Tampa Bay Sports Day

Sports Beat “A Rush To Judgment On Roger”

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell must feel like a quarterback who is about to be sacked ever since the 2014 season began. It seems as if everyone is calling on him to resign because of the unfortunate domestic violence incidents involving Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson, C.J. Spillman, Greg Hardy, and others.

ESPN talking head Bill Simmons went as far as labeling Goodell a liar and dared his bosses to suspend him. They complied by taking him off the air for three weeks.

Rego Park native and former New York Times sports columnist Robert Lipsyte is currently ESPN’s ombudsman which is the equivalent of being an independent internal auditor with respect to ESPN’s journalism principles. Lipsyte defended ESPN’s handling of Simmons and added his concern about whether Roger Goodell will be able to receive a fair shake.

Until evidence clearly points otherwise, I am willing to give Goodell the benefit of the doubt as far as the Ray Rice incident goes. Now if an owner was reported to have engaged in domestic violence then I can understand the thinking that Goodell was engaged in a coverup since he is paid $44 million per year by those who have NFL franchises.

The NFL however has never been known as a paternalistic league when it comes to its players. No one has explained to me what incentive Roger Goodell has in suddenly protecting his players since the league’s de facto mantra has always been that they are all replaceable.

Yes, Ray Rice was caught pummeling his fiancee (who is now his wife), in the elevator of the now closed Revel Hotel in Atlantic City. Even if that tape did find its way into the offices of the NFL, there is nothing the commissioner could do if someone there chose to hide it from him. The other question that no one seems to be asking is “Why didn’t the Atlantic County district attorney press charges against Ray Rice?” I’m certain that Goodell would have taken action immediately had the DA gotten an indictment from a grand jury.

Former Pittsburgh Steelers head coach, and current CBS NFL air personality, Bill Cowher was an honoree at the annual Buoniconti Fund-Miami Project fund-raiser at the Waldorf -Astoria last week. This nonprofit has raised over $100 million from this event as its mission is to find a cure for paralysis. It was founded by former Miami Dolphins linebacker Nick Buoniconti after his son, Marc, was paralyzed while making a tackle playing for the Citadel in 1985.

Cowher is an unabashed supporter of Jets QB Geno Smith and thinks that Jets fans should be more patient with the second-year QB. “Geno doesn’t have a lot of good receivers to throw to especially with Eric Decker being injured,” told me. Cowher may have second thoughts after the Jets’ 31-0 debacle in San Diego on Sunday.

I realize that this is a worry that most Mets executives and fans would like to have, but just making the playoffs as a wild card team doesn’t have the benefits that it used to under baseball’s current format where the #4 and #5 teams meet in a one-game winner-take-all. The Washington Nationals are light years ahead of everyone in the National League East in terms of talent. Even if the Mets’ pitching lives up to billing the next couple of years, they may be doomed to still not playing baseball into October unless they upgrade their lineup which given the team’s penurious ways does not seem likely.

As unlikely as this seemed just a couple of months ago it now appears that a Mets player has a good shot at winning a major post-season award, as pitcher Jacob deGrom has emerged as a favorite for the National League Rookie of the Year Award.

If you are a college football fan the you should pick up a copy of Michael Weinreb’s A Season of Saturdays” (Scribner) as he devotes a chapter to each of what he considers to be the 14 most significant games in college history. As you would expect, this book begs for endless debates as such memorable games as the 1968 Harvard-Yale 29-29 tie; the 1984 Doug Flutie “Hail Mary” touchdown pass to wide receiver Gerald Phelan with no time remaining at the Orange Bowl to beat the University of Miami Thanksgiving weekend 1984; and the November 1971 game between Nebraska and Oklahoma that was referred to as “the game of the century” at the time as both teams were battling to be ranked #1, are omitted in this tome.

The CBS Sports Network has deservedly gotten a lot of media attention with its Tuesday night 10 PM show, “We Need To Talk.” This is the first sports-themed show to feature only female air personalities as Allie LaForce, Tracy Wolfson, and the doyenne of female sportscasters, Lesley Visser, along with a rotating roster of current and retired athletes such as Swin Cash, Lisa Leslie, and Dara Torres, discussing the issues of the day.

Thankfully “We Need To Talk” is not like “The View” or “The Talk” which frequently break down into nonsensical debates strictly designed to highlight the personalities of the participants. What I liked about its debut show was that you quickly forgot about gender and were drawn into the intelligent discussion of the topics at hand. I just wish that this show did not run against one of my favorite primetime series, CBS’s “Person Of Interest.”

TTPM (formerly called Time To Play More) is the semi-annual event of the Toy Industry designed to show off its latest wares to the media. For the holiday season Wicked Cool Toys will be having a limited edition doll of WWE mainstay, John Cena while Jazwares is introducing a line of action figures called NBA Heroes. One of those “heroes” is Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony whose figure looks more like hip-hop legend Snoop Dogg than it does Melo. Inspired by the “Hunger Games” film series, Zing’s Firetek Bow is a rubber-tipped archery set that helps eye-hand coordination.

My favorite toy at TTPM was Skyrocket’s Fart Piano which is a small keyboard consisting of one round of treble notes and makes flatulent noises in the right key. Sure it’s a gag gift but it’s a fun way to learn how to read music as well as enticing kids into playing musical instruments. On the high tech front, Wowwee Toys’ MiPs are tiny robots that can be programmed to do various functions such as serving beverages.

Speaking of high tech toys, 3-D television was supposed to be the next big thing as companies such as Sony, Samsung, and Toshiba were betting that sports fans would understandably want them. Perhaps it was due to having to wear those dorky glasses, but 3-D TV is widely acknowledged to have been a flop. It’s unlikely that any manufacturers will be showing any 3-D television sets at this January’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. ESPN dropped its 3-D network last year. Sony however has found a market for them as the medical community has discovered that 3-D television is very beneficial for performing delicate surgery.

The Islanders made their fans a bit happier by picking up two defensemen who have been on Stanley Cup champions, Johnny Boychuk and Nick Leddy, in trades with the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks respectively. Before Islanders fans get too excited remember that two other recent “big names” that Isles general manager Garth Snow brought in, Ryan Smith and Thomas Vanek, did not even last a season at the Nassau Coliseum.

October is a big month for festivals in New York.

New York Comic Con has quickly come to rival its San Diego counterpart as the place where media corporations, entertainers, and fans intersect at the Javits Center. New York Comic Con is of utmost importance to cable networks where even a small devoted fan base can make shows highly profitable. The food business is jumping in on the action as trucks peddling new-to-the market soft drinks and snacks will be out in full force at the Javits Center. New York Comic Con runs from this Thursday through Sunday. In the past a number of retired athletes have been present at the autograph tables alongside stars of hit TV series from yesteryear.

Also underway this week starting Wednesday is the CBGB Festival (cbgbfest.com) which will try to evoke memories of the legendary East Village nightclub that Forest Hills’ own Ramones help put on the map. There will be concerts and lectures all over town trying to convey what it was like back in the day when Ed Koch was the mayor.

The 2014 Food Network New York City Wine & Food Festival (nycwff.org) that runs from October 16-19 has quickly become one of the premier epicurean events in the country as there will be various tasting parties around the city. The New York Jets will be hosting their annual Ultimate Tailgate event at Manhattan’s Pier 92 on Saturday, October 18.

The music industry isn’t what it once was but that hasn’t discouraged musical performers from seeking their big break as the popularity of such television shows as “The Voice,” “America’s Got Talent,” and yes, even though its ratings have declined, “American Idol,” prove.

The annual CMJ Festival (cmj.com), which features seminars with music biz executives, as well as performances by up and comers, runs from October 21-25.

Overlapping the CMJ Festival is the New York Television Festival (nytvf.com) which brings together network executives and filmmakers who create television pilots. Frankly, a lot of the episodes that I have seen at past NYTVFs that never made it to the networks were more enjoyable than most of what has made it to primetime.

Although it’s not a festival per se, the semi-annual Spa Week, in which spas and salons in New York (including many in Queens), offer massages, facials and other services at sharply reduced prices, takes place from October 20-26. For a list of participants, log onto spaweek.com