Yesterday my wife and I visited Sun Trust park and watched the Red Sox, despite a shaky (but scoreless) performance from Nathan Evoaldi, take game one of their 3 game set with the Atlanta Braves 8-2. The game was much closer than the score would indicate and it wasn’t until the Sox added two in the top of the 8th to give a bit of a cushion and 3 more in the 9th that it was comfortable.

It was a grand day for baseball. The huge amount of RedSox fans in attendance meant that it had the feel of a home game for the Alex Cora’s team and there were competing cries of “Let’s go Redsox” and “Let’s go Braves” on a regular basis and everyone was focused not only on a great game but the playoff implications of a game that could be a preview to this year’s World Series making it a great day for Baseball in General and for the Red Sox who won the game and the Braves who sold out the park in particular.

Meanwhile while key games in pennant races continued to be the focus for baseball, the NFL with its season about to start discovered that the Colin Kaepernick and the kneeling controversy continues to be the gift that keeps on giving:

Nike selected former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick as the face of its “Just Do It” campaign, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary.

Darren Rovell of ESPN reported the choice of Kaepernick, who started the movement to kneel during the United States national anthem to protest racial injustice in August 2016.

In one respect this move by Nike, the official sneaker of the NFL. might make some business sense when you consider the demographic targets for on overpriced sneakers made in Vietnam and China are not likely to be all that upset about protesters kneeling for the National anthem.

Alas this isn’t the case for the NFL. Not only is this move likely to spark even more protests by players which, while embraced by the playsers association and ESPN, will serve to enrage their customer base even further but Nike has guaranteed that the for the rest of the week the lead story for those covering the NFL will not be the opening of the season and the various teams, players and stars but the whole Kaepernick protest business which is the last thing a league that whose ratings are already in decline needs.

Of course in fairness the NFL was already in this position to some degree as the Washington Post noted in a story written before Nike’s Kaepernick anouncement:

In May, the owners of the NFL’s teams were gathered at a hotel in the Buckhead district of Atlanta. As a high-ranking official from one franchise made his way to a coffee break before the meetings began, he wondered what the group would do that week about the national anthem dilemma that had so vexed the league since President Trump inflamed a national controversy last fall about players’ protests during the anthem.

“What we can’t do,” the official said, “is get to next season and still be in this position.”

However, with the opening of the 2018 season days away, that is exactly where the league finds itself.

The Washington Post, not withstanding their mendacious attempt to blame Trump for the players actions, was exactly right about the NFL’s situation before Nike signed Kaepernick and made it worse.

Perhaps the NFL should have thought of this before it decided to allow the Kaepernick protests to go unchallenged. If they did the conversation this week might be about Brady, the Eagles QB situation and the new contract for Aaron Rogers rather than who kneels and who stands. And you better believe that with election day only weeks away, President Trump and the GOP will take full advantage of the gift of idiocy of their opponent in this matter.

FYI in case your interested at yesterday’s Atlanta Braves Boston Redsox game A group of local school children sang the national anthem to start the game and an opera singer followed up with a resounding rendition of God Bless America during the seventh inning stretch. Nobody kneeled during either song and thus nobody other than me found it worth mentioning.

On WEEI as I was driving into work today in between expressions of delight at the unexpected success of the Celtics vs LeBron James and Cleveland I was listening to the hosts express surprise that Matt Light won the fan vote for the Patriots Hall of fame over Richard Seymour and Mike Vrabel.

On Wednesday, the team announced the fans have voted for Light to be the 27th person to be inducted into the Patriots Hall of Fame. Light spent his entire 11-year career (2001-11) with the Patriots. The left tackle joins Kevin Faulk (2016), Troy Brown (2012) and Tedy Bruschi (2013) as the fourth player to enter The Hall as a career Patriot with three Super Bowl rings.

Light beat out Mike Vrabel and Richard Seymour.

“For 11 seasons, Matt’s many accomplishments, both on and off the field, made him the consummate Patriot,” said Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft in a statement. “His contributions helped the Patriots become champions on the field and in the community. For more than a decade, Matt fearlessly protected Tom Brady’s blind side and played an immeasurably important role in delivering three Super Bowl titles and five conference championships. As proud as I am of Matt’s many contributions to those championship teams, I truly believe that his lasting legacy will be measured by the many positive things he and his wife, Susie, have done to help others in the community. Their investment in the lives of children will pay dividends for generations to come.”

Light’s induction ceremony will be held on the NRG Plaza outside The Hall at Patriot Place on Saturday, Sept. 29.

Both Seymour and Vrabel would have been more than worthy choices as they made huge contributions to the team as players and one could argue that despite Light’s longer tenure on the team that either one of the would have been expected to beat Light in fan balloting, particularly given that they both played in higher visibility positions and had been on the ballot in years past.

But there is one thing that Matt Light did that neither Vrabel or Seymour did:  When the New England Patriots did this last year

Light spoke up very publicly saying this:

The former Patriots offensive lineman took issue with nearly 20 players taking a knee during the national anthem ahead of the team’s win over the Houston Texans at Gillette Stadium. Light went so far as to say he was “ashamed” to be a former Patriot. “If you think it’s OK to take a knee during our national anthem and disrespect openly the national anthem,” Light told the Boston Herald, “you are wrong. I don’t care if you have a ‘but what about’ or a ‘it’s because of,’ that doesn’t matter.” Light also said something like that wouldn’t have happened during his time with the club. “As a guy that’s been there and helped set up the Patriot Way so they can walk in there and do what they do, it’s beyond disheartening. It’s the first time I’ve ever been ashamed to be a Patriot. And I promise you I’m not the only one.”

As I recall Light took a lot of heat on WEEI for doing so but while Boston sports talk hosts didn’t appreciate his objections apparently the fans did and when it came time to vote for the Patriots Hall of Fame, their first choice was a real Patriot.

The fact that, at least while I was listening, the crew at WEEI had no idea why Light would have won over Seymour and Vrabel and the fact that these guys didn’t instantly realize that this was the difference says a whole lot more about them then it does about Light.

Update: I had a question for the NFL

While I don’t expect the league or the Patriots to acknowledge the part Light’s unequivocal response to those anthem protests had in his victory you better believe that not only has the league noticed this but every GM & Owner who might be consider signing one of the kneelers has too.


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Finally might I suggest my book Hail Mary the Perfect Protestant (and Catholic) Prayer makes an excellent Gift.

What is the average Arena Football League salary?
A:
QUICK ANSWER
The Arena Football League’s collective bargaining agreement states that players are paid $830 per game, which amounts to a salary of $14,940 over an 18-game season.

Reference.com

The same day that we’ve seen the story of Evergreen College joining Mizzou in floundering in terms of enrollment and budget Dan Wolken at USA today show some folks still haven’t got a clue:

 it’s an interesting question: What would happen if a star college football player, particularly at a high-profile school in the deep South, wore a Black Lives Matter shirt during warmups or used a postgame media session to talk about police brutality and racial profiling rather than the game?

What would the consequences be for the school? What kind of pressure would conservative white fans put on the coach to denounce it publicly? And in turn, what would the recruiting consequences be for the coach if he tried to silence or stifle a player bringing light to an issue?

“It’s an entirely different dynamic because the coach in college holds absolute sway,” Curry said. “I would pray that nobody would say, ‘I’m taking your scholarship away,’ and I don’t think I know anybody that would do a thing like that, but that’s what is possible at the college level.”

Given the current climate, it’s only a matter of time before someone tests that theory. And given how scared athletic departments are right now about this very scenario, even without an anthem to kneel for, college football players might find out they have more power and a louder voice than they ever knew.

For a moment let’s ignore the possibility of boosters pulling their funds, enrollment dropping like a rock and potential recruits deciding they’d have a better chance making the NFL playing somewhere else (and let’s face it nobody on a football scholarship is not thinking about their best chance to make the NFL) and let’s look at a basic fact.

While I’ve argued that Colin Kaepernick has pretty much himself to blame for not being signed to a big money contract, or any contract to this point the fact is he is an established NFL quarterback who was at one point a star NFL quarterback.  There is no question that he is good enough and skilled enough to play in this league (perhaps not at the level he once did) If he had gone 10-2 as a starter rather than 2-10 no amount of protests would have kept him from a starting job somewhere and give the nature of football,  sooner or later injury or performance will cause a team to offer him a contract as a backup and only stubborn pride will keep him from a seven figure salary and while some fans might get pissed at his signing the sustained level of anger will be directly proportional to the number of wins he produces and if he helps a team get to the playoffs.

None of that can be said about any college player.

No matter how good a player does at the college level, no matter how strong a player performs at the combine, no matter how much hype comes with a player, there is absolutely no guarantee that a college player, even one drafted in the first round or a Heisman Trophy winner, will make it in the NFL, and even less of a guarantee that such a player will be an impact player.

So if you are a head coach or a scout for an NFL team, how willing are you going to be to risk a high draft pick (let alone a 1st round pick) on a player who is going to cause disruption for your team even before the first regular season game is played?

I’m betting not very.

Wade Davis not withstanding a college player deciding to become a social justice warrior on the field might play well on the new woke ESPN but it’s a great way for a potential 1st round pick to slip to the 3rd or below with all the subsequent salary drop such a move entails an easy way for a potential 2nd or 3rd round pick to become a candidate for Mr. Irrelevant and spectacular way for 4th-7th round pick to end up considering an exciting career in Canadian or arena football because for every guy who makes an nfl roster there are a dozen guys or more already with proven NFL experience ready to bust their asses to earn a roster spot for themselves and the difference between that 53rd and final roster spot and that 54th spot off of it isn’t as big as you might suppose.

It costs nothing for a social justice warrior to urge you to risk a chance for an NFL payday but when they do remember that at the current US minimum wage of $15,600 it will take you 27.8 years to earn as much as the NFL rookie minimum salary for 2015 ($435K )

So college player think long and hard before you decide to become anyone’s useful idiot.