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Weekend winners

Amanda Nunes. The powerful MMA female champ dominated her title defense Saturday night.

Golf. The Colonial starts Thursday, so the PGA returns to the sporting calendar. That's a good thing. News that as many 8,000 fans will be allowed in The Memorial in Ohio early next month is a better thing.

NASCAR. Buckets friends, NASCAR continues to be the shining example of each new wave as we navigate the unparalleled hurdles and challenges that 2020 have lobbed our way. NASCAR, which has the most checkered past in terms of racial issues, paused and addressed the racial controversies around us before, during and after Sunday's race. (Side question: I ask this in earnest and humbly: Would NASCAR had the same ceremonies and how would it have been received if the stands at Atlanta Motor Speedway had been full? Because know this: If the crowd had been allowed in, there would have been Confederate flags present. Thoughts?)  

College athletes, in terms of recognizing their true power, at least in football and major college basketball. The players have always had this power, but it was never acknowledged — by the institutions, leaders or the athletes themselves — before now. The tipping point, in my view, has been the desperation in the voices of university leaders — the presidents and ADs, not just the coaches — about the absolute financial dire straits college athletics in general without one college football season.

 

Weekend losers

Iowa. We have repeated a familiar refrain more times that we can recall over the last three months. "They won't be the last (team, person, program, sport, et al.) to face this." Well, now it's Iowa football, which is facing accusations of racism against its strength and conditioning coach. Chris Doyle has been put on leave while these charges are being processes, and Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz has said he was unaware of player mistreatment. Now would be the best time for my friendly reminder that I do not believe any successful head coach of any major football or men's basketball program is aware of almost everything — good and bad — that happens in his program. Period. Be it the immoral-that-led-to-criminal acts under Paterno and Art Briles, the unethical-that-became-program-crippling like Pitino and Patrino. And I do not believe Ferentz either.

MLB. We mentioned this Friday in the mailbag, but it's even more strained now. The MLB is teetering on the edge of arguably an organizational-changing moment. The owners have a conference call scheduled for today, and you have to think that if an agreement is not reached this week, the 2020 season is in real jeopardy.
 

Jordan Love's signature. Saw this over the weekend at Clay Travis' site, but man, a J and a heart as your autograph? I would not have drafted him in them first round for that alone, never mind if I had Aaron Rodgers on the depth chart.

 

Oklahoma State and the NCAA. Uh, yes, Oklahoma State likely deserved the NCAA hammer. But again, the NCAA's selectiveness and randomness continues to erode any of the remaining credibility of what looks to be a doomed organization.

 

Front and center

 

Four of the six headlines on ESPN.com Monday morning were race-related.

The other two were the shooting death of Reche Caldwell and a boxing testing positive for the Corona.

It's the pervasive topic and talking point all around us, not just in sports.

But sports and the daily protests seem to be the two mainstream entries points for those discussions.

Be it legends making impassioned speeches like Gregg Popovich, coaches and players participating in protests or fund-raisers, or even entire organizations such as NASCAR addressing the needs to do more, do better in this national outpouring of all kinds of emotion since the killing of George Floyd.

Of course, the centerpiece of this remains the NFL.

(Side note here: While the NFL is in the crosshairs — and considering its recent history with Colin Kaepernick and the dominoes of that — the NBA should be facing some very pointed questions right now too. As professional basketball prepares to come back, the NBA has a collectively bargained rule that players must stand during the National Anthem. Will that be relaxed? If so, some of the games biggest names and leaders who went deathly silent when basic human rights and personal liberties of those in Hong Kong were quashed by the China government should be asked about that too. And yes, that includes personal favorite LeBron James.)        

But the NFL, the monolith in sports and American entertainment, is the crux. Kaepernick's protests. The backlash. The banishment. The league's attempts to end kneeling. That was the pre-Floyd timeline.

In the last two weeks since Floyd was killed under the knee of a former Minneapolis police officer, the timeline has looked like the EKG of a chainsaw juggler that again peaked as NFL commissioner Roger Goodell apologized to Kaepernick without ever mentioning Kaepernick's name.

It continued to spike over the weekend as President Trump waded back into the controversy.

The details are well known. The future is not. And if you think there will not be protests this fall — in NFL stadiums across the country and in a lot of college stadiums too — well, I don't know what to tell you.

In fact, I kind of wonder if all of this publicity and the overwhelming acceptance of this will actually make kneeling less impactful. Does that make any sense at all.

 

This and that

— Augusta National may become Augusta Proper with the way it is buying up areas around the grounds. For those who have been to the hallowed grounds, here's a story about the massive purchases in recent years — more than $60 million worth — as the world's most perfect golf facility continues to expand, innovate and improve.
 

— You know the rules. Here's the start to another top-five list from TFP college football expert David Paschall, who is looking back on his three decades of covering college football for the local fish wrapper. Today is No. 5 of his most memorable SEC games of the 1990s.


— This will be a common theme in the days ahead as college football teams return to campus. After Alabama reportedly had five players test positive last week, Auburn had three test positive according to this report.

 

Today's questions

I wonder this in earnest:

Do you miss sports more or less than you expected as we close in on three months of sports shutdown?

Do you miss sports more or less than you did a month ago?

I also ask for weekend winners and losers, but that's mainly out of routine.

As for today, June 8, let's review.This is nuts: On this day in 1920. Reds outfielder Edd Roush was ejected for delay of game. Yes. In baseball. Roush fell asleep in centerfield during a long infield argument and a teammate had to go wake him up but the ump ejected him. Gang, baseball knew its game was too slow a century ago.

From the "Choose your words carefully" department: On this day in 1989, the Pirates scored 10 runs in the first inning, which prompted team broadcaster Jim Rooker to say he'd walk from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia if the Pirates lost the game. Yep, the Phillies rallied for a 15-11 win and Rooker made the walk of shame after the season ended.

On this day in 1978, the Braves drafted Bob Horner No. 1 overall. There were a couple of other infielders in that draft that the Braves likely would have picked if they had a 20/20 do-over. Cal Ripken Jr. went in the second round; Ryne Sandberg went in the 20th round.

On this day in 1984, "Ghostbusters" was released. Excellent.

The year before, "Trading Place" was released. Man, Dan Aykroyd should always celebrate June 8.
   
Does Aykroyd make the Scottie Pippen of comedy actors Hall of Fame? I do not think Aykroyd carried a single A-list comedy but his catalog of comedy Robins — the above two, Blue Brothers, Spies Like Us, et al. — is hard to argue.

Rushmore of supporting comedy actors. Go.

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