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Wake Forest...nothing but disappointment...
Add-On…posted Wed. a.m.
College Football / CFP Ranking
Not that many ‘must see’ games this weekend, and actually N.C. State at Wake Forest is perhaps the biggest, at least for the ACC, Saturday night.
This is the 114th meeting on the gridiron between the two and it will be only the second time both teams were ranked.
Michigan at Penn State normally would be a biggie, but I just haven’t been in the Nittany Lions camp since Week One and I’ve been right. I don’t see this one being close in the fourth quarter.
Oklahoma needs a convincing win at Baylor to enhance its final four prospects.
Ditto Purdue at Ohio State, the Buckeyes a 20-point favorite, despite Purdue’s big upset last Saturday over Michigan State.
Texas A&M at Ole Miss has New Year’s Six implications, especially for the Aggies.
And Notre Dame at Virginia could be a toughie for the Fighting Irish.
Thursday night, North Carolina at Pitt is intriguing.
Meanwhile, I’m surprised Nebraska announced Monday that Scott Frost will return in 2022 under a restructured contract and with a number of coaching changes, citing growth in all the metrics, despite it going unrepresented in the standings, the Cornhuskers 3-7, 1-6 in the Big Ten.
It’s true, there is a huge financial cost for a coaching change and subsequent hire, “dead money” as Phil W. reminds me, and Frost would have been owed $20.4 million had he been fired without cause.
And to be fair, all six of Nebraska’s Big Ten losses are by nine points or less. So the team is competing.
And now the new CFP Rankings!
1. Georgia 9-0
2. Alabama 8-1
3. Oregon 8-1
4. Ohio State 8-1
5. Cincinnati 9-0
6. Michigan 8-1
7. Michigan State 8-1
8. Oklahoma 9-0
9. Notre Dame 8-1
10. Oklahoma State 8-1
11. Texas A&M 7-2
12. Wake Forest 8-1
13. Baylor 7-2
14. BYU 8-2
15. Ole Miss 7-2
16. N.C. State 7-2
17. Auburn 6-3
18. Wisconsin 6-3
19. Purdue 6-3
20. Iowa 7-2
21. Pitt 7-2…up 4 spots
22. San Diego State 8-1
23. UTSA 9-0
24. Utah 6-3
25. Arkansas 6-3
I’m a little surprised the Deacs are that high, but then it’s not as if anyone behind them deserves that spot.
--Christine Brennan / USA TODAY
“Today, State Farm failed to repudiate and indeed endorsed and validated the behavior of Green Bay Packers quarterback and company pitchman Aaron Rodgers.
“Like a good neighbor? Not so much. This neighbor lies and puts others at risk with those lies, spreads misinformation and crackpot theories about a global pandemic and is against a vaccine that saves lives. Frankly, it sounds like it’s time to move to a new neighborhood.
“What an interesting position for an insurance company to take, to not come out passionately for science, health and safety, but instead to equivocate with what apparently is a calculated business decision to support a man being lambasted by not only health care experts and officials but fellow iconic athletes from Terry Bradshaw to Kareen Abdul-Jabbar.
“Bradshaw: ‘I’d give Aaron Rodgers some advice. It would have been nice if he’d have just come to the Naval Academy and learned how to be honest, learned not to lie, because that’s what you did. Aaron, you lied to everyone. ….We’ve got players that pretty much only think about themselves, and I’m extremely disappointed in the actions of Aaron Rodgers.’
“Abdul-Jabbar: Rodgers ‘damaged professional sports. …Instead of consulting immunologists, he consulted anti-vaxxer and podcast host Joe Rogan, who also contracted the virus. If he ever requires open-heart surgery, will he hand the scalpel to romance writers because they know about matters of the heart?’
“State Farm: He’s our guy….
“If the company truly cared about, say, the health and well-being of society at large, it would have done what Prevea Health, a health care company in Wisconsin, did Saturday, repudiating Rodgers by ending their relationship.
“State Farm has shown itself to be a far less courageous and principled company, for to keep Rodgers in the fold is to endorse him and his actions, even as State Farm spokeswoman Gina Morss-Fischer told USA TODAY Sports Monday morning in an email: ‘We don’t support some of the statements that he has made, but we respect his right to have his own personal point of view.’
“Morss-Fischer continued by saying the company’s ‘customers, employees, agents and brand ambassadors come from all walks of life, with differing viewpoints on many issues’ – as if an anti-vaccination crackpot strategy to fight Covid-19 should be given as much credence as the advice and research of the world’s best medical and health officials.
“I wouldn’t have thought an insurance company that has to pay out when people get sick and die of diseases like Covid-19 would stretch that far from a flawed ‘both sides’ argument. But these are the times we live, when even an institution like State Farm is so afraid to simply do what’s right.”
But according to Apex Marketing Group, only 1.5% of State Farm ads had Rodgers in them Sunday, down from 25% of State Farm ads the two previous Sundays. I know in my area I didn’t see one.
State Farm’s other main spokesman, the Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes, announced in April that he was fully vaccinated to help protect his newborn daughter.
Tuesday, the NFL fined Green Bay $300,000 for violations of the league’s Covid-19 protocols and Rodgers and receiver Allen Lazard were docked $14,650 each.
Rodgers issued a semi-apology yesterday as well.
--While both teams are now 7-2, it’s not a stretch to call Tennessee’s 28-16 win over the Rams in Inglewood a stunner.
The Titans were playing without Derrick Henry, but their defense dominated, intercepting Matthew Stafford twice, while sacking him five times. The Rams also committed 12 penalties for 115 yards.
--In a bizarre Monday night game, the Steelers (5-3) won their fourth straight, 29-27 over the Bears (3-6), as Chris Boswell booted a 40-yard field goal for the win, this after Bears rookie QB Justin Fields had rallied the Bears with some spectacular individual play to take a 27-26 lead with just 1:46 left.
But Ben Roethlisberger has been there before and took the Steelers 52 yards in seven plays to set up the game-winning kick from Boswell.
The game, though, will be forever known for some atrocious officiating; the Bears flagged 12 times for 115 yards, compared with the Steelers only being whistled five times for 30.
The worst was when Bears linebacker Cassius March was flagged by official Tony Corrente in the fourth quarter for taunting, after Marsh had sacked Roethlisberger for a seven-yard loss on third-and-8.
After taking down the QB, Marsh celebrated with a spinning jump kick, for which Corrente whistled Marsh for taunting.
However, Marsh believes he was penalized not for his sack dance, but instead for incidental contact with Corrente after the play. And the kicker was: Corrente appeared to initiate the contact.
--That was one ugly play by Denver’s Nikola Jokic, last year’s NBA MVP, who was ejected for violently slamming his shoulder into Markieff Morris of Miami on Monday night, as the Nuggets prevailed, 113-96.
The Heat said Morris has an apparent neck injury. Jokic said he saw a replay of the altercation and recoiled when he saw how hard Morris’ head hit the floor (except I didn’t see it hit the floor…and he walked off the court on his own).
“I felt bad, really bad,” Jokic said.
But the thing is, while Jokic went way too far, Morris started it by elbowing Jockic in the midsection at half court. Jokic retaliated with a hard shove from behind with his upper arm/shoulder that then knocked Morris to the floor.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said of the apparent neck injury, “He’s moving around right now in the locker room. But that was a very dangerous, dirty play.”
Yoh, Coach, so was your dude’s play, for which Morris was assessed a flagrant foul and ejected as well.
Tuesday, Jokic was suspended for one game, and Morris was fined $50,000. The Heat said he has a neck injury, diagnosed as whiplash and was ruled out of tonight’s game at the Lakers.
--Philadelphia Joel Embiid tested positive for Covid-19 and could remain out of action for five games in all, if he isolated for the full 10 days.
So Monday night, Embiid was replaced by Andre Drummond in a game against New York, and Drummond responded with 14 points and 25 rebounds, though the undermanned Sixers fell 103-96, as Julius Randle had 31 points and 21 rebounds for the Knicks.
New York was playing a day after a terrible effort at home against Cleveland on Sunday, the Cavs’ Ricky Rubio with a career-high 37 points, 8 of 9 from three. He was unconscious, Cleveland winning 126-109. The Knicks are now just 2-3 at home, which is disturbing.
But overall they are 7-4 and we’ll take that.
--We had an amazing game Monday night in San Francisco as the Warriors’ Steph Curry scored 50 points, while chipping in 10 assists and seven rebounds, Golden State now a startling 9-1 with a 127-113 win over the struggling Hawks.
It was the 10th time Curry has scored 50, and he became the third Warriors player in franchise history to put up a line of 50 points and 10 assists, joining Wilt Chamberlain and Rick Barry.
At age 33, Curry also passed Chamberlain as the oldest player in NBA history to post a 50-10 game. He has four 50-point games at age 32 or older, one behind Michael Jordan’s five.
It would be great to have a normal season, with packed arenas, and a regular NCAA championship at various sites. And so we pray….
Sports Illustrated’s Preseason Top Ten
23. St. Bonaventure…5 double-digits in scoring seniors returning
101. Wake…SI ranking all 358 D-I hoops programs
358. Md-Eastern Shore
Wake will be better than 101…it’s the Bar Chat Guarantee!
--In our first games Tuesday night, freshmen Paolo Banchero and Trevor Keels combined for 47 points to lead 9 Duke to a 79-71 win over 10 Kentucky in the Garden, Coach K’s farewell tour commencing (this will be interminable).
3 Kansas whipped unranked Michigan State 87-74.
17 Ohio State needed a buzzer-beater to avoid an upset against Akron, 67-66.
And Navy beat 25 Virginia 66-58. Go Bobby C.! [Sorry, Bobby S.]
--The Cardinals became the first team with five Gold Glove winners when first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, second baseman Tommy Edman, third baseman Nolan Arenado, center fielder Harrison Bader and left fielder Tyler O’Neill earned the NL fielding honor Sunday.
It was Arenado’s ninth Gold Globe
--We note the passing of former Mets reliever Pedro Feliciano, 45. While a cause of death wasn’t revealed in his native Puerto Rico, he had previously been diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat before his final season with the Mets, and doctors told him he had a small hole outside of his heart.
Feliciano led the league in appearances three seasons in a row, 2008-10, while being a regular out of the pen for the Mets from 2006-2010.
The lefty normally worked to no more than a batter or two and was effective. In his career he appeared in 484 games, tossing just 383 2/3 innings, with a 3.33 ERA.
Feliciano was a popular Met and beloved figure in the clubhouse.
But Mets fans know he was run to the ground, appearing in 86, 88 and 92 games between 2008-2010. It was a lot of getting up and then sitting down, and getting up, and sitting down in the pen and it took a toll on his arm. He was signed by the Yankees as a free agent in 2011, but didn’t appear until 2013 due to all kinds of arm issues, and his career was effectively over.
Meanwhile, the Mets for a second straight season went to the GM meetings without a GM, nor do they have a manager.
--Congratulations to Thomas Walsh, formerly of UVA, who made it through Korn Ferry Q-School to pick up his status on tour for the coming year. He’ll get his opportunities.
Phil W. kept me apprised, Walsh’s parents, Tom and Elizabeth, classmates, and friends, from Wake Forest. Very cool for the Walsh family and I’ll be pulling for the lad.
--The Champions Tour winds up this weekend with the Charles Schwab Cup Championship, the final 36, and among the field is the surprise of the year, 50-year-old New Zealand native, Steven Alker.
Alker played the Korn Ferry Tour, winning four times (the last in 2014), until he turned 50 on July 28, and he’s been on the Champions Tour leaderboard seemingly every week since.
Bernhard Langer, incredibly, leads in points heading into Sunday’s finale at Phoenix Country Club, Langer gunning for his sixth title. I mean, the guy is 64!
--Alex Ovechkin scored his 11th goal of the season Monday in Washington’s 5-3 win over Buffalo, giving him 741 for his career, and tying him for fourth on the all-time goals list with Brett Hull.
Next Bar Chat, Sunday.
[Posted Sun. p.m., prior to late sports action.]
I’ll have an Add-On up top by noon, Wed.
Baseball Quiz: I note the retirement of Giants catcher Buster Posey below, Posey batting .300 in his final season. Since the advent of the divisional era in MLB (1969), only five other players have hit .300 or better in their final season. Three are in the Hall of Fame, the other two very good ballplayers; one of whom should be in the Hall down the road, the other a six-time All-Star first baseman. Name them. Answer below.
[Comments written prior to release of new AP poll; rankings used below are the CFP ones.]
I have to admit, I was literally nervous all week about 9 Wake Forest traveling to North Carolina yesterday to see if this dream season of ours, best start ever, would continue. Any time I thought of the game, which was often, I physically got nervous. Wake fans know that has never happened before, except perhaps in the moments before a bowl game, like when we went to the Orange Bowl.
The oddsmakers had the 4-4 Tar Heels as 2.5-point favorites, however, and the Vegas folks are good for a reason. Plus North Carolina was preseason No. 10 in the AP because they had a future NFL star in quarterback Sam Howell and solid talent around him.
Us Wake fans had a warning sign Saturday morning with a very lengthy, glowing piece on ESPN.com on the program and coach Dave Clawson. Uh-oh, I thought, the jinx is in.
But the Tar Heels had been having a highly-disappointing campaign…which made them even more dangerous. This was now their biggie.
I knew the Deacs were in trouble right from the start. We got a quick turnover and couldn’t take it in for a score, settling for a field goal, and then we started committing penalties, lots of them, and that’s not us.
But after the game went back-and-forth, and Carolina had cut our lead to 31-27 early in the third quarter, Wake responded with two quick TDs and it was 45-27, and this is when the broadcasters were going into overdrive, talking about how Wake could possibly get into the CFP playoffs, and how no undefeated Group of Five team had been denied a CFP bid, and I thought, ‘No! Don’t do that!’
And then the Tar Heels roared back, Wake’s offense suddenly stalled, our porous defense couldn’t come up with any stops, and after taking a 48-34 lead into the fourth quarter, us fans knowing this would be the longest 15 minutes of our lives (extended to like an hour), UNC rattled off 24 unanswered points, the Deacs totally losing their composure, including on an incredibly stupid personal foul call at the most critical moment, and Carolina had a 58-48 lead with 1:12 left and it was over, Wake with a meaningless touchdown at the end, falling 58-55.
The dream was shattered.
Oh, I know. It was a non-conference contest and we’re still in great position to make the ACC championship game and have a 10-win, or better, season, but the team is now under incredible pressure to bounce back next week at home against a very good North Carolina State team.
Wake has seen good starts to a season fall apart in November before (we’re now 7-12 in the month the last five seasons), but it’s all about beating the Wolfpack now. 8-0 could easily tumble to 8-4. Our season ender against Boston College is back to being a tough one as the Eagles have their solid quarterback back after a hand injury.
Yes, another nervous week ahead.
Chuck Culpepper / Washington Post
“Wake Forest lost here Saturday, and it felt just a little like rainbows blurred, sunflowers sagged and puppies wept. The dreamy team with the dreamy name, the wee enrollment and the hell-of-a-coach couldn’t keep leads of 18 and 14 and saw a hiccup to its status as the charming undercurrent of the national college football season.
“The first 8-0 record of its 123 years playing football got blemished to 8-1….
“It felt like the intersection of Boo and Hoo….
“ ‘We’re not undefeated,’ Wake Forest Coach Dave Clawson said, and damn. The eighth-year coach hadn’t said it in a good while, and it would have bummed out any objective heard in a sports state in which these fans loathe those fans, those fans loathe those other fans, those other fans loathe these fans and, said one pundit, ‘Nobody hates Wake.’….
“Not so long after leading 45-27 and having an offense ring up 615 yards, Clawson found himself saying, ‘You know, we just weren’t sharp today. We had probably more drops than I remember. (Quarterback Sam Harman) had so many balls batted down. We just, we weren’t sharp.’
“He then would note, ‘You say that, and we scored 55 points.’
“What a thing to have to say. The headiest of all the national seasons from the smallest of all the Power Five schools had found its first bump, and the country could talk about Wake Forest a bit less with the sigh that it’s always good to talk about Wake Forest.”
I do have to add that Hartman passed for five touchdowns and ran for two more, which is rather spectacular, but he was only 25 of 51, befitting the drops and batted down balls, and he threw two critical interceptions that both resulted in scores for Carolina. The team just didn’t execute.
The aforementioned Sam Howell only threw for 216 yards, but he rushed for 104 and two touchdowns, and running back Ty Chandler had a career day…213 yards on the ground and four TDs.
The other scores….
No. 1 Georgia (9-0) remains so with a 43-6 win over Missouri (4-5).
2 Alabama (8-1) had a very unimpressive 20-14 win at home against LSU (4-5).
But 3 Michigan State is no longer CFP bound, suffering its first loss on the road at Purdue (6-3), as Boilermaker quarterback Aidan O’Connell was a spectacular 40/54, 536, 3-0, while receiver David Bell had his second 200-yard game of the season (11-217-1), after his earlier 11-240-1 effort against then No. 2 Iowa.
The Spartans’ Kenneth Walker III was solid, 22 carries, 136 yards and a touchdown, but he had an early fumble and his teammates didn’t step it up.
Purdue now owns an incredible stat…17 wins as an unranked team against AP Top Fives, the most ever in the FBS.
4 Oregon (8-1) stayed in the conversation, barely (to me, the pollsters feel differently), with a 26-16 win at Washington (4-5), as Travis Dye rushed for 211 yards and the OU defense held the Huskies to just 166 yards of offense and only seven first downs.
5 Ohio State (8-1) will move into the top four, but it could only manage a 26-17 win over Nebraska (3-7), as C.J. Stroud threw for 405 yards but also two interceptions, and his receiver, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, had a school-record 15 catches for 240 yards and a TD.
Boy, Scott Frost’s days in Lincoln are numbered. It’s his fourth season, all under .500, and now the Cornhuskers have gone five seasons without a winning record, which is unfathomable for us long-time college football fans.
As for 6 Cincinnati (9-0), maybe they move to No. 5 because of the Michigan State loss, but they really don’t deserve it. For a third consecutive week, they were far from impressive, and this time almost lost at the end before holding on, 28-20, against Tulsa (3-6), who actually outgained and outplayed the Bearcats (457-390, 26-17 in first downs).
7 Michigan (8-1) remains very much in the conversation with a 29-7 win over disappointing Indiana (2-7).
8 Oklahoma was idle.
10 Notre Dame (8-1) helped itself out in terms of the CFP with a 34-6 win over Navy (2-7).
11 Oklahoma State (8-1) stays relevant after a 24-3 win on the road at West Virginia (4-5), the Cowboys’ defense holding the Mountaineers to a sickly 133 yards.
12 Baylor (7-2) suffered a bad loss at TCU (4-5) 30-28, as the Horned Frogs were playing their first game without Gary Patterson at the helm, Chandler Morris with 461 yards passing for TCU.
14 Texas A&M (7-2) will move up a few spots after a 20-3 win over 13 Auburn (6-3).
15 BYU (8-2) blasted Idaho (1-8, and now I-AA) 59-14.
16 Ole Miss improved to 7-2 with a 27-14 win over a decent Liberty squad (7-3).
17 Mississippi State (5-4) proved it didn’t deserve its CFP ranking, falling at Arkansas (6-3) 31-28. [The Bulldogs missed three field goals, sparking coach Mike Leach to hold an all-campus tryout for the kicking position.]
Ditto 20 Minnesota (6-3), which lost to Illinois (4-6), 14-6, in what must have been a truly hideous game to watch.
18 Kentucky (6-3) has seen its dream season fall apart, losing at home to Tennessee (5-4) 45-42.
19 North Carolina State (7-2) geared up for Wake Forest with a 28-14 road win at Florida State (3-7), Devin Leary throwing for four touchdowns.
21 Wisconsin (6-3) totally embarrassed Rutgers (4-5), outgaining the Scarlet Knights 579-207, Rutgers with four turnovers. The Greg Schiano Era, part II, is a mess.
22 Iowa (7-2) beat Northwestern (3-6) 17-12. Bowl committees are putting in their requests to the NCAA… “We don’t want an 8-4 Iowa! They won’t sell tickets!”
23 Fresno State (7-3) was dealt a beating at home against Boise State (5-4), 40-14.
24 San Diego State (8-1) traveled to Honolulu for its 17-10 win over Hawaii (4-6).
And 25 Pitt (7-2), unlike Iowa, is a very attractive bowl participant as it beat Duke (3-6) behind Heisman candidate Kenny Pickett’s 416 yards and three touchdowns.
A Wake Forest-Pitt ACC title game would be terrific, but the Deacs have to get past the Wolfpack first.
SMU (7-2) didn’t help Cincinnati in falling for a second consecutive week, this time to Memphis (5-4) 28-25.
Houston is 8-1 and should be ranked in the CFP with a 54-42 win at South Florida (2-7).
J. Mac’s Coastal Carolina (8-1) also deserves to be in the CFP after a 28-8 win against Georgia Southern (2-7).
UTSA (9-0), No. 16 AP but unranked in the CFP, will finally crack the latter after a nice 44-23 road win at UTEP (6-3).
And Army (5-3) had a nice win in overtime at Air Force (6-3) 21-14. But before ending the season with games against Liberty and Navy, the Black Knights play Bucknell (1-8) and UMass (1-8). Yuck…
…and now, the new AP Poll!
1. Georgia (63) 9-0
2. Cincinnati 9-0…obviously a distinct disagreement with CFP. CFP is right…
3. Alabama 8-1
4. Oklahoma 9-0…see No. 2
5. Oregon 8-1
6. Ohio State 8-1
7. Notre Dame 8-1
8. Michigan State 8-1
9. Michigan 8-1
10. Oklahoma State 8-1
11. Texas A&M 7-2
12. Mississippi 7-3
13. Wake Forest 8-1…whatever, gotta beat State…
14. BYU 8-2
15. UTSA 9-0…funny, where will CFP put them?
16. Auburn 6-3
17. Houston 8-1
18. Baylor 7-2
19. Iowa 7-2
20. Wisconsin 6-3
21. N.C. State 7-2…s/b higher…
22. Coastal Carolina 8-1
23. Penn State 6-3…you kidding me?
24. Louisiana-Lafayette 8-1
25. Pitt 7-2…s/b higher as well…
Purdue unranked, yet PSU is? C’mon. [Your editor is not a James Franklin fan, never has been.]
It all started Wednesday when we learned Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers had tested positive for the coronavirus and was expected to miss Sunday’s game on the road against the Kansas City Chiefs, which was then confirmed.
Under the protocols of the league and the NFL Players Association, an unvaccinated player must remain in isolation for 10 days following a positive test result. A vaccinated player can return to the team setting by remaining symptom-free and having two negative test results 24 hours apart.
Ergo, was Rodgers vaccinated? He told reporters in August that he was “immunized” but would not “judge” unvaccinated players.
But we soon learned the reason he wasn’t playing against the Chiefs was indeed because he wasn’t vaccinated. So he lied. He also cannot return to team activities until the quarantine lifts, which would be either Nov. 13 or Nov. 14, depending on when he tested positive.
Rodgers reportedly “received homeopathic treatment from his personal doctor to raise his antibody levels.”
But the issue quickly became, under what protocol has Rodgers been adhering to…vaccinated or unvaccinated. The NFL has labeled him as unvaccinated right now. But the league is also looking to see if Rodgers attempted to carry himself as vaccinated due to an alternative treatment deemed irrelevant by the NFL.
The NFL also quickly refuted Rodgers’ claim that an NFL doctor had told him “it would be impossible for a vaccinated person to catch or spread Covid,” telling Pro Football Talk: “No doctor from the league or the joint NFL-NFLPA infectious disease consultants communicated with the player. If they had, they certainly would have never said anything like that.”
The NFL has the right to fine the Packers or even take away draft picks as a result of its investigation, as it seems clear Rodgers committed multiple Covid-19 violations.
As in he’s supposed to be wearing a mask during indoor press conferences if he’s not vaccinated, but Rodgers has been going maskless during his interviews. He’s also not supposed to gather in a group of more than three players, coaches and other members of the football operation staff, nor travel on the team plane. And now we’ve learned he went maskless to a Halloween party as well.
Last season, the Saints were fined $700,000 and also lost a sixth-round draft pick for its violations. Rodgers himself could be fined $14,650 for a first offense.
But what did the league know…and when did it know it? Why was Rodgers allowed to do his thing and endanger his fellow teammates and coaches?
So now this week we have Jordan Love at quarterback for the Packers, who, you’ll recall, Rodgers wasn’t crazy about the Packers drafting in 2020. Practice squad QB Kurt Benkert is also on the reserve/Covid-19 list after testing positive, so right now it’s just Love. A lot of us hope Love is terrific.
Nancy Armour / USA TODAY
“Whoo boy. Imagine what Aaron Rodgers would have spit out if he wasn’t such a ‘critical thinker.’
“The reigning MVP of the NFL, and one of the league’s most popular and prominent players, hit almost every anti-vaxx talking point, conspiracy theory and Facebook meme there is Friday in trying to justify why he isn’t vaccinated and why he lied about it.
“Rodgers went to the safe space that is the Pat McAfee Show, and in a rambling 45-minute diatribe claimed to have an allergy to one of the ingredients in the mRNA vaccines. Said he was worried about Johnson & Johnson because of the possibility of blood clots – which have only occurred in women, and a miniscule amount, at that. Expressed fears about the impact on his ability to have children, despite actual science showing it’s being unvaccinated that poses the risk.
“He said he was taking Ivermectin. Had consulted that noted scientist, UFC charlatan Joe Rogan. And to complete his aggrieved, anti-vaxxer-conspiracy theorist bingo card, Rodgers said he was a victim of ‘cancel culture.’
“ ‘I’m in the crosshairs of the ‘woke mob’ right now,’ he said.
“No, Aaron, you’re not a victim. You’re misinformed. Dangerously, and willfully so.
“The NFL might have been looking for every out not to punish Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers, but he left them little choice with Friday’s airing of grievances that the quarterback no doubt believes displayed his superior intelligence.
“Rodgers is not only one of the best players in the league – at 7-1, the Packers are tied for the NFL’s best record and would be the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs – he’s one of the most visible, his State Farm ads on what seem like an endless loop this fall. I can only imagine NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell watching in horror as one of the poster boys for his beloved ‘shield’ revealed himself to be the crazy uncle at Thanksgiving, prattling on about the truths he’s discovered on the internet.
“It’s one thing for Tom Brady to not eat strawberries and push his TB12 line of supplements. Rodgers is going to get somebody killed.
“The vaccines that Rodgers disparaged went through rigorous scrutiny during their development, and have since been proven to be safe, effective and our best defense against a disease that has killed more than 750,000 Americans – including the father of Packers running back Aaron Jones. The ‘remedies’ he promoted instead are, largely, junk science, and Rodgers acknowledged they were treated as such when he presented them to the NFL.
“ ‘They thought I was a quack,’ Rodgers said.
“The NFL can’t punish Rodgers for his thoughts or even his words, outrageous as they might be. But it can punish him for breaking the league’s Covid-19 protocols.
“Asked why he hasn’t worn a mask for indoor interviews, as is required, Rodgers said it ‘makes absolutely no sense to me’ because news media members are vaccinated and masked. That alone shows a complete ignorance of the science. As well as a disregard for the health and safety of others.
“But, for the NFL’s purposes, ignoring the rule wasn’t Rodgers’ choice to make. These protocols were bargained with the NFL Players Association and, as a union member, Rodgers is subject to them. If he doesn’t want to follow them, he is free to find employment elsewhere.
“If he wants to continue playing in the NFL, however, then Goodell must send the message that no one, not even a three-time MVP and future Hall of Famer, is above the rules. Otherwise, the NFL might as well scrap the protocols altogether, because you can’t have one set of rules for Rodgers and another for everyone else.
“The pandemic has revealed a lot of sad truths about our society. There are many of us who are selfish, unwilling to make even the slightest sacrifice for the greater good. Facts have somehow become open to debate. People who once would have trusted the work of scientists and medical professionals now follow the advice of podcast hosts.
“And a beloved quarterback, once considered as smart and charming as he is talented, is now someone to be pitied, one more lost soul deluded by misinformation.”
I’ve gotten a kick out of those who’ve been commenting this week that they were disappointed in Rodgers because they thought they knew him and looked up to the guy and admired him.
Not me. I wrote in this space this past May 24, “I’m tired of Rodgers’ act,” and on Aug. 2, called him “insufferable.” He’s a helluva quarterback, fun to watch, but he’s always been incredibly arrogant, and now he’s crossed into the category of “total asshole.” Guess who’s in the December file now for year-end consideration for the hardware denoting same?
And there was Rodgers on the McAfee show, hiding behind Martin Luther King Jr., saying, “The great MLK said, ‘You have a moral obligation to object to unjust rules and rules that make no sense.”
That, my friends, is an a-hole. You can also cue Jeff Spicoli, while you’re at it.
Sally Jenkins / Washington Post
“Good luck to Rodgers rolling this one back. He will now be known as a guy who is slicker than his TV hair, who thought he was unique, too much so to follow rules, and more precious than anyone in the room. May he make a speedy return to the Green Bay Packers with no symptoms, but as for sympathy, that should be diverted to people who shared spaces with him when he was unmasked, who now have to sit around and wonder whether they brought something home because he was too coy with the coronavirus.
“Lord knows Rodgers is inventive with the football, but of all the dodging, narcissistic, contrived moves. ‘Yeah, I’m immunized,’ he said, so artificially, when asked in the preseason whether he was vaccinated. That was a lie by omission. And not just a single lie but a daily willful deception along with a weirdly callous charade.”
Prevea Health, which is headquartered in Green Bay, dropped Rodgers as a spokesman, the health-care organization saying in a statement: “Prevea Health remains deeply committed to protecting its patients, staff, providers and communities amidst the Covid-19 pandemic. This includes encouraging and helping all eligible populations to become vaccinated against Covid-19 to prevent the virus from further significantly impacting lives and livelihoods.”
No word from State Farm as yet, but they’re in a tough situation.
--So in game action…starting with last Thursday night in Indianapolis, the Colts (4-5) embarrassed the Jets (2-6) 45-30, in a game that was far worse than the final score. For the second time in three games, the Jets gave up over 500 yards (532) as Carson Wentz had another terrific game for Indy, 22/30, 272, 3-0, 134.3, while Jonathan Taylor rumbled for 172 yards and two touchdowns, including a 78-yarder.
The last six games, Wentz has 14 touchdown passes and just two interceptions, the Colts recovering nicely from an 0-3 start.
The Jets lost one-game wonder Mike White early in the contest with a forearm injury, but word is both White and Zach Wilson could be ready for next weekend, so this will be interesting. Plus they still have Joe Flacco, now ready to play. And hell, Josh Johnson was OK, subbing for White.
Meanwhile, Summit’s Michael Badgley has found a new home in Indy, nailing his lone field goal attempt and all six extra points…making him 4/4 FGs, 17/17 XPs since becoming a Colt.
--Today…the Giants (3-6) had a nice effort on defense when it mattered most, defeating the visiting Raiders (5-3) 23-16, despite Las Vegas outgaining New York 403-245.
For the Giants, Xavier McKinney had two interceptions, returning one of Derek Carr’s throws for a touchdown. And the defense forced a fumble on Carr deep in Giants territory as the clock wound down.
Daniel Carlson’s miss from 25 on a field goal, with the Giants up 20-16, didn’t help.
Bazooka Joe says: “Michael Badgely has never missed from inside the 40! [32-32]”
--We had some rather staggering upsets today….
The Jaguars (2-6) beat the Bills (5-3) in Jacksonville, 9-6, all field goals, as Josh Allen threw two interceptions and fumbled one away, and that was your game. It’s not like the Jags did anything on offense.
And the Broncos are 5-4 after a 30-16 win against the Cowboys (6-2) in Dallas. The thing is, this was 30-0 with 6:36 left in the game. Javonte Williams and Melvin Gordon combined for 190 yards on the ground, which bodes well for Broncos fans as I like the mix of running and passing for sure.
Jerry Jones must have been going nuts in his box.
Hey, Wake Forest fans…Kendall Hinton is contributing…a 40-yard reception for Denver as a fourth receiver. He’s had a few big catches for them.
Trader George’s Browns (5-4) had an impressive 41-16 win on the road at Cincinnati (5-4) 41-16, as Baker Mayfield threw for 218 yards and two touchdowns, no turnovers, while Nick Chubb rushed for 137 and two scores; the Cleveland ‘D’ forcing Joe Burrow into two interceptions, while sacking him five times.
Atlanta is 4-4 with a 27-25 win at New Orleans (5-3) as wily vet, Matt Ryan, was a cool 23/30, 343, 2-0, 135.8. After falling behind 25-24 with just 1:01 left, Ryan led the Falcons down the field for a Younghoe Koo (no relation to Glenn Youngkin) game-winning field goal.
New England, at 5-4, is very much in the playoff conversation after a dominating 24-6 win over Carolina (4-5) in Charlotte, as “Sam I Am, Green Eggs and Ham” Darnold has been nothing but yolk after a fast 3-0 start for the Panthers.
The return of Christian McCaffrey meant nothing for the Panthers, as owner David Tepper, not one to suffer fools gladly, is ready to erupt. Phil W. (Charlotte native), ready an emergency exit bag for the lava soon to flow in your neighborhood.
The Ravens (6-2) survived a strong effort from the Vikings (3-5), 34-31 in overtime on a Justin Tucker field goal. Lamar Jackson wasn’t great throwing it, two interceptions, but he ran for 120 yards on 21 carries.
The Chargers (5-3) beat the Eagles (3-6) in Philadelphia, 27-24, as Justin Herbert was a solid 32/38, 356, 2-0, 123.2.
Arizona, playing without Kyler Murray due to injury, nonetheless is now 8-1 as backup Colt McCoy was solid and James Conner rushed for 96 yards and two touchdown; the Cardinals beating the 49ers (3-5) in San Francisco, 31-17.
And the Aaron Rodgers-less Packers lost to the Chiefs (5-4) in Kansas City to fall to 7-2, Jordan Love far from good, 19/34, 190, 1-1, 69.5, but gaining valuable experience. That said, the Chiefs suck, ditto Patrick Mahomes these days. Had Rodgers been playing, it’s no contest.
Nice job, Aaron. Way to trash your legacy.
--Staggering details emerged about the fiery crash that now-former Raiders receiver Henry Ruggs was involved in the other day. Ruggs was driving 156 miles per hour in Las Vegas, drunk, and rear-ending a car at 127 mph, killing the young woman inside and her dog.
“I cannot recall a speed that high in my career on the bench,” Justice of the Peace Joe Bonaventure said, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Ruggs deserves the harshest penalty available, which could be as many as 20-46 years in prison. He was immediately released by the Raiders following the crash. Our prayers go out to the victim’s family and friends.
--We note the passing of former Baltimore Colts running back Tom Matte, 82.
Matte was with the Colts for his entire NFL career, 1961-72, and the 6-foot, 214-pound running back rushed for 4,646 yards and 45 touchdowns, a 3.9 avg., and 249 receptions for 2,869 yards, 11.5 avg., and another 12 TDs.
Matte, who played his college ball at Ohio State (after growing up in Pittsburgh), where he was a quarterback, made two Pro Bowls and was on the 1968 NFL champions that lost to the Jets in the Super Bowl.
Matte was famously an emergency quarterback after both Johnny Unitas and backup Gary Cuozzo were injured near the end of the 1965 season, though he didn’t complete a pass in his two regular season games.
But he completed 5 of 12 for 40 yards and gained an additional 57 yards on the ground in a playoff matchup with the Packers, which the Colts lost on a field goal in overtime, 13-10.
The makeshift wristband Matte wore with the team’s plays scribbled on a notecard is on display in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, being the first of its kind.
--The Giants’ Buster Posey announced his retirement. Long one of the best catchers in the game, Posey didn’t play in 2020 due to the coronavirus, but in 2021 came back and helped lead San Francisco to the most wins in baseball, and franchise history (107), while having one of the best seasons of his career.
The 34-year-old hit .304, .889 OPS, with 18 home runs, and he goes out on top of his game. But with all his serious, sometimes devastating, injuries, he said the pain was just too much and he wants to be able to enjoy his family. You have to totally admire this.
Posey was NL Rookie of the Year, a seven-time All-Star, Gold Glove winner, two-time NL Comeback Player of the Year, and, oh, bearer of three World Series rings.
As Ronald Reagan would have commented to Nancy, on seeing the announcement in the Los Angeles Times, Nancy preparing him his favorite blueberry pancakes with bacon, ‘Not bad, not bad at all.’
But is Buster Posey a Hall of Famer, as Giants fan Bob S. posits? He’s a classic Veterans Committee (or whatever they call it these days) candidate, in my opinion. Those three rings and his offensive production lead me to believe he could be getting in through that route, eventually.
--Dusty Baker is returning for what undoubtedly will be his final season at the helm of the Astros, Baker signing a one-year contract.
Owner Jim Crane, in announcing the deal, said: “We’re happy to have him back. He’s done a great job this last year, as everybody knows – great in the locker room, great with the fans, great with the media. We’re very excited to have him back.”
--Brooklyn Nets fans expecting Mayor-elect Eric Adams, a huge Nets fan himself, to step in and help get Kyrie Irving back on the court are in for a disappointment. Adams calls Irving the piece his team needs to win its first NBA title.
But he said he has no intention of loosening the city’s Covid-19 vaccine mandates to let Irving play while unvaccinated, and added this a matter for the star and the league to hash out.
Good for Adams.
The Nets (7-3 without Kyrie) had a nice 116-103 road win at Toronto (6-5) today, as Kevin Durant (31 points, and playing great) and James Harden (28, and learning his way around the new NBA rules against junk calls on pretending you’re shooting in the act) led the way.
--My Knicks (6-3) had a great win in Milwaukee on Friday night. Down 38-19 after one, the Knicks totally dominated the rest of the way for a 113-98 win that showed the fans a lot of grit. Julius Randle put the team on his back (32 points, 12 rebounds), as he so often does, and it was fun to see.
--We had an intriguing leaderboard heading into the final round of the World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba (Playa Del Carmen, Mexico)….
Viktor Hovland -19
Talor Gooch -17
Justin Thomas -16
Carlos Ortiz -14
Thomas with his new caddie, Jim “Bones” MacKay. Imagine if JT wins it. MacKay will deserve a lot of the credit, and you know Thomas will have no problem sharing it.
At the same time, Hovland is another of those budding stars who enhance the game.
And it was Hovland, PGA Tour win No. 3 for the 24-year-old Norwegian, who speaks better English than any American, as he cruised by four strokes over native Ortiz, Thomas third, though JT takes a lot of positives away from the week.
Just two tour events remaining on the year, and before you know it, we go to Hawaii…as the rest of the nation prepares for Polar Vortex’s and mammoth coastal snowstorms. [I’m sticking by my 50-inch New York area snowstorm prediction from that other column I do.]
--Golf Magazine released its latest rankings of the Greatest Courses in the World, 2021/2022.
1. Pine Valley
2. Cypress Point
3. St. Andrews (Old Course)
4. Shinnecock Hills
5. National Golf Links of America (Southampton, NY)
6. Royal County Down (Newcastle, N. Ireland…played it…hard as hell with wind up)
7. Royal Melbourne (West)
9. Augusta National
10. Sand Hills (Mullen, NE…would just love to see this place…guessing I’d shoot 120+)
14. Pebble Beach
17. Pinehurst (No. 2)
18. Trump Turnberry (Turnberry, Scotland)
24. Ballybunion (Old…my friends and I were underwhelmed last time we played here in 2019, and it was about the 15th round for us there).
36. Lahinch (Old…proud overseas member of this one)
44. Cabot Cliffs (Inverness, Nova Scotia…No. 1 on my bucket list)
52. Bethpage (Black)
57. Baltusrol (Lower…been very lucky to play here a lot…just a classic)
60. Kiawah Island (Ocean…love this place…can’t wait to get back)
78. Cabot Links (see No. 44)
It only seemed right that Kyle Larson, who dominated the season, won the championship today, besting Martin Truex Jr., Denny Hamlin and Chase Elliott in Phoenix, and it was basically all about a superb effort by the pit crew on his last stop. As he readily acknowledged after, that was the difference. It was cool to watch…the crew is no doubt partying hard tonight.
Larson ended up the season with 10 wins…pretty, pretty good.
In weekend action, Man City won its biggie against Man U at Old Trafford, 2-0, as the pressure is back on United manager Ole Gunnar Solksjaer. But Chelsea managed only a 1-1 draw against 18-place Burnley.
Arsenal continued its big comeback from a horrendous start to the campaign, 1-0 over Watford, and Tottenham played to a 0-0 draw at Everton in Antonio Conte’s PL debut for the Spurs.
But then in the late game, West Ham picked up a huge 3-2 win against Liverpool, ending the Reds’ 25-game unbeaten streak in PL play, and the Hammers are suddenly in third.
Is this going to be a repeat of Leicester’s 2015-16 miracle campaign? The BBC’s Phil McNulty had picked West Ham ninth in the preseason.
Standings after 11 of 38….
1. Chelsea 26 points
2. Man City 23
3. West Ham 23
4. Liverpool 22
5. Arsenal 20
--Knicks Go, a 5-year-old trained by Brad Cox, won the Breeders’ Cup Classic wire-to-wire, jockey Joel Rosario along for the ride. An impressive, albeit far from scintillating for viewers, victory. Bob Baffert’s Kentucky Derby winner (for now), Medina Spirit, finished second, and the Belmont Stakes winner, Essential Quality, another Cox horse, finished third. Cox said after that his two are now headed to the breeding shed. Enjoy, lads.
Baffert is in an interesting predicament, as his 2-year-old, Corniche, was dominant in winning the $2-million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, making Corniche the immediate Derby favorite for next spring.
The problem is, Churchill Downs has put Baffert on a two-year suspension after the issues with Medina Spirit in last spring’s Derby, but the Kentucky Racing Commission has yet to charge Baffert with any infraction or given him a hearing. Churchill Downs nonetheless went ahead with its suspension, based on other medication overages in a 12-month period.
“The Derby is a long ways off, and so right now my focus was just getting here and we’ll see how it plays out,” Baffert said after his win. “There’s not much to talk about right now, and the main thing is to keep him healthy… A lot can happen between now and then.”
--Great for us locals to see the return of the New York City Marathon, with around 30,000 runners allowed to participate, after Covid wiped it out last year.
Albert Korir and Peres Jepchirchir of Kenya winning the men’s and women’s races. Jepchirchir became the only woman to take a major fall marathon after earning an Olympic gold medal.
I loved what American Molly Seidel said after; Seidel taking fourth after winning bronze at the Tokyo Games.
“I hope there’s a beer waiting for me at the hotel. We will be going crazy tonight.”
Seidel broke two ribs a month ago, but still finished in 2 hours, 24 minutes, 42 seconds, the fastest time ever by an American woman in New York.
Shalane Flanagan, one of my all-time faves and 2017 champion, ran her sixth marathon major in six weeks – all in under 3 hours, a feat made possible because the Boston, London and Tokyo marathons were pushed from spring to fall by the pandemic.
“I thought the fans were at a whole other level today,” Flanagan said. “The enthusiasm was so infectious. I felt like everyone had this deep sense of gratitude.”
34,000 have died of Covid-19 in New York City.
Former Giants running back Tiki Barber raced for the seventh time. Good for him.
For you runners out there, the weather could not have been more perfect. Temps in the 40s for the elite, with zero breeze.
--I live in Summit, New Jersey, today, and have for the last nearly 12 years, after growing up here, but for 16 years I lived in neighboring New Providence (I like NP more than Summit for all kinds of reasons), and so I follow high school sports in both towns pretty closely, and I saw where on Friday night, New Providence senior running back Charlie Barth had himself a rather good game, in the first round of the NJSIAA South Jersey, Group 2 playoffs. [Summit and NP are hardly South Jersey, but whatever.]
Barth ran 44 times for 334 yards and three touchdowns as the Pioneers beat Delaware Valley 35-13.
As in Barth ended up with 334 of the 365 yards of total offense for NP.
--We note the passing of Ronnie Wilson, the founder of the Gap Band, which had a few hits on the Pop and R&B charts in the late 1970s and throughout the ‘80s. He was 73.
The Gap Band topped the R&B charts four times and placed 15 songs in the R&B Top 10 from 1979 to 1990; two of its singles, “Early in the Morning” and “You Dropped a Bomb on Me,” reaching the Pop Top 40 in 1982.
Ronnie Wilson primarily played keyboards but also contributed horn and percussion parts in a rotating vocal and instrumental arrangements with his two younger brothers, Robert, who mainly played bass, and Charlie, the lead singer.
Saturday night, I YouTubed some of their hits and they were a fun group, except I always got them mixed up with the equally fun S.O.S. Band.
Top 3 songs for the week of 11/9/68: #1 “Hey Jude” (The Beatles) #2 “Those Were The Days” (Mary Hopkin) #3 “Love Child” (Diana Ross and the Supremes)…and…#4 “Little Green Apples” (O.C. Smith) #5 “Hold Me Tight” (Johnny Nash) #6 “White Room” (Cream) #7 “Magic Carpet Ride” (Steppenwolf) #8 “Elenore” (The Turtles) #9 “Fire” (The Crazy World of Arthur Brown) #10 “Midnight Confessions” (The Grass Roots…B week…)
Baseball Quiz Answer: Five players, who along with Buster Posey, hit .300 or better in their final season: Lou Brock, Will Clark, Roberto Clemente, David Ortiz and Kirby Puckett.
I’ll have an Add-On up top by noon, Wednesday. A look at the CFP and college hoops.