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Change A Comin' For Washington
[Posted Tues. p.m.]
Patriot League Quiz: Monday this conference placed itself in the sports news with word it was canceling fall sports. But name the seven members of the conference for football. Answer below.
Washington Red Wolves?
The Washington Redskins announced Monday that they will change their team name and logo after almost 87 years of using it. [So much for my idea of “Red Clouds.”] The corporate and public pressure was too intense for Washington owner Dan Snyder not to do so, particularly the pressure of FedEx, the biggest sponsor that requested the team change its name. [FedEx CEO Fred Smith is also a minority shareholder.]
Big-name retailers such as Amazon, Walmart, and Target, as well as Nike and Dick’s Sporting Goods, all removed Redskins merchandise from their websites last week.
In a statement the team announced:
“On July 3rd, we announced the commencement of a thorough review of the team’s name. That review has begun in earnest. As part of this process, we want to keep our sponsors, fans and community apprised of our thinking as we go forward.
“Today, we are announcing we will be retiring the Redskins name and logo upon completion of this review.
“Dan Snyder and Coach Rivera are working closely to develop a new name and design approach that will enhance the standing of our proud, tradition rich franchise and inspire our sponsors, fans and community for the next 100 years.”
The Navajo Nation put out a statement:
“July 13, 2020 is now a historic day for all the indigenous peoples around the world as the NFL Washington-based team officially announced the retirement of the racist and disparaging ‘Redskins’ team name and logo,” Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez wrote. “This change did not come about willingly by the team’s owners, but by the mounting pressure and advocacy of indigenous peoples such as Amanda Blackhorse, and many other warriors who fought long and hard for this change.”
The statement continued: “We strongly encourage the NFL Washington organization to rename their team in such a way that truly honors and respects the First Americans of this country. Renaming the team ‘Code Talkers’ to honor the Navajo Code Talkers, and other tribal nations who used their sacred language to help win World War II, would set the team on a path to restoring its reputation and correcting the historical misrepresentation of indigenous peoples.”
[Separately, the Navajo Nation has been struggling mightily with the coronavirus, with 401 deaths out of 8,243 cases as of Tuesday morning.]
So among the names said to be at the top of the list is Washington Warriors, favored by Snyder, who once owned trademark rights to the name. But with Braves, Indians and Blackhawks under scrutiny, this might not work.
Washington Red Tails, which would honor the Tuskegee Airmen, all-black fighter pilots who painted the backs of planes during World War II. This won a prize in a fan-voted contest and has quarterback Dwayne Haskins’ vote.
Washington Red Wolves, which lineman Jonathan Allen endorsed, creating stadium nicknames like “The Den.” And it provides minimal disruption by keeping the fight song and color scheme. I like this one.
And Washington Hogs…or Red Hogs. Nope…sucks.
--In an interesting college football note, that becomes not interesting at all if we have no college football this fall, quarterback J.T. Daniels received a waiver to play immediately for Georgia after transferring from USC in May.
Daniels has three years of eligibility left after suffering a knee injury in USC’s 2019 season opener. As a true freshman in 2018, he had passed for 2,672 yard with 14 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Kedon Slovis replaced Daniels and had a record-setting 2019. Daniels then entered the NCAA’s transfer portal in April.
So what makes this particularly interesting is the fact that former Wake Forest quarterback and graduate transfer Jamie Newman was expected to be Georgia’s starting QB this season, a huge opportunity for him to market his game on a bigger stage in preparation for the NFL.
Newman can’t be happy. But the rest of us will be happy if this is a mini-controversy down in Athens come October. That would mean we actually have some college football to follow!
--Because as noted above the Patriot League followed the Ivy League’s lead in canceling all fall sports due to the pandemic.
Patriot League commissioner Jennifer Heppel told ESPN: “From a health and well-being standpoint, things are not getting better in this country. As we get closer to the point where students are going to be making plans to how they travel back to our campuses as well as student-athletes, it became clear for us that this wasn’t going to be in the best interest of our communities to have athletes this fall. That’s the decision that had been made. It’s incredibly disappointing for our student-athletes and our coaches, and it’s not a decision anybody is feeling good about. It’s sad. It’s gut-wrenching.”
SEC conference officials met on Monday and, like the Big 12 and ACC, have opted to wait another two weeks before making any decision on whether they will go the way of the Big Ten and Pac-12 and have a conference-only schedule. Everyone is in agreement…the Covid #s have to start coming down immediately.
--Rockets superstar Russell Westbrook tweeted Monday:
“I tested positive for Covid-19 prior to my team’s departure to Orlando. I’m currently feeling well, quarantined and looking forward to rejoining my teammates when I am cleared. Thank you for all the well wishes and continued support. Please take this virus seriously. Be safe. Mask up!”
Fellow star James Harden also did not travel with the team to Orlando and on Tuesday he said he is “feeling fine,” working out and might travel with Westbrook to Orlando.
So was he diagnosed with coronavirus? Is there another issue?
There are a ton of questions. If Harden is healthy, why is he waiting for infected Westbrook?
The 2019-20 NBA season is scheduled to resume on July 30 when the Pelicans host the Jazz and the Lakers host the Clippers. The Rockets are slated to play their first game July 31 against the Mavericks.
--One non-Covid item could have an impact on the Lakers’ chances at the championship. Key rotation piece guard Rajon Rondo fractured his right thumb in practice and is out six to eight weeks, according to reports. L.A. was already missing guard Avery Bradley, who opted out of the restart. The Lakers then signed J.R. Smith to replace Bradley.
--Just five tournaments left before the start of the FedEx Cup playoffs so players are scrambling to get in the top 125, or improve their position. Just four weeks until the PGA Championship, which will be fun.
But this weekend we have as good a field as you’ll find, including Tiger Woods, back at Muirfield Village in Dublin, Ohio, The Memorial at Jack’s place. Aside from Tiger’s return for his first tournament since golf’s restart, there will be a spotlight on Bryson DeChambeau. Will he continue his dominating play? Will he tell off another cameraman for doing his job? What name will I be using come Sunday?
--Meanwhile the PGA Tour has made the decision that the remainder of the schedule this season will be played without spectators, after organizers for the Wyndham Championship and the three tournaments that make up the FedEx Cup playoffs each released a separate statement on Monday announcing the decision.
The announcement didn’t affect the three majors still to be played but the PGA Championship at Harding Park in San Francisco had already said it would be contested without fans. The U.S. Open, conducted by the USGA and set for Sept. 17-20 at Winged Foot in Westchester County, N.Y., is still hoping it might be able to have a limited number of spectators, and we have The Masters for Nov. 12-15, with officials at Augusta under no immediate pressure to commit to fans – or no fans – yet, though Georgia’s Covid #s sure haven’t been good. Plus it’s about the out-of-staters attending.
--Back to Collin Morikawa’s stirring playoff victory last weekend over Justin Thomas, I noted that he had picked up his second win in just over a year since turning pro, while missing just one cut, something not done since Tiger Woods.
But Woods had forty-three…43…wins before missing his second cut! Think about that. That’s one less than Phil Mickelson’s career win total.
Of all the mind-boggling Tiger stats, this one is probably the greatest of all. At one point between 1998 and 2005, Tiger made a record 142 cuts in a row.
Premier League / Manchester City Scores a Huge Court Victory
In what was a surprise, and frankly a horrendous decision for European football, Manchester City scored a massive victory when the Court of Arbitration for Sports cleared City on appeal from a two-year ban from the Champions League, striking down the charge from UEFA, the body theoretically in charge of European soccer, that City had misrepresented some of its financing to circumvent cost-control rules.
Yes, City is still paying a fine of more than $11 million, but six years of skirmishing with UEFA over its financial fair play regulations is at an end.
Rory Smith / New York Times
“But the ramifications of this case were always likely to extend way beyond the club at its center. If there will be no tangible consequences for City – carte blanche to back (manager Pep) Guardiola, to build a dynasty, to extend its empire of clubs – the same cannot be said for European soccer more broadly.
“At first glance, it seems a little overblown to suggest this as a Bosman moment* for the 21st century: the point at which the Financial Fair Play experiment takes its last breath, where UEFA acquiesces to fate and sits idly by as clubs spend what they like.
*Kind of an equivalent to the advent of free agency, but for Euro football.
“The organization, after all, has emphasized its continuing commitment to its regulations. City has not proved F.F.P. is illegal under European Union law (and was not, in the end, trying to). UEFA has simply not brought a strong enough, or quick enough, case to police its rules in this instance.
“The problem is that it is not just this instance. This is the third time UEFA has tried to punish one of the continent’s elite – for all its attempts to characterize itself as some sort of insurgent underdog, that is precisely the group to which Manchester City belongs – and it is the third time it has failed to bring any of them to heel. It has been undone, again, by procedural technicalities….
“If Financial Fair Play is jettisoned, if Manchester City’s vindication proves to be its death knell, one question lingers: What comes next?
“It should not be a surprise that two of the clubs to take advantage of the relaxation of the rules this summer most quickly, Chelsea and Paris St.-Germain, have the sort of benefactors able to thrive in a world without financial regulation. [Ed. due to the pandemic, UEFA had suspended, temporarily, some of its cost-control measures to allow clubs to ride out the severe impacts on finances.]….
“This moment is a window into what soccer’s landscape might look like without financial control: the teams with the most generous owners and the deepest pockets bending the market to their whim, cherry-picking the poor, challenging their rivals to match them or to sink into mediocrity. Perhaps that is as it should be: the strong rising and the weak falling and fading.”
So in terms of the Premier League, this means that the Big Six will continue to wield all the power, as I’ve written on the topic for years, and that’s just not healthy. It would be like a Big Six in any of our major sports having a monopoly on the trophies.
But in terms of this PL season, the court decision is huge because it was expected City would lose the case, meaning that in terms of the Champions League, the team that finished fifth would replace them, and the team that finished seventh would qualify for the Europa League, which goes to the fifth and sixth place teams each season.
Alas, ‘order’ has now been restored…City long clinched a spot in the Champions League for next season. But we have a huge battle for the other two slots (the fourth being Liverpool).
And on Monday, Manchester United was set to place itself solidly into the fourth slot, ahead of Leicester City, assuming that on Tuesday, Chelsea beat lowly Norwich.
But Man U gave up a late injury-time (96th minute) equalizer from Southampton, final score 2-2, and a potentially crushing result as they picked up just one point rather than three.
Today, Chelsea then defeated Norwich 1-0.
Standings…35/36 of 38 played, points…
3. Chelsea 36 – 63
4. Leicester 35 – 59 …goal differential 29…tiebreaker
5. Man U 35 – 59 …goal differential 26
Ironically, Leicester hooks up with Man U the final day, Leicester playing Tottenham in Match 37.
--President Trump was on an election eve conference call with U.S. Senate candidate, and former Auburn football coach, Tommy Tuberville, Trump having endorsed Tuberville over fellow Republican Jeff Sessions, and the call went very wrong.
Trump talked up Tuberville’s record at Auburn against rival Alabama.
“Really successful coach,” Trump said of Tuberville. “Beat Alabama, like six in a row, but we won’t even mention that.”
Then, Trump possibly meant to reference Alabama’s current iconic coach, except…
“As he said…because of that, maybe we got ‘em Lou Saban,” Trump said. “…And he’s great, Lou Saban, what a great job he’s done.”
Ah, not quite. Lou Saban was the first head coach in Patriots history, and then went on to lead the Buffalo Bills to consecutive AFL titles in 1964-65. He also coached at the college level.
At least the president did get right that Tuberville went 7-3 against Alabama, from 1999-2008, including a six-game win streak in the Iron Bowl from 2002-07.
I’m sure Nick Saban was bemused.
--We note the passing of Kelly Preston, actress and wife of John Travolta. Preston died at the age 57.
Travolta posted on Instagram: “My beautiful wife Kelly has lost her two-year battle with breast cancer. She fought a courageous fight with the love and support of so many.”
The couple had been married for nearly 29 years.
Preston had kept her cancer diagnosis private. A family representative told People magazine, “She had been undergoing medical treatment for some time, supported by her closest family and friends.”
Preston had roles in “Twins,” “From Dusk Till Dawn,” “Jerry Maguire” and “The Cat in the Hat.”
She always seemed like a classy woman. RIP.
Top 3 songs for the week 7/17/76: #1 “Afternoon Delight” (Starland Vocal Band…six-pack of beer and a Marshall Tucker concert in a field…or to make it more contemporary…Florida Georgia Line concert…Oops, just read the lyrics…it’s not about beer and an outdoor concert, necessarily….let’s move on…) #2 “Kiss And Say Goodbye” (Manhattans) #3 “I’ll Be Good To You” (The Brothers Johnson…cool tune for its time…)…and…#4 “More, More, More” (Andrea True Connection…for a disco song, not bad…) #5 “Moonlight Feels Right” (Starbuck…six-pack in a field at a Marshall Tucker concert…Oops, got it wrong again…we move on…) #6 “Love Is Alive” (Gary Wright) #7 “Shop Around” (Captain & Tennille) #8 “Got To Get You Into My Life” (The Beatles) #9 “Silly Love Songs” (Wings…not their best…) #10 “Rock And Roll Music” (The Beach Boys…love these guys…but this one sucked…talk about ‘mailing it in’… ‘C’ week…)
Patriot League Quiz Answer: Seven football members of the Patriot League (there are ten for hoops)…Holy Cross, Lehigh, Lafayette, Bucknell, Colgate, Fordham, Georgetown. [There are ten for hoops, including Army, Navy, American, Boston University and Loyola (Md.)… Georgetown in the Big East for b-ball, Fordham in the A-10.]
The Patriot League schools have produced some rather noteworthy NFL coaches and executives.
Hall of Famers Vince Lombardi (Fordham), Wellington Mara (Fordham), Art Rooney (Georgetown), Paul Tagliabue (Georgetown), Dan Reeves (Georgetown…the old-time NFL executive, not Dan Reeves player/coach), Bill Parcells (Colgate) and George Young (Bucknell).
Next Bar Chat, Monday.