Franco Harris: Pressure to play hurt led to drug culture
In the 1970s, when Hall of Fame fullback Franco Harris was playing for the Pittsburgh Steelers, injured players were rushed back onto the field with little thought to what other damage could occur.
“You definitely were pushed that way,” Harris said on Showtime’s Inside the NFL. . . . “That led to a culture of pain pills, led to a culture of other things . . . because there was that pressure. . .”
In today’s game, with injury rates sharply rising, the league is trying to legislate more safety, without damaging the product with an excess of penalties and ejections and continued flight to drugs to relieve the pain.
Harris asked: “Where is that balance? That’s what the NFL is gonna have to figure out, because right now I don’t think it’s working.”
Stay of Rexecution: Ryan survives
With his players rallying to his support, New York Jets coach Rex Ryan secured his precarious job. Bob Ryan (not related) of ESPN’s Sports Reporters, said: “Above all, Rex Ryan is fun. He’s not a cookie cutter coach; he’s unfailingly human. And it is clear his players like him.
“Plus, he is a good coach who’s done a good job in a very difficult year. Instead of firing Rex, get him some offense-skilled players.”
But a dissent comes from ESPN’s Colin Cowherd: “Like his dad, Buddy Ryan, he almost has a disdain for the offense, resenting that it takes up practice time. In a league that demands excellence on both sides of the ball, Rex is decidedly a one-sided head football coach.”
Bynum is a true Fathead
The Cleveland Cavaliers suspended center Andrew Bynum for “conduct detrimental to the team.” The timing was unfortunate: he would miss the game which featured a giveaway of Bynum Fatheads.
Bynum is due a $6 million roster bonus in a week. So, according to John Saunders of Sports Reporters, “the Cavs will try to trade him and stick this fathead on someone else’s wall.”
Stirring the pot: Does NFL need medical marijuana?
Howard Bryant, writing for ESPN Magazine (Dec. 23): “The NFL should lead the conversation on considering medical marijuana as a therapeutic alternative” which “is almost universally accepted in the medical community as a safe and effective pain reliever. . . especially for the migraines that can be a byproduct of head trauma . . . and is far less dangerous and potentially addictive than, say, OxyContin. . . “
The same mag quotes Lance Armstrong saying, “I’m not sure I was the biggest asshole in the world, but I definitely played one on TV.”
And ESPN’s vaunted research dept. offers these gems: “Going for it on fourth and one from your own 40 is worth 0.73 expected points to your offense, which is more than triple the expected points a punt would generate. . . . Rushing tries on 2-pointers have been successful 57 % of the time. . . . The team that passed more efficiently in the first quarter won 61 % of the time, versus 56 % for the team that ran more efficiently. . . . Desperation onside kicks in the fourth quarter have a 13 % success rate. But a surprise onside in the first three quarters is recovered 50 % of the time. . . ”
Robbie Rogers, who plays for the Los Angeles Galaxy, said his teammates are accepting of him as an openly gay soccer player. “The guys are respectful,” he told a reporter for ABC. “I’m the first person they come to for fashion advice.”
Boomer Esiason, on CBS Sports Network’s NFL Monday QB, said the rulebook needs to be streamlined to prevent a recurrence of the officiating flubs that marred the final week of the regular season.
The Pittsburgh Steelers failed to make the playoffs when an official in San Diego failed to penalize the home team for an illegal defensive alignment on a field goal attempt that missed.
Said Esiason: “The rulebook is so big, it’s almost as convoluted as Obamacare.
“There are so many rules and regulations and you don’t know what happens until somebody makes a mistake and then you have to react to it. . . . The officiating needs reworking. There has to be a better understanding, a better communications process.”
As for the NFL teams with the most dismal outlook, Esiason said, “Two ownership groups that I feel right now are totally discombobulated are Tampa Bay and Washington. They’re letting the inmates run the asylum.”