It’s never a good sign when John Mara, the answer to the question of what would happen if George Will ate paste, is the voice of reason. But that’s where the NFL, and Roger Goodell, found themselves at the owners’ meetings yesterday. Somehow, the owners were able to resist the urge to flex Thursday night games, but not to raise the limit on the number of short-week games a team can play from one to two. That does not include a team playing on consecutive Thursdays, say Thanksgiving and the Thursday before or after. Which means some teams (looking at you, Kansas City Chiefs) might end up with three Thursday games this season. This is how they feel about it:
Rob Parker’s NFL picks for Week 6
Mara actually sounded like he had some concern for players and fans alike, though maybe that was just gas escaping:
“At some point, can we please give some consideration to the people who are coming to our games?” Mara said. “People make plans to go to these games weeks and months in advance. And 15 days ahead of time to say, ‘Sorry, folks, that game you were planning on taking your kids to Sunday at 1, now it’s on Thursday night?’ What are we thinking about?”
Mara even mentioned that a proposal like the flex plan for Thursday nights should have gone to the Health and Safety Committee of the league, which is at least a half-step toward caring about the well-being of the players, i.e. the ones fans want to watch.
That didn’t stop Goodell from throwing his body on the live grenade that is anything that might dent owners’ interests.
“There isn’t anybody in any of our organization that doesn’t put our fans first,” he said.
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Uh-huh. While Mara worried about the fans who actually attend games — and it’s barely refreshing that he at least has some time for the 80,000 Carls from Aqua Teen Hunger Force that pay for his seat licenses — Goodell couldn’t have made it more clear that the league doesn’t give a flying fuck about anyone who pays for a ticket. They made it clear they stopped caring about the live fan when they stopped the game to show commercials to everyone who isn’t there when the temperature is 1°. Or when they built stadiums that had seat licenses requiring a second mortgage for seats that are a zip code away from the field.
While Goodell may claim that flexing Thursday night games is a service for the fans, it ignores that most Thursday games are dogshit because three days aren’t enough time for players to recover and prepare from their work the previous Sunday. If the games were actually good, fans would be less likely to mind if they’re always Jets vs. Texans.
There was also this nugget from the commish:
“We look at data with respect to injuries and impact on players. … I think we have data that’s very clear, it doesn’t show higher injury rate.”
Beware a Goodell bearing studies.
We all know what this really is: Amazon has buyer’s remorse for forking over billions for crap-tastic games involving at least one mediocre team if not two that are banged up and tired and incapable of the exquisite execution needed to play good football. And it’s more likely two, because the NFL is filled with mediocre teams. Every season there are fewer and fewer teams everyone wants to watch and more morass. How many genuinely good teams were there last year? Four? They can’t play each other every week.
Goodell can parrot the talking points he’s been programmed with all he likes, we know the deal. Fans honestly wouldn’t mind Thursday night games going away. For fans who attend it’s a bitch to figure out after work with still another workday on the other side. Fans of the teams playing don’t care for it much more. Fans who just want to watch football could do without the shitty product. Players hate it. It’s just another river of cash for the owners that they’re trying to keep flowing.
Welcome back, stranger
The USWNT announced its roster for two friendlies in April against Ireland, the last before the squad gets together for the World Cup. And there was quite a surprising name on that team sheet, one Julie Ertz.
Ertz hasn’t played a competitive match in nearly two years, and currently doesn’t have a club. She’s also seven months from giving birth to her first child. She’s been training, but it’s some measure of the desperation that manager Vlatko Andonovski must be feeling about his midfield right now that Ertz can get back into the team without, y’know, playing.
And he’s right to think the USWNT need Ertz badly. The two biggest areas of concern have been their ability to play out under a heavy press and being able to break up counter-attacks coming against them. Ertz at her prime solved both problems, given her metronomic passing and impenetrable control while under pressure, to go along with anticipation and vision to break up oncoming attacks.
But this isn’t going to be a prime Ertz. Even if she signs with a club tomorrow, she won’t be getting into games for at least a few weeks. She might get 10-12 games in the NWSL before the tournament, but that’s after 600 days of not playing anywhere at all through injury or pregnancy and maternity leave.
Still, no one has been able to grab her role and do it anywhere near the level required for the US to keep playing the attack-minded 4-3-3 they prefer. Andi Sullivan has been overwhelmed a lot of the time as a No. 6. Taylor Kornieck was something of a disaster there in her one go. Lindsey Horan and Kristie Mewis just aren’t built for that holding role. Ertz is that unique and that irreplaceable.
It’s a gamble, but one the US has spent two years proving they need to take.
Barnum and Bailey on Ice
As documented yesterday, the Oilers have been Barnum and Bailey on Ice for the past month or so. Here’s Leon Draisaitl giving another example last night against the Knights:
Some goober playing blackjack at The Mirage is still wondering why Alec Martinez’s jock landed on him last night.
Original source here
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