EDITOR’S NOTE: Dave Solomon, the Register sports columnist, died Saturday evening in a one-car accident. He was 59. His wife, Judy, requested that his column run today.
I was thinking:
While Osi Umenyiora and the Giants continue to fuel a tense situation with terse words and actions, we need to examine Umenyiora’s charge that NFL teams have no contract loyalty to the players. Umenyiora asks why players should be held to a higher standard of loyalty in long-term contracts than the owners.
We have no argument that Umenyiora is being underpaid at $7 million for the next two seasons combined. And surely we don’t know what Giants GM Jerry Reese said, or promised Umenyiora behind closed doors back in April of 2008.
But as to the loyalty issue, the players showed little inclination in collective bargaining to change a system that not only permits teams to cut players in the later years of their contract (when no guarantee money is owed), it financially encourages that practice as good business sense.
The lack of guaranteed money to players has been a major problem in pro football for years, yet if the players won’t fight to change a system that encourages the Bengals to say “take it or leave it” to Carson Palmer, and for the Giants to renege on giving Umenyiora the freedom to work out his own deal, then why should we feel sorry for them?
Most of the guaranteed money paid out by the clubs is front-loaded — as the players want it. But don’t come running back in years three, four and five, complaining that the contract signed in good faith years ago suddenly pales in the current marketplace.
The players had their opportunity to take a strong stand on this issue and never attempted to make changes to a system that year after year leads to an angry cadre of football players around the NFL.
‰Can you think of two coaches who are more polar opposite than the last two Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinators — currently Rob Ryan, and Paul Pasqualoni in 2010?
‰I offer this public service to global IWT readers as an aid for the upcoming NFL season — particularly in the early weeks.
Smart money favors the veteran teams across the board — and double up when a veteran team is facing an opponent with a new coach/new system.
With the lockout keeping football in gridlock for nearly five months, rookies and free agent signees just learned hours ago where the men’s room was located at their respective training camps. Moreover, new coaches and new systems are at a huge disadvantage in this abbreviated preseason and voided offseason. Everything’s coming at the new players in a hurry and it’ll be reflected on the field.
Consider that the last good advice I’m likely to give.
‰Join with me in a hearty snicker over the “commitment” of Andy Roddick to the upcoming Winston-Salem Open — which most recently was the men’s Pilot Pen tennis tournament in New Haven. In the six years that the men’s tournament played alongside the women in New Haven, Roddick failed to show up even once, telling tournament organizers without fail that it didn’t suit his preparation for the U.S. Open the following week.
Now, all of a sudden, it feels right to play the week before the Open?
Our skepticism, put in question form to New Haven Open CEO and International Tennis Hall of Fame nominee Mike Davies, resulted in the following response:
“Well, what do you think it’s all about?” laughed Davies, knowing the answer as well as I. “What can I say? Either he really needs to practice the week before the U.S. Open, or somebody’s making an offer he can’t refuse.”
New Haven, under either the Pilot Pen or its current multi-pronged corporate umbrella, has always drawn a line in the sand when it comes to paying appearance fees.
Davies acknowledged that the proliferation of appearance fees is worse outside of America, but in regard to Roddick’s commitment the week before the Open, Davies said, “My first reaction was, ‘Well, somebody opened the coffers or made some deal that is obviously very attractive. That’s about all I can say.”
‰To paraphrase a once-great basketball player:
Alex Rodriguez was playing poker. We’re talkin’ about poker, man. We’re talkin’ about poker. When you come to the ballpark and see him play, you see him play right, you see him give everything he’s got. But we’re talkin’ about poker right now, man. We’re not even talkin’ about the game, when it actually matters. We’re talkin’ about poker.
‰New Haven’s Tony Sparano, head coach of the Miami Dolphins, could use a mulligan for publicly allowing himself to be goaded by the fans who chanted Kyle Orton’s name as an indictment of Dolphins starting quarterback Chad Henne in practice last week. Sparano said the chanting “made him sick.”
You know what really ought to make him sick? The fact that the team didn’t rectify an unacceptable situation at quarterback for the second straight year. Good luck against the Pats and Jets.
‰We’re reminded by IWT sentinel of New Haven sports lore, Joel Alderman, that a precious piece of New Haven and Yale football history passed away last week. Dr. Len Fasano, a teammate of the immortal Levi Jackson at Hillhouse, Yale and in the Army camp at Lee, Va., passed away at the age of 84 on July 31. Through the years, Fasano became a vigilant spokesman against the segregation and prejudice that Jackson faced though his playing years and tour of duty in the armed service. Jackson was Yale’s first African-American football captain in 1949.
‰The only thing that could possibly be of less interest than an NBA lockout would be a UFL lockout.
‰We’re glad to see that the Governor gave the student-athletes at the vo-tech schools a reprieve. It was wrong to include them in his political fight in the first place.
‰The moment we suggested in this space last week that Robby Cano completely screwed up his swing during the All-Star Game’s home-run derby, he puts together a seven game stretch (through Friday) in which he’s hitting .462 with an on-base percentage of .533 and a slugging percentage of .807. We don’t take the credit for his resurgence, just the mortification for suggesting he was tumbling fast.
‰After last year’s big-time non-league schedule, maybe my expectations were too high for the 2011-12 UConn men’s basketball schedule. But on paper, this year’s non-league lineup leaves us completely underwhelmed. In addition to the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament in the Bahamas, with a field including UConn, Harvard, Florida State, Utah, UMass, Central Florida, the College of Charleston and UNC-Asheville, UConn will play, Columbia, Wagner, Maine, Coppin State, Arkansas, Harvard, Holy Cross, Fairfield and Tennessee.
You can’t spin gold from that list, hard as some people may try.
‰How many zeros at the end of a blank check will it take for Tiger Woods to quash the proposed new tell-all book by his former caddie Steve Williams? Here’s hoping we get to read the juicy details.