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Mark Cuban:  NFL ‘10 years away from an implosion’

While the NFL owners were meeting in Orlando, tweaking their rulebook, discussing ways of increasing revenues and doing nothing to cut back on inaction during games, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban fired off, via ESPN and tweet, a shocking prediction: pro football within 10 years will be rocked by “an implosion” brought on by greed.  “They’re getting hoggy.  . . .  They’re trying to take over every night of TV.”

He sees football disturbing family interaction, with Thursday Night Football joining Sunday and Monday nights and further dividing households that seek more from life than sports.  NFL owners want as much air time as possible and at their annual convention refused to consider ending overtime during preseason.  Nor did they consider cutting the time between plays.  A Wall Street Journal study found that NFL games average only 11 minutes of action – which is less than the allegedly boring game of baseball. 

Cuban warned of oversaturation, comparing the NFL’s television expansion to Who Wants to Be a Millionaire failing soon after expanding to five nights a week.

He pointed to other issues threatening NFL stability:  injuries and “poor player behavior” (latest being Ray Rice indicted for aggravated assault of his soon-to-be bride).

Between the Lines:  While his rant may have more to do with jealousy than anything else, Cuban makes some valid points.  

Polls show decreasing willingness by parents to let kids play football.  What effects will we see in 10 years?  Go back 60 years and boxing and horse racing were more popular spectator sports than football.

Former NFL running back Derrick Ward tweeted that “there won’t be an NFL in 20 years.”  He cited the league losing popularity with its player base. He reacted strongly to the Philadelphia Eagles cutting Pro Bowl receiver DeSean Jackson because of his gang-land youth.  As for former Eagles QB Ron Jaworski, who sided with management, Ward wrote:  “You were that one guy that everyone had on their team that goes and snitches to the head coach about other players. . . .  Most of your teammates hated you.”

For a view taking issue with Cuban, click here for the “Inside Slant” by Kevin Seifert.


Rex says Geno is ‘hard to beat out’

 While negotiating to sign free-agent quarterback Mike Vick, coach Rex Ryan posted on the New York Jets’ website that Geno Smith “is going to be hard to beat out, I don’t care who comes in here.”

Between the Lines:  Rex Ryan always loves his starting quarterback.  Does he still have a tattoo of Mark Sanchez on his chest?  Isn’t this the same Smith with the 12 to 21 TD to INT ratio?  The 43 sacks?  The 55% completions?


Johnny Football has Jaws flapping at Pro Day

 Ron Jaworski, who a few weeks ago said he would not pick Johnny Manziel in the first three rounds of the May NFL Draft, said he will “move him up” after a “rock solid” performance on Pro Day at Texas A&M.  Performing passing drills (against no defenders), Manziel completed 61 of 64 throws and drew nothing but praise from a crowd that included President and Barbara Bush

ESPN’s Jaworski saw a transformation in Manziel’s throwing motion that resulted from 10 weeks in California with quarterback guru George Whitfield.  “I was concerned about his mechanics,” Jaws said.  “But he’s improved his game a lot.”

Equally impressive was Manziel’s personality.  Confident without quite being boastful.  “I can make all the throws,” he said.  And did.  Polite and gracious, thanking everyone for attending.  As to his record of off-the-field indiscretions, he was not defensive:  “I’m trying to push myself to be a professional.  I’ve never been more committed in my entire life.”

Tony Kornheiser (ESPN’s Pardon the Interruption) said:  “He’s a star.  If you don’t draft him in the entertainment business, you are an imbecile.”

But some coaches prefer a player who blends in with the team rather than one with star-power.  Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Zimmer sees Manziel as too much self-promoter and individualist.  On his Pro Day, Manziel performed in pads and helmet while music from the hip hop band Drake boomed through the arena.  Zimmer wondered if “the sideshow” signaled his “wanting the limelight.”  The coach asked:  “Is he going to conform to typically what the NFL is?”

Houston Texans coach Bill O’Brien, while not as outspoken as Zimmer, gave hints of sharing his sentiments.  When asked if Manziel would work out for the Texans, who have the No. 1 pick in the draft, O’Brien said, “I don’t think so.  He’s got his Johnny Day.”

While O’Brien is wary, Houstonians are enthralled by the magic they saw in Johnny Football at nearby Texas A&M.  They may not forgive O’Brien for steering his team to the more disciplined but less magical, less Texan Blake Bordles of Central Florida.

Kornheiser is probably right that O’Brien “is scared.”

For more on Johnny Football’s fascinating sojourn in college football, click here.


NASCAR’s Keselowski calls Kurt Busch ‘dumb’

NASCAR officials have been lamenting the lack of rivalries in their sport, but a genuine hate-hate has developed between Brad Keselowski and Kurt Busch pursuant to Busch winning at Martinsville Speedway.  Keselowski was riled at Busch for cutting him off on pit row and retaliated by bumping on the track.  After the race, Keselowski said Busch “is probably the most talented race car driver but he’s also one of the dumbest.”

Busch responded by calling Keselowski some obscene names and promising to “mess his face up.”


Miami Heat’s Chris Bosh:  ‘We suck’

The Miami Heat closed out last season with a 37-2 run to set up their NBA championship.  This year is a much different scene, and center Chris Bosh is not happy with it.  “We suck,” he said.  “There’s no passion.  There’s nothing.  If we don’t change that, we’ll be watching the championship series at home.”

But things could be a lot worse.  They could be the Lakers.  When informed that Nick Young had told Pau Gasol that the team needed to finish strong to avoid being the worst in franchise history, coach Mike D’Antoni said, “They probably should have had that conversation a lot earlier.” 

Add Danny Ainge to the doubters about the next NBA Draft.  The Boston Celtics exec said:  “There aren’t any game changers in the draft.  There are a lot of nice players and players we’ll be excited to work into the development but they’re not going to come in and turn our team around in one or two years.”

Between the Lines:  So what’s the point of tanking?


Mattingly tires of Puig’s ailments and misplays

Dodgers right fielder Yasiel Puig may have the skills of the young Roberto Clemente, but manager Don Mattingly is unhappy with his erratic base running and fielding decisions.  Also his work ethic.  Puig showed up chubby for training camp, and he’s missed time with a variety of injuries.

“Shoulder yesterday, back today, so I’m not sure if they’re going to get him tests or get him to the MRI Monday or a bone scan on Tuesday, maybe.”

Former Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda talked to USA Today about how baseball’s training methods have changed:  “When a guy had a sore foot and needed a whirlpool you put your foot in the toilet and flushed it.”



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