The National Football League generated backpage headlines this past weekend when it was learned that the league is pushing for penalties and possible game suspensions for players who use the “N-word” slur during a game. The NFL was acting primarily in response to such lunkheads as the Miami Dolphins’ Richie Incognito and the Philadelphia Eagles’ Riley Cooper, who brought shame to themselves and the NFL last year by using that disgusting term.
Sorry, ACLU supporters, I support the NFL’s decision in this matter. What wasn’t clear, however, was if NFL referees will have the power to issue penalties for slurs made against other ethnic groups, races or differing sexual orientations. If you are trying to take a principled and responsible stand against prejudice, then you can’t have situations where some groups are protected and others are not.
The combination of the press conference for pitcher Masahiro Tanaka and Derek Jeter’s announcement that this will be his last season certainly put the spotlight on the Yankees last week. That may be one reason why news of the Mets’ refinancing of a massive loan did not get a lot of play. Nonetheless it is a big story with plenty of troubling implications for Mets fans.
Bloomberg.com sports financial correspondent Kavitha Davidson wrote in her Feb. 6 article that the Mets were on the verge of delaying repayment of a $250 million loan issued by Bank of America for another seven years. Davidson cited New York Post financial columnist Josh Kosman’s Jan. 30 article saying the massive balloon payment was due this spring. Davidson took pains to point out that Kosman wrote that the new loan agreement did not restrict the Mets payroll the way the previous financial agreement did. It’s that aspect of the original covenant that raised my eyebrows.
Ralph Kiner’s passing brought out an emotional response from Mets fans that has understandably been missing since the team moved into Citi Field five years ago. I can vouch for the general consensus that he was a gracious and classy man. Ralph was always receptive to talking baseball and he did not check to see if you were a sportswriter from a big outlet to decide whether a conversation was worth his time. Trust me, that’s not how it is with a lot of broadcasters and sportswriters these days.
Barry Lyons, a third-string catcher on the 1986 Mets, told me one of his greatest thrills as a player was to be a guest on the Mets’ long-running postgame show, “Kiner’s Korner.” When any substitute player got a chance to be the hero of the game, and thus merit an appearance on the show, it was like being inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame for a day.
After all of the consternation about the weather and the first Super Bowl ever held in the New York metropolitan area, it was a pretty decent day by early February standards for all except the Denver Broncos. During Super Bowl week, perceptive lead Fox Sports voice Joe Buck told me that the weather was far worse in Dallas last year. He also pointed out that even though New York had a cold week, the conditions were far better than those in Southern cities as Atlanta and New Orleans.
Giants co-owner John Mara is one of the most accessible and likable sports executives you will ever meet. I was surprised that he wandered through the Super Bowl media party without any aides. “Even if you are not a football fan the energy and excitement of the Super Bowl raises the spirits of everyone living in the metropolitan area,” Mara told me. He concurred with my analogy of how even diehard Democrats enjoyed having the Republican National Convention in New York in 2004.
The two outdoor NHL games at Yankee Stadium involving the Rangers and their two local opponents, the Devils and the Islanders, this past week certainly drew big crowds despite the bone chilling cold of what seems to be an immobile polar vortex. The National Hockey League wisely made the games a de facto part of the NFL Super Bowl Week undercard.
It’s funny how the media has been in a frenzy about what the weather conditions will be like this Sunday at MetLife Stadium ever since the NFL announced that the 2014 Super Bowl would take place in our area, yet there was nary a word about the tundra conditions that fans would have to endure when the NHL announced this Stadium Series last year.
CNN’s Piers Morgan interrogated LeFrak City native and Archbishop Molloy High School alum Kenny Anderson last week about being one of a number of former NBA players who went on Dennis Rodman’s latest ill-advised tour of North Korea. As naive as it may sound, Kenny claimed that he was unaware of what a totalitarian state North Korea is. He added that he felt he owed Rodman a favor for frequently coming through for him in the past.
Kenny also made it clear that he realized that he was in over his head the moment he set foot in Pyongyang and tried to stay in his hotel room as much as possible.
All of the attention during the 2013 Jets season was on whether head coach Rex Ryan would retain his job in 2014. The general thinking was that Ryan was on thin ice because the man who hired him to coach Gang Green, Mike Tannenbaum, got fired at the end of the 2012 campaign. As is the case with corporate America, an NFL general manager likes to bring in new personnel at the expense of the old.
John Idzik, the man who replaced Tannenbaum as Jets general manager, rarely spoke with the media outside of his introductory press conference last winter. His poker-faced exterior further fueled speculation that Rex would be a goner once the Jets were eliminated from the NFL playoffs. There were wid
espread media reports that Rex even told his players that he thought he would be fired at the end of the year before the penultimate game of the season against the Oakland Raiders. The Jets went on to beat both the Raiders and the Dolphins in Miami the following week to finish with an 8-8 record. That may be the definition of mediocrity, but given the low expectations for the Jets coming into the season because of their paucity of talent, it was downright miraculous.