RandBall

Michael Rand started RandBall with hopes that he could convince the world to love jumpsuits as much as he does. So far, he's only succeeded in using the word "redacted" a lot. He welcomes suggestions, news tips, links of pure genius, and pictures of pets in Halloween costumes here, though he already knows he will regret that last part.

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Thursday (The NFL's trust problem) edition: Wha' Happened?

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated September 11th at 12:07pm 274754761

goodellThe NFL has a trust problem.

Maybe it doesn’t matter. Maybe Americans will just keep watching games, setting our fantasy lineups and throwing down beers to wash the week away. If there was a smart bet, actually, it would be on this exact thing happening after the NFL is done recoiling from the colossal mess it has made of the Ray Rice investigation.

But maybe it does matter because, honestly — strangely — this is the first time we’ve really looked at the NFL with the kind of glance that says, “eh, maybe we don’t really need this?” And we don’t think we’re alone.

It didn’t happen with other scandals. We said “strangely” in that last paragraph because it probably should have happened to us with all the news of brain injuries and how the NFL has handled that.  But it didn’t. Maybe this feels more front-and-center. Maybe, as we’ve noted before, perceptions change when you become a father. Maybe there’s just enough outrageous behavior and concrete evidence mixed with suspicion that the league is making things up as it goes along — ingredients that make it impossible to ignore.

If you never questioned the NFL before, that has likely changed. If you had a vague distrust of the league before, that has likely escalated. And if you’ve been suspicious of the league for a while, you are ready to welcome others onto the bandwagon.

The league says until this week it never saw the full tape of Rice knocking his then-fiance out with a punch on an elevator. The AP refutes that with a source, and anything the NFL says beyond that is flimsy at best.

The league says it will conduct an independent investigation of the handling of this entire matter … and then names TWO NFL OWNERS as the ones who will oversee it.

As Alec Sulkin tweeted perfectly, “I wonder if the NFL will let the NFL get away with this.”

The NFL couldn’t have gotten the tape if it wanted to because it was illegal? Wrong again!

If you dig a hole deep enough, maybe you wind up back at the top?

It stands to reason that we shouldn’t believe anything the NFL has said or done up to this point in this matter. And that calls into question whether we should ever believe anything league says or does ever again.

That’s a trust problem. Can we still support a league we don’t trust? Can we separate the failures at the top from the game that is so ingrained in us? Should we even want to?

Those are questions we will legitimately struggle with going forward.

TFD: ESPN legal analyst offers great insight on handling of Ray Rice case by NFL

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated September 10th at 5:25pm 274676021

rayriceESPN legal analyst Lester Munson typically has good information to share, whether writing for ESPN.com or making TV appearances. The Big Lead found him on Dan Le Batard’s radio program Tuesday with a lot of useful comments and insight into the NFL’s handling of the Ray Rice situation. Munson made some of the same points on TV, though we don’t think we’ve seen enough of him during this entire process.

Nonetheless, his insights on radio, transcribed by The Big Lead, are very useful:

The most interesting thing to me is to watch how these NFL security people operate. I have encountered them in the course of my reporting. I was bumping into them in the Michael Vick story for about three weeks in Virginia. They are expert investigators, former federal agents, a lot of police chiefs, a lot of detectives — they know exactly what they’re doing. And, if they want something, believe me they can get it. My takeaway is they did not want to see the video of what happened in the elevator, and therefore they didn’t get it. They could have had it if they wanted it. If TMZ can get it, the NFL security force can get it.”

And, on whether he believes NFL execs saw the video:

I believe that if they didn’t see the video, it’s because they did not want to see it. Somebodysaw it. The Commissioner didn’t see it. It gives him a platform now to try to explain what has happened. I think there’s some manipulation going on there, and it’s not a big surprise if you’ve seen these guys in operations before.”

Long story short: A very good legal mind who knows how NFL security operates is calling out the NFL.

Former exec sues Mets, alleging she was fired for being single and pregnant

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated September 10th at 2:34pm 274647441

Hey, NFL! See, see! You’re not the only ones who can get embroiled in a scandal involving the alleged mistreatment of women!

Per the NY Post comes news that a former Mets executive says she was fired by the team because she was about to become an unwed mother. Innocent until proven guilty, yes, but some of the details of the suit are disgusting. Per the Post:

Penn grad and former soccer player Leigh Castergine said Wilpon and the Mets dumped her from her powerful position as head of marketing and ticket sales last month because the bumbling ownership was “morally opposed” to her out of wedlock pregnancy.

“He frequently humiliated Castergine in front of others by, among other things, pretending to see if she had an engagement ring on her finger and openly stating in a meeting of the Team’s all-male senior executives that he is ‘morally opposed’ to Castergine ‘having this baby without being married,’” the suit states.

“Wilpon told her that, when she gets a ring, she will make more money and get a bigger bonus,” the suit states.

Wilpon told Castergine that “something had changed” in Castergine after the birth of her child – with still no ring on her finger,” the suit states. “Wilpon told her that was no longer as ‘aggressive” as she used to be.”

And when she complained about this behavior, the suit says, Castergine was fired.

Wednesday (If the Vikings can beat the Patriots ...) edition: Wha' Happened?

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated September 10th at 3:42pm 274610691

casselOn Sunday, we warned everyone not to get ahead of themselves. It was one game for the Vikings, one nice win — one dominant performance against bad quarterbacks, even if that scenario had produced career days for opponents in years past.

It wasn’t the time to go make bold extrapolations about how the rest of the season was going to play out.

Well, apparently three days later the time has come to jump to conclusions because we can’t stop looking at the Vikings’ schedule and wondering, “what if?”

What if they can beat New England in their home opener on Sunday? It’s not crazy. The Patriots looked ordinary in a Week 1 loss at Miami, and the Vikings’ looked better than most of us expected.

If that happens, of course, Minnesota is suddenly 2-0 after going into the season with a stretch of games many considered daunting. Even if they could make it out of the first six 3-3 — very reasonable if they can win Sunday — it would set them up well for the rest of the season, when their schedule (at least as we think we know it based on 2013 and early results this year) softens.

If the Vikings can beat New England, suddenly a record of 9-7 feels very realistic.  Of course, you’ll recall that in Brad Childress’ first season, the Vikings were 4-2 and generating all kinds of good will heading into a showdown with the Patriots, who ended up routing Minnesota 31-7 in the Dome with a smart quick-strike pass attack.

This is eight years later. Different team, different coach. But in a league in which every game is of massive importance (relatively speaking, of course), Sunday’s game could be the benchmark by which we can measure true optimism this season.

TFD: Ex-Gopher, NFL RB Marion Barber III arrested after allegedly flashing gun in church

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated September 10th at 9:26am 274533981

Well, here’s another sad, head-scratching story from TMZ — this one involving former Gophers and NFL running back Marion Barber III. Barber was arrested in June — at the time, few details were known — but these details on the incident have emerged from a police report:

According to the police report, cops were first called to the scene after the former Dallas Cowboys star entered a church with a loaded 9mm handgun — and 3 magazines … containing 51 hollow-point bullets. 

When cops got to the church, officers say Barber seemed disoriented — and one cop says “He heard Barber state he did not know what year it was or where he was at.” 

Cops spoke with a pastor at the church who told them … Barber had been speaking erratically inside the church and “removed his jacket showing the congregants his firearm in public.”

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