The NFL Drug testing policy is in jeopardy in the Courts.

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To many, the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) against the NFL prohibiting them from suspending Viking DTs Kevin and Pat Williams for the first 4 games of the 2009 season might look like no big deal. Those people would be totally wrong. It is a huge deal involving several issues including the ability of the NFL and other professional leagues to suspend players for taking unauthorized drugs.

The drug involved in the Williams’ case is basically water pills. The NFL has put the drug on the baned list for two reasons. First, some claim the drug is useful as a masking agent for steroids and other performance enhancing substances.

The second reason that this and similar drugs are on the baned list is the safety of the player taking it. Don’t forget it was a Viking OT Korey Stringer in 2001 that died from heat stroke after reportedly taking water pills for weight loss. The Williams’ both claim that they were taking the drug for exactly the same reason and did not know that what they had taken contained ingredients that were illegal.

Another major issue for the NFL is that the Minnesota State court system has gotten involved in the issue. It was a state judge that issued the original TRO. The NFL has always claimed that it is not subject to state courts because it is a single national organization with local franchises. The claim filed by the NFL with the Minnesota court that they were not subject to state jurisdiction was rejected.

If this issue rings a bell, it is because the federal court law suit by Needle against the NFL involves the issue of the league’s ability to sign an exclusive apparel deal with a single vendor.

Several reports indicate that the NFL has tried to negotiate a lessor suspension like 2 games in exchange for the Williams’ dropping their law suit. Neither player has budged saying that they did nothing wrong and would not accept any suspension. That offer by the NFL is an indication that they realize that their entire drug program could hang in the balance with this law suit.

The programs of all other professional leagues will also be subject to challenge should the NFL fail to win the day. All professional league programs are built on competitive balance, player safety and union/league agreement. Those programs will be at risk should the NFL’s long standing program be judged illegal even in part. The challenge is not only that the league’s right to suspend players for taking certain drugs but that the league does not have the authority to determine which drugs should and should not be on the list.

Look for the league to lose the case and appeal it to the federal court of appeals. Then the challenge will be whether or not the federal court will hear the case. If they refuse leaving a state court finding against the league without taking the case, the NFL can expect to spend a lot of time in state courts all over the league on various issues.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits He has also published several novels on and edits .

Technorati Tags: NFL,Drugs,Williams,TRO,state court,Needle,NBA,NHL,MLB,drug policy,suspension

MLB All Star weekend troubles.

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What does everyone want to be named to but nobody wants to go to? Answer—the MLB All Star Game. Many players earn a bonus if they are named to the game only to find they are unable to participate because they are totally disabled by a potentially fatal case of hangnail.

The American League has no players entered in the home run derby. Even the HRD which has been the one shining star in MLB’s All Star Weekend has some serious rust on it. While every All Star game has challenges, MLB’s game seems to be the most endangered.

Who wouldn’t give up a weekend off at home with the family in the middle of July to spend a couple of days on the field at St. Louis in 100 degree 100% humidity? Evidently plenty of people wouldn’t. Even the NFL has decided that to get anyone to play in their post season game, they have to hold it in Hawaii. Baseball holds their game in the middle of the season. Maybe they should put a franchise in Hawaii too. At least the weather would be better.

Players are afraid of injury. Remember Pete Rose running over Cleveland’s Ray Fosse in the 1970 game? Fosse was never the same after that hit. It cost him his career.

What has happened to MLB’s summer classic is inter league play and too much television. When Ben Franklin and I were kids, we seldom saw our favorite players on out of market teams except for the all star game. Ben was always a bigger baseball fan than I was. But you can’t eliminate inter league play because it draws fans to the ballparks all over the league. Reductions in TV games won’t be happening any time soon either. Baseball is losing enough money as it is. So what’s to be done?

One thing that should NEVER have been done is to allow the game to determine home field advantage in the World Series. Can you even imagine how stupid it would be to allow the West winning the NBA game 128-126 to give the Lakers home field advantage in the NBA finals?

Nothing can be done. Baseball can add a skills competition like the NHL and NBA has but that will not draw the top names. The old timers game is about the only thing that will draw some viewers but not enough to make a difference. A rookie game with 3A all stars vs the current rookie crop might generate some interest and exposure for future stars of the game.

As it has in every other area, baseball will continue to do the same things the same way and expect better results. That won’t work. Just ask our elected representatives in Washington. They use that exact approach to the problems we face.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits He has also published several novels on and edits .

Technorati Tags: MLB,MLB ALL STAR GAME,NHL,NBA,LAKERS,World Series,home field advantage,Rose,Fosse

Analysis: A story of 2 drafts—NBA and NHL.

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There are 2 drafts happening this week. The NBA draft will be held on Thursday. Both rounds will be shown on ESPN which is available in almost every home that has cable, or satellite TV. The NHL draft will be seen Friday by all 47 lucky viewers that have access to the Vs. Network.

The first choice in the NBA draft will be Oklahoma All American PF Blake Griffin. NBA fans have seen him many times on television including the Sooners run in the NCAA Tournament on CBS. Other top choices include Jordan Hill (PF, Arizona), James Harden (SG Arizona St.) DeMar DeRozan (SG USC) and Hasheem Thabeet (C UConn). There are a couple of foreign players the most significant of which is Ricky Rubio (PG DKV Joventut) the 18 years old star of the Spanish Olympic Silver medal team seen all over the world including in the US.

The first pick in the NHL Draft will be Victor Hedman (defenseman Sweden), or centers John Tavares or Matt Duchene of the OHL. No one is sure which one will be picked first by the New York Islanders. The problem that the NHL has is that very few fans have seen them play on television and even fewer will see which one is picked on the Vs. Network.

The NHL starts off light years behind the NBA and NFL in coverage of the draft which is a critical path to developing the stars that fans follow throughout their careers. Being that far behind, they need to do a better job of marketing their stars and their sport. But they don’t.

As a marketing consultant for more than 40 years, I have contacted some of the NHL teams with ideas that would have built attendance and increased the chances of getting more coverage in the papers and on TV and the radio. In all cases I was told that the teams were fine. They didn’t need marketing help.

Despite all the confident talk, the finances of NHL teams have been teetering on the edge of bankruptcy for years. The Phoenix franchise is up for sale right now and may well move back to Canada unless a local buyer steps up soon. This is particularly worrisome because the area is a retirement center where former northern state residents nearly outnumber locals. The area is very wealthy and has a hunger for sports. Even so, the team is nearly bankrupt.

Hockey is a religion for its dedicated fans. It is a great game best seen in person. The playoffs this year were outstanding. But the closed attitude of the NHL leadership is obvious. They need to wake up to the new media and ways to market their sport.

The labor problem that wiped out the 2004-2005 season was the end of the major coverage in the US. The lockout failed to accomplish anything except setting the league back 40 years. It cost the league any chance at a major TV contract. No major network trusted the league.

Most of all, the NHL needs to get a national contract on a major network. Less money now from an ESPN, TBS, Fox or other major network will generate great interest and much greater incomes in future years even if that means bringing the flaming puck back.

The league is struggling as all businesses in the US and around the world are from the economic downturn. If they don’t find a way to get a deal with a real network, we will be back to 8 or 10 teams very soon. That would be a crime.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits He has also published several novels on and edits .

Technorati Tags: NBA Draft,nba,NHL Draft,NHL,Griffin. DeRozan,Thabeet,Hill,Harden,Rubio,USC,UConn,Oklahoma,college basketball,Spain,Hedman,Tavared,Duchene,OHL,Vs,ESPN,TBS,Fox

Saturday Niblets for 6/6/09

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Today is the 65th anniversary of the D-Day invasion. My Dad was the first American on Omaha Red beach 2 hours before the invasion. Today, we salute all those that risked or gave their lives to help free Europe from Hitler.

Best Email of the last 2 weeks: from James on “The Cavs are a 1972 Comet with a Ferrari engine.” too bad Lebron and the Cavs failed to reach the championships… was rooting for them! I just do not know what will happen of the team if Kobe comes in… the dynamics of team will likely change, but if they get past that they’d get a huge chance in grabbing the title next year…

James: The chances of Kobe coming are very slim. But you are exactly correct in that the team is going to have to have a rebuild this off season to become a championship caliber team in time to win a title for LeBron next season. Thanks for your comment.

Updates on previous columns:

Mangenious and his Magical Bus trip

The NFLPA is investigating the Magical Bus trip of 10 hours each way to the football camp outside of Hartford Conn. that Eric Mangini forced on the 19 Browns rookies. Of course Mangini flew to Hartford and was planning to fly back until someone smarter than him suggested how bad that would look. Let’s hope the league fines Mangenious a couple of hundred thousand dollars and gives it to those that took the bus.

LeBron is LeGone

Lebron James was fined $25,000 by the NBA for failing to speak to the media after the loss to the Magic in game 6 of their Eastern Conference Finals. Initially, the league announced that he would not be fined. In an interview on ESPN Radio, Comm. Stern the day after that announcement was made, Stern said he was looking into the issue.

What do you do with a young benched starting QB?

Titans coach Jeff Fisher told the press that “eventually” Vince Young will be the starting QB. Fisher told the press that Young has been spending time in the weight room.

My Advice: Vince, get out of the weight room and camp in the film room. The problem is your understanding of the playbook and reading coverage not your arm strength.

Niblets fresh off the cob:

The NFLPA reaches a settlement with retired players

Retired NFL players had filed suit against the NFLPA to get a part of the money flow of the various marketing deals that the NFLPA gets. According to ex-Packer and Hall of Fame DB Herb Adderley who filed the suit, the settlement gives retired players 26.25 million dollars. This is only one issue between current and retired players.

Exec. Dir. DeMaurice Smith told a meeting of active and retired players that benefits for retired players would be reduced by 80% if the NFL Owners lock the players out after 2011. This will be one more potential suit for Adderley to file against the NFLPA.

The Lakers win game 1 by 25.

The Lakers looked good Thursday night against the Magic. According to several sources, the Lakers are much more focused in the finals because of their loss last year to the Celtics. We will see. If they play the way they did against the Nuggets, the Lakers will lose again. Magic C Dwight Howard is not going to score just 12 points often. Neither returning all star PG Jameer Nelson or Rafer Alston played particularly well. Nelson, coming off an injury, should get better with more practice to shake off the rust.

The NHL series is all tied up.

After Pittsburgh won the first two games at home, many pundants wrote that the series was over. Not so fast. The Red Wings looked tired and slow compared to the younger Penguins. The scheduling of back to back games has helped the Pens. But to win, the Pens are going to have to win game 5 at Detroit. I don’t believe that they can win a game 7 in hostile territory against a seasoned team like the Wings.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits He has also published several novels on and edits .

Technorati Tags: D-Day,LeBron,James,Kobe,Bryant,Young,Titans,Fisher,NFLPA,Smith,Adderley,Lakers,Cavs,Magic,Pittsburgh,Detroit,NHL,NBA,NFL,NFL Draft,NBA Draft,Alston,Nelson,Howard

What a Sports weekend!

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Boston falls to Orlando: I predicted this when Boston had a 3-2 lead in the series. One reaction I could not resist is that the team is not built around the Big 3—it is built around the Big 2.5. Without Kevin Garnett, the team is way too limited offensively and has a huge hole in the d as well. The team is aging and already in salary cap hell. There isn’t any way out of that for the Celts. They will get old together. If, and it is not a given, KG comes back at or close to 100%, they will be in the playoffs for another year or two. But they will not be able to get to the finals again without finding a mid range exception superstar. Orlando and Cleveland are likely to be playing in the East finals for the next several years as long as they are healthy.

LA handles the upstart Rockets easily in game 7: The Lakers jumped off to a quick start against Houston in game 7 and never looked back. The bad sign for them is that the Rockets forced them to game 7 without their superstar center Yao Ming and his backup. The Lakers should have been able to handle the Rockets in 5 or 6 games after Yao went down in game 3. The Nuggets are well rested and hungry for an appearance in the finals. I think it will be another 7 game series but home court should give LA the series. If, however, the Nuggets can steal game 1 because the Lakers have not recovered from the Rocket series, the Nuggets will win the series.

A lot of good hockey is going to waste: The conference semifinal series were outstanding. But due to bad scheduling, the two game 7s were on at the same time. That has to change if the NHL is ever going to get to the next level in fan support.

The even greater problem is that only two games of the conference final series are being shown on NBC. The rest are on Verses. The two potential game 7 match-ups in the conference finals will both be on Verses. No matter how much money the channel is paying them the NHL has to get a deal with a REAL network that is an over the air or at least first level network on cable. Otherwise the league and the new stars will be a very closely held secret between a few great fans.

Detroit vs. Chicago: The Redwings looked very strong in the game 1 win over Chicago 5-2. This should be a good series but Detroit has too much for the upstart Blackhawks. Detroit wins the series in 5 games.

Pittsburgh vs. Carolina: The Hurricanes will have to play better hockey in game one than they have in their two previous series if they expect to have a chance against the Penguins. Given the offense of the Pens, Cam Ward, the Carolina goalie, will be a busy guy. Pittsburgh wins in 6 games.

Watch out for Mine That Bird in the Belmont: Rachel Alexandra won the Preakness by less than a length. MTB was coming up fast from the rear of the pack. The gelding made up 3 plus lengths from the top of th backstretch to the finish line. Had the Belmont been the length of the Belmont, MTB would have won. MTB got forced to the outside by traffic or he might have won this race. Rachel Alexandra is an outstanding horse but she struggled a bit toward the end of the Preakness. It will be interesting to see if she is entered in the Belmont.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits He has also published several novels on and edits .

Technorati Tags: NBA,NBA Playoffs,NHL,NHL Playoffs,Boston,Celtics,Magic,Lakers,Rockets,Redwings,Blackhawks,Penguins,Mine That Bird,Rachel Alexandra,Preakness,Belmont,NBC,Verses

GMs in the all pro sports should avoid stupid players.

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Fryingpan Sports

GMs in the all pro sports should avoid stupid players.


By Bill Smith

Pacman Jones can’t screw up his career fast enough. Alex Boone hasn’t even been drafted yet and is building his police file. There there is always Plaxico “I love the feeling of cold steel in my pants” Burress. That is a very small sample of dumb, dumber, and dumbest.

Not only do players have to be intelligent enough to learn the plays and execute them successfully, they can’t be stupid enough to get themselves in trouble.

There are several kinds of stupid! We will explore each of them and discuss the problems each brings to a team.

Wonderlick test stupid—Unless we are talking about a thinking position, I don’t care what a player’s Wonderlick was. The positions I am concerned about test scores are in order of importance QB, MLB, (because they call O and D plays), C and FS (because the Center calls blocking assignments and audibles and the Free Safety sets the D backfield). That is pretty much it. When Vince Young QB Tennessee gets a 6 on the test (and he did in his first attempt), that is a HUGE PROBLEM! You get 2 points for spelling your name correctly and putting it in the right box on the form. When DT prospect Joe Gastasivitch from Whats-A-Matter U gets a 6, I could care less.

Football IQ stupid—This is a bigger problem. In pro ball even on D there is no “see ball; get ball” anymore. D players have to be able to feel the play and understand what the opponent is trying to do. On D, players to be effective have to recognize what is going on so they can make a tackle close to the line of scrimmage not 20 yards down field. The only way around this kind of stupid is film and field work. This is not knowledge you are born with, football IQ must be learned. Often this is an indication of a lack of work ethic. Someone that is not willing to spend the time in the film room is even less likely to practice hard and work out in the weight room.

Football Instinct stupid—There’s no fixing this. A player either has football instincts or they don’t. The instincts are born not developed. Instinct as used here is the ability of a player to naturally adapt to something in a game they have never seen before and make a play. It requires the ability to make a play without having to think. A player that always is standing beside the pile on D is not instinctive. The player that is always at the bottom of the pile having made the tackle is. The level of aggressiveness is a part of this. The Ravens have a saying—Won’t do is the same as Can’t do.

Off the field stupid—This is the worst of all types of stupid. Exhibit 1—Plaxico Burress. Exhibit 2—Pacman Jones. Exhibit 3—Donte Stallworth. Exhibit 4—Mike Vick. You get the idea. It seems to infect some of the better players on the team. And worst of all, it seems to be contagious. When one player gets away with stupid behavior that is not punished severely, other players in that locker room think they can get away with similar dumb moves. Often too, the moves by players may have as much to do with people the players associate with as their own proclivities for stupidity.

The number of really off the field stupid players seems to be growing. These guys are dumb enough to risk their careers and their money to their temper, bad judgment, and their choice of friends. The players seem to believe that if they are not charged with a crime they are fine. If you end up being involved with the police again and again, you are doing something wrong. We have seen that frequent involvement with the law usually ends up with a player being suspended or worse.

You can take the nickname Pacman out of the media but you can’t take the Pacman out of Adam Jones. The NFL has to make sure that guys like Jones, Stallworth and Vick never play in the league again. No second chances for that type of behavior let alone 3rd 4th or 5th chances. There are enough players that are not given a chance now that will respect themselves and the game. Every time an owner like Jerry Jones (Dallas) or Mike Brown (Cincinnati) wants to take a chance on a bad guy, it ends up hurting the game and the reputation of every other player in the league. It just is not worth it.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits He has also published several novels on and edits .

My email is [email protected]

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