Gang, what a great week. Thanks for all your help and input. (And golfgal, we forgot to ask at the UTC game last night about your question, but we're going to get an answer and put it in the comments section before lunch. Deal? Deal.)
Remember to listen to Press Row today from 3-6 p.m. on ESPN Radio 105.1 FM and right here on timesfreepress.com because we feel several of the below topics will be covered. Also we're considering re-running the mailbag column in Saturday's paper on a regular basis because you guys are that good. (And remember you can submit questions by email, in the comments below or on my Twitter @jgreesontfp.)
This week we had more mailbag stuff than ever and we're committed to answering as many of them as possible before 10 a.m. We are moving at a high rate of speed — we skipped straight to 'Ludicrous Speed' — so buckle up and hang on. (We also promise at least one movie quote/reference in each answer so see if you can pick it out. Deal? Deal, part deux.)
From the "Talks way too much" studios, remember to get the papers, get the papers.
From Stewwie —
Jay, if you want for the mailbag, can you do an assessment of Goodell's tenure at the helm of the NFL? What has he done right or well and what has he done wrong or poorly? Also, what rating out of 10 would you give his job performance?
We almost did not include this question this week because there were so many and you query deserves an answer with some depth and thought.
We will revisit this topic next week when we spend a great deal more time on the NFL as a whole and the Super Bowl as an event. Deal? Deal. See there, we're using code names.
On the skim, here's my view of Goodell's approach to his job and the the NFL's current momentum — his skills are a mile wide and an inch deep. That is not a compliment.
Under Goodell, the NFL has consumed a lion's share of the U.S.'s sporting attention. Heck, NFL recap shows are regularly among the most-10-watched among all TV programs each week in the fall. It's the mega-monolith of sports and heading into its biggest week of the year, there's a fair argument to be made that the NFL is monster among all pop culture. The Super Bowl has reached National Holiday status and it's the one sporting event that draws even non-sports fans' interest, and in today's sport-attention-span society, how many other endeavors truly draw the interest of those that could not care less about it.
But Goodell is piloting the fastest car on the track that has been meticulously assembled long before he buckled in. He is speeding around the track and leading the pack because of the work put in by the Rozelles and the Tagliabues and the owners and players before now.
Goodell's best quality to date is that he has managed not to mess anything up, which is commendable considering he has the nicest house on the block and has fought the urge to put his questionable design touches on it. A big part of that and Goodell's limited success is that the NFL has avoided major labor issues, which makes since in a lot of ways because of his law background.
That said, the lingering issues that are swirling around this game that we all love are only gaining steam as power as Goodell tries to distract the sheep with topics like "PATs: Friend or Foe" and innovations like "Pro Bowl Draft." Puh-lease.
There are problems in this game. The concussion issue has been reopened by a Federal judge who believes 3/4 of a billion dollars is not enough to cover it. The issues of player safety are fraught with peril and must be fought with passion. Those issues have and will continue to change the nature of the sport, and those changes are not going to be met with smiles. Greeting the next generation with a game that still engages the previous generation will be a challenge for the NFL — heck it's a challenge for every business in every walk of life.
And the answer can not be found by debating whether an extra point is a worthy endeavor.
Goodell's overall grade must be pretty good because he is the leader of the biggest ATM in sports and the biggest single monster in not only out sports culture but our entertainment world.
That said, we have our doubts moving forward, and we can't help but feel that Goodell is like the smartest fifth-grader in school who can't do division. Sure, he's on top of the elementary school but when middle school starts in the coming months, he's going to struggle. (Out of 10, we'd give his previous run a very strong 8; but we feel that the hurdles in front of him and the game are going to drop that number quickly. Maybe even divide it by half... Not that our symbolic fifth-grader could figure that out anyway.)
From TJ —
Man, I started reading your blog after you and Paschal started doing Press Row and I was going to call and ask you this but thought I'd send it as a mailbag instead.
I am hosting my first Super Bowl party and I need some help. Have you done one of these before and what tips can you give. It's going to be about 15-20 people and there will be a few 'Co-Colas' consumed.
Any help you or some of your readers can offer would be awesome.
Thanks -- and now that you are on the radio too you really do talk a lot. (Kidding.)
Great question, and you have come to the right place. Before we had the 5-at-10 tots, the Mrs. 5-at-10 and the boneheaded TFP sports editor threw a mean Super Bowl shindig. We will get her help on some simple recipes so keep your eyes peeled later this morning. Here is what we had on our "Super checklist of Super Bowl party superness" (and if you get caught in the bathroom with Gary or Wyatt, you can put your nose to the ground and smell the food):
1) Buy more beer — errrr Co-Colas — than you expect to need. By like 50 percent. Trust us, and remember, beer doesn't go bad. Skip the liquor — this is a marathon, not a sprint — but you may want to include a couple bottles of wine, especially if there will be some ladies there.
2) It sound like you may not have enough people to do a Super Bowl board. So pick any of the 1,000 prop bets and have some fun. One of the more popular ones we had was we made sure everyone showed up with a bunch of quarters and we passed a big jar around person by person and on each play, you had to put a quarter in. If there was a scoring play when you were holding the jar, you got to keep the money in it.
3) Do as much as you can on Saturday before the big game. The only bad part of having a Super Bowl party is when you are running crazy and not getting to enjoy the shindig. Get the lifting done as early as possible so you can enjoy it too.
We'll have a few recipes before noon and remember to have fun.
Jay -- your column is awesome. I read this week about Nikc Satan and Lane Kiffin singing and dancing with recruits and could not stop laughing. 'Bama is about to get what it deserves with Lil' Lane. Trust us Bamers, Vols fans know what is coming.
If you have room in your Friday mailbag, maybe you could list the five karaoke songs you'd like to hear at the Bama coaches retreat? Thanks and thanks for the 5-at-10.
Another great question, and we feel certain this will be discussed with our SEC football ace David Paschall on Press Row today. He knows a ton about all things SEC and his spleen was the spitting image of our dead brother's.
1) Saban singing Total Eclipse of the Heart with Kiffin. Turn around bright eyes.
2) Kirby Smart signing "Short People" and never making eye contact with Saban
3) Any coach who thinks it would be funny to sing "One Second" by London Elektricity
4) Some people twist up the karaoke process and everyone will put in a song that could be funny for someone else to sing. In that scenario, whomever goes last in pulling out the pieces of paper drawing the final slip from the jar that says "War Eagle" or "Rocky Top" in Kiffin's writing. Of course, unless that was Saban, whomever did the singing would be fired before the final note.
5) Former Kiffin sidekick Ed Orgeron crashing the party and signing "I'm too Sexy for My Shirt"
Hey, I read the 5-at-10 every now and then but wanted to tell you that Press Row is awesome. Listen every day and love the fact that you guys have started working your Rushmores into the daily talk.
Here's one -- and I know David kids you about tennis -- but where does Federer-Nadal rank on the Rushmore of individual rivalries in all of sports? Thanks and thanks for what you do.
First if your name is after Xavier McDaniel (who was great in Singles) then your name is boss. If it's after the comic book gang, then JMC thinks your name is boss. Either way, it's boss, just like Bob Cormier "Hey! From the racks and stacks, it's the best on wax! How 'bout another double-golden-oldie-twin-spin-sound-sandwich from K-L-A-M in Portland? It's boss."
Best individual sports rivalries (off the top of our head and in no order)
That was super quick, but man, this may be a Rushmore today. Well played indeed.
Man, why are you defending Richard Sherman. Dude is a thug and is all about himself.
He's a punk and you know it and I think you are just defending him to stir things up.
Whatever. But if you defend a punk that makes you a punk.
We'll answer this and then ask a bounce-back question or two. Deal? Deal.
We believe that Richard Sherman answered honestly and with passion and those are things that the sports world desperately needs. Could he have been a better sportsman? Yes, probably, and the fact that he has apologized for some of the things that happened last Sunday — after he made the single biggest play in his life and in the history of his franchise — especially in the way it put the spotlight on Sherman rather than the Seahawks, tells us he knows he was running on the verge of out-of-control.
Still, if we're going to demand postgame interviews, can we be surprised — or worse yet outraged — by the answers? And if we are, then that's on us in the style and setting of the interview and in the expectation of these guys playing like warriors and wanting them to put their napkin in their lap before using the right fork in the seconds that follow.
There are so many levels to this debate that it is fascinating, really, but since we are short on all kinds of time, we'll leave these two questions:
1) If you defended Phil Robertson, a surprisingly well-educated, somewhat stereotypical character, who got untold levels of undeserved hatred for answering a reporter's question with a passionate and honest answer, then you best defend Richard Sherman. Trade the Duck Dynasty beard for Sherman's dreadlocks and they are the very similar people in very similar circumstances.
2) Did your mother marry Mr. Rogers?
Did I read your rag that they are making Moonpie Moonshine? Gross.
What's the five worst moonshine flavors you can imagine?
Wow, gang, you guys brought the good today. Quickly — like cannonball quick... cannonball it right back. Cannonball coming.
1) Loogie Lightning
2) Uncle George's Cherry Chest Hair
3) Mashed Mixture: Krystal Chili Cheese Fried (It would eliminate a step in the moonshine process, though)
4) Soul Glo
5) Cole Slawghter
From Wade's Way
Saw you courtside -- Press Row if you will -- last night at the Mocs game. What a night.
What were you thoughts of the night, the game and what was the biggest moment (well other than the 3/4 court shot at the end of the first half -- and how cool was it that it was on SportsCenter?)
Thanks and you said Will Wade was legit from the start, and we're on the bandwagon.
We will delve into this more on Press Row if you will, but quickly.
It was a great night. Here are five quick takeaways that we garnered:
1) Biggest moment of the game: Wade and Co. staying calm when Elon sprinted to an 8-0 run to open the game. Nice job of the crowd staying in it and the team staying on point.
2) Love Casey Jones' game. Kid does a slew of things that helps his club with or without the ball in his hands. That is so valuable in today's game, be it tipped balls, blocked shots, making the extra pass, you name it. In recent big-school terms, Jones is the SoCon's version of former Kentucky star Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
3) Z Mason is a beast. That is all. Wait that is not all. In addition to his offensive skills — dude hit a 16-foot, fadeaway over a double team in the first half that was a legit NBA shot — Mason grabbed no fewer than three big-time, big-boy offensive rebounds over taller foes that led to baskets. Kid is money. And not unlike Dalton, we thought he'd be bigger.
4) There's a lot to like about this staff and this team. We're onboard, and more importantly, we'll go back. Good times.
5) No way there were 4,600 people there. Love the energy. Love the volume. And as UTC super fan Bob — nice to meet you at the game Bob — said to us on Press Row, "It took several years to erode the attendance, it will take several years to build it back." Well said Bob. And games and atmospheres like last night will help that process immensely.
In summary, and for mailbag consideration: Can Chattanooga become a city that supports local traditional team sports or should the lion's share of attention be spent promoting individual outdoors sports?
Wow, another home run question that we are going to have to answer with the speed of an infield single.
We think the ball is rolling toward non-ball activities. And that's not going to change. In fact that will certainly only increase in the days, weeks, and years to come.
If the city is going to invest in traditional, ball-oriented sports, they would be wise doing it on the youth level as a tourist avenue. In some ways — The Summitt, the recent cheerleading extra-ganza Chattanooga has — that has already started. In fact, if we had a few extra millions to toss around, we'd build a big-time youth baseball complex and host tournaments from March to November.
If you build it they will come.
So, Butch Jones has 34 committments and more to come? How is this squaring with the SEC rule of 25? How many can he "back-count"? If it gets to signing day and he tells a bunch of kids that he doesn't want them anymore it is really going to sour a bunch of high school coaches on working with him in the future, could bite him in the butt.
The SEC rule of 25 is per year. The Vols — and most big-boy programs — use December enrollees to back-count those scholarships to the previous year.
Case in point, UT had 14 football players enroll in January and those count toward unused scholarships from the previous year and within the program. This severely increases the likelihood of players being "Processed" or what some coaches do with players not meeting expectations.
And with as many needs as the Vols have and as many holes as there are on that roster, here's saying Butch will be processing current players before telling current recruits to look elsewhere. See, on this hand you favoritism and over here it's who knows who.
As far as biting anyone in the buttocks, well, the quid pro quo of recruiting — kids committing and flipping meeting coaches getting commitments and still recruiting over players — is just another part of the seedy process that now includes an even more seedy "Process."
That said, the best thing about being bit in the buttocks is the ice cream.
For Friday: How would baseball be different if Little Abner had chosen an even hundred feet between bases?
Also for Friday: If the Sportswriters' Association had $11K annual dues, how would you supplement your puny TFP check so it wouldn't be a negative amount after the deductions?
The game would likely be somewhat similar since we'd be used to it no matter, but we would be without one of the greatest single sentences in sports writing history when Jim Murray wrote, "Man has never been closer to perfection than 90 feet between the bases." And if you think about it, the number of bang-bang plays in baseball make that statement so, So, SO true.
So 100 feet would be the biggest 10 feet this side of being 10-feet-tall and bullet-proof.
As for the association fees, well, if they started at $11K a year, we'd likely have to take up a collection and enter on an hourly basis when we need the group. It's not like we have a plethora of pinatas after all. That works out to a more-manageable $1.26 per hour a year, so we could manage that. Heck, we may even be able to expense that.
Gang, great work.
Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...