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May 8, 2012 8:30 AM

Column Awards of the Week (5/1-5/7)

By updating RealClearSports I read hundreds of articles every week but sometimes there are particular passages that need highlighting. And to make these passages more palatable I'm doing them in award form! The awards are completely random and will change weekly.

Column Awards for slide.jpgThere are some things that when revealed can only do harm. There are some things that should remain private. Last Wednesday Junior Seau committed suicide. He was perhaps the most famous athlete in San Diego's history and as such it was big news. I understand why there was so much coverage from the event and it some of it could actually help fans deal with the loss of a legend they idolized.

As the battle rages on about the effects of football on the human brain, we might be able to learn a lot from Seau's death. It could have a profound effect on football's future and the implementation of stricter safety methods or might be able to shed light on better ways to test whether concussions will have long-term effects. I was glad to hear the Seau family agreed to donate his brain to science so that maybe future players can benefit from the research. What I don't think anyone can learn from is the 911 call placed by Megan Noderer.

Noderer, Seau's girlfriend was the first to find Seau after he shot himself. She called 911 in an absolute panic as the operator tried to decipher the situation. The operator then transfers her to someone in the fire department who walks her through CPR. The call lasts nearly 8 minutes. I got through 26 seconds before shutting it off.

What is gained from listening to someone in that situation? Why do people do it? What is the fascination? The call is sickening enough but knowing others are listening to it out of morbid curiosity is even worse. Why exactly are 911 calls available to the public? His death was quickly ruled a suicide and there's no criminal trial and even if there was then that call would only seem relevant to the family and those involved in the case. There are some things that should remain private and 911 calls should be at the top of that list because there's absolutely nothing to gain from posting them for the public. On to the awards!

Figuring Out Why Heat Are Better Than Knicks
Linda Robertson of the Miami Herald has done it. She knows why the Heat are a superior team to the Knicks. One word for you: Synergy!: Miami's Big 3 proved that it adds up to more than the sum of its parts. As for New York's Big 3, it simply does not add up.
The difference? Synergy, which is the way a group functioning together creates a result not attainable by any of its individual members.

So it's synergy, huh? That's the difference. It's not that Miami's big 3 is FAR and AWAY better than the Knicks' trio? And since when did the Knicks have a Big 3? Tyson Chandler is the third? Chandler might be great on defense but on offense he averaged 11 points in the regular season. Compare that to 18 for Bosh. LeBron is about to become a 3-time MVP and Wade won the NBA Finals MVP. What have Carmelo and Stoudemire won? It ain't just synergy that separates these two trios.

Blame It on the Rain
Gregg Easterbrook of ESPN knows why Robert Griffin is going to be a bust: rain: The related reddish flag is that in photos, his hands look small compared to the ball. ESPN's metrics says Griffin's hands are smaller than those of Andrew Luck. And a quarterback's hand size matters a lot in rain.

Griffin played his high school and college ball in Texas, where annual precipitation is less than that east of the Mississippi, and he became a football star during the period when much of Texas was suffering a multiyear drought. In his two starring seasons with Baylor, Griffin started 21 games in Texas, and five games in also-dry Colorado, Kansas and Oklahoma. So far as I could determine, he has never played in the rain zones of the Northeast Corridor or Pacific Northwest.
Now Griffin heads to the Redskins, who each season host eight games in rainy Maryland plus have annual road dates in rainy Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Quarterbacks with small hands tend to fumble when it rains. RGIII has little experience with rain-game conditions, and there is a lot of rain in his future. "Nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands," the poet warned. Sure, lack of rain experience is a super-specific concern. But Washington just invested three first-round draft choices in Griffin. Did the Redskins' brain trust take this into account?

It's a fairly stupid argument that Dan Steinberg of DC Sports Bog makes sound even more stupid with a little research. Among other things, he notes Maryland really doesn't get that much rain and his last regular season game against Texas was in the rain and he ran for 2 TDs, threw for 320 yards and with 2 TD passes.

Root for the Crappier Matchup for History's Sake!
David Whitley of Sporting News would much prefer to see the Lakers vs. Celtics than the Thunder vs. Heat in the NBA Finals: The Heat-Thunder is the trendy Finals pick, and it certainly has appeal. It just doesn't have as much appeal as Boston and Los Angeles.
For one thing, if LeBron James wins a title, we'd have nothing left to make fun of him with. But the main reason we can wait for a Heat-Thunder Finals is we're likely to get five of them in the next six years.

So we should root for an inferior quality of play because we will have this better product for years to come? It's like a waiter coming to your table and asking you if you'd like a hot dog or the surf and turf. But then he adds, 'But keep in mind this MIGHT be the last time we serve hot dogs.' Things change so frequently you definitely can't assume we will see the Thunder vs. Heat for years to come. Just look at this year. The Bulls were supposed to battle the Heat for the Eastern Conference title but then Derrick Rose got injured. Out in the West, James Harden is playing fantastic and he might just warrant a max contract. If he gets that the Thunder will have to make some tough choices with so much money locked up in Durant and Westbrook.

Quote Not Even Jockeys Can Believe
The Kentucky Derby had a fantastic finish and while you might be able to name the horse that won (I'll Have Another) you probably can't name the jockey (Mario Gutierrez). But according to one trainer you really should know those jockeys: Dale Romans, the trainer of Dullahan, a horse that is 8-1 on the betting line in Saturday's Derby, points out that to many people, the riders are the stars of the show: "Jockeys are pound for pound the best athletes in the world," he said.

I get that jockeys weigh about 110 lbs but you're not about to convince me they are better athletes than decathletes or LeBron James or SO many other athletes. I know you have to be strong to stay on and control horses that weigh 1,000 lbs but there is a reason the horses get all the glory.

Sentence I Never Thought I'd Read
Jen Floyd Engel of Fox Sports had an interesting take on Seau's death: What I believe in my heart is Seau wrote his own Don Draper "Why I Am Quitting Tobacco" letter Wednesday.
But he did not have the words. So he used a gun.

I really don't think you can compare writing a letter to committing suicide. But I REALLY don't think you can compare a fictional character writing a fictional letter to a human being committing suicide.

Is It Racist?
This is a game I've played in these Column Awards postings multiple times. Usually it's a legitimate question. Based on the outrage this next excerpt got it might not even be a question. Here is what Phil Mushnick of the New York Post wrote: As long as the Nets are allowing Jay-Z to call their marketing shots -- what a shock that he chose black and white as the new team colors to stress, as the Nets explained, their new "urban" home -- why not have him apply the full Jay-Z treatment?
Why the Brooklyn Nets when they can be the New York N------s? The cheerleaders could be the Brooklyn B----hes or Hoes. Team logo? A 9 mm with hollow-tip shell casings strewn beneath. Wanna be Jay-Z hip? Then go all the way!

I get his point. He's trying to show that the Nets and Jay-Z are trying to capitalize on the gangster image. The thing is, Jay-Z might have glorified that culture years ago but hasn't done that in quite some time. He even "retired" the 'B' word after his daughter was born. Sure they are capitalizing on Jay-Z's status but why not? It makes perfect business sense to me and it doesn't have to be degrading like Mushnick paints it to be. I like the new logo and I don't think it glorifies violent rap culture at all. Frankly, I find it kind of racist that Mushnick thinks they are trying to glorify that aspect.

Lakers Aren't Contenders Because They Lost One Game
Bill Plaschke of the LA Times doesn't have much faith in the Lakers. They haven't been as dominant as he'd like: Check out the Miami Heat against the New York Knicks. Have you been watching the Oklahoma City Thunder against the Dallas Mavericks? In both cases, Goliath has won three straight games against David. If the Lakers are going to play in that league later this postseason, they will need similar intensity and energy that was missing Friday night.

The Heat just dropped one against the Knicks and are up 3-1 in that series. The Lakers are also up 3-1 in their series. As for the Thunder, they won the first two games by a combined 4 points. Was that really a superior effort to the Lakers? The Lakers won their first two games by a combined 19 points against a team that finished with a better record than the Thunder's opponent.

Whatever Makes You Feel Better
Gregg Doyel of CBS Sports sees no problem watching college football or the NFL because the players know the risk and choose to play: The lifestyle of a college player? Not so precious, not when weighed against the odds of (not) playing in the NFL for a decade. College players risk similar collisions and head injuries as NFL players, only to have an overwhelming chance of being in the same general workforce as the rest of us.
Still, I'll watch college football. Those are young men who made a choice. In lots of cases, those are young men who wouldn't be in college -- wouldn't have a shot at being in the same general workforce as lots of us -- without football. Playing football is a risk, but it comes with a reward. So I'll watch college football and not feel badly about it.

I can equate playing college football with joining the military. Joining the military is risky. You might be put in harm's way. But you will be compensated monetarily and it can help provide education on the job and afterwards. College football is also risky but it provides an opportunity to get an education. But here's the thing: What if we can do things to make it safer? We don't send soldiers into war with baseball bats and hope for the best. We do everything we can to keep them safe. Things can be done to protect these football players but the NFL is somewhat reluctant to do much because they don't want to tinker with a product that is so popular. The only thing that will change their mind is the bottom line and that requires the public to take a stand.

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