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Erik Visits an American Grave, Part 83

[ 50 ] May 14, 2017 |

This is the grave of William Clay Ford.

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William Clay Ford was born into American royalty in 1925, the son of Edsel Ford and grandson of Henry Ford. He was rich, did some rich person things, was very active in the family business, blah blah blah.

The real reason to discuss Ford is his ownership of the Detroit Lions. Under his ownership, the Lions reached an astounding level of ineptitude that never ended until his death, if it has since then. Ford bought the Lions in 1963. In 50 years of owning the club before his death in 2014, the Lions won 1 playoff game. 1!!! Here is a list of 5 defining moments of Ford’s ownership tenure, mostly terrible. I guess it’s fitting that he bought the team on the day JFK was shot; for the people of Detroit, the president’s assassination was only the second worst event that day. Even Barry Sanders couldn’t take it anymore, quitting while he was at the height of his powers, realizing that he would destroy his body for a franchise that would never win.

The real highlight of course was Ford hiring Matt Millen to be General Manager in 2001. In fact, Ford only hired 3 GMs in his 50 years, putting up with endless losing for all of them. The first guy lasted 22 years and never won a playoff game! Millen and Ford’s combined idiocy sent the team to a 0-16 record, the only time that feat has been achieved in NFL history. Millen’s fine 1st round picks included Charles Rogers, Mike Williams, and, yes, Joey Harrington, although I maintain that Harrington could have been a decent QB in a different system, even if he would never really fit into an NFL locker room. At least one Millen knew his dad couldn’t draft his way out of box, but it wasn’t Matt. Ford kept Millen around forever. Why? Because he felt his GM was a good Christian! Now that’s a way to run a franchise. It’s really too bad Millen was fired too, as the way he was talking up Christian Hackenberg could have led to another era of greatness in the Motor City! The only reason Ford finally dumped Millen is that Ford’s own son publicly announced that he would do it if he was in charge. You really have to love how Millen took it with class too, calling himself a martyr for the entire problems of the city of Detroit. Really, only Al Davis was a worse owner over the last 20 years and at least Davis did this on a lived history of success. Ford even managed to make Cardinals owner Bill Bidwill look competent. Dan Snyder may see Ford as a model of how to ruin a franchise.

Anyway, Henry Clay Ford lived a long life that I’m sure was successful in some other way before dying in 2014 at the age of 88. He is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery, Detroit, Michigan.

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TO

[ 100 ] February 8, 2017 |
JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 06:  Wide receiver Terrell Owens #81 of the Philadelphia Eagles finishes off a 30 yard run in the first quarter against the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXIX at Alltel Stadium on February 6, 2005 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA – FEBRUARY 06: Wide receiver Terrell Owens #81 of the Philadelphia Eagles finishes off a 30 yard run in the first quarter against the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXIX at Alltel Stadium on February 6, 2005 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Now that Nathan Bedford Forrest is our Attorney General, we need something else to argue about that might take our minds off the horrors of the Slave Power running our nation. This is something else to argue about.

On the face of it, the exclusion of Terrell Owens from the Pro Football Hall of Fame is a joke. He was a completely dominant wide receiver, second only to Jerry Rice in career yards. This shoudl be a clear call. And yet, for a lot of voters it is not and I have to say that I am somewhat sympathetic to the argument. While I am not much of a believer in locker room chemistry as meaning much in evaluating a player, Owens was a such a cancer that there may be a limited exception here. The way he treated Jeff Garcia and Donovan McNabb was atrocious and for a player as amazing as he was, the fact that he kept moving between teams is a really a negative in his evaluations. Dan Fouts, one of the two HOF players who voted this year:

“I think his numbers are very worthy, but again on the other side of it, I think his actions on and off the field, on the sidelines, in the locker room, and the fact he played for so many teams and was such a great player, the question that comes back to me is if he was such a great player, why did so many of those teams get rid of him?” Fouts said in a visit with The Midday 180 in Nashville. “And I think we all know the answers.”

In his second year of eligibility, the NFL’s second leading all-time receiver with 15,934 yards failed a second time to advance from the field of 15 to 10. Ultimately up to five of the 15 modern era finalists can be selected for induction.

So he’s not even getting that close right now. Not being in the top 10 probably means he’s not getting in for a couple more years. He will get in of course. He was so amazing. But I do think there’s a legitimate argument against him when you are comparing him to other greats.

The Benevolent NFL Plutocrats

[ 37 ] February 4, 2017 |

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This is the NFL’s most self-congratulating weekend, which is quite considerable given the other 51 weeks of the year. But between the Super Bowl (is there a single American rooting for Team Trump outside of New England and the White House?) and the Hall of Fame announcement tonight, this is the peak of the year for the NFL. So I was surprised to hear of this attack on the Chicago Bears’ players in the Illinois state legislature.

NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith says he will tell potential free agents not to sign with the Chicago Bears should new Illinois Senate Bill 12 SA #2 pass.

The bill would adjust the Workers’ Compensation Act as it applies to professional athletes, who potentially are entitled to a wage differential award. The new bill would look to eliminate those athletes from being eligible for wage differential awards after age 35.

The law currently allows players to get paid for the term of their natural life which is set at 67 years old. Those wanting change contend pro athletes seldom play beyond age 35 so paying them until 67 because of injury is unfair and expensive.

“I will tell you from the bottom of my heart that this union will tell every potential free-agent player, if this bill passes, to not come to the Bears,” Smith told 670 The Score in Chicago. “Because, think about it, if you’re a free-agent player and you have an opportunity to go play somewhere else where you can get lifetime medical for the injury you’re going to have, isn’t a smarter financial decision to go to a team where a bill like this hasn’t passed?”

If I was a Bears fan (and thank the higher powers that be that I am not), I would be freaking out right now. All of a sudden, Cleveland and Buffalo would be more attractive destinations for players than Chicago. What the heck is behind this?

Smith told the Spiegel & Parkins Show on Friday that the bill is being pushed by the McCaskey family which owns the Bears.

“We join the four other major professional Chicago teams in monitoring and supporting changes to the system that protect athletes’ rights under the workers’ compensation system while acknowledging athletes are not competing professionally until age 67,” the Bears responded in a statement released to 670 The Score. “Nothing in the wage differential language under consideration impacts the right for any athlete to receive just compensation for partial or permanent injury, medical benefits or to file a claim itself.”

Ah, the McCaskey family. Virginia McCaskey’s personal wealth was $1.3 billion in 2014. The team itself was worth $1.7 billion in that same year. So you can see why the family would intervene to destroy the health care of their players. There’s always another ivory backscratcher to purchase. I’m sure Roger Goodell will be intervening to say the NFL completely opposes this horrible bill right away. Because if there’s one thing about Goodell, he truly cares about the safety of the players….

The Stadium Scam Goes Vegas

[ 113 ] January 24, 2017 |

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A perfect act for the Trump era.

Clark County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani has a long list of things she would spend $750 million in public money on, if it was up to her. A light rail system, so Las Vegas can compete with cities with better public transportation. Firefighters, because her county has not hired a new one in years. And teachers, as public schools in Nevada perennially rank among the worst in the nation.

Nowhere on Giunchigliani’s $750 million public wish list would you find “help a wealthy NFL team owner and a mega-rich casino magnate build a $1.9 billion football stadium.” But that is exactly what Nevada’s largest county is poised to do, as the likelihood of the Raiders leaving Oakland for Las Vegas inched closer to reality this month.

Last week, Raiders owner Mark Davis made official his plan to move his team to Las Vegas by filing paperwork with the NFL; his fellow team owners could vote on the request in March. Davis decided to make the move, he has said, when Nevada lawmakers agreed late last year to provide a substantial public subsidy to help the Raiders build a new stadium. In October, Nevada’s legislature approved a plan for Clark County to provide $750 million for the stadium over the next 30 years through bonds backed by a new hotel tax.

I mean, this makes sense, right? The people behind this in Vegas totally need the money!

Giunchigliani, a former state legislator, is still dismayed by the decision, which will defray how much Davis (worth an estimated $500 million) and his likely business partner Sheldon Adelson (worth an estimated $31 billion) will have to spend to bring their gleaming vision of a domed stadium in Las Vegas into reality. Under the proposed plan, the Raiders will contribute $500 million, and Adelson will contribute $650 million.

Better subsidize the playground of a billionaire and one of the most grotesque living Americans! If that $31 billion dollar fortune briefly declined past $30.5 billion, he might have to cut back on his support of Emperor Tangerine. And I’m sure the people of Vegas will come out for the Raiders in the kind of droves that requires not 1 but 2 great teams in Los Angeles.

Erik Visits an American Grave, Part 57

[ 37 ] November 13, 2016 |

This is the grave of Lyle Alzado.

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Born in Brooklyn, Lyle Alzado loved football but was not seen as a college prospect. Thus he traveled to faraway Texas to play at Kilgore College, a 2-year school. He then transferred to Yankton College in South Dakota, a school that has since been turned into a federal prison. He was noticed by a scout watching film of an opposing player at equally obscure Montana Tech. The Denver Broncos drafted him in the 4th round in 1971, where he played until 1978. He soon became an excellent defensive linemen. A contract dispute led Denver to send him to the Browns, who traded him to the Raiders in 1982. By this time, he was playing with utter angry abandon, known for his enforcer style that fit Al Davis’ teams of the time. At one point, he threw his helmet at an opposing player, leading the NFL to create the Alzado Rule that banned players from using their helmets as weapons. He retired in 1985 with 112.5 sacks. In order to keep up this intense style of play and physical regimen, he shot himself full of a shocking amount of steroids. Many claimed that Alzado’s death from cancer at the age of 43 in 1992 was due to his chemical regime, but that’s probably not true.

As a child, rooting for the Seahawks in the early 80s, there was only one player I hated more than Alzado. That was Horseface Elway.

It does not seem that anyone has ever played Lyle Alzado in the movies or TV. But Alzado himself appeared on the screen many times. He was in episodes of True Blue, Top Cops, Trapper John MD, MacGyver, and many other fine shows of the 1980s and early 1990s. He was also in Ernest Goes to Camp and Who’s Harry Crumb.

Lyle Alzado is buried in River View Cemetery, Portland, Oregon.

Seahawks Defense

[ 28 ] October 26, 2016 |

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The Seahawks defense is one of the greatest of all time, as it has completely dominated the NFL for the last five years, including this year.

QBR

[ 9 ] October 10, 2016 |

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If you think Brock Osweiler is having a better season than Russell Wilson, then ESPN’s QBR numbers provide just the analysis you need!

Today in the Stadium Scam

[ 76 ] August 26, 2016 |

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The Raiders want to move to Las Vegas. They are their partners, i.e., the always lovely Sheldon Adelson, are demanding the city pay a mere $750 million for the stadium, a number that will no doubt increase once the inevitable cost overruns take place. Adelson’s lackey says this $750 million is a non-negotiable number.

The Raiders and Sheldon Adelson: a match made in Hell. Where in fact Al Davis is still pulling the strings over this whole deal.

Easley

[ 22 ] August 16, 2016 |

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I am pleasantly shocked that the NFL Seniors Committee named former Seahawks safety Kenny Easley their finalist for the Hall of Fame. Easley’s career ended at the age of 28 because of a kidney injury but he was as good as his contemporary Ronnie Lott during his shortened career. Easley absolutely deserves to be elected and if he isn’t, I may have to burn down Canton. He was a truly dominant player. This is also a good sign for the future that players whose careers were shortened by injury and who may not get in through the main committee could thanks to the senior committee. The name that of course comes to my mind is Terrell Davis, who also should be in the HOF.

The Seniors Committee has also been so focused on the 60s over the years that this is their first nominee who I actually remember playing. I may just be getting old. But if we are in the semi-modern era, Ken Anderson should be next.

How to Get Drafted as a Quarterback in the NFL

[ 19 ] May 14, 2016 |

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Step 1: Be born wealthy:

• 13 of the 15 quarterbacks grew up in homes that were valued near or above the median home value in their respective state, according to public records and online real estate figures. Seven families lived in homes that were more than double the median values: Goff, Hackenberg, Carson Wentz, Connor Cook, Jeff Driskel, Kevin Hogan and Jake Rudock.

• 13 of the 15 quarterbacks in the 2016 draft spent their early childhoods in two-parent homes. (Of note, a majority of the 30 parents hold four-year college degrees.)

Many have debated the value of so-called quarterback gurus for more than two decades, ever since people such as Theder got involved and created a cottage industry. Many college and pro coaches privately lament that quarterbacks are showing up to preseason camps heaving learned bad habits. Other coaches sing the praises of private coaches who can work with athletes during periods when NCAA and NFL rules bar teams from having contact.

It’s become standard for draft eligible quarterbacks to sign with agents who will pay for the athlete to work out with a coach of his choosing before the draft. And the fee will typically range anywhere from $10,000 to $20,000, depending on the prominence of the athlete. In some cases, the bigger the name, the less he pays. Often enough, though, the quarterback coach has had a relationship with the pupil long before the draft process.

One of the major benefits to youth quarterbacks is the progressive effect of empowerment, according to Dr. Elko, the sports psychologist. “All coaches are not created equal,” Dr. Elko says, “but the really good coach will show you how you’re better and convince you you’re better. That’s especially important for quarterbacks, because we know the best quarterbacks have a confidence that’s not really related to anything tangible. They just believe.”

The whole article profiling the current crop of NFL QB draftees is really interesting, but the strong correlation between wealthy parents, stable home lives, and being drafted as a QB compared to the rest of the NFL is really striking.

Today in the Stadium Scam

[ 103 ] March 17, 2016 |

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The Washington Racists want a new stadium. Owner George Armstrong Custer Daniel Snyder wants that stadium to be publicly funded. And if there’s one city that lacks any problems with poverty or income inequality and therefore should dump millions into subsidizing the toy of a particularly vile rich man, it’s Washington. The early design for the new stadium is in. It includes a moat. And a whole bunch of other stupid things.

The images, revealed on 60 Minutes last night, show a translucent wave-like structure surrounded by a moat for kayakers, along with parks and bridges for tailgaters and fans. Yes, kayakers. Because nothing says football like kayaking. And a moat! What better way for Dan Snyder to dispel the idea that he is a self-crowned dwarf monarch than by putting a fucking MOAT around his stadium?

Take a closer look at the design—commissioned by the Skins for architectural firm and possible Midwestern design conference BIG—and you will see …

SURFERS. Hang ten, dude! I’m all about catching tasty waves and learning facts about Native Americans that the liberal media doesn’t want you to know! My deepest gratitude to the first person to Photoshop Poochie on that surfboard.

RAPPELLERS. Quick! Let’s all scale down the wall of the stadium to go apprehend the Blues Brothers. I’ve met Skins fans and I can promise you that they’re not fit to climb anything. They can barely step up in to their F150s after drunkenly hurling epithets at DeSean Jackson for three hours.

A FUCKING BEACH. What am I gonna do with a stadium beach in November with the Skins 0-9? The only person who will still be enjoying his time out here is Kirk Cousins’s agent.

ROLLERBLADERS. Someone at BIG was clearly like, “We need it to appeal to the youngs. I KNOW! ROLLERBLADES! The youngs do that! Let’s have them bonging Dew as well!”

Total brilliance. It’s hard to see why the people of Washington wouldn’t embrace this design and cough up all the money for it.

Wage Theft at the Super Bowl

[ 22 ] February 24, 2016 |

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The plaintiff in a case against Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara charging widespread wage theft and other labor law violations writes about it:

I worked for Centerplate at Levi’s Stadium during four games, including the Super Bowl. My post was inside the Yahoo Fantasy Football Lounge, one of the stadium’s ten “premium club areas.” As I wrote in Slate — in a story reported in partnership with The Investigative Fund — I was often not given rest breaks, even during shifts that exceeded twelve hours. And on the day of the Super Bowl, Centerplate failed to pay employees for the time they spent waiting in line for — and traveling on — employee shuttles to and from the stadium. Those hours added up: of my seventeen-hour shift, five of them were spent waiting or in transit. According to California law, these hours should have been on the clock.

For many workers, wage theft is routine. In 2009, a study by three organizations — the UCLA Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, the National Employment Law Project, and the UIC Center for Urban Economic Development — found that low-wage workers in Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York City lost more than $56 million per week due to various forms of wage theft and other forms of labor violations. Last October, California Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation that makes it easier for workers to recover back wages, including a provision that holds individual executives, and not just the corporate body, accountable for unpaid wages. Along with Centerplate, the lawsuit names Chris Verros, the company’s President and CEO, along with several other executives.

For now, I am the named plaintiff in the lawsuit. (I kept good records.) When I received my paycheck for the Super Bowl, I found that the company paid me at the overtime rate — time and a half — for all hours that I was on the clock. That was a pleasant surprise. But I, and likely many other workers, was still significantly shortchanged. Had I been paid at my regular rate of $12.25 an hour for all the hours that I worked, including overtime and double-overtime for work after twelve hours, my paycheck would have been 70 dollars greater. (In my original investigation for Slate, when calculating wages owed, I had forgotten to factor in these higher rates.)

Looking back at the Super Bowl, what strikes me is the extraordinary amount of attention that was given to topics like the quality of the turf at Levi’s Stadium, and how little consideration was given to the thousands of workers who made the event possible and who, at the very least, should get what they’re owed.

This is of course because nobody cares about people who serve them beers and soda unless they mistakenly given them Diet Coke instead of regular Coke. Those are expendable people in a society that marginalizes workers. Moreover, this is just part and parcel of the NFL’s treatment of workers that ranges from unpaid cheerleaders to downplaying head injuries among players to forcing players to spend their own money to register for tryouts.

Here’s the original article referenced in the quote, also well worth reading for more detail about what was going on behind the scenes at the Super Bowl.

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