Tag Archives: Julio Jones

Casinos Are Bad, Mmmkay?

As you have heard by now, the NFL stepped in it AGAIN. This time they banned the first ever National Fantasy Football Convention, just weeks before its scheduled opening.

Star-Telegram/Rodger Mallison
Star-Telegram/Rodger Mallison
Tony Romo has been the public face of the event, the NFFC, for the past several months. However, in the proverbial eleventh hour, the NFL put the deep-6 on the convention on, get this, moral grounds. The League had concerns about the event being held at a Las Vegas casino, because, of course, gambling does not look good for pro sports (see Tim Donaghy, Pete Rose, and the 1919 Chicago Blacksox).

The NFFC would have provided a great opportunity for players and fans to meet, greet and mingle. Not that anyone would want to help GROW the NFL brand, or anything.

Tony Romo, who only recently joined Twitter, thanks in part to the investigative work of our Founder, Jamie Kelly, said in one of the few tweets from his account:

Cowboys teammate and fellow NFFC headliner Dez Bryant was quite agitated in his response:

Fantasy football is a $3 Billion industry that affects every facet of the NFL. It brings in more fans who love fantasy sports, and it increases viewership, which obviously helps the League.

The NFFC was to feature Cowboys Romo, Bryant, and Jason Witten, and many other NFL stars, including Jamaal Charles, Antonio Brown, DeMarco Murray, T.Y. Hilton, Emmanuel Sanders, Randall Cobb, Eddie Lacy, Julio Jones and DeMarcus Ware. It was to also feature around a dozen media personalities, including Michael Fabiano of the league-owned NFL Network and NFL.com. Fabiano‘s participation alone further proves that the NFL has nffc posterknown about this event for some time, and simply chose to wait until it was beyond the point of no return to pull the plug.

This three-day event was scheduled to be July 10-12 at the Venetian Resort Hotel in Las Vegas. The NFL confirmed via email a Fox Sports report about the league’s longstanding policy that, “Players and NFL personnel may not participate in promotional activities or other appearances in connection with events that are held at or sponsored by casinos.”

HUH? The NFL won’t allow that, but they allow NFL owners to own stock in racetracks in New Jersey, Baltimore and Florida.

CBS Las Vegas
CBS Las Vegas
The NFL‘s indignation about gambling is a glorious, joke. It is estimated, conservatively, that anywhere from $70-100 BILLION is wagered on NFL games each year, and only a small part of that is done legally. I’m sure that many of you have participated in office pools, bought squares for a big football game, or even bet someone a Coke on a game. Obviously gambling boosts attendance and TV revenue. When you have money invested in something, you’re typically going to watch.

I’ll give you an easy example of how the NFL‘s actions are counter to what they say about gambling. The League requires each team to state before games (usually on Thursday) which players may have to sit out due to injury, and which players are questionable. Why? The information benefits gamblers. Does the League care that newspapers run the points spread? Of course not.


Just when you think it can’t get any worse… No, on second thought, I think we all agree that it can, and will, get worse. There are, in fact, several documented cases of the NFL getting in bed with either organized crime or big time gamblers.

1. The Chicago Bears

largeIn the early 1920s, George Halas turned to a man who was a noted bootlegger, gambler, racetrack owner and known associate of Chicago’s Al “Scarface” Capone‘s mob to finance the Bears. His name was Charles Bidwell. Yes, THAT, Bidwell. Later on, Bidwell bought the Chicago Cardinals. Guess whose family owns the Arizona Cardinals? Yep. The Bidwell family.

2. The Cleveland Browns

Cleveland_Browns_63602_zpsb375f1adThe Cleveland Browns were owned by crime syndicate bookmaker Arthur “Mickey” McBride, the head of the Continental Racing Wire, the mob’s gambling news service. The U.S. Senate’s Kefauver Committee called that news service “Public Enemy Number One.” In 1961, the team was sold to Art Modell, who among many things, was a partner in a horse racing stable with Morris “Mushy” Wexler, whom the Kefauver Committee named one of the “leading hoodlums” in McBride’s wire service. In 1969, Modell was married in Las Vegas at the home of William “Billy” Weinberger, who just happened to be the president of Caesar’s Palace, whose hidden owners included: Tony “The Big Tuna” Accardo, Sam “Momo” Giancana, and Vincent “Jimmy Blue Eyes” Alo. When he finally died in 1996, The Las Vegas Sun called Weinberger the “dean of casino gambling.”

3. The San Francisco 49ers

159571aThe Youngstown DeBartolo family, long involved in casinos and racetracks, owns the Niners. In the late 1990s Edward DeBartolo Jr., then the head of the 49ers, paid the Louisiana Governor $400,000 to get a riverboat casino license. The Governor went to jail for that crime, and DeBartolo got a slap on the wrist. He did have to leave the 49ers, but his family still runs the team while DeBartolo Jr. runs the company that is based back in Youngstown.

joe namath bachelors iiiNow, here’s an oldie but a goodie. In 1969, a hypocrisy of all hypocrisies happens in the Big Apple. New York Jets quarterback, Joe Namath invested in a Manhattan bar. The National Football League told him to sell his shares because the joint had ties to big time gamblers and unsavory individuals.

WHAT?

The league said NOTHING about Modell‘s ties or the unsavory ties of numerous other team owners.  The late Carroll Rosenbloom, a high roller with major interest in a mob-run casino, owned the Baltimore Colts AND the Los Angeles Rams at different times.


I personally think that the NFL got its feelings hurt because this National Fantasy Football Convention did not include them, nor were they going to see a red cent of monies from it either.

And, lastly, the NFL showed it’s immaturity when the NFL tweeted this to Tony Romo:

Was the league trying to be funny, or were they trolling Tony Romo? In either case, the league looks bad, and guess who’s the head of the NFL? Good ol’ Roger Goodell.

America! You can gamble on our games, but please don’t ask our players to have a meet, greet, and mingle with you at a resort because well, we have our integrity to protect.

TOO LATE.


Ronnie Garcia is the Voice of Reason at The Scoop. He is also an avid guitarist, educator, and all around smarmy guy. Ronnie co-hosts The Fanatics on Monday nights from 7-9pm on KTSR-db. You can follow him on twitter @TheRonMann.

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Alabama Football: Is The Crimson Tide’s Dynasty Over?

Nick Saban has spent the last eight years building the Alabama football program into the most dominant program in the nation. The Crimson Tide‘s time in the sun is now over as spread offenses and simple complacency have signaled the end to Alabama‘s run.

USA Today
USA Today

Saban took over the Alabama program in 2007, and has produced a 91-17 record during his tenure as the head coach in Tuscaloosa. He has averaged over 11 wins per season by transforming the Crimson Tide into a college version of an NFL team.

Alabama wins by shutting the opposition down with an elite defense, and pounding the ball and controlling the clock on offense. Saban‘s coaching philosophy mirrors the philosophy of old NFC East teams where a strong running game and a stout defense equaled victories.

College football has changed during Saban‘s tenure, and he still has not adjusted to the times. Alabama has lost games in January for consecutive seasons for the first time under Saban.


The Spread Dilemma

The majority of college football teams in America are now running the spread offense. This flies in the face of traditionalists like Saban who prefer to line up and physically beat teams. The issue for Saban is that spread teams have historically given his defense fits.

The spread allows offenses to spread defenses out, and minimizes the advantages of opposing teams that have superior talent on the defensive line. This means that smaller programs who lack the recruiting prowess and tradition of Alabama can play with them on the field.

In the past, the team with the most talent and ability on the offensive and defensive lines won the game. The spread allows teams with average talent on the offensive line to score points in bunches against teams with superior defensive talent.

AP
AP

Alabama has lost four games during the past two seasons. All four of those opponents ran spread offenses. In those four losses, the Crimson Tide defense allowed an average of 36 points per game.

In the past two seasons, that Alabama defense has allowed 16.3 points per game. Obviously Saban‘s defenses have issues dealing with spread offenses.


Passers and Pass Rushers

The best way to stop the spread offense is to put consistent pressure on the opposing quarterback. If a defense can disrupt the rhythm of the quarterback, then the spread offense will stall.

This has been an issue for Alabama because they have not had an elite pass-rusher on their defense for years. In 2014, Xzavier Dixon led the Tide in sacks with nine in 14 games. In 2013, A’Shawn Robinson led Alabama with 5.5 sacks in 13 games.

Saban‘s defenses do not excel at putting a lot of pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Only twice during his eight years in Tuscaloosa have the Tide produced a defender who averaged more than half a sack per game: Dixon in 2014 who averaged 0.64 sacks per game, and 2011 when Courtney Upshaw averaged 0.73 sacks per game.

USA Today
USA Today

If you cannot consistently put pressure on opposing quarterbacks, you will not be able to consistently beat spread teams. Alabama lost to Ohio State in the 2014 college football playoffs because they could not get pressure on Buckeye quarterback Cardale Jones, and he completed multiple long passes on third downs to extend drives.

If you cannot shut down spread offenses, you need to be able to outscore them to win games. Saban has recruited a number of elite receivers to Alabama, including Julio Jones and Amari Cooper. Unfortunately he has not been able to develop an elite quarterback.

Since Saban arrived in Tuscaloosa, the Crimson Tide have not had a quarterback who averaged 250 yards passing per game. The closest they got was in 2014 when new offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin installed elements of the hurry-up spread offense, and Blake Sims averaged 249.1 yards per game.

The quarterbacks under Saban have always been expected to manage the game rather than be true playmakers. This changed a little bit under Kiffin in 2014, but the Tide enter 2015 with major questions at the position.

Senior Jacob Coker is expected to start at quarterback in 2015. David Cornwell, Blake Barnett and Cooper Bateman are competing with Coker at the position. Coker was expected to beat Sims out in 2014 but was not up to the task.

Alabama has recruited exceptionally well under Saban. According to 247Sports.com, Alabama has signed the best recruiting class in the nation five years in a row. They are accustomed to reloading every offseason, not rebuilding. Alabama‘s roster may be tested by the number of losses on the offensive side of the ball from the 2014 team.

The Tide graduated three members of their offensive line, their starter at running back and all three of their starting wide receivers. Alabama returns two starters on an offense that has not won a bowl game in two years.

They return one starter from a secondary that struggled mightily to get off the field on third down late in the 2014 season. The bottom line for Alabama is that unless Derrick Henry has a huge junior season at running back, the Tide will struggle to remain among the elite teams in college football.

Saban was able to dominate college football early during his tenure in Tuscaloosa by running a superior program to everyone else in the college game. The opposition has caught up to Alabama, and the Tide‘s dynasty is over.


Mike Taglienti is a Contributor at The Scoop. Follow him on Twitter at @MikeTag98.