Hello all and Happy New Year! I hope you all had a great holiday break. Let’s hope 2021 is lights out better than 2020!
Plenty of sports news unfolded, during the holidays, but here is a story that flew below the radar screen. The NFL Players’ Association wants major changes to its offseason workout program. The players are upset that they have little down time and that the playing of football has become almost a year round endeavor for them. The players say they have little time for their families and less time to decompress, because it is always football, football, football.
On New Year’s Eve, the Associated Press reported that NFLPA President JC Tretter called for the changes because of the success of Covid-19 protocol.
“This year (2020) has brought less time at practice than ever before. We had no offseason practices, fewer training camp practices and no preseason games. While some feared that those changes would lead to a sloppy 2020 NFL season, our collective level of play across the league has actually never been higher.”
Tretter has a point, although some coaches would say their teams did not play up to potential early in the season because of the reduced preseason. Still, as Tretter stated, most of these players stay in shape in the offseason and why should football be the only major sport that mandates organized, on campus workouts in the offseason? Look for changes.
The day after
When you read this the NFL regular season will be over. The league made it, Covid and all. Now comes one of the most covered days of the NFL season: today. The day after the regular season brings a slew of firings of coaches, assistant coaches, general managers and other administrative staff. Many players are also given the pink slip. By the time you read this, Adam Gase may have already been fired as coach of the Jets and Urban Meyer hired as coach of Jacksonville. Fasten your seat belts. It should be an interesting few days, beginning with today.
What was McCarthy thinking?
Was there a more disappointing NFL coach than the Dallas Cowboys’ Mike McCarthy this season? McCarthy, who won a Super Bowl while coaching Green Bay, not only coached Dallas to an awful 6-10 record, his game management was pathetic. For example, you can make the case he cost the Cowboys a chance at the playoffs Sunday, by not challenging a clearly incomplete pass by Giants quarterback Daniel Jones to Dante Pettis late in the game, that was ruled on the field as a reception.
Even FOX rules commentator Mike Pereira stated:
“No question in my mind that if Dallas would’ve challenged this it would have been reversed to an incomplete pass.”
The pass “completion” set up the field goal that sealed the deal for the Giants.
Remembering K.C. Jones
It seemed the holiday break brought the passing of many notable sporting figures, including basketball Hall of Fame player and coach K.C. Jones, who died at the age of 88 on Christmas Day. It was my good fortune to know K.C. as a friend. We traveled the country together, first, when he coached the New England Blizzard of the now defunct American Basketball League and I was the team’s broadcaster, and later as my broadcast partner for the University of Hartford men’s basketball games.
My stories about K.C. are too numerous to mention, although I will chronicle some of them in a future podcast, including snippets of some of our broadcasts. Through K.C., I met Larry Bird, Bob Cousy and countless other basketball greats. We sang together - K.C. was an extraordinary singer and like me enjoyed the Great American Songbook, particularly songs of Frank Sinatra. We golfed together, ate many a dinner together, enjoyed good wine together, took long bus trips and flights together, conducted Q&A sessions in front of crowds at universities and casino ballrooms, laughed and had serious discussions, including about the racial discrimination he faced.
Later, after I passed the baton of broadcasting Hartford games to my dear friend Jeff Dooley, they had the same experiences. K.C. was that kind of a man. I am honored and humbled to have been a small part this great person’s life and to have been able to call him a friend.
Well that is it for the first letter of the new year. As always, thank you for subscribing and feel free to spread the word by forwarding the letter to someone you know. Just click on the link below.