cuyahoga County never meant to indicate $500 million per year at all. We used a Bloomberg report for our info that indicated $500 million per year in both the headline and the text. Cuyahoga County officials meant $500 million in total and think the annual number is closer to $50 million or so. I’m still wary of “economic impact statements, but some faith has been restored.

*** Original Text ***

The simple and obvious answer to the headline above is a resounding “NO!” Look, I don’t want to inject some negativity into the positive story of LeBron James coming back to Cleveland because there’s pretty much no downside. Still, I think it might be important to temper expectations of what the actual upside might be, especially if we start talking about half a billion dollars per year. County Executive Ed FitzGerald said today that LeBron James’ financial impact on the local economy will be $500 million per year.

The return of the star forward to his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers will have a $500 million a year impact on the local economy, with a boost from additional ticket sales and other spending, County Executive Ed FitzGerald said today.

Obviously when politicians make proclamations like this, there’s no real way to figure out exact figures. Still, I’d like to put some math to it just for fun.

From a ticket standpoint, the Cleveland Cavaliers had attendance in 2013-14 of 710,522 fans. Back in 2009-10 when LeBron was still here that number was 843,042 fans. Let’s assume LeBron brings all those fans back, that’s an additional 132,520 attendees. That’s really good, but that means each additional fan would have to generate $3,773.02 per ticket sold to reach FitzGerald’s $500 million mark. That’s an awful lot of LeBomb James’.

LeBron brings economic contribution based on other factors like nationally televised games, but you’d have to do some funky, unsubstantiated economic calculations to arrive at $500 million.

Anyway, LeBron is back and it’s great. Government should be happy. Maybe not that happy. Still, this is a vast improvement over FitzGerald’s last sports initiative, the “Win Tax.”

Pilot Flying J reaches $92 million deal with government

Pilot Flying J

The good news in Cleveland sports continues into another week as Pilot Flying J has reached a deal with the government that includes an avoidance of criminal charges against the company. From the Knoxville News Sentinel out of Tennessee:

Under the deal made public on Monday, Pilot must pay a $92 million penalty over two years and cooperate with an ongoing criminal investigation into diesel fuel rebate fraud.

Federal prosecutors said in a news release that the Criminal Enforcement Agreement “expressly states that it provides no protection from prosecution to any individual” in connection with the case.

We, as a company, look forward to putting this whole unfortunate episode behind us, continuing our efforts to rectify the damage done, regaining our customers’ trust, and getting on with our business,” CEO Jimmy Haslam said in the release.

This is undoubtedly good news for Pilot and its CEO Jimmy Haslam. While it doesn’t appear that anyone’s completely out of the woods just yet, it’s a step in the right direction. Haslam could still be found worthy of prosecution depending on what the investigation continues to uncover. That being said, it would appear that the government is getting at least something of a desirable outcome.

U.S. Attorney Bill Killian is quoted in a news release detailed at the Knoxville News’ website. His quote sounds very much like a conclusion of sorts when he says, “The terms of this agreement, including the significant monetary penalty and the very serious consequences if Pilot fails to comply, demonstrate quite clearly that no corporation, no matter how big, influential, or wealthy, is above the law.”

And regardless of other details this is good news for Browns fans. As the owner of the Cleveland Browns, it is much better for Browns fans if the team’s owner isn’t in jeopardy of being imprisoned. With that in mind, this deal with the feds might be another good sign for Browns fans that the renewed focus on stability might actually be achievable.

It seems reasonable to assume that the government has been working hard on this case and uncovered huge amounts of details with ten previous guilty pleas obtained from former Pilot employees. If they were going to catch the biggest of all fish at Pilot, I’m guessing charges would have been filed for Haslam before a settlement agreement was reached.

Cleveland Browns ranked 22nd in PFT’s preseason power rankings

I have a tendency to obsess on power rankings when they’re out of whack in a bad way. That’s why I felt it necessary to talk about ESPN ranking the Browns dead last in their power rankings from May after this year’s NFL draft. It’s not that I think the Browns should be favored to win the Super Bowl, but my hyper-realistic expectations are simply to demand that they get in the range of going .500 in a season. And as I always say, that’s not a prediction. That’s just a minimum level of standard that I’m willing to accept on an annual basis, and I don’t think it’s unreasonable. Anyway, I focus too much on the negative, so today I’m focusing on the positive.

Pro Football Talk is rolling out their preseason power rankings and I have been waiting (and waiting) for the Browns and it feels good. PFT has decided right now that the Browns are 22nd. This puts the Browns ahead of the Redskins, Cowboys, and Texans. The Browns are chasing the Lions, Rams, and Jets.

We know all the parts about the Browns’ roster, but PFT has a somewhat optimistic view of the schedule.

The Browns begin their season at nemesis Pittsburgh, then host top-class New Orleans and stout Baltimore before the Week Four bye to end September. However, October and November could be more favorable for Cleveland. Though the Browns play five road games in this stretch, three are against the Jaguars, Titans and Bills. The Browns also have home contests against the Raiders, Buccaneers and Texans. If Cleveland is ready to take a step forward, it will make the most of these two months before closing out the season with home games against tough Cincinnati and Indianapolis and road matchups at Carolina and Baltimore.

While the schedule doesn’t necessarily come into play when making up power rankings, the info is instructive. The Cleveland Browns are a team with lots of question marks, but they retained center Alex Mack, seemingly improved the defense across the board and added one major X-factor in Johnny Manziel, should Brian Hoyer relinquish his position atop the Browns QB depth chart.

That’s just enough promise for the writers at PFT to vote the Browns 22nd.

Watch: Scott Raab discussing LeBron James on MSNBC

I’m buddies with Jamil Smith on Twitter and he’s a producer on MSNBC for Melissa Harris-Perry’s show. She decided to talk about LeBron’s return on Friday and it’s a fun segment, but I loved watching Jamil run around behind the host with Cavs gear and a flag. Check it out.

Scott Raab discusses the return of LeBron James – WFNY Podcast – 2014-07-14

WFNY Podcast LogoYou knew it was going to happen and I really couldn’t wait to do this podcast. Scott Raab joined me this morning to discuss the return of LeBron James to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

We discussed the letter that LeBron wrote with Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated. We also discussed the sourcing frenzy that led up to the LeBron article coming out. Scott talked about what it’s been like for his son to welcome back LeBron James and also a little bit about what he’d like to see in terms of coverage of LeBron James from the region’s biggest paper, the Plain Dealer.

Check out this episode!

Cavaliers reportedly have no interest in trading Andrew Wiggins

 

andrew wiggins_draftJust as I was tweeting about how my newfound strength as a Cavs fan had me balking at the idea of trading Andrew Wiggins for anyone, Chris Broussard has sourced a report that the Cavaliers might feel strong today too.

Of course, it hasn’t been the best day of reporting for Chris Broussard, but that doesn’t mean he is off his game here and now. Plus, it makes tons of sense. Assuming we’re talking about Kevin Love, the Cleveland Cavaliers are now talking from strength and the Timberwolves have very little leverage. They can move him now and get something or they can risk losing him to free agency as he walks away.

Given that fact and given that the Cavaliers are sitting on a lot of accumulated assets, it’s probably not a great time to just jump at the first couple of rings on the old telephone.

Nike welcomes LeBron back to Cleveland

It’s all so very much fun when it’s in your favor isn’t it? Obviously with this being sans press conference, we don’t know if LeBron is bringing back the chalk toss, but I kind of hope not. Still, this is a really great image to help commemorate a great day.

Nike Homecoming King

Dan Gilbert talks about making peace with LeBron

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The one rumor that scared all Cleveland fans to death this morning was that LeBron wasn’t over Dan Gilbert’s infamous letter. Chris Broussard and ESPN were talking about it and it felt so very real and scary that everything could still be hanging in the balance. As it turned out, that problem had already been squashed. Thanks to Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski, we now know how that went down.

“We had five great years together and one terrible night,” Gilbert told James, and so started the process of reconciliation on Sunday night in Miami. “I told him how sorry I was, expressed regret for how that night went and how I let all the emotion and passion for situation carry me away. I told him I wish had never done it, that I wish I could take it back.”

He goes on to say that LeBron wished he could have taken back “The Decision” as well.

It’s a new day for a couple of guys who never seemed overly comfortable wearing the black hat. LeBron, especially, seemed very uncomfortable in his first year away from Cleveland being public enemy number one around the league.

That’s one thing that really emerges from today. LeBron James made amends for his mistakes. Dan Gilbert apparently has too. Even if the Miami faithful are upset today, which is totally understandable, I’m sure in time they’ll grow to appreciate the two rings that LeBron James helped enable them to celebrate over his four seasons.

It appears that will take a minute.

LeBron James returns home! – WFNY Podcast – 2014-07-11

WFNY Podcast LogoA description for the podcast….

This is so unnecessary. Andrew and I talked about the return of LeBron James. We talked about what it means to us personally and what our reactions were to how it all went down.

From the beginning rumblings all the way to the letter transcribed by Sports Illustrated.

Check out this episode!

First of many LeBron James billboards hits Cleveland

LeBron James banners are already up in Cleveland. Just makes me wonder how they kept this very definitive thing from being reported even more definitively.

LeBron James banner

The Twitter reactions to LeBron James’ return home

Obviously there are too many reactions to count, but I just feel like this is an event that needs to be covered. I really can’t stand when Tweets are taken and plastered out of context to make news, but this is all about happiness and celebration, so I think it’s pretty fitting.

First up is Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert…

Scott Raab is a friend to me and this site.

Brian Windhorst…

Next up is Chris Sheridan who withstood virtual missiles as this story unfolded (or didn’t unfold.)

Next up we’ll call this the cross-sport group as Cleveland Browns players make their voices heard.

Matt Moore did the podcast this week saying he hopes that the Cavs win a championship.

This doesn’t even remotely cover the waterfront, but I was just so damn happy that I wanted to make sure the love was captured on our pages.

LeBron’s choice might be coming down to Dan Gilbert’s letter?

 

I know everyone’s fatigued, but until this is settled, we’ll continue to try and cover it as it happens. LeBron James is supposedly hung up on Dan Gilbert’s letter according to Chris Broussard of ESPN.

While I get why LeBron James might have been hung up on the letter, it makes no sense to me that this is the sticking point at this stage of the game. That letter has been out there for over four years now. It’s not something that was unleashed on LeBron James even in the last few months. If that was going to be a sticking point, how on earth have we gotten this far down the road?

But there is some hope via local media. The BSK Kendall Lewis has sources too and has been reporting consistently (almost begrudgingly at times) for the last couple weeks.

The BSK has been very up front about how seriously he takes reporting on this story and how much he thought about the info he heard before he decided to open his mouth. So, take that for what it’s worth. Seems like we’re still stuck in a bad game of telephone where everyone around LeBron is more resolute than James himself. Of course, that’s also pretty reasonable considering that James is the one who has private conversations with Dwyane Wade, for example.

Waiting…

Who is to blame for the waiting game? While We’re Waiting

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I’m usually pretty upbeat and happy to lead off my WWW, but I’m not having a lot of fun this week. It’s my own fault for caring about sports and I’m not anywhere as emotionally invested as I have been in the past, but as an observer I’m still feeling the pressure of the waiting game. This waiting feels like a job at this point.

*****

As we continue to wait for LeBron, is it safe to start the blame game for why things have gotten this crazy?

Is it the media’s fault? They’re the ones who keep sourcing reports and indicating percentage chances that LeBron is coming to the Cavaliers. They’re the ones who keep pushing deadlines on us based on information. They’re the ones who have reported about calls to the Bath police about ramped up security at LeBron’s home. Are the media to blame? I’d say so.

Is it LeBron’s crew’s fault? You have to assume that these people around LeBron who are well-connected in Northeast Ohio where they also grew up are many of the sources for the media. They’re the ones who likely know about travel schedules and phone calls to police. They’re the ones who are integrated into the system because of LRMR and Nike and Rich Paul and everyone else. Is it their fault? Probably.

Is it LeBron’s fault? I’ve read a lot of opinions that LeBron has no fault here because he’s kept quiet. As opposed to “The Decision” and that parade of teams into Cleveland for pitch meetings he’s been engaged in a personal process to figure out what’s best for him. While that’s all well and good, he’s not immune to the league calendar guiding free agency. Despite the fact that anyone can understand a personal reflection and soul searching, when the rest of the league is waiting for the first gigantic domino to fall, it’s hard not to blame LeBron James himself. It’s a league with a fluid salary cap and rules regarding transactions and player movement. Nothing that LeBron does is in some vacuum. So is LeBron James to blame? Yeah.

See? It’s everyone’s fault, to some extent. Unfortunately or fortunately for LeBron, he’s the only one who can end it. With great power comes great responsibility. Ultimately, there’s nobody else to look to to end this embargo. So blame the media. Blame LeBron’s crew. Blame anyone else you want as well. The fact that we’re sitting here on Friday with no new information is the responsibility of one man and one man only.

*****

That’s pretty much all I’ve got this week for WWW. Sorry to be so brief. I’m just so worn out. I will say though, before LeBron took over the sports universe (in the middle of the World Cup mind you) I had a really great podcast with Matt Moore from Hardwood Paroxysm. He’s had a history as a somewhat divisive person in Cleveland because he’s free with his opinions. It was a really cool conversation talking about what he does and his process. So if you’re a fan or even if you’ve been mad at Matt before I think it’s a really great listen.

*****

Finally, my musical selection for the week. Big thanks to Andrew for highlighting my album, but I won’t self-promote here again. Instead, I’m going to go with something really big and popular that got me excited this week. I love the new song “Chandelier” by Sia. We got into a long conversation on Twitter about whether it’s a good song or not. Kirk and Andrew were far less enthused by the song than I was, but I think I have to stick with my thoughts on this one. I love the mix of vocal effects and auto-tune with the absolute rawness during the choruses. I’m not a giant fan of overly effected vocals, but to contrast them with that rawness really is a cool production choice, I think. Plus, I will always love Sia because her song “Breathe Me” was used to absolute perfection in the final minutes of the series Six Feet Under.

Police patrols to be increased around LeBron’s home after announcement

Update: Here’s a photo just in case you wanted evidence.

According to Akron Beacon Journal reporter Phil Trexler, LeBron James will be announcing his decision sometime this afternoon around 3 PM. The reason that this is known is related to the increased patrols around LeBron’s home in Bath.

Of course, I have no idea what those local hunches are actually worth. It’s unknown if the Bath police were given any extra information other than just to be aware of a decision. Of course, it might be helpful for them to know whether to expect the potential for jubilation or anger.

At this point it would be helpful for all of us to know whether to expect jubilation or anger. Hopefully soon.

Are there clues to LeBron’s choice on his website?

lebronjamescom

The way this story is being followed, covered and maybe uncovered is getting pretty wacky. Now, a website designer has done some of his own Internet sleuthing and has uncovered something that might be a clue. Apparently there are some new pages on the domain that have been coded in Cavaliers colors.

For those who don’t know, Firebug is a web development tool that designers can use to inspect a site and debug it. This designer apparently used that browser extension to uncover these things in an analysis of LeBronJames.com…

But not everyone had the same success finding clues.

I hope you’re still having fun.

LeBron James strings everyone along – WFNY Podcast – 2014-07-10

WFNY Podcast LogoAndrew and Craig talk about the fact that LeBron didn’t make a choice. I write that he strings everyone along, but Andrew defends his process.

When will he make a choice?

Which source will you trust?

The practical realities of Cavs vs. Heat

Pat Riley vs. Dan Gilbert

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Miami Heat didn’t think they’d have to sell this hard

Look, the honest truth is that it’s just too hard to keep up with all the LeBron James free agency talk. Are there meetings? Are there planes? Well, I know for a fact that there are both, but I’m unsure about either involving LeBron James, the Cavaliers, Miami Heat or anyone else.

One plugged in person who has been awfully quiet on Twitter lately is Brian Windhorst. He’s probably just saving all his important hits of info for the air on ESPN, but he did tweet this today, which is instructive.

The Miami Heat never thought it’d be this tough of a sell. That’s not surprising to Cavaliers fans. We initially thought paying a guy a max contract with more money than he could make anywhere else would also be the Cavs’ ticket to keeping LeBron in 2010. The minute you think you know something in the NBA, you likely don’t it seems.

So today seems like it might finally be the day that we find out something. Will it go the Cavs way? No idea, but it appears Miami might have to work harder than it anticipated to come out a winner.

Matt Moore hopes the Cavs win a championship – WFNY Podcast – 2014-07-09

WFNY Podcast LogoI’ve followed Matt Moore of Hardwood Paroxysm and CBS for years on Twitter. I’m sure I’ve argued with him a time or two, but I’ve always valued his opinion and writing. I’m really happy he agreed to come on the WFNY podcast in the midst of a very busy NBA off-season.

We talked about Twitter, his process, and his goals as a web publisher. We talked about LeBron James, NBA player culture growing up, and a whole host of other topics.

Very good iinsight into what makes @HPBasketball tick.

Check out this episode!