It’s Monday, and it’s time for some musings from the week that was.
NFL Draft: it was quite a nice change to see offensive lineman get drafted in the first round. As a former offensive lineman, I couldn’t help but to smile. The prediction of a weak quarterback class was accurate. One QB taken in the first round, about 1-2 in the second round, et cetera.
M-E-S-S Mess Mess Mess!: I’m not going to pile on Geno Smith. It’s not his fault he was drafted by the New York Jets. The Jets continue to show why, in the words of NFL Draft expert Mel Kiper Jr., that “they don’t understand what the draft is all about.” Monday morning, the Jets released Tim Tebow. It’s further proof to me that Jets coach Rex Ryan has no respect for any of his quarterbacks (namely Mark Sanchez) and would rather backload his defense than address his offense.
Utterly clueless. Defense may win championships, but if you can’t outscore your opponent, you have no chance in winning the game.
Anniversary: Monday was the 30th anniversary of one of the most celebrated rants in sports history. After a 4-3 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago Cubs manager Lee Elia loses it in a post-game press conference that continues to live in infamy.
If you asked me to rate the best sports rants I’ve ever heard, Elia is first, Tommy Lasorda, and Dennis Green would be my top 3, because it was spontaneous, funny, and so profane, you can’t help but to blush and giggle.
Revelation: Jason Collins, a 12-year NBA pro, who finished this past season with the Washington Wizards, announced that he is gay, in an exclusive interview with Sports Illustrated. Collins is the first male athlete currently playing in an American major professional sports league (NFL, NBA, MLB, or NHL) to do this.
No, he’s not the “first athlete” or the “first athlete in pro sports” to come out. Re-read the last sentence in the previous paragraph. Let’s make sure we have that clarification correct.
Much is being said about how great this is, but we tend to forget, much less, ignore the obvious: those who came before Collins and how we view stories such as this. We are so hung up about seeing a (male) pro athlete in either of the four major leagues to come out, that no one showed interest when former Baylor All-American Brittany Griner announced she was lesbian last week after she was drafted in the WNBA Draft.
We gave the Griner story a yawn. It didn’t mean much to us. That’s the good and bad part of this issue. We have accepted the fact that in women or Olympic sports, like swimming or gymnastics, we’ve come to accept that when female athletes reveal their sexuality, we treat it as nothing special.
But nothing gets our full throttle attention if we find out that a NBA, NFL, MLB, or a NHL player does it.
For those who dismiss former athletes like Wade Davis, John Amaechi, Greg Louganis, and others who came out after their playing days are over, stop it. You have to take them into consideration. Collins would not be doing this if not for what these athletes have endured before him. Five years ago, no male pro athlete would risk coming out while playing. The culture and attitudes were different.
This is 2013. Has the culture and attitude changed since 2008? We hope so. Yes, you are going to have knuckleheads write disparaging comments about Collins. Some of them will not be the prototypical uneducated white male who leans conservative. There will be a sector of African-Americans who are privately against gays and lesbians, despite being mostly liberal in their views.
Yahoo Sports Radio talk show host Travis Rodgers summed up my feelings this way: sports fans and athletes will reach a point where nobody cares what an athlete’s sexual preference is.
Can that athlete perform at a high level, be a good teammate, and win games?
That statement is more important than someone’s skin color, handicap, or sexual preference.
Winning is business. Performing at a high level is business. Sports is a business.
The real litmus test will be where Collins will be playing next season. He is a free agent after completing this NBA season with the Wizards. Will he be signed without any hesitation? How will it go in the public relations realm if a team signs him?
It’s easy and good publicity for anyone to say that they are in favor of Collins’ decision and support him.
It’s quite another if those words do not cause action and move the needle.