Great Moments in Chutzpah: NFL.com writes about MLB’s concussion issue

September 15, 2013

A couple of weeks ago, the NFL reached a tentative $765 million settlement with thousands of retired players over concussion-related brain injuries. Growing medical research is showing that these injuries are causing serious long-term health issues to former players. A high-profile documentary is coming in October on the league’s “concussion crisis.”

So it was refreshing on Friday to see the NFL’s official website directly addressing the issue of concussions — in Major League Baseball.

From NFL.com contributing editor Bill Bradley:

USA Today looked at the rise in head injuries among catchers in baseball, showing the trend has been increasing for the past two years.

Teams have put players on the disabled list due to concussions or head injuries 18 times this year, five more than all of last season and seven more than in 2011, when the seven-day concussion DL was implemented. In 10 of those 18 instances, the players were catchers, including the Boston Red Sox’s David Ross twice.

The article, which is essentially a rewrite of the USA Today piece, isn’t wrong about baseball’s issues with head injuries and the need to address them. But the problem in football is orders of magnitude bigger. To put this in its proper context, 10 players were listed with concussions on the NFL’s injury report just in Week 1 of this season.

This little bit of misdirection would be roughly equivalent to MLB.com writing about the use of performance enhancing drugs by NFL players while making only passing reference to its own Steroid Era. And the NFL.com article did make only passing reference to its concussion problems with this single sentence:

Plus, it appears MLB is dealing with the same concussion culture that the NFL has been trying to change.

Perhaps the NFL should get its own house in order before talking about other sports.

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Inching toward a college football playoff – and less controversy

February 12, 2012

This year's all-SEC national championship game may finally lead to a college football playoff.

For those of us who’d like to see a college football playoff in our lifetimes, some welcome news came out of the 12-team Big Ten last week.

The Chicago Tribune reported Monday that the league’s athletic directors are considering the idea of a four-team playoff to decide the national champion. While there is still a long way to go, that’s significant news because the Big Ten led the charge to kill a Plus One system proposed four years ago by the SEC. Maybe watching two SEC teams play for the BCS championship finally persuaded the Big Ten’s ADs that getting a shot at the national title for one of their schools was more important than blind devotion to the Rose Bowl.

Of course, the whole point of a playoff would be to reduce some of the unsatisfying scenarios that have popped up ever since the BCS’s creation, such as:

  • 2001: A team getting blown out 62-36 in its last game, missing its conference championship game and still playing for the national title.
  • 2003: A team finishing No. 1 in the AP and Coaches’ polls but finishing third in the BCS standings.
  • 2004: An SEC team going 12-0 and not making the national title game.
  • 2007: Eight two-loss teams fighting for No. 2 in the BCS standings.
  • 2011: Two teams from the same SEC division playing for the national title.

Read the rest of this entry »


ACC expansion: Watered-down rivalries and random divisions

February 9, 2012

Remember all the great moments from the Wake Forest-N.C. State rivalry? Neither do we.

When the ACC raided the Big East a few years ago in a desperate attempt to become a football power, it ended one of the things that I used to love about the conference — every team played every other team once a year in football and twice in basketball.

I especially miss the double round-robin in basketball. The added familiarity with opponents better prepared ACC teams for March Madness, and it made conference rivalries stronger. If N.C. State lost its first game against one of the Big 4, I always knew there would be a rematch.

With the expansion to 12 teams, it was bad enough that N.C. State was no longer guaranteed to play Duke twice in basketball (or at all in football). With the conference growing to 14 in a year or two, it was inevitable that more rivals would play each other less frequently.

Under the new scheduling format announced last week, each basketball team gets one primary rival to play in a home-and-home every year. In N.C. State’s case, it’s Wake Forest. No offense to the Deacons, but the one home game that Wolfpackers care about above all others is against Carolina. Once every three years, the Tar Heels won’t have to come to Raleigh.

Read the rest of this entry »


An IoT conversation: Super Bowl XLVI

February 5, 2012

One member of the IoT crew is having a bit of buyer’s remorse about this year’s Super Bowl. Jeremy exchanged e-mails with Jimmy earlier this week about his lack of enthusiasm for the Patriots-Giants matchup.

Jeremy: Jimmy, a Happy Super Bowl Sunday to you!

Like every red-blooded American male, I’ll be celebrating our great national holiday while sitting in front of a big-screen TV and watching the Patriots and Giants. Even if the game isn’t close, at least I’ve got an excuse to eat healthy, low-calorie foods like this.

Normally, I’m really excited for the Super Bowl. But this year, I feel like I’m watching the game more out of a sense of patriotic duty. I just can’t find a way to get into Pats-Giants II. Read the rest of this entry »


The clothes make the program

September 7, 2011

Chin up, Kenny Tate. That hideous uniform may be your program's ticket to relevance.

The Maryland Terrapins debuted the first of what will likely be many new uniforms on Monday night: Two-Face-style unis inspired by the bipolar Maryland state flag.

Maryland

It’s hard to tell which side of the uniform is Harvey Dent and which is his evil half; each is criminally ugly.

Hideous though they may be, Maryland’s new uniforms could be a big first step down a lightly trodden path to national relevance. In a story last week at Grantland.com, Michael Kruse described how an emerging program built itself on a long line of fashion faux-pas:

Oregon clearly is the beneficiary of its unique relationship with Nike boss Phil Knight, a 1959 alum who has used his fortune to give the Ducks every potential material advantage. But the most consistently conspicuous portion of Knight’s lavish contributions are the team’s much-discussed uniforms — the yellows and the greens, the blacks and the grays, the highlighter neons and the stormtrooper whites, the many different helmets and jerseys and pants and socks and shoes, the more than 500 possible combinations in all.

The football Ducks of Oregon are something new. They didn’t get people to watch because they got good. They got good because they got people to watch. They are college sports’ undisputed champions of the 21st century’s attention economy.

Now comes Maryland, the first true challenger to Oregon’s primacy in the “attention economy.” UnderArmor, based in Baltimore and founded by former Maryland football player Kevin Plank, has outfitted the Terps for several years. This season, however, is the first for which UnderArmor has rolled out an Oregon-style menu of designs.

Cowabunga, dude!

It’s not clear how many possible outfits Maryland can build. At a fashion show debuting the new looks, 16 players wore 16 different uniforms. Some feature a bizarre white helmet with gray squiggles, designed to look like a tortoise shell.

As Kruse notes, several other schools are adopting Oregon’s look: West Virginia, Boise State, Arizona State and fellow ACC teams Virginia Tech and Miami, among others.

But Maryland is the first to go beyond borrowing the Oregon aesthetic. The Terps are stealing the Ducks’ DNA by tapping a sportswear company helmed by an alum to create buzz with its garish uniform designs.

Will Maryland be able to replicate the Ducks’ results? Or will the on-field outcome be as unsightly as the uniforms themselves?


UNC — finally — fires Butch Davis

July 27, 2011

About a year after it should have been over, the Butch Davis era came to an end at North Carolina today.

From a news release on UNC’s website (with the understated headline “Carolina Football Makes Coaching Change”):

University of North Carolina Chancellor Holden Thorp announced this evening that Butch Davis has been dismissed as head coach of the Carolina football program. Davis was informed by Thorp and Director of Athletics Dick Baddour of the decision.

“To restore confidence in the University of North Carolina and our football program, it’s time to make a change,” Thorp said in the release. “What started as a purely athletic issue has begun to chip away at this University’s reputation. I have been deliberate in my approach to understanding this situation fully, and I have worked to be fair to everyone involved. However, I have lost confidence in our ability to come through this without harming the way people think of this institution. Our academic integrity is paramount and we must work diligently to protect it.”

Two thoughts immediately sprung to mind when I saw this:

1) As an N.C. State fan, I’m sad to see Davis go. I was really looking forward to watching Tom O’Brien make it five straight over him this year.

2) What took so long for this to happen?

Read the rest of this entry »


O’Cain returns to run Pack offense

May 31, 2011

Mike O’Cain is back with the Pack!

Well, sort of.

Via Owen Good, fellow N.C. State/Technician alum and Kotaku.com columnist, we learn that the Wolfpack’s offensive coordinator on EA Sports’ NCAA Football 12 is an homage to the former Pack coach. Good lays it all out in a post on the game’s new “Coaching Carousel” feature:

That leads us back to Owen O’Cain. When you pick up NCAA Football 12, that’s the name of N.C. State’s offensive coordinator. (Game producer Ben) Haumiller himself put that in as a nod to Mike O’Cain (pictured at top), who was State’s head coach when I was the sports editor of Technician, the student newspaper. You can see the name in that screengrab. (Evidently he was hired from within after a surprise departure, the way O’Cain himself was when Dick Sheridan abruptly stepped down in 1993.)

O’Cain’s sort-of appearance in the game is a reminder of how odd his tenure at State was. As Good notes, O’Cain’s teams included some excellent players (led by Torry Holt) and had some astounding wins (FSU in ’98, Syracuse in ’97 and ’98, Texas in ’99). He also sandwiched the FSU and Syracuse ’98 wins around a horrific loss to Baylor and failed to beat North Carolina in seven tries, speeding him toward a cold-blooded, Thanksgiving-morning firing in 1999. Few were sorry to see him go, but O’Cain did oversee some of the program’s greatest victories.

O’Cain is now the OC at Virginia Tech.