Friday, August 26, 2016

Vocab Lesson

By Travis Stahl

Learning is important.  Remember what GI Joe always taught us, knowing is half the battle.  So if we implore ourselves to be life-long learners our minds will continue to grow and gain useful knowledge.  As an educator, I think it's necessary sometimes for me to impart some wisdom on the readers to try to broaden their minds as well.  So that is what we are doing today.  Our lesson for this column is vocabulary.  I will provide you with some new vocabulary terms and teach you how to use them correctly.

1. Lochted.  Definition: To break.  Usage:  I lochted the bathroom door at the gas station.
2. Romo. Definition: To injure.  Usage:  I really romoed my back when I picked up that bag of dog food.
3. McGregor.  Definition: To run. Usage:  I got up this morning and went for a three-mile mcgregor around the lake.
4. Cutler.  Definition: To give away.  Usage:  I cutlered all my old work shirts to Goodwill.
5. Phelps. Defintion: To win.  Usage:  I'm probably going to phelps my fantasy football league this season.
6. Chris Sale. Definition: To cut with scissors.  Usage:  I really need to chris sale this construction paper for our craft.
7. Gronk. Defintion: To saunter with attitude. Usage: I gronked over there liked I owned the place.
8. Tyson. Definition: To bite.  Usage: I was hungry so I took a big tyson out of that piece of pizza.
9. Harden. Defintion: A beard.  Usage: I think I'm gonna let my harden grow out for the winter.
10. Ussain. Definition: To sprint.  Usage:  That dog was chasing me so I had to ussain out of there.

See, there you go.  Now you can go out into the world with a whole new vocabulary to lay on all your friends.  Think of how sophisticated you're going to sound.  I'm guessing you will be the envy of every discussion.  Never stop learning, the mind is like a sponge and will soak up all the knowledge you can pour into it.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Chargers Look Bad

By Travis Stahl

When a player holds out in a contract negotiation we always have the same reaction.  Greedy.  Selfish.  More, more more.  We always blame the player because we view professional athletes as being pompous and self-serving.  Surely the team is making them a fair offer we tell ourselves.   Then we throw out lines like "I'd play for that kind of money."  For the first time that I can remember, I am going to side with a player in a contract dispute.  The San Diego Chargers are a garbage organization and it is an embarrassment how they are treating Joey Bosa.

The Chargers drafted Bosa with the third pick in the draft this year out of Ohio State.  There is a rookie wage scale in the NFL so teams are only allowed to offer each player selected in the draft a certain amount of money.  Bosa knows this and so do the Chargers.  But the Chargers took it one step further.  First, they insisted that they not pay Bosa all of his signing bonus up front.  Instead, they want to pay him part now and part later.  The Chargers are also insisting on having off-set language in the contract so that in the case they cut Bosa before his four-year deal ends they get to recoup some of their money.

Asking for a deferred payment on the signing bonus isn't unheard of.  Neither is asking for the off-set money.  Asking for both is uncommon.  In fact, until this year it was an absolute insult to include that kind of language in a contract for a player taken in the top five.  This year some of the other top-five picks have agreed to have both stipulations in their contract.  Bosa doesn't think it is a fair request and he is correct.  The Chargers on the other hand are arguing that they have this language in the contracts for all of their first-round picks.  That may be so but none of San Diego's picks prior to this year have been in the top ten so that is really a pretty weak excuse.

There are some people who are saying Bosa should just give in an play.  They feel he has taken it as far as he can and he needs to sign the contract and go help his teammates.  There is no way he should do that.  If Bosa sits out this year he gets to re-enter the draft next year.  Will he be the No. 3 pick again?  Probably not but at least he won't be in San Diego either.  Bosa could easily sign a one-year contract with a team in the Canadian Football League so he can keep playing this year and continue to develop and then go back in to the draft next year and hope to land in a better situation.  Again, this isn't ideal but at least he wouldn't be stuck with such a garbage organization.

If the Chargers were smart (and they aren't) they would try to sign Bosa right now.  Because even if he buckles and decides to come in and play there is no chance he remains after four years when his contract expires.  It would be a wasted four years for the team.  We've seen NFL commissioner Roger Goodell step in when players aren't representing the league appropriately whey isn't Goodell intervening now and telling the Chargers to shape up.  For a team that is trying to convince their community to build them a new stadium the Chargers are quickly losing in the court of public opinion.  Now we also know why Eli Manning never wanted to play in San Diego

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Blame the Players for Goodell's Power

By Travis Stahl

When you hear Roger Goodell's name in the news it usually isn't a good thing.  The NFL commissioner is easily the most hated man in all of sports.  And probably rightfully so.  He has botched just about everything he has put his iron fist on from Ray Rice to Tom Brady.  Now Goodell is in the news again as he is still sifting through the already retracted Al Jazeera report that stated several NFL players used performance enhancing drugs.  Four of those players, Clay Matthews, Julius Peppers, Mike Neal and James Harrison are refusing to meet with Goodell over the report.  I smell trouble.

The players are taking a stand and saying they did nothing wrong, there is no proof and the writer of the false report already came out and said he made it all up.  But Peyton Manning was named in the report too and he did meet with Goodell.  So now Comish is saying the players either need to meet with him face to face or they are looking at possible suspension time.  Which is actually as shady as it sounds.  Players across the league are calling out Goodell as being crooked and standing up for their fellow players.  And you know what, it doesn't matter.

Do you know why Goodell has as much power as he does?  Because the players gave it to him.  Yep.  In the last collective bargaining agreement at the top of the owner's wish list of demands was for Goodell to be able to wield this kind of power.  The players did fight it.  Instead the players wanted shorter practice time in the off season and better 401K payouts.  The players got what they wanted.  And so did the owners.  If the players didn't want Goodell to be this powerful they could have decided to take a stand and they chose not to.  You can't complain about it now.

Now hold your horses.  I'm not saying Goodell is free of blame here.  The guy is just as despicable as you can get.  But he is doing exactly what the owners want him to.  And no matter how much the players puff out their chests and say they are going to fight this on the next collective bargaining agreement it will never happen.  When it comes down to it Goodell's power doesn't affect enough of the players for the NFLPA as a whole to care.  You think the guys not named in the false PED report care?  Not one bit because it doesn't affect them.  From the players side this is all about 15 to 20 guys making a bunch of noise while the other 1900 say nothing.

I don't like Goodell.  I know he is doing what is being asked of him by the owners.  But his decisions constantly paint the league in a bad light which is exactly why the owners want him to be tough on the players, to keep the league looking clean.  It's contradictory.  I don't think this is a fight the league should pick.  There is no reason why Goodell can't exercise some common sense and say "oh, that report is false?  Well then let's move on."  But then again common sense has never been Goodell's calling card.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

The Price of Olympic Gold

By Travis Stahl

What price can you put on winning a gold medal at the Olympics?  Really, to the athlete who wins that medal, you can't put a price on it.  It symbolizes all of their hard work, dedication and time spent away from loved ones preparing for that special moment in time.  Most Olympians train their whole lives just for the chance to win that medal.  Still, let's not be naive.  There is money involved.  Just how much you may ask?

Well, first of all let me bust your bubble about the medals themselves.  The gold medals are 95% silver.  That means each gold medal awarded at the Olympics is worth roughly $550.  Still not bad, especially when you consider the number Michael Phelps has.  But the medal itself is not the only monetary gain for the athletes.  They get paid for winning medals too.

To win a gold medal American athletes get paid $25,000.  Silver gets an athlete $15,000 and a bronze medal is worth $10,000.  Not too shabby right?  Actually yes, it is pretty low. Athletes from Singapore get paid $741,000 to win a gold medal.  Italians bring home $166,000 per gold.  Even the French athletes get paid $55,000 to win a gold medal in the Olympics.  American athletes are at the low end of the pay scale when it comes to winning a gold medal.  Seems weird.  But that isn't the worst part.

After we pay our athletes for winning a gold medal we turn right around and tax them on those earnings.  Yeah America.  Phelps ends up paying close to $30,000 in taxes for the medals he has won at Rio.  Something about that seems seriously wrong and dirty.  We want these people to represent us in front of the whole world, we just don't like them as much as we do multimillion dollar corporations that we give every tax break in the world.  Sorry Phelps, Uncle Sam is going to have to tax you for that swim.

For somebody like Phelps those taxes probably aren't that big of a deal.  He is going to far exceed that in endorsement deals.  In fact Phelps' net worth is close to $55 million.  But what about the athlete who wins one silver medal in one event.  The $12,000 they get to take home after taxes isn't going to carry them too far in their training.  I understand that sentimentally there is no value that can put on a medal.  But if we are going to put a monetary value on it for winning at least treat our athletes fairly.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Titans Make a Classy Move

By Travis Stahl

Too often we see the story in sports about the extremely talented athlete getting opportunity after opportunity handed to them.  Some of those athletes then poo-poo all over each of their chances at the professional level and end up leaving the game with nothing to show for it.  Then happens more than we like mostly because upper management sees the talent level and not character of the player.  Having said that, I think it is important that we acknowledge Tennessee Titans General Manager Jon Robinson for doing the right thing.

Robinson yesterday traded away massively talented wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham to the Philadelphia Eagles.  Green is a huge wide receiver, 6-5 inches tall with incredible speed.  Nobody has ever questioned the talent of DGB.  As a red zone target he is exactly what you want in a wide receiver which is why Tennessee drafted him in the second round last year out of Missouri even after some troubles in college.  Despite all that talent Robinson and the team became very aware that DGB was a lazy player.

Kudos to Robinson for saying enough is enough.  In the Titans first preseason game last weekend DGB was supposed to run a go route as fast he could straight down the field.  Instead, he trudged off the line sluggishly and never gave the play a chance to be successful from the get go.  You can't have that on your football team and Robinson knows that.  To be a good team you have to have players who will sacrifice all out on every play for the betterment of the team.  DGB is not that guy.

In exchange for DGB the Titans got a back-up offensively lineman.  I'm guessing Robinson would have accepted two Philly cheese steaks and some Tastykakes just to get DGB off the roster.  Robinson, like so few general managers around the league, recognized that a guy like that on the team causes more problems then they are worth regardless of the talent level.  It would have only been a matter of time before DGB would have poisoned those around him and created a locker room mess for the Titans to have to clean up.  And at that point the Titans would have gotten nothing in return.

To Philadelphia I say "Ha."  Gotcha.  The Eagles, like those teams I mentioned at the top, just can't get past the immense talent of DGB.  I'm sure they are thinking they can fix him and make him a good fit for their offense.  Good luck with that.  You can fix mechanics and technique, you can't fix what is in a players heart and it is not in DGB's make-up to be an all-out receiver in the NFL.  If it was we wouldn't be having this conversation.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

These Olympics Keep Getting Better

By Travis Stahl

I'm not quite sure how this has happened, but the Olympics just keep getting better.  Yeah, I know I'm a big dork.  But I love the Olympics and these Rio games seem to be exceeding everyone's expectations.  Just when you think you've seen it all there is another shocking event.  It's crazy amazing.  Like before, I'm not here to run down results for you, you can look those up on your own.  I'm simply here to share my Olympic experience.

On the track - We've finally gotten fully immersed in the track and field events.  If you missed the Ussain Bolt/Justin Gatlin showdown in the 100 meter dash finals you missed out on one of the most riveting sporting events in recent memory.  After Bolt's win to earn his third-straight Olympic gold in the event the other runners were congratulating him as if to say thank you.  Someday those runners are going to be telling their grand kids about the time they were on the track with Ussain Bolt.  Between Bolt and Michael Phelps we have been blessed to see possibly the two greatest Olympians of all time.  Then last night we got the dive as Jamaica's Shaunae Miller leaped/tripped across the finish line to just edge out Allison Felix.  Who does that?  Nobody.  It just keeps getting better.

The little guy - We all expect the big countries like the U.S., China and Russia to clean up and take all the medals.  The best events are the ones where an athlete from some little country comes through to beat the big boys and earn a medal.  Watching Wayde Van Niekerk of South Africa in the 400 meter dash was a thing of beauty.  WVN is coached by this 76-year old little old lady who looks like the grandma next door.  For the finals WVN was running in lane eight, a position no runner has ever won a medal from.  Yet there he was, not only winning the gold but doing so in world record time.  That is the Olympic experience right there.

Basketball - It comes as no surprise that the U.S. women's team is blowing out everyone in their path.  The team is loaded and the rest of the world has nowhere close to the talent the American women do.  But the men's team is starting to struggle.  For whatever reason the U.S. team has decided the best plan for victory is to feed the ball to Carmelo Anthony.  That doesn't work too well for the New York Knicks.  And the U.S. defense has started to look a little atrocious lately.  If the team doesn't tighten things up it could be ripe for an upset and that would be a huge embarrassment.

We've got just over a week left in the Olympics.  It's just amazing how many people I run into who are watching the games as religiously as I am.  Frankly I was stunned.  I had no idea the average person enjoys the Olympics as much as I do.  But it really is just invigorating and gets you jumping out of your seat.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Don't Forget College Football

By Travis Stahl

We've talked quite a bit about the NFL so far leading up to the season.  There's a lot to get to.  But we haven't even gotten to the college football landscape yet.  The college game has changed a lot in the last few years.  Now, instead of trying to figure out who the final two teams will be we try to predict the four teams that will make it to the playoffs.  That's a step towards progress.  However, if you are waiting for some lesser known teams to crash the party and make it to the Final Four I wouldn't hold your breath.

We already know the four playoff teams are going to come from the power five conferences.  The Big Ten, Pac 12, SEC, ACC and Big 12 will comprise the playoff teams and at least one of those guys won't get a seat at the table.  I'm looking at you Pac 12.  The way college football is comprised now if you aren't in one of those conferences you don't have a chance to play for a title.  Is that fair?  Probably not.  But that's another argument for another day.  For now let's just play within the rules the way they are written.

We all know Alabama is going to be in the playoffs.  If you don't think that is the case you need to hit yourself in the head with something.  The Tide don't have a quarterback you say?  Does Nick Saban ever have a quarterback?  No, it really doesn't matter because we all know the 'Bama defense and running game is going to carry the day.  Clemson should return to the playoffs as well.  Last season's runner-up still features quarterback DeShaun Watson who will likely win the Heisman Trophy this year.  The Tigers lost a little bit on defense but quietly Clemson has been one of the most consistent defensive power houses in the country so I think they will be fine.

I think Oklahoma will also be back in the playoffs this year.  The Sooners return electric quarterback Baker Mayfield as well as the team's top two running backs.  What helps the Sooners even more though is that they are opening the season near the top of the rankings and probably won't be seriously challenged in the Big 12 until the end of the season.  The new comer to the playoffs this season will be Michigan.  The Wolverines were soooooo close last year they could taste it.  Jim Harbaugh wins.  That's what he does.  To help things out for Michigan both Michigan State and Ohio State won't be quite as good as they have been over the last two seasons of play.

In one semi-final game Alabama will knock off Clemson and in the other it will be Oklahoma beating Michigan.  In the title game the Alabama defense will be able to contain the Oklahoma running game and earn yet another National Championship.  Yeah, it might not play out that way.  But would you really be willing to consider another alternative that would make as much sense?  This is what Alabama does, they win championships.