Kickoffs kick out?
The NFL has as many as seven different rule changes on the docket for next week's owners meeting for the rules committee to discuss.
Here's what we know:
Kickoffs are dangerous, OK?
The NFL likes to pretend it is interested in player safety, and tweak rules now and again to perpetrate that position.
So, kickoffs are in the crosshair.
Here are the proposed changes:
> The kick coverage team (other than the kicker) must be within 1 yard of the 35-yard line. (Currently it's 5 yards);
> The kick coverage team must have five players on each side of the kicker. (Currently is at least four on each side);
> At least two (rather than the current one) must be outside the numbers;
> Eight of the return team players must be within the 15-yard restraining zone (from the 45 to the 40 on normal kickoffs) of where the ball is kicked from;
> If the kick touches the end zone it is dead and a touchback;
> No return-team player may leave the restraining zone to make a block until the ballots the ground or is touched.
It's clear that the NFL wants to try to keep kickoffs, which makes sense. (The loss of the onside kick would be troubling and the extra commercial break for a league that makes billions off networks that hundreds of millions during those commercial breaks.)
Still, it's hard not to laugh when the NFL trots out stuff like this in the name of safety.
The game is violent friends.
And they are paid well to play it.
If you want these rules for lower levels, well, that's a different enterprise entirely.
And made we're being a touch too cynical in these matters.
It's just hard to take the league's altruistic stance or morality bantering seriously on anything.
The biggest betting danger zone
Did you see this story?
To recap, Metta World Peace said when he was in college and known as Ron Artest, he was approached by gamblers and offered $35,000 to shave points and fix a basketball game.
Choose to believe it or not that's up to you.
But with the changes coming after the Supreme Court ruled that federal laws banning sports betting are unconstitutional, this story resonates with even more force.
And more meaning.
Yes, the NBA and the rest of the professional sports leagues are clamoring for the $1 fee off all bets on their sports for myriad of reasons, including the need for more security and anti-gambling measures. That makes sense, to a point.
We can all agree that the pro leagues are making sure they will get to wet their beak from the fire hydrant of new revenue. Game-fixing in professional sports, at least among the players, seems like such a far-fetched thing these days because of the money needed to get a meaningful player who could dictate the outcome.
According to this Forbes story comparing league salaries (and these are a year or two old), the average — average, mind you — salary of MLB players in 2017 was $4.4 million. The NBA is more than $6 million and the was $2.1 million.
Professional athletes on the major team sports have priced themselves beyond the corruption.
But the college game — the amateur game, remember — with at best players getting a few thousands in stipends could be ripe for corruption.
And considering we all have the utmost trust in the NCAA to handle its business efficiently and fairly, then there's no worry, right?
If colleges are going to be on betting boards — and considering Mississippi is going to be no worse than the third state to have legalized sports betting according to the reports — then college sports need a cut to help police the integrity of their games.
Or help protect what's left of them, any way.
How the West was 1-1
Do you believe in desperation in team sports?
Yes, you could have made an argument that there was just as much importance on Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals for Houston.
But was there the same amount of desperation? Either way, the Rockets evened the series with an impressive 127-105 win.
(Side question: While we are getting around side questions, which headline is the most hackneyed? The Dores getting slammed; the Tide rolls over anyone; Houston we have a problem; or How the West was won?)
The changes were not as drastic as some would lead you to believe for the Houston offense.
The hand-wringing about all the isolation plays has died, but the numbers showed that the duo of Chris Paul and James Harden actually had one more isolation play than in Game 1 and the duo had just two more passes.
The answer was the complementary players did more — way more — when those passes landed in their hands.
Rockets perimeter players Eric Gordon, P.J. Tucker, and Trevor Ariza combined for 68 points in Game 2 and that total included 12-of-18 on 3-pointers. In Game 1, that trio had 24 points and were 4-of-14 from deep.
The most-telling changes from Game 1 to Game 2 for Houston were subtle and obvious.
Quietly, the Rockets are going directly at Steph Curry, making him involved directly on defense in 17 percent of their half-court sets.
Obviously, every Warriors starter not named Kevin Durant was dreadful Wednesday, combining for 35 points on 14-of-30 shooting.
This and that
— The finalists for the NBA awards were announced. They are listed here. Also of note, Dwane Casey was a finalist for coach of the year. The Toronto Raptors Tweeted their congratulations, which would be a lot like your former significant other telling you good job on Twitter after she dumped your tuckus.
— Rest in Peace Mike Slive. Roy Kramer may have laid the ground work before you arrived in the SEC, but Slive was the architect that constructed the palace that has become the best conference in college sports.
— Texas Rangers pitcher Bartolo Colon started last night's game against the Mariners. It was aired only on Facebook. For perspective, Colon began his big-league career seven years before Facebook was founded. In case you're wondering, Colon turned in a 7.2 scoreless classic. He's 2-1 with a 2.82 ERA. At the age of 44. Colon is having an amazing first quarter of the season. He is first in the AL in Ks-to-walk ratio (8.0), first in walks per nine innings (0.71) and fifth in WHiP (0.84). He's 44. And huge. And lovable. His response to getting hit with a 101 mph batted ball in the stomach? "I got a big belly. I can take it."
— Wow, this story seems like a bad movie on first glance. It's a 25-year-old man poised to be a Hurricane Harvey survivor and posed as a high school basketball player. He transferred schools and was the Region player of the year last season. That's all somewhat surreal right? This part is really troubling. He allegedly was dating a 14-year-old student as well.
— Remember Brenna Spencer, the UTC student who took her graduation photo with a handgun tucked in her white jeans with a pink "Women for Trump" shirt? She made some headlines. Well, over the weekend a Kent State grad took a photo with an AR-10 and the message "Come and Take it" on her cap. As you would expect the social media backlash has been heated, hateful and swift. The young lady had a pretty strong — and well-played — answer to her critics on Twitter: "Thanks to all who have sent me death threats for taking a picture. You're the biggest advocates for gun rights. You proved exactly why people carry."
— Did you see the story that ABC execs are wondering aloud how much the next season of "Roseanne" will deal with politics? Interesting decision and one that opens the company up to a fair amount of questions of bias considering the following: Roseanne has been the surprise hit of this TV season and in large part Barr's open support of Trump — in life and on screen — has been a big part of that surge; on the other side, Jimmy Kimmel has been arguably the biggest Trump critic on network TV and there has not been a peep from corporate. Hmmmmmmm.
If we had seen this yesterday it would have made a pretty excellent "Which Way Wednesday" but did you see that Tiger has committed to playing in the Memorial?
No that's not a which way. This is: Tiger is playing with Peyton in the Pro-Am, and which one of those two is the better all-time great at his chosen craft?
As for today, May 17, let's review:
On this day in 1972, 24 merchants from the greater NYC area get together downtown and form a little swamp meet. It was on Wall Street and it became known as a little something called the New York Stock Exchange.
In 1973, the Watergate hearing began, and forever left us with the suffix -gate on every scandal ever.
Wow, this is pretty ground-breaking all things considered, but on this day in 1939, the first televised U.S. sporting event is broadcast. A college baseball game between Princeton and Columbia.
Cool Papa Bell would have been 115 today.
John Deere died today in 1886.
Let's go there. Rushmore of people better known as a product. Be creative and remember the mailbag.