Basically everyone is reporting that Peyton Manning is about to retire from the NFL now that he’s won a Super Bowl with the Broncos. This isn’t much of surprise to anyone in Colorado since it’s been widely expected that he would be replaced after not really doing so well.
Deflategate has returned to the news! After asking various physicists about their thoughts on the controversy and then commissioning a report about who might have known what and when, the NFL has determined that Patriots employees probably did intentionally deflate footballs in the AFC championship and that Patriots quarterback Tom Brady probably knew about it. This isn’t the first cheating scandal to hit the Patriots in recent years, and it definitely won’t do anything to help their already pretty dismal reputation among non-Patriots football fans. I would also note that while the Patriots may claim to be the team representing all of New England, they are quite clearly a Boston team not a New England team.
The NFL finally decided to give up its nonprofit status after facing growing criticism about its former tax-exempt status. While incorporating as a nonprofit is not quite as ridiculous as it might sound (the actual teams and other related organizations are for-profit but the league itself is only a small piece of pro football), most people will be glad that the central office for what is clearly a business is now labelling itself a business. There are still plenty of things for people to criticize the NFL, so don’t expect people to stop just because the NFL has fixed one minor problem.
To basically no one’s surprise, native of Bristol, Connecticut and former New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez was found guilty of murder yesterday. He was sentenced to life without parole. This was also only one of several murders where Hernandez was possibly involved.
In what looks like the latest attempt by the NFL to blackmail US cities into paying them more money, the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders have decided to jointly develop a new stadium just outside Los Angeles. I think that means that at least 3 teams have threatened to move to LA in the past year. One has to wonder if the only reason why there is no team in LA is to make this kind of blackmail possible. If every large city had a team, then cities would know that their franchises would have a difficult time leaving.
The New England Patriots beat the Seattle Seahawks to win the Superbowl earlier today. Given how the game ended, it seems that Seattle lost more than the Patriots won. The Seahawks nearly scored a basically game-winning touchdown on an amazing catch and then promptly threw for an interception when they probably shouldn’t have thrown the ball at all. Regardless, this win likely further cements the Patriots’ status as the league’s biggest villains.
It was reported a few days ago that in order to resolve the so-called “Deflategate” controversy, the NFL’s investigators have been trying to enlist the support of physicists. The investigators apparently started asking the Columbia physics department for some help in figuring out whether or not the Patriots intentionally under-inflated some footballs at the AFC championship game.
While I applaud any news putting physics in a positive light (and it’s hard not to look good when compared to the NFL), I can’t help but be puzzled by this story. Surely it would be much easier just to buy a bunch of footballs and test them under similar conditions to the game. You don’t need to come up with a theoretical model of what happened when you can just replicate the conditions that you’re trying to investigate.
Earlier today, the Washington Post announced that it is the latest media outlet to banish the name of the Washington Redskins football team from its pages. This change affects only the editorial page, which has greater control over content than other pages. They also note that their criticism of the name has a more than 20 year history.
This is significant for several reasons: The Post is both a major national newspaper and the premier local newspaper of the DC area. Having an outlet like this join the campaign against the team’s name may have much more of an effect than random online magazines or TV & radio stations in other markets doing the same. It makes the issue much more prominent both on the national stage and in local Washington news.
The NCAA has done an admirable job at pressuring schools to abandon similar mascots. A few schools have (or at least claim to have) the support and consent of local Native American tribes for the use of names and symbols. Otherwise, team names like the “Indians” (Stanford and Dartmouth being two prominent examples: now the Cardinal and the Big Green) have all but disappeared from the college sports landscape. Pro sports haven’t really made any serious attempts at doing the same, so the Cleveland Indians, Atlanta Braves, Chicago Blackhawks, Kansas City Chiefs, and Washington Redskins retain their names. Of these, Washington seems pretty clearly to be the most likely to offend, using a name considered by many to be a racial slur. I suspect that the way the pro leagues working is the reason why they haven’t been able to change as much. Colleges are fully independent teams operating under the auspices of the NCAA. They have the freedom to choose who they will play and can pressure other schools to change by refusing to play them. Pro teams have no such luxury, so the responsibility falls to the league to enact any changes. There appears to be a growing consensus that Washington’s name is an embarrassment to the league, so maybe the name will change if it starts hurting the team’s or the league’s profits.