Tag Archives: NFL

Sam Selection Special, But in a Perfect World it Wouldn’t Be

By Jason Menard,

Tonight, we were privy to what was, in my opinion, the best seventh-round selection of the NFL draft. And I hope we’ll have more of these moments in the near future so that, eventually, they won’t be special.

The video of Michael Sam receiving a phone call from the St. Louis Rams notifying him that he was their seventh-round selection is powerful, emotional, and uplifting. The image of his boyfriend, holding his hand and comforting Sam as the player struggles to regain his composure, is touching. And the kiss between the two was natural, organic, and will have ultimately no impact on his on-field abilities.

But the Sam situation was unnecessarily different. And it shows how far we have to go in this society until what should be considered normal actually is. Continue reading

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NHL Player-Safety Words Ring Hollow In Light of NFL Bounty Punishment

By Jason Menard

Hey NHL! Your current commissioner was plucked from one of the other Big Four sports, so in the interest of protecting your players, is there any chance of history repeating itself and maybe importing the NFL’s Roger Goodell?

The reason? Instead of merely paying lip service to protecting players, Goodell’s words carry even more weight in light of the unprecedented penalties levied against the New Orleans Saints for its actions in creating – or inaction in preventing – a bounty program. Continue reading

Posties’ Problem? They’re Wearing the Wrong Type of Uniform

By Jason Menard

The problem with Canada Post? They don’t throw deliveries through a hoop into your mailbox or have to feint past a postal opponent to shoot your mail into a community box. If they had, supporters would have welcomed them back with open arms – a case we’ve seen repeated over and over in the sporting world.

The postal lock-out has now been over for a week, thanks to back-to-work legislation from the federal government. Despite the filibustering efforts of the NDP, the Conservatives finally got their chance to use a majority – and they did. Continue reading

Is Rooting for Vick Out of Tune?

By Jason Menard

On Nov. 15, 2010, Michael Vick was on top of the world, with thousands of people cheering his name as he led the Philadelphia Eagles to a resounding 59-28 victory on Monday Night Football. Just over three years ago, countless more were hoping to see him locked up for so long that the only football he’d ever play would be for the Mean Machine.

So was anyone uncomfortable watching that spectacle? As fans, how much does a player’s personal life impact your enjoyment of the game? And should it? Continue reading

NFL Must Muzzle Vick Now

By Jason Menard

Why wait? The NFL’s got an image problem right now and his name is Michael Vick. In the statements coming out of yesterday’s grand jury indictment are even half true, then the Atlanta Falcons’ quarterback’s bite is far worse than his bark – and it may be time for commissioner Roger Goodell to neuter him once and for all.

Oh, sure, there’s that whole innocent until proven guilty thing, but the fact of the matter is that at the very least, Vick owned and paid for the continued maintenance of a property where unspeakable acts against innocent animals took place.

Due process? Or how about Vick getting his due?

He, along with three other thugs, have been indicted on three counts: (1) travel in interstate commerce and use the mail or any facility in interstate commerce to promote, manage, etc. a business enterprise involving gambling; (2) knowingly sponsor an animal moved in interstate commerce in an animal fighting venture; (3) knowingly transport a dog for the purposes of having the dog participate in an animal fighting venture.

And while the charge does fall under U.S. racketeering laws, it also provides the NFL with an easy out to suspend Vick immediately. After all, the league’s own gambling policy prohibits associating with gamblers or with gambling activities in a manner tending to bring discredit to the NFL.

Check please.

I don’t know whether to pity or vilify Falcons’ owner Arthur Blank. He seems like a good guy, concerned with the image of this club, and dedicated to putting forth the best product for his fans. So why does he get stuck with a punk like Vick?

Remember, it wasn’t all that long ago that Vick was caught in an airport with a false-bottom water bottle that allegedly smelled of some wacky tobaccey! Of course, a few days later Vick came out with the oh-so-plausible excuse that the false bottom was to hide his bling, not his bong. Wink, wink. Nudge, nudge.

Of course, it also wasn’t all that long ago that Vick was the face of the league’s future. From covers of the Madden video games to NFL commercials featuring the young quarterback, the NFL hitched its wagon to Vick and rode – if only they knew how he treaded the dogs on his sled.

This isn’t a time for partisanship. If you’re a Falcons’ fan you should be outraged. If you’re not, then do a search for the allegations against Vick and company. If abused dog carcasses and the term “rape stand” don’t make your blood boil, then you’ve got your priorities out of whack.

And I’m not some bleeding-heart dog lover either. In fact, my favourite breed is the ever-so-popular “Other people’s dog” breed. Yet this isn’t a question of animal rights, it’s about humanity.

Unfortunately, proponents of this disgusting display called dog fighting demean the word sport. There is no sport involved in this – only cruelty, selfishness, and sub-human violence.

If the NFL’s serious about cleaning up its image, it needs to act fast. And it needs to do so from the head office and not allow Blank to do the right thing first and suspend Vick. They need to send a clear message – preferably with Goodell and Blank standing side by side – saying that Vick will be suspended immediately in light of the grand jury indictment.

And that if he’s proven guilty of any of these charges, the only football he’ll be playing is as quarterback of the Mean Machine.

2007© Menard Communications – Jason Menard All Rights Reserved

Grey Cup Start Time One Day Too Late

By Jason Menard

There’s nothing wrong with competition. The problem comes when you’re throwing away your best stuff against something that’s way out of your league.

The Canadian Football League, an entity that seems to succeed from time to time in spite of itself, will broadcast its annual showcase event on Sunday, with the playing of the Grey Cup final between the B.C. Lions and the Montreal Alouettes. Of course, with a 5:00 p.m. start time, the game will be up against the Detroit Lions versus the Arizona Cardinals, the Seattle Seahawks facing the San Francisco 49ers, and a marquee match-up featuring the Dallas Cowboys hosting the Indianapolis Colts.

Sure, the Grey Cup will pull in its standard numbers, but how much better could they be if they stopped playing David to the National Football League’s goliath each and every week? There’s absolutely nothing wrong with learning when and where to pick your fights, but the CFL brass continues to fight a battle it can’t win, when an easier – and more profitable – solution is at hand.

Sundays are NFL days for football fans. Sure, there are those hardcore CFL fans who will choose to watch their beloved league over any gridiron competition. However, by continually matching CFL games against NFL competition, the league’s brass is missing an opportunity to attract new fans to the game.

Football fans love their sport. South of the border, Friday nights are dedicated to high school games, Saturday’s are the domain of the collegiate ranks, and the NFL rules Sunday. And while the CFL has a die-hard contingent of regular fans, for the most part Canadians aren’t as invested at the high school or university ranks. U.S. college programs can fill 80,000+ seat stadiums. Canadian colleges consider 3,000 fans an outstanding gate. High school sports south of the 49 th are broadcast on TV; here you’ll have to trek to your local school to peer through the gates. But instead of condemning fans’ lack of support for the amateur ranks, it’s high time the CFL take advantage of the time that’s available to them and make a play for the viewing public.

In the States, the NFL shies away from Friday and Saturday broadcasts because they don’t want to undermine the popularity of amateur sports. They know that the popularity of those levels eventually acts as a free feeder system for the professional ranks. In Canada, the opposite must happen. Instead of developing grassroots support, the CFL must establish the professional game as the ideal, towards which younger people will be drawn.

Some people get it. TSN has created a very successful franchise in Friday Night Football. It’s a popular broadcast and it serves as a forum for attracting football fans – not just CFL afficiandos – north of the border. We need more of this thinking, not less. The CFL needs to understand that Sundays are taken. The last three games of the year – arguably the most compelling matches of the season – are broadcast head-to-head against NFL competition. Sure, you’re going to retain the same audience as always, but you’re missing out on an opportunity to showcase your wares to an even larger demographic.

Play these games on Saturday. If the CBC gets its act together, they could anchor a Grey Cup broadcast with two compelling all-Canadian match-ups on Hockey Night in Canada. Promote the hell out of it as a celebration of Canadian sport! Start hyping the event weeks in advance and cross-promote on various network shows. Essentially, capture the eyes of those for whom the CFL is not a regular part of their viewing diet and stoke the fires of hunger for the event!

Unfortunately, the same people who have made the Grey Cup a tradition in their living rooms will continue to do so. Those others, for whom the NFL remains the Holy Grail, will not choose an unknown commodity over the product that they’ve confirmed that they enjoy. And save for a Janet-Jacksonesque slip by Nelly Furtado, the CFL’s marquee game will represent another opportunity lost.

The CFL’s decision to force people to choose between sports is a losing cause. This year, many people will be tuning in to watch the Colts continue their quest of perfection. Then they’ll transition into a Sunday night game that’s been bolstered by the NFL’s decision to permit flexible scheduling – thereby ensuring that a compelling match-up will be shown on their prime time schedule.

Those fans are spoken for. But what are they doing on Saturday afternoon? If they’re hungry for football, and the game’s marketed correctly, is it not conceivable that some of them may tune in for the Canadian league’s most important event? And what’s the worst that could happen? Some of them may actually enjoy the game. The CFL is an exciting product, featuring talented athletes playing a dynamic version of the game. Many people, in fact, think the Canadian game is the better version overall – so why not expose football fans to this event without making them actively stray from the brand to which they’ve been loyal?

Perish the thought. Marketing a great game to a football-hungry audience at a time where there’s no similar competition? That makes too much sense. Of course, for a league that stumbles upon success in spite of itself, the easy road is never the one taken.

2006© Menard Communications – Jason Menard All Rights Reserved

More Dynasty Talk than at a Carrington Reunion

By Jason Menard

The Super Bowl is over, the New England Patriots are victorious, and with the cacophony of voices are bandying the word dynasty about in a way not seen since John Forsythe, Linda Evans, and Joan Collins shared the small screen.

Somewhere, the ghosts of the truly great teams are sitting back and laughing at us. What does it say about a culture when winning two out of three is considered dominant?

Put it this way, the Ming Dynasty didn’t just last for a few years, with a few changes of political leadership and social direction thrown in for good measure. A dynasty, by its very nature, combines ultimate dominance with longevity.

To return this to a sports level, the Montreal Canadiens of the 50s and 70s, with multiple Stanley Cup runs, were a dynasty. The New York Yankees of the 30s and 50s, they were dynasties too! The Patriots? Didn’t they miss the playoffs last year? Hardly the stuff of legends. Worst of all, we now come armed with ready-made excuses to qualify our hyperbolic statements. How many times have you heard the term “modern-day dynasty” lately?

Why do we feel compelled to anoint moderately successful teams with the moniker dynasty? Perhaps it’s a lack of self-confidence. Our incessant need for cultural self-validation has permeated almost every aspect of our lives and threatens to swallow us whole.

We live in a time where we feel the need to justify the actions of the here and now, all the while stumbling over each other in the desperate attempt to find the “next” big thing. It’s like a sixth-grader proclaiming that Justin Timberlake is the greatest artist ever, and that John Lennon guy is just so yesterday. It’s something we’ve all done, but fortunately we all grow up and gain perspective.

Why is it that we can’t appreciate the accomplishments of the past for what they are? Instead of trying to overwhelm historical dominance with over-hyped mediocrity, why can’t we instead raise the bar and hold ourselves to a higher ideal?

Turn on the TV and what do you get? Multiple versions of the same concept, from channel to channel. And don’t get so smug thinking that this is a dismissal of reality shows. In fact, reality shows are at least in touch with today’s cultural environment and are self-aware enough to know their place.

No sooner had the last American Idol wrapped did advertisements for the next round begin to crop up on our screens. Ruben, Clay? They’re over and done, who’s next? However, you watch the more critically acclaimed shows and they’re the worst sinners of all. How many versions of the same thing are there? We’re up to, what, 10 Law & Orders and 8 CSIs? How many sitcoms about dysfunctional family situations are there out there? Can you really tell the difference?

Our modern society is rapidly becoming the equivalent of a cultural garage sale. Shows casting a sly, sarcastic eye at the shows and personalities of the 80s and 90s are phenomenally popular. Movie adaptations of 70s TV shows abound – S.W.A.T., Charlie’s Angels, Starsky & Hutch (do we really need to relive that?). In 10 years, what are we going to look back on? Retrospectives of retrospectives?

Our cultural frame of reference is postcard sized. And that’s why we’re so quick to proclaim our current crop of cultural icons as the greatest. The problem is that the situation will not get better until we start looking at the bigger picture.

As long as we’re proclaiming every half-decent accomplishment as the Second Coming, then there’s no impetus to strive to new levels. However, when we start holding our cultural icons to a higher standard, then we will truly be able to hold our collective heads up high. There will no longer be a need to diminish the past, but rather we will be able to proudly stand side by side with them as equals.

The more we toss around the word dynasty, the cheaper it becomes. Let’s save the word for those that truly deserve it.

2005 © Menard Communications – Jason Menard All Rights Reserved