Thursday, February 5, 2015

The luckless ones

Enough, for  now, about winners and champions and the mortally lucky, like the New England Patriots, who stood and watched as Pete Carroll handed them the Super Bowl by A) not running Marshawn Lynch and B) running instead a pass play that wouldn't have scored anyway.

Let's raise a cracked glass insead this morning to the non-champions, the unlucky, the dogged victims of inexorable fate.

Or, in the case of Cleveland Browns fans, the Dog Pound-ed victims.

America's most frequently dismayed fan base took another shot to the hope gland yesterday when it came out that the Brownies could lose draft picks and face a suspension of GM Ray Farmer for texts sent the sidelines during games. This is a distinct no-no, which is probably why the Browns did it, being as they are the most can't-get-out-of-their-own-way-ing franchise in sports.

It's no fun to worship a team that, like Dick Van Dyke, never misses a chance to trip over the hassock.  But it's been especially hard so far this offseason: Before TextGate, there, came the news that troubled (and immensely talented) wide receiver Josh Gordon would be suspended a year for again violating the league's drug policy, and quarterback Johnny Manziel was headed for rehab to essentially learn how not to be a goofy 22-year-old. Which, of course, simply added to the growing sense of doom among Browns fans that their guys had burned another valuable draft pick.

Raise a glass to 'em. Hell, raise several.

Raise a glass, too, to the young men playing basketball at Syracuse right now. Because of infractions that  occurred before most of them were there, the school self-imposed a postseason ban yesterday. That means no March Madness for a group of players who likely had nothing to do with the infract-ing. Meanwhile, it's no skin off the kids who cheated -- nor, really, of those who either let it happen or actively helped it happen.

Here's what I think the school should have done: Suspend Jim Boeheim and his coaching staff and let the team coach itself in the tournament. It's not as far-fetched as you might think. My father, who played high school ball in Indiana in the '40s, remembers that during timeouts the team captain ran the huddle, not the coach. So there's precedent of a sort.

Of course, that would never happen in major college basketball, where the coaches are the stars and the players merely the supporting cast. There's too much chance Syracuse might actually do OK. This might get people thinking that maybe the coaches don't have as much to do with things as we're encouraged to believe -- and that in turn might get them wondering why these guys are making such huge piles of money.

Bottom line, it's about the bottom line. Another great idea killed by commerce.



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