August 15, 2014

It’s time to kill these lazy comedic sports references

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Sports and comedy don’t always have a comfortable marriage. As a rule, sports guys think they’re funnier than they really are and there’s one particular tool in the Sports Guy arsenal that I think needs to be melted down and buried. I could be talking about the incessant forced laughing that sports guys do to pump up all their bad attempts at jokes like on NFL pre-game shows. I could be talking about mis-guided skits wherein a former athlete dresses up like a woman for mild comedic effect. (I’m looking at you Larry Johnson.) I’ll save those for another day. Today I’m attacking the lazy reference.

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Josh Gordon may have checked himself into rehab

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Mike Garafolo reported Thursday night on FOX Sports One’s evening show America’s Pregame that Josh Gordon checked himself into rehab after his July 4th arrest in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Patient confidentiality being what it is, it may be difficult to confirm if Gordon did in fact complete the program unless it comes from Gordon himself.

Would a completed rehab program have any weight at all in the eyes of the NFL as far as reducing his impending suspension? Could the rehab program itself be the reason Gordon’s hearing hasn’t already happened?

[Related: Josh Gordon's hearing set for August 1st]

 

Best selling jersey in the NFL comes from Cleveland

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Darren Rovell reports that Cleveland rookie Johnny Manziel’s jersey is the hottest selling piece of laundry since the draft.

Yep, Manziel beat out Super Bowl winning QB Russell Wilson, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Richard Sherman and every other rookie.

Of course, he did have a few celebrity endorsements of the jersey.

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Cleveland Browns Film Room: A look at Terrance West

Terrance West

Over the next couple weeks on WFNY, I will be breaking down the film on all seven draft picks of the Cleveland Browns. As fans, we often rely on mainstream draft analysts to give us certain traits and characteristics that we use to form our opinions. Rather than simply tell you positives and negatives, the goal of this series is to better inform you by showing evidence, in GIF form, of the skills each prospect possess and areas they each must improve upon.  Past film rooms: Justin Gilbert, Johnny Manziel, Joel Bitonio, Christian Kirksey

Following a season that featured Willis McGahee, Chris Ogbonnaya, and Edwin Baker taking the bulk of snaps at running back, the Cleveland Browns eyed the upcoming NFL Draft and free agency as opportunities to upgrade their backfield. Within the span of two months, the Browns completely re-hauled the position, signing former Houston Texans running back Ben Tate to a two-year contract and drafting former Towson University workhorse Terrance West.

The additions of Tate and West to the Browns backfield give new offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan multiple productive backs who fit well with his new zone-blocking scheme. This type of run game greatly differs from the Rob Chudzinski and Pat Shurmur power run offenses in which premier athletes and big-bodied runners succeed. The power run game necessitates a back who can make a fast read, is able to run through a pre-determined hole in the line, and can make defenders miss by virtue of their elite size power or elusiveness. Rather than read the defense as the play happens, backs are taught to hit the hole quickly and reach the second level of the defense where they will be able to use their athleticism or size to pick up large gains. [Read more...]

Nike is not being shy about marketing “Money” Manziel

I hadn’t seen this shirt until it came up on Twitter today via our own Scott. Apparently these shirts had gone out of stock and were selling on eBay for a premium. Thankfully Nike got that rectified so that they can make money on the “money” image that Johnny Manziel created on draft night when he put his fingers in that pose as he strode across the stage.

Money Manziel T-Shirt

And why shouldn’t they make money off of it directly? A quick search of Amazon shows just how many others are trying to enjoy the high profile of Johnny Football as he transitions to the NFL.

Money on Amazon

Sure beats “Now I’m done” from Brady Quinn and of course, Peyton Hillis salsa.

Hillis Salsa

Jordan Cameron changes Twitter profile after Jimmy Graham ruling

One of the issues regarding Jimmy Graham’s fight with the Saints over whether he is a receiver or not had to do with him self-identifying as a tight end on his Twitter profile. I don’t know how much that factored into the fact that he was ultimately ruled a tight end, but Jordan Cameron decided not to take any chances.

Yesterday he changed his twitter profile to read “Pro Bowl pass catcher for the Browns”

Jordan Cameron Twitter

Now, it’s easy for me to call it silly because I wasn’t the one who had $5.3 million on the line like Jimmy Graham did — wide receiver franchise tags go for just over $12 million and tight ends go for just over $7 mil. Still, I do think it’s silly. Jimmy Graham is a tight end. He’s one of the trailblazing tight ends with the ability to re-define the position and yes, his franchise tender amount is wildly low for a player of his production. The mere fact that he’s deserving of a lot more money, however, doesn’t make him a wide receiver.

Nor does Jordan Cameron’s desire for more money — even money comparable to a top wide receiver — make him a wide receiver. I think both players should be rewarded for their production and get contracts commensurate with their value, but gaming the system and pretending that these tight ends are actually wide receivers is just insulting intellectually.

If the game continues to evolve this way, they should get their union to negotiate the next collective bargaining agreement to put all pass-catchers — tight ends and wide receivers — in the same class for the rules of the franchise tag. That’s the way the offensive line works already where they don’t delineate between left tackles, centers or guards.

While not the end of the world, Johnny Manziel’s partying doesn’t make him better

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Waiting For Next Year is a compromise. From its inception, despite the priority that we’ve placed on this website in our own lives1 it’s never been anyone’s primary priority. To a man, whether we’ve had obligations related to family, job or some other thing, WFNY has taken a back seat. Don’t get me wrong, we’re proud of this site, but I don’t think anyone here would tell you that it couldn’t be better if we all could devote 100 percent of our time and effort to its continued growth. Not everyone would want to do that, of course, but that’s not the point. The fact is that we know we leave some things on the table because this isn’t anyone’s full-time job. It’s with that point in mind that I talk about Johnny Manziel and his weekend in Las Vegas. I’m not shocked or even appalled by his choice, and I want that point to be perfectly clear. Johnny Manziel’s choices don’t drive me crazy, but the people arguing on his behalf do.

[Read more...]

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Footnotes:

  1. Ask our wives, friends and other family members if you must []

Johnny Likes Partying, While We’re Waiting…

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Hope everyone had an awesome Memorial Weekend. I spent most of mine with family enjoying copious amounts of food cooked on a grill. Other than watching a bit of the NBA Playoff games, I really didn’t see too much sports news this weekend and I didn’t get back into town until later last night, so this is going to be a shorter than normal WWW for me. I guess it’s better to just sort of ease back into things anyway, no? Let’s get started.

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Oh, the outrage!

One story I did catch was this rather laughable (in my opinion) piece from FOX Sports Ohio’s Zac Jackson in which he questions Manziel for partying in Vegas on his off days. This is nothing against Zac, who is normally pretty great, but come on. The Browns drafted Johnny Manziel in totality. You can’t just draft someone for their football skills and ask them to not bring their personality. It’s all the same person. Manziel likes the spotlight, he likes to party. That’s not going to change. But is it hurting him as a football player?

I’d probably like to see some evidence that it’s hurting him as a player before I would climb up on a soapbox and tell someone else how they should live their lives. The fact is, the Browns players had a free weekend. This didn’t happen during OTA sessions when he should be preparing for practice the next day. The whole point of an off weekend is to give players some time to get away and blow off some steam.

This is a young, exciting player who will be Cleveland’s biggest star if his on-field play lives up to his off-field persona. He’s going to party, and he’s going to do it very publicly. Texas A&M fans know all about it. It’s part of the deal. Cleveland fans and media always seem to have a very strict, unforgiving “right way to do things” mentality when it comes to this kind of stuff. I wish everyone would learn to loosen up a bit and let Cleveland athletes be themselves and have some fun.

If Manziel starts doing stuff like this on the Friday or Saturday night before a game, then we have something worth writing about and questioning. But telling athletes how we think they should spend their free time away from the team is a path I’m just not comfortable with whatsoever. I think WFNY will have more on this later today, so I’ll stop now so as not to step on anyone’s toes.

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Time to get serious about finding a Cavs coach

Well, after spending a couple weeks chasing down pipe dream candidates and big name college coaches who, of course, aren’t going to risk their cozy college jobs to come coach for a dysfunctional-until-proven-otherwise NBA team, the Cavaliers are finally getting serious and settling on some second tier choices.

According to Sam Amico, over the next two weeks the Cavaliers have a few interviews lined up. Some of the names include Clippers assistant Tyronn Lue, Bulls assistant Adrian Griffin, Clippers assistant Alvin Gentry, and former head coaches Vinny Del Negro and Lionel Hollins. How fun!

I don’t know who I’m pulling for out of that lot. Probably Adrian Griffin, I guess. None of them really wow me too much. But as I’ve been saying all along, when you fire a coach after one year, there are going to be consequences. It doesn’t matter the reason why the coach was fired (unless, you know, he murdered someone or slept with the owner’s wife or something like that), it simply says too much negatively about the franchise. It speaks to a level of dysfunction and Dan Gilbert’s growing reputation as a meddlesome owner isn’t helping matters either.

I’m excited about David Griffin and the #1 pick and seeing how all of this is going to come together. But I’m a fan. I’m conditioned to always look on the bright side when it comes to the Cavaliers. A neutral coaching candidate who is primarily concerned about his own career and well-being will see things a little differently. Especially when he starts asking around and looking into the organization’s structural issues.

Still, there are only 30 NBA head coaching jobs. Like Mike Pettine, someone will be willing to risk it to have a shot and be one of only 30 people in the world to call themselves an NBA head coach. The task for David Griffin and Dan Gilbert is to find the best candidate who is willing to accept the job.

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A little early listening on this Tuesday morning

The Tuesday after Memorial Weekend is typically a pretty slow day for new music releases. Most bands don’t want to be lost in the post-cookout post-sun post-hangover haze of this day. So rather than talking about music coming out this week, I’ll instead point to music coming out next week.

Specifically, at Pitchfork Advance, you can now stream the new album “Glass Boys” from eclectic Toronto punk band F*cked Up1. Just as I was dying to see how Titus Andronicus would follow up their epic concept album “The Monitor”, I’ve been dying to see how F*cked Up would follow up their epic rock opera “David Comes to Life”. Much like Titus Andronicus, F*cked Up have chosen a back-to-basics approach. And like Titus Andronicus’ “Local Business”, “Glass Boys” really works as a follow up because of it’s return to the norm.

One of the biggest problems I had with Green Day is that they never knew how to come back from “American Idiot”. They’ve continued to try to get more and more grandiose, and they lost themselves along the way. “Glass Boys” is an anchor album, keeping the band’s feet tied to the ground. While the complexity of the guitar arrangements remain in tact, the song structures and themes are much more grounded and akin to their breakout album “The Chemistry of Common Life”.

“Glass Boys” comes out June 3rd and you can pre-order the album from Matador Records here.

Have a great four-day week back at work/school/life everyone!

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Footnotes:

  1. I really, really hate censoring band names, but we do have a family-friendly policy at WFNY and so the censored name is what we have to use []

Chief Wahoo on borrowed time as 50 Senators sign letter about Redskins name

tribeblockcThe discussions and debates surrounding mascots and team names have gone to Capitol Hill. While there’s still some debate about history, intent and political correctness, the one thing that has become abundantly clear to me is that Chief Wahoo is on the wrong side of history. It’s even more clear to me today considering what’s happening in Washington D.C. as 50 United States Senators have signed on to a letter to the NFL urging them to force a change of the Redskins name.

Dear Commissioner Goodell:

This month, Americans applauded the rapid and decisive reaction from new National Basketball Association Commissioner Adam Silver to the racist remarks of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling. Commissioner Silver sent a clear message that racism will not stand in the NBA.

Today, we urge you and the National Football League to send the same clear message as the NBA did: that racism and bigotry have no place in professional sports. It’s time for the NFL to endorse a name change for the Washington, D.C. football team.

The despicable comments made by Mr. Sterling have opened up a national conversation about race relations. We believe this conversation is an opportunity for the NFL to take action to remove the racial slur from the name of one of its marquee franchises…

This is a matter of tribal sovereignty – and Indian Country has spoken clearly on this issue. To this point, we have heard from every national Tribal organization, including the National congress of American Indians, United South and Eastern tribes and the Affiliated Tribes of the Northwest Indians. These organizations represent more than 2 million Native Americans across the country and more than 300 Tribes with government-to-government relationships with the United States. These organizations have passed resolutions in support of a name change as they find the Washington D.C. football team name to be racially offensive…

There’s more in the letter, but the point is that regardless of how you think about Wahoo or your own origin story in relation to it, this is the current environment. This is what’s going on in the NFL with the Redskins’ name, but subtract that name and put “Chief Wahoo” in the letter and you pretty much arrive at the same conclusion: Wahoo’s days are numbered.

So, wouldn’t it be better to get out in front of it before another fifty Senators draft a letter to Bud Selig? If this letter is successful and the NFL does intervene with Dan Snyder’s team and force a name change, it will only reflect that much more poorly on MLB, Cleveland and the Indians organization that they’re even later to the party in the face of mounting evidence of an inevitable outcome.

[Related: The Wahoo debate has changed, but where do the Indians stand?]

The Five Most Interesting Undrafted Players for the Browns

Isaiah Crowell, Jerome Howard

The 2014 NFL Draft was one of the deepest drafts in recent history and there could be more undrafted free agents who can make a NFL team. The Browns have open roster spots that could be filled with some of these players. The Browns were very active in getting the top undrafted players at positions of need. The NFL is full of undrafted free agents, who have come in and made a big impact in the league. With the Browns rookie camp coming up this weekend, here are five undrafted free agents I believe have a chance to make the Browns and make an impact in the NFL. [Read more...]

Browns look to avoid “Tebow situation” with Johnny Manziel at rookie mini-camp

The Cleveland Browns are going to do everything they can to control the narrative of their football team, it seems. They have decided to be ultra protective with their high profile rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel, apparently barring national media from rookie mini-camp.

So I’m not sure where this fits into the narratives that have been suggested. Did the Browns draft Johnny Manziel to move the needle and sell tickets? Apparently not, if they’re actively limiting media coverage early and often. Maybe, just maybe, the Browns want to do everything they can to maximize the potential of Johnny Manziel and allow him to concentrate on football as much as possible.

Here’s hoping that all these buttons the Browns are pushing are going to work and allow Manziel to become the franchise quarterback the team has needed for so long.

QB Conner Shaw, WR Kenny Shaw among undrafted free agents heading to Cleveland

Conner ShawDraftBrowns.com is doing the heavy lifting on tracking down the undrafted free agents that are signing with the Browns. The team has not confirmed any of these signings, and likely won’t until they have finished signing all of them.

The list of players is highlighted by South Carolina quarterback Conner Shaw. Shaw was a three year starter for the Gamecocks and is the winning-est quarterback school history with a 27-5 record. He won all 17 starts at home. Shaw is an athletic quarterback, but like Manziel lacks ideal size. He has nice touch on his passes, but may not have the desired arm strength.

Also signed were wide receivers Chandler Jones from San Jose State and Kenny Shaw from the National Champion Seminoles. Kenny Shaw caught 54 passes for 933 yards and six touchdowns for Florida State this season. Jones is another undersized (5’9″) speedy wide out.

There are 17 players listed at DraftBrowns.com. Rather than swipe their excellent work by putting that complete list, please reward their effort with a click through.

[Related: The Browns 2014 draft class]

WFNY Roundtable: Latest Browns Draft Thoughts

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With the NFL Draft finally just a week away, we decided to take everyone’s temperature and see what they were thinking about the Browns draft possibilities. Check out the conversation below, and enjoy! [Read more...]

2014 NFL Draft, re-upping Brian Hoyer, Mike Evans over Sammy Watkins and C.J. Mosely – WFNY Podcast – 2014-04-15

WFNY Podcast LogoThe fake Jim Kanicki or the real Mike Burgermeister joined me to talk through some Browns topics.

We talked about the 2014 NFL draft, specifically who the Browns should take at #4. Mike Evans vs. Sammy Watkins and talking about three studs on the offensive line.

Finally, we talked a bit about NFL draft cliches.


Check out this episode!

Good riddance, Cavs season: While We’re Waiting

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Yet another uninspired crawl to the finish. We shouldn’t be surprised. This isn’t unique to the Cavaliers, necessarily. Teams in April playoff chases who get eliminated often coast to the end of the season. But just because it’s not surprising, it doesn’t make the end of this Cavaliers season any less disappointing. Above all else, that’s the word that defines this season more than any other. Disappointing. With a little frustration on the side.

This season couldn’t have been set up any better for the Cavaliers. For the first time in NBA history, the Lakers, Celtics, and Knicks all missed the playoffs. The Eastern Conference was historically bad. And yet even in this environment the Cavaliers couldn’t make the playoffs. They weren’t even all that close. With one game left to play the Cavaliers are 5.5 games out of the 8 seed. An 8 seed with a losing record. Six games under .500, to be exact. It demonstrates just how firmly entrenched at the kids’ table this team really is. [Read more...]

WFNY Roundtable – Preliminary thoughts on the NFL Draft

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The NFL Draft is (not so quickly) approaching, and today we decided to see where everyone’s head is currently at with respect to the Browns’ draft possibilities. Check out the conversation below: [Read more...]

Bills owner Ralph Wilson Jr dead at age 95

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One of the two men who had the courage, cognition and cachet to vote against Art Modell’s proposed move to Baltimore is no longer with us. Buffalo Bills founder, owner and stadium namesake Ralph Wilson, Jr., has died, team president Russ Brandon announced Tuesday at the NFL meetings. He was 95.

Wilson is credited with initiating talks in 1965 with Baltimore Colts owner Carroll Rosenbloom that led to the AFL-NFL merger as well as keeping the Bills in western New York despite multiple years of rumors of a potential relocation. He is one of the few owners to have been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as he was enshrined in 2009, three years prior to the passing of the former Browns owner.

Wilson’s passing comes just weeks after the passing of Detroit Lions owner William Clay Ford, Sr., who died March 9 at age 88. Another long-tenured owner, Bud Adams of the Tennessee Titans, passed away Oct. 21 at age 90.

NFL decides to penalize celebratory dunking on the crossbar

The No Fun League is curbing celebrations once again. On Tuesday, NFL head of officiating Dean Blandino told Dan Patrick that the league will penalize the popular football dunking celebration. Pro Football Talk’s Michael David Smith astutely points out that this makes a bit of sense as Jimmy Graham’s celebration actually caused a game delay in Atlanta when he knocked the uprights askew.

Check out the video of that destructive celebration.

So, even though it seems kind of up tight and stuffy, I agree with the NFL that they shouldn’t allow something so trivial to potentially delay a game going forward.

As Browns fans, we’ll get over it. The Browns’ best dunker, Jordan Cameron, has already permanently committed his dunking prowess to film with none other than Blake Griffin tossing him the ball.

Mark Cuban says NFL is “10 years away from an implosion”

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How many non-Browns games did you watch this past season on Thursday night? How many weeks did it take for you to get burned out on the NFL this year? For me, with the number of games I can now watch per week having exploded over the past five years, I think the burnout rate is tangible. Apparently, what I’ve noticed in myself is also apparent to Mark Cuban who has some words of warning for the NFL.

“I think the NFL is 10 years away from an implosion,” Cuban said Sunday evening when his pregame conversation with reporters, which covered a broad range of topics, swayed toward football. “I’m just telling you, pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered. And they’re getting hoggy. Just watch. Pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered. When you try to take it too far, people turn the other way.

“I’m just telling you, when you’ve got a good thing and you get greedy, it always, always, always, always, always turns on you. That’s rule number one of business.”

While I don’t know if I buy the timeline and I’m sure Cuban was speaking generally, I think there’s something to this. NFL football used to be a Sunday and Monday night activity. In recent years with the expansion to Thursday night they’ve looked to cash in on more and more primetime TV deal money. It’s been very good for the NFL financially. Tell me that you’d have the guts to turn down a chance at $275 million from CBS.

But the NFL is a multi-billion dollar annual operation and Cuban has a point when he brings up the example of “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” They took a show that had risen to absolute TV dominance and burned it out by extracting every penny out of it by having it on more than once a week and adding a daytime version. Maybe that show was always going to burn out, but it’s reasonable to assume they accelerated it.

When August and September roll around, I’m thirsty for NFL football. By Thanksgiving, I really didn’t care all that much about the Thanksgiving Day games. Those Thursday games used to be a special event while preparing and eating turkey. Now, with the proliferation of NFL football into the weekly schedule, it takes something that was more scarce and precious and makes it much less valuable.

[Also see: Ray Farmer Won’t Attend Manziel Pro Day]

(Photo by Chronicle / Kat Wade)

 

While Y’all Are Waiting: A Jeremiad of Sorts

[Editor's Note: With Craig being out today, we thought it would be awesome to have Denny Mayo return and do WWW today in Craig's place. For those who are new to the site and may not know who Denny is, he was one of the original weekend editors at WFNY and he gave this site a unique and interesting voice that we lacked before and have never quite been able to replace. But a lot has changed in Denny's life in recent years since he left WFNY to focus on his doctorate. Because he's touching on some hot button topics below, we are of course obligated to say that his opinions are his own. There is no unified stance from WFNY, as we are made up of many different voices and opinions. Some of us stand with Denny, while others disagree. But no matter where you stand, whether you agree or disagree with his opinions, this piece is incredibly well thought out and well written and, well, it's just awesome to have Denny back at WFNY, even if it is only for one day and for one piece. -- Andrew Schnitkey]

Dr StrangeloveGood morning. Craig is out today; the inmates have offered to run the asylum in his absence. Management acquiesced to our request.

It has been 1344 days since I last wrote words here. It’s nice to see you all. Things have changed, but you haven’t aged a day. When I decided to stop writing here to focus on graduate school, the NBA had just died a young death, never to rise from its ashes. Craig and I have talked about this on the podcast, but as I’m growing older, I’m finding it difficult to enjoy sports as much as I used to. At this point, I very well may like making esoteric jokes about sports more than I actually like sports. So it goes.

There are a number of reasons why I’m not digging on sports so hard anymore, and I’m writing whatever I want to write, so let’s get into them:

1) It really bothers me that Chief Wahoo is still a thing. Not the ‘debate’ about Chief Wahoo, mind you, but that the actual logo is still in use—and that any semblance of a ‘debate’ among the Cleveland fan base continues. The logo is racist dreck from a (mostly) bygone era and is generally condemned by the National Congress of American Indians. Yet we annually drudge up a ‘debate’ that begins and ends up with mouth-breathing talk radio hosts denying any evidence that Native Americans oppose the use of Native American likenesses as athletic logos, in order to get radio listeners to call in to their show so that they can convince advertisers to keep paying them. This debate is an auroboros of stupid.

I know that this topic is 1) stale and 2) not a lot of fun to discuss, but this is not an issue where there is much nuance, yet it is treated as such by many who cover it in order to frame the ‘two sides of the debate’ with a wonderful veneer of false equivalence, as though there should be equal weight given to each side. The AV Club review of the excellent series premiere of Neil Degrasse-Tyson’s COSMOS reboot (which you should be watching this show, by the way, because science is wonderful) gets to the heart of the matter of the show, but also the issue at hand here as well:

“The show is also unabashed in its commitment to truth—it matter-of-factly presents what we know about the universe, what we’re pretty sure about, and what we don’t know yet. Cosmos doesn’t hedge: You won’t hear the narrator, astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson, neuter any of his statements with a gratuitous “some people believe…” counterpoint. … In a media environment where truth has to compete with a “balance” designed to prevent hurt feelings, Cosmos’ straightforward tack is quaint—laudably so.”

There are facts about the history of America’s treatment of American Indians that are not pretty and that are not touched on during our primary education (probably because they are not pretty!). But they are facts, and they are ever-relevant when discussing the ongoing plight of the American Indian.

Sports should be fun, harmless, and inclusive. Chief Wahoo is none of these things—enough so that I refuse to put onesies with Chief Wahoo on my infant daughter that were given to us as gifts. To gloss over the nasty nature of the logo because [a largely non-Native American base of] fans want to keep using a Samboface logo because it reminds the fans of the halcyon days of their youth, or because the logo is ’tradition’, or because ‘only whiny white people don’t like the logo’, or because ‘it doesn’t matter because it’s only a logo’ are reasons that are at best selfish and juvenile and at worst come from a place far, far more pernicious.

2) It’s increasingly difficult to enjoy tackle football in its current incarnation. I’ve never been a huge Browns fan (cf.), but the NFL’s—and Roger Goodell’s—staggering ability to whistle past the graveyard and spread false information regarding the effects of brain injury does not sit particularly well with me. The tried-and-true delay tactics of pointing out that ‘the science is not conclusive’ and ‘more studies are needed before taking action’ are especially pernicious when you realize that every season that involves a delay in instituting some sort of acknowledgment and subsequent change to the game is another season in which 1) the powers-that-be profit wildly at the expense of other humans’ lives, while marketing their business as safe and humane and 2) another cohort of impressionable (and brain-capable!) children put on their Pop Warner helmets and start crashing into each other.

3) Add the labor issues involved in collegiate athletics on top of brain injury seriousness, and it’s even becoming hard to enjoy my beloved Ohio State Football Team. This does not mean that I do not watch, nor does it mean that I do not cheer for my team. But a lot of the fun is gone knowing that every time the crowd is cheering a big hit, the man who made the hit likely did so at the expense of a part of his life—and that he will go pro in something other than sports™ after being subject to the capricious gaze of the “Non-Profit” Arbiters of Amateurism.

4) Sports franchises aggressively hold their host cities hostage for absurd tax breaks in order to renovate perfectly good (yet highly land-inefficient) facilities, and will move if their deal isn’t sweet enough. This is no different from plenty of other businesses, except that sports teams are viewed as some sort of public trust—that just happen to be banned by law from being publicly-owned. And the leagues are non-profit entities.

So what we end up with are carpet-bagging team owners who come in, run roughshod over any semblance of tradition that the fan base is proud of, and then contribute little, if any, to the actual community where they make their sportsball happen. Immediately upon purchasing the team, we are inundated with PR blasts that tell us how we’ve turned a corner and that Everything is now Coming Up Cleveland, and This Owner Totally Gets It!

And then down the line these owners whose arrival and general existence has been lauded at every opportunity may even decide to build a casino and have their sportsmen happily remind stadium-goers to remember to vote for the casino referendum. And then after that, a land bridge to hermetically seal the casino-goers from the public. But if you hesitate to give them everything they want in terms of land and infrastructure, you’d better watch it—they’ll be gone before you know it.

5) That sports fandom seems to requires some caveman-like viewpoint of masculinity. This doesn’t manifest so much in dealing with actual sports, but often creeps in when sports and culture collide such as to allow the real men in the crowd to step forward and assert KNOWN KNOWNS, such as: the inability for a grown human adult to effectively play sportsball because of who they happen to be romantically involved with; that using statistics as a lens through which one can evaluate sports is invalid; or that Richie Incognito is anything but a racist bully.

Many of these collisions involve spectacular non-sequiturs, such as but not limited to: ‘WHY IS THIS NEWS?!’; or ‘I JUST KNOW A GOOD PLAYER WHEN I SEE ONE’; or ‘WHY CAN BLACK PEOPLE USE THE N-WORD BUT WHITE PEOPLE CANNOT?’ (For answers to these questions, you could do far worse than reading Ta-Nehisi Coates on two of these topics. Seriously, go do so. I’ll wait.) These questions reek of desperation and deflection from the issue at hand: that it is indeed possible that people of differing backgrounds can all participate in sport effectively, and that masculinity and personal background have little to do with it.

It’s also increasingly difficult for me to stomach the ‘suck it up and play’ aspect of fan culture. This is particularly bad with respect to hockey fans but happens across all fanbases. It’s not our place to demand injury upon others, or that someone over-expose themselves to the risk of further injury because we want their team to win at a sports.

Sports are an extension of humanity. It’d be nice if fandom were more humane.

6) I don’t like that I don’t like sports as much because of these reasons. This is much more inward-gazing and meta, but even with all of these issues I still do like sports. I enjoy going to Nationals games and DC United games, and I’m ecstatic that the Buckeyes will be playing in Baltimore and College Park this fall and I’ll be able to take a short train ride to go see my alma mater play tackle football. But I don’t view sports fandom as a very significant facet of my life at this point, and that’s weird and off-putting because it’s a pretty big shift relative to the majority of my life. It’s going to take a long time to come to grips with this, and I’ve only recently begun to really acknowledge it.

Falling out of love with sports has been a change that has been slowly developing, the sort of thing that’s been hard to track the evolution of. It’s been like watching a puppy grow, where suddenly three years later you look back at a picture and realize ‘wow, our St Bernard used to be tiny‘. The changes have been incremental and additive, and now I’m to a point nearly four years removed from writing about sports frequently where I can’t imagine trying to write about sports with any sort of frequency. Though I’m firm on the points above, please don’t read them as value judgements—not long ago I cared a whole lot about Cleveland sports, and I may care about them again at some point. Most of my good friends love them some sports, and I continue to make good friends with whom sports fandom (or, maybe more accurately, making sports jokes) is our initial common thread. I want to love sports again. I really do.

But part of growing up is realizing that life doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to view sports in a vacuum anymore. So it goes.

So rather than link to actual sports things that are happening as is customary in these pieces, I thought I’d point out some cool stuff that I’ve been learning about in lieu of learning about sports rosters and statistics (and if you guys have other fun things to talk about, bring them up, because quite honestly the community aspect of sports fandom is like its most positive aspect and why I still do hang around from time to time).

*One place I make time to visit every time I’m visiting family in Canton is the I-76 Antique Mall. It is wonderful. I am not joking.

*Cooking is something that I’ve been trying to learn more about. This came up somewhat frequently in discussions with Craig when we were doing the Casual Friday podcast, but I thought I’d point out some things that I’ve taken to recently:

*I’ve read Adam Perry Lang’s Serious Barbecue twice and started reading Michael Ruhlman’s Ratio. Serious BBQ is a hefty book with a whole lot of recipes, but it lays out some broadly useful stuff at the front end and includes a lot of tips that are quite interesting (like using an herb bundle to butter-baste meats during cooking). Ratio strips back recipes to their foundational bases, based solely on ingredient ratios and the order of ingredient addition. For me, this is hugely useful, because it’s easy to follow a recipe, but far more difficult to be able to grab a bunch of things off of a shelf and throw together a meal. Both books are super, super insightful and I recommend both if BBQ/cooking are things you like.

*The tri-tip is a fantastic cut of beef that I’ve recently gotten familiar with. So is eye round. Pork shoulder remains the meat of the gods. Bourbon is still king of spirits (I’ve recently been enjoying Weller Reserve).

*Internet Friend Sarah Sprague’s 2014 Chili Roundup is well worth your time. In brief: never, ever use store-bought chili powder in any dish ever again. But you already knew this, you smart devil, you.

*You should be reading everything that Kenji Lopez-Alt writes at The Food Lab. The chocolate chip cookie recipe is sublime (sea salt on cookies = advanced move) and the tacos al pastor recipe is absolutely worth the work (I made this last Friday and used leftover meat for nachos).

*Successfully growing vegetables and herbs is not trivial.

*Freshly-roasted coffee is sublime and remarkably inexpensive.

*If you want to find old pictures to make prints, the Library of Congress’ website is amazing. For instance: this old picture of Municipal Stadium during construction is incredible, and is free for download. Seriously. I printed, matted and framed a copy for my father-in-law this year for Christmas. There are lots of pictures of Olde Cleveland (and old WPA posters as well). Use this information to your advantage.

*As I haven’t been in Ohio this calendar year, I thought I’d ask a friend who has been to Cleveland this year about his experience. His response:

Cleveland Hopkins International Airport – I’m assuming it’s named for Sir Anthony – is entirely successful from a functional perspective: planes land there, and then they take off again. It gets a solid A for Being An Airport, and that shouldn’t be ignored; there are still delayed flights from 1994 in Dallas-Fort Worth, for instance. Beyond that? It’s the airport you would design if you were too cheap to pay for an architect and just downloaded the first “airport_plans_eminem_freestyle.jpg” file you found on LimeWire, a choice reinforced by the fact that the dining/shopping options are places you think you’ve heard of maybe once. Look: the Chili’s Too people wanted a crazy franchise fee. You’ll eat at Burgers of Calais and like it. (Burgers of Calais is not actually a restaurant in Cleveland Airport, and if you steal that name I’ll sue.) This is an airport designed to be forgotten quickly. I was there six weeks ago and already it feels like a particularly unremarkable dream.

That friend is Celebrity Hot Tub, and he was stuck in Hopkins for something like 22 hours. It sounds like y’all wow’d him.

*Home organization is an incredibly difficult and never-ending process. Case-in-point: I lined the wall under my basement stairs with pegboard and spend ten minutes or so a week wondering if I could better-arrange my tools. The same goes for kitchen organization and wall-mounting of frequently-used items. These things do not matter, yet they matter.

*Babies: really cool, and quite anxiety-inducing. I’m gonna take my kid to go meet Brendan’s kid today, which is kind of weird, but also pretty awesome. Hooray Internet.

I’ve come a long way from photoshopping Kelvin Sampson’s head onto Bruce Willis, y’all. Growing up is weird.

OK, it’s been fun. Go sports.