New York Sports Are Going Through Something…Well, Comical

As the great George Carlin used to say….these are the thoughts running through my head when I’m home alone and the lights go out…

I’ve enjoyed watching the Lebron James attrition tour this season. Is everyone aware he’s the same age as Andre Iguodala? Why would any free agent want to go play with him in L.A. for his age 36 and 37 seasons? The minute Paul George decided not to come to LA the Lakers should have told Lebron thanks but no thanks and stuck with the kids and Luke Walton. The next 2 years are going to be a glorious dumpster fire for all the Lebron and Laker haters…you know..decent human beings.

Another quick NBA thought I haven’t seen anywhere yet. If KD comes to NY as many seem to think, Golden State is sure to resign Klay Thompson. The following season Draymond Green and Iguodala come off the books. If Anthony Davis is smart he would refuse to resign with anyone he’s traded to next year and see if Golden State comes with a max offer. Steph would be going into his age 32 season and Klay 30 with AD 27, wouldn’t that be the most Golden Statesy move to make?

The Phillies have to be feeling great giving 13 years and $330 million dollars to an empty-headed poodle like Bryce Harper who immediately tripped over his own dick and talked about bringing a title back to DC. I’ve seen that once before in a press conference…..in the opening montage of BaseKetball (an underrated classic movie).  At least he’s hit 30 Homer’s twice in seven seasons and batted .300 twice as well…once he even did both in the same year. Good thing Philly fans are intelligent rational people.

The Giants have the 6th pick in this year’s draft and honestly, I hope they take an offensive lineman just to see fans reactions. I think that would finally break the fanbase. Giants fans keep hoping for a Quarterback, remembering how great it was when they took Eli Manning and waiting for the team to deliver again and instead they keep getting Eli Apple and Ereck Flowers (Even our Lord and savior Saquon being selected pissed off half the fanbase at the time.) Giants fans have turned into Weezer fans waiting for the next Pinkerton while the Giants keep giving us the NFL equivalent of Hurley.

The Jets are going to sign Leveon Bell because that’s what the Jets do. They should make him wear a Ladanian Tomlinson throwback Jets Jersey at the press conference. Everything the Jets do is another step on their path to ruin. Sam Darnold and his forehead had that fantastic game to start the season against Detroit and he spent the rest of the year winging spirals to the other team and their best defensive player openly talked about how sick of losing he was. Bringing in an expensive running back whose career is at the top of the hill before he starts accelerating down the other side and hiring a coach who thought Jay Cutler was the solution to his QB issues is pretty on brand for the Jets.

Troy Tulowitzki and Greg Bird have looked great so far in Spring training but I still keep picturing Jacoby Ellsbury sitting at a table at the Cheesecake Factory telling a waiter he’s not quite ready to order yet, his friends will be there soon. I hope I’m wrong and both stay healthy and productive but I’ve been burned before by Bird as a fan, and Tulo has murdered me and so many others in fantasy baseball that he should have to wear a mask like Hannibal Lecter when he comes up to bat. Quid pro quo Clarice.

Do the Mets still play in MLB or were they kicked out as they do with shitty soccer teams so someone else can be in the league. If not could we try that this year? Boot the Mets and put the Roanoke River Rats in the NL East? Maybe Manny Machado could toil away his career in front of no one there instead of San Diego.

Finally, I wanna call out a writer who has disappointed me so much the last week. If I see the “He’s been going off the rails” quote about Robert Kraft from Bill Simmons one more time I’m going to be sick. It’s one thing to be a passionate fan of a team, it’s another to make excuses for despicable behavior and to try to downplay it.

Robert Kraft is a billionaire, I’m sure there were ways for him to get whatever he was trying to get from his spa debacle without taking advantage of women who were essentially held captive. Just because it’s a misdemeanor and he will probably get out of it criminally doesn’t make it any less reprehensible. Blaming the media for making it a “bigger deal” then it should be is also garbage. The owner of the NFL champions solicited sex acts from a victim of human trafficking the morning of the AFC title game….seems like a pretty big story to me. You would have hoped for better than this from Simmons…..oh well Go Sawx amirite?

NFL has a Robert Kraft Problem, and They Helped To Create It

So any big news in the world of sports today? Oh, the owner of the NFL champions, the leagues latest and longest dynasty and one of the most influential individuals in American sports was busted engaging in a prostitution sting in Florida? This story has some interesting tangents to explore for the NFL as a league, Roger Goodell as commissioner, and even the POTUS.

First, let me start by saying this is something that the NFL should not have to adjudicate in any way. It’s essentially a private criminal matter for Kraft and his family to deal with. However, since Serpico Goodell has made any type of mild transgression by anyone who’s ever watched a football game his domain to act as judge/jury/executioner he is going to be forced to take some action on this. The fact its Kraft whose punishment he will be doling out makes it all the more complicated and likely to become a huge shitshow. Mazel Tov!

Goodell and Kraft have a long and complicated history, with Kraft going from one the strongest supporters of the commissioner to a guy who publicly labeled him a duplicitous liar and has convinced an entire region that Goodell actively hates the Patriots.

First, there were the fines and draft picks taken due to Spygate, followed by Tom Brady’s deflated balls and subsequent suspension. Kraft dropped his appeal for the latter because he thought the league would shorten or eliminate the suspension. When neither happened Kraft gave a statement that basically said he dropped the appeal and lawsuit for the good of the league and thoughts that would grant some leniency and that he felt Goodell screwed him. He may have even cried while screaming “Why?Why?”, or maybe that was Nancy Kerrigan. Either way, their relationship was destroyed at that point.

So the first issue is if Goodell can make a decision that won’t be viewed as biased against Kraft. League precedents include Colts owner Jim Irsay is suspended 6 games and fined 500k for drug/DUI related charges and Jerry Richardson being fined 2.75 million for a long pattern of sexual harassment within the Panthers organization. Kraft’s situation is in many ways more serious.

This is a league where conduct towards women is already a huge problem and Kraft is being implicated in a situation with elements of human trafficking,  forced prostitution, and there is a video of at least two instances. Even if Kraft goes into a diversion program and avoids criminal prosecution, that won’t be good enough for the NFL. League conduct rules are very clear “It is not enough simply to avoid being found guilty of a crime.

We are all held to a higher standard and must conduct ourselves in a way that is responsible, promotes the values of the NFL, and is lawful.” If there is not serious ramifications for this incident I think the NFLPA and their attorneys will get very involved considering the zero-tolerance policy that players have been held to.

So what would a “reasonable” penalty be? It’s too soon to tell as evidence and information are still being released. It’s being reported that the women lived in the spa and that some were there against there will. If true and if reports that they were victims of trafficking are also true I’m not sure any suspension will be long enough. If a video is released or leaked it will make things even worse(although it shouldnt..but the NFL has shown time and again that video makes it harder to sweep away and they want no part of it). Also right now there are 2 incidents recorded, who knows how many times he actually was there or if he did other things like this. If this continues to snowball the league will have to consider its brand and I wonder if his ownership will become an issue.

As the commissioner and the league continue to navigate this there is another element to take into consideration. Robert Kraft is very close to one of the NFL’s most outspoken critics with an audience significant enough to be an issue. Donald J. Trump. Now I know as a sportswriter you never want to get into politics as it can only alienate half your readers, so understand this isn’t about policy but about his impact on the NFL.

His outspoken tweeting during the Kaepernick situation, and on the national anthem while not really something that could hurt the league,  was an irritant that no one wanted to deal with. The thought of daily tweet storms about whatever action the league takes in conjunction with Kraft and New England fans lambasting Goodell’s ability to be impartial is a recipe for an epic disaster. Factor in the NFLPA and the 90% of fans that hate the Patriots and those sides not thinking any penalty will be strong enough and you have a no-win situation.

The Kraft charges are a serious problem for the NFL and one with no good answer. The league has put itself into this situation by stepping further and further outside the realm of on-field or competition related discipline. It’s always been a slippery slope to hand out punishments with no real set parameters making it all look like it’s based on the whim of Roger Goodell in a given moment. This situation may be where the league finally falls down that slope and has to reassess its role in the off-field conduct of players and owners.