Tag Archives: Dave Zirin

A fantastic piece on domestic violence and the NFL’s cowardice. The Jets and Giants both win ugly. And black athletes at Missouri make a brave stand against racial intolerance


Three stories to share with you this Monday autumn day that all, technically, involve football, but don’t go away if you hate the sport, because really, two of them have very little to do with America’s fall sports obsession.

Stick with me, you’ll see what I mean.

First up, you may be familiar with the despicable human being called Greg Hardy of the Dallas Cowboys, who despite being convicted on domestic violence charges last year, has returned from suspension, showed absolutely zero remorse toward his victim, and is being celebrated by Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and many others for his skill at sacking the quarterback.

Friday the website Deadspin.com published exclusive photos of the violence inflicted upon Hardy’s ex-girlfriend Nicole Holder (one of the pics is above), and suddenly there was outrage on the Internet. Because, you know, what, before this people had no idea what domestic violence looked like?

Anyway, blowhard Jones rejected calls from media and fans that Hardy be cut or suspended, spewing some bullshit spiel about “second chances.”

Jennifer Floyd Engel, writing for The Sporting News, wrote a column on Hardy that is the most powerful, and maybe best thing I’ve ever read about the NFL and domestic violence. Engel argues that Hardy should be forced to remain a Cowboy, and not be suspended, so everyone can see what the NFL is willing to tolerate.

An excerpt:

They signed Hardy, let him play again, giggled at the tone-deaf and sexist idiocy he delivered at his first opportunity to address the domestic violence charges he bought his way out of, defended him after he physically went after a coach, called him a real leader and talked of re-signing him.

They did this because he is a defensive beast and because they did not care and because no pictures had surfaced to give them 457 public relations reasons to pretend to care.

No, the NFL should be forced to wear Hardy like Holder did her bruises and scars.

Until they fade but the memory remains.

The whole column is outstanding, please take a few minutes and read it (the ending just hit me like a punch in the face). Chilling, dead-on accurate, and forcefully told.

The NFL ought to be embarrassed a schmuck like Hardy is celebrated and embraced. As should we be as fans of this product.


**Next up, a potentially huge development in college sports, racial tolerance on college campus, and the NCAA having to deal with a large athletic labor force unwilling to just go along and get along occurred Saturday night.

After months of racial incidents and protests that have roiled the University of Missouri campus, the football team took an extraordinary step Saturday night: The African-Americans (2/3 of the team, as usual in college football) on the squad released a statement saying they will no longer take part in any football activities until school president Tim Wolfe resigns.

No games, no practices, nothing. They did this with the full support of their coaches. If they stay firm on this, this decision by the Tigers team will cost the school millions and millions in lost revenue.

Now, there is A LOT of backstory to this at Mizzou, and if you’re interested, I recommend reading this great timeline of events from Mizzou’s school newspaper, the Maneater,  or this recap as well from the Columbia Missourian newspaper.

This goes well beyond football. At nearly every Division I school, football coaches and players have the most leverage and power. By choosing to use it this way to stand up to intolerance, the Missouri team may be setting a fantastic new precedent. This will be fascinating to watch; stay tuned.

The always-perceptive Dave Zirin has a terrific column on what this all means.

Monday afternoon UPDATE: Well, that was fast. President Tim Wolfe announced his resignation Monday morning, effective immediately. Anyone out there doubt football is king?



**And finally, to the action on the field I watched on Sunday. Ugly wins for my Jets and that “other” New York team, the Giants. My green and white men tried really hard to lose to lowly Jacksonville, but Ryan Fitzpatrick made enough plays, and the Jaguars committed enough turnovers, and somehow the Jets escaped with a win.

Next up? Old friend Rex Ryan and Buffalo come to town Thursday night, if the Jets have enough healthy bodies to play. Bears repeating, though I’ve said it before: It is beyond ridiculous that the NFL makes these players play Thursday night games, four days after playing another game. It is laughable that the NFL says it cares about player safety, yet makes these players smash into each other again 96 hours after a game, all in pursuit of more TV money.

— The hell happened to the Atlanta Falcons? Three weeks ago they were 6-0 and rolling. Now they just lost to the horrible 49ers and backup QB Blaine Gabbert.

— Watched some of that Raiders-Steelers classic Sunday; man, that was great back and forth action, like a matchup from those two teams when they were great in the ’70s.

— Finally, I threw this out on Twitter: Whatever happened to barefoot kickers? Used to be half the league had them, now I barely see any. Rich Karlis (above), I miss you so.

A writer rethinks his love of “The Wire” in light of the Baltimore violence. John Oliver brilliantly skewers standardized tests. And funny men are better in bed (now there’s proof!)


Frank Deford, who is by nearly-universal agreement one of the 5-6 best sportswriters who ever lived, used to scoff when people would refer to him derisively as just a “sportswriter.”

I am a writer, he would argue, who writes primarily about sports. His point was that he could have written about any subject you choose and he’d do a good job on it; to call him “just a sportswriter” diminishes his talent and implies that’s all he could do.

Dave Zirin makes me think of that old Deford line, because he’s a terrifically talented journalist, who ostensibly writes about sports but really much more than that, about the intersection of sports, culture, race and politics. I’ve highlighted his work before, and he’s often at his best when he steps outside of commenting on games.

I read this piece by Zirin the other day and have thought about it ever since. Like me and millions of others, he’s a huge fan of HBO’s “The Wire”, partly because it did such a tremendous job showing inner-city Baltimore’s real life, and the constant battle between drug dealers, police, and the racial questions that never go away.

But given what’s happened in “real life” Baltimore the past few weeks, Zirin has taken to re-assessing. He now finds himself angry “The Wire” didn’t address more real-life city issues, like young African-Americans trying to change Baltimore’s schools, or in the season set by the docks, why more black union leaders weren’t shown?

I don’t agree with Zirin here; I think it’s unrealistic to expect a TV show to cover all possible angles/areas of a city, and his criticisms of choices the show made are easy to make in light of what’s going on in Baltimore today.

But it’s a really interesting and compelling article, and I highly recommend it.

**Next up, the brilliant John Oliver took his delicate scalpel to the highly-charged issue of standardized testing in schools on this week’s show, and as usual he did a masterful job.

As a part-time teacher I’ve followed this issue closely, and Oliver hits just about all the right notes, and I’m particularly glad he focused heavily on Florida, which was just about ground zero of the whole standardized testing movement, a movement Jeb Bush basically championed more than anyone.

Just watch that young Florida girl in Oliver’s piece, and tell me we’re not doing more harm than good here.

**Finally today, I’ve been told all my life I’m a pretty funny guy, so I’d like to think not everyone has been lying. But where did that get me with women most of my teen years and through much of my 20’s? Nowhere, that’s where.

If only I’d had a research study, some kind of proof, that funny men are great lovers. If only the University at Albany (N.Y.) had come out with this study before now, I could’ve been like Hugh Hefner or Wilt Chamberlain!

What am I babbling about? Researchers at Albany studied undergraduate females and asked them a bunch of questions, and found that “women are more likely to not only prefer sex with a man who makes her laugh, but they’re also more likely to initiate it more often, straight-up want it more often and physically enjoy it more.

“Further, women are more likely to feel both protected by and committed to her man if he knows exactly what sort of joke will have her doubled over with a fit of the giggles.”

Can’t argue with science, right? Funny men rule.

A heart-stopping finish and a snoozer: Seattle and New England advance to the Super Bowl. A great story on how MLK and Muhammad Ali became friends. And the best bribery story involving suckling pigs you’ll ever hear


So much I want to blog about today, so little time: My red-hot New York Rangers keep rolling, beating the hell out of the hated Penguins Sunday; Duke bounced back with a huge win over Louisville, this North Korea/NSA spying thing just keeps getting stranger and stranger, another famous athlete got busted for prostitution and I can’t understand why they do it. (more on that one in Wednesday’s blog) … but we start where I must start: Championship Sunday in the NFL.

And the last five minutes of regulation/overtime of the Seahawks-Packers game, which was as bananas as anything I’ve seen in the NFL in a long, long time. To recap: Packers dominated the game but kept kicking field goals instead of scoring TD’s, Russell Wilson playing as bad a football game as he ever has, Seattle down 19-7 with five minutes to go… and they score three touchdowns, the last one in OT, to win and go back to the Super Bowl for the second straight year.

Epic, epic collapse by the Packers. You can blame the dude who fumbled the onside kick all you want, but the Green Bay defense melted like wax paper those last few drives.
From getting no pressure on Wilson, to not being able to cover the mediocre Hawks’ receivers, to Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (yes that’s really his name) not knocking down the 2-point conversion that put Seattle up 22-19 (thus making the Packers’ field goal at the end of regulation a tying kick, not a winning kick), there’s plenty of blame to go around.

Hell, Seattle needed a fake field goal TD just to get on the scoreboard through 3 1/2 quarters, and they still found a way to win.

Russell Wilson can play for me anytime. What a player. I’m sick for the Packers fans this morning; thank God it’s a national holiday and those people don’t have to call in sick; they can mourn at home.

As for the other game … yeah, that was predictable. Andrew Luck may be great someday, but he needs a running game, a defense with a pass rush, and a lot more seasoning to be able to win a game like that up in New England. That was an annhilation, plain and simple, and now pretty boy Tom Brady and Coach Hoodie and a guy who should’ve been a Jet forever, Darrelle Revis, get to play in another Super Bowl (yes, I’m bitter about Revis.)

Should be a hell of a game. Big stars, great storylines, two very even teams … can’t wait till Feb. 1.


**Next up, the great sportswriter/social commentator Dave Zirin wrote a terrific column for Martin Luther King Jr. Day today, about the unlikely friendship in the 1960s between Dr. King and Muhammad Ali.

Despite both being rabble-rousers with millions of followers, they were quite different in temperment and in their beliefs, with Ali favoring Malcolm X and the Nation of Islam’s way of achieving racial equality. But in the mid-60s Ali and King grew to respect and appreciate each other, and even develop a close friendship.

Zirin is excellent at these kinds of stories; highly recommend reading this slice of history.

**And finally today, this made me laugh and shake my head at the world we live in.

From the lede to a Washington Post story the other day (hat tip to Bruce Arthur’s Twitter feed for the heads up):

A Malaysian defense contractor pleaded guilty Thursday in a corruption scandal of epic proportions, admitting that he bribed “scores” of U.S. Navy officials with $500,000 in cash, six figures’ worth of sex from prostitutes, lavish hotel stays, spa treatments, Cuban cigars, Kobe beef, Spanish suckling pigs and an array of other luxury goods.

“That’s right sir, the money and cigars are great, but can you get me any suckling pigs? Because that’s what will REALLY make me give your company this contract. I wanna hear these pigs loud and clear, you understand me????”

The story is actually wild and fascinating the largest bribery case in Navy history; but I had trouble getting past the suckling pigs part.