Posts Tagged ‘football’

Mark McGwire and Steroids

January 12, 2010

Mark McGwire’s admission of using steroids and human growth hormone (HGH) is no surprise.  Baseball knew about it and looked the other way.  I look back to how Jose Canseco was universally ridiculed years ago for saying that much of baseball was using steroids.  It turns out he was right.  People don’t like it when you speak the truth.

What’s surprising is that there’s no outcry about steroids in football. Obviously many players are using steroids or HGH, which is not detected by tests.  It’s true that baseball’s records are considered sacred, and people would probably be more accepting of football players using steroids, but steroids and HGH still give players a huge unfair advantage.

The average weight of an offensive lineman in the NFL is about 310 pounds.  Thirty years ago it was about 260.  Not all of that can be accounted for with improved weight training and nutrition.  When you see wide receivers with huge arms that look like they’re flexed when they’re not, and they recover from broken legs in less than two months to play again, it’s pretty suspicious. Thirty years ago you didn’t see any wide receivers like that.

In 2006 former Redskins tackle Jon Jansen said a large number of NFL players were using performance enhancers.  “When there is something out there that people believe is going to help them, we’d be very naive and foolish to think that if you can’t test for it, guys are going to try it,” Jansen said. “Right now there is not a test for HGH, and when they develop that, I hope the NFL will institute that in our drug policy.”  Jansen backed off his statements when he was told to be quiet.

So the NFL now is just as bad as baseball was in the 1990s.  They turn the other way even though a very large number of ex-players die decades earlier than they should.  For years the NFL ignored the problems of concussions, while former players came down with early dementia.

Former Pittsburgh Steelers offensive lineman Steve Courson wrote in his book “False Glory” that coach Chuck Noll “conveniently and most definitely turned his head to it.”  The word is that the Steelers, who won four Super Bowls in the 1970s, were one of the first teams to use steroids.

Former NFL player and coach Jim Haslett said “It started, really, in Pittsburgh. They got an advantage on a lot of football teams. They were so much stronger (in the) ’70s, late ’70s, early ’80s,” Haslett said in 2005. “They’re the ones who kind of started it.”

Old Sports Media Guides and Sports Illustrateds

May 24, 2009

I sell used books, magazines, and media guides on Amazon.com.  In this blog entry I’m listing many of the sports media guides and old Sports Illustrated magazines I have for sale.  The average price is $7.  The old media guides – football, basketball, baseball, and hockey – are gold mines for information you can’t get anywhere else.  I have a lot of them from the early 1990s before the advent of the internet.  It’s very nostalgic to look through these media guides, as well as the Sports Illustrateds to remember how the teams and players were viewed back then, and to find information that is hard to find today. For example, pick a player from before the age of the internet.  You may be able to find out his stats, but unless he was a Hall of Fame type player, you won’t get the detailed information you would get in these guides.   

Some of the highlights are a 1992 Boston Red Sox media guide featuring Roger Clemens on the cover, a 1991 Houston Oilers media guide with Warren Moon on the cover, a 1991 Chicago Bulls media guide with information about a young Michael Jordan inside, a 1992 Pittsburgh Pirates media guide with information about a young Barry Bonds inside, a 1992 Seattle Mariners media guide with information about a young Ken Griffey, Jr. inside, and Sports Illustrateds of Magic Johnson, Cal Ripken, and Sugar Ray Leonard. 

Please check out my amazon storefront at  http://www.amazon.com/shops/mikefrandsen.

I also have a lot of classic books and art books for sale.

Dhani Tackles the Globe

April 25, 2009

“Dhani Tackles the Globe” is a TV show on the Travel Channel in which Dhani Jones, an NFL player, plays the sports of different countries to which he travels.  I really like the show because it shows an American who plays a traditionally American sport playing completely different sports, many of which neither he nor many other Americans have even heard of.  One of the great things about it is that Dhani, a linebacker for the Cincinnati Bengals, has a respect for other cultures and the sports they play. 

Many Americans, especially members of the sports media, look down on non-American sports and ridicule them.  Not just the obscure, seemingly strange sports, but even soccer, the most popular sport in the world.  In fact, you can’t watch ESPN doing a soccer highlight without seeing the anchor making fun of the sport – it’s almost as if it’s a requirement.  They should respect the sport and the passion that millions of fans over the world have for it.  It just makes ESPN and other sports media outlets look arrogant and shortsighted. 

When the Olympics roll around, or in fact when any sport other than football, baseball, basketball, or golf is mentioned, the U.S. sports media feels obligated to either make fun of it, state how much no one cares about it, or say how much they hate it, as if they are afraid of what they are not familiar with.  This is even true for relatively mainstream sports such as soccer, tennis, hockey, boxing, bike racing, or swimming. 

Forget about getting an American sports media person to respect something more non-American such as the sports featured on the show: Muay Thai boxing (Thailand), schwingen (Switzerland), rugby (England), dragon boat racing (Singapore), hurling (Ireland), jai alai (Spain), Surf Life Saving (Australia), kickboxing (Cambodia), sailing (New Zealand), and Sambo fighting (Russia). 

But back to the show.  Jones and the show’s producers do a great job of mixing in sports, cuisine, social life, and scenery.  A couple of minor issues – Jones sometimes seems a little awkward as he forces too many jokes, and sometimes he does a little bit of friendly trash talking which doesn’t always get understood by the people in foreign countries.  I have another criticism of the show — that South America isn’t represented, and the bigger oversight is that Jones did not travel to Africa, especially since he is African-American.  But these are relatively minor complaints.  For the most part, Jones is friendly, good-humored, and most importantly, respects the sports and games they play in other countries and their cultures.  It’s good to see that from a multi-millionaire American athlete.

In Switzerland, Jones did schwingen, or Swiss folk wrestling. Something notable about Switzerland was that Dhani seemed to get a slightly cold reception by many of the people, first by the competitors and later by the crowd.  As for how he did in the sports, he sometimes looked a little lost out there, but I applaud him for taking the risk of trying something new.  He got beaten badly a few times in Swiss folk wrestling.  I missed the one on Thai boxing.  He did relatively well in rugby as you would expect, though he only got to play for a few minutes. He didn’t do very well in dragon boat racing, played passably well in hurling for a beginner, and didn’t fare much better in jai alai.

The show is a good way to get to know other countries a little bit.  It’s a different spin on the usual travel shows.  Jones also spends some time learning some of the jobs people do in other countries as well as sampling native cuisines and participating in some of the recreational activities of these countries.  He sheared sheep in Ireland, milked cows in Switzerland, and rode (and fell off a) horse in England.  You also get to see some of the scenery in places like Switzerland, which is amazing.

You have to respect Jones for what he’s doing, going outside of his specialty in a specialized world.  Most people are specialists in one or two areas, so when someone comes along who is flexible, adaptable, and versatile, people don’t know what to make of it.  They can’t imagine people doing something other than what they do all day, year after year.  

If people call themselves true sports fans, they should not mock and disrespect anything that isn’t considered a major American sport.  You may not be that interested in different sports or understand anything other than football, basketball, and baseball, but if you consider yourself a sports fan then at least respect other sports.  (This is directed at every major sportscaster or sportswriter in America).  A better attitude would also go a long way toward dispelling the notion that Americans only care about the U.S. and don’t care about or understand other cultures.  As a multi-cultural nation of immigrants, we should respect the sports and the cultures of other countries.  My favorite sports to watch are football and basketball, but I try not to make fun of other sports just because I don’t know them as well. 

Dhani has also been active in volunteering and charity work.  From the show’s website: “Dhani has received accolades for his charity work for former Vice President Al Gore’s Climate Change Project and the United Nations’ World Food Program. He also represented the New York Giants at a press conference for the “Gift of New York,” a September 11 philanthropy organization designed to provide victims’ families with free access to New York’s theatrical, artistic, cultural, sports and live entertainment venues.”  

More pro athletes should take advantage of the money they have and see the world in their off seasons.

Black History Month – Football

February 18, 2009

“You have to have the patience of understanding that at the time you will be ostracized, but as history moves into it, people will see that what you said made all the sense in the world.  As things change, the radical points of view that you had will not be radical anymore.  You have to have the courage to deal from that position.”

— Jim Brown, Black Star Rising, a documentary about blacks in the NFL in the 1950s and 1960s.