Concussion leads to tie, QB controversy


Concussion leads to tie, QB controversy


SAN FRANCISCO -- As the St. Louis Rams walked through the tunnel to their locker room, many of them with the same befuddled look quarterback Sam Bradford wore, one put it succinctly, if not logically.Sometimes you win and they say you lost, and sometimes you lose and they say you win, and sometimes you do both, and it ends up in a tie.In other words, nobody knows what to do with the 49ers-Rams 24-24 tie Sunday. The Rams think they sort of got jobbed, but arent sure why. The 49ers think they underachieved, but arent sure why.And everywhere else in the Bay Area, it is Christmas Eve. The 49ers have a real quarterback controversy again, and nothing opens arteries in these parts quite like a quarterback argument that cannot be settled.In fact, because these are the 49ers, where information is not their most important product, were not even sure when it all began, because nobody is quite sure when Alex Smith received the concussion that eventually put him out of the game, off the field and out of the stadium. Most people thought it was the shot he took from linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar on the first play of the last series of the first quarter, but head coach Jim Harbaugh claimed it happened on a quarterback sneak six plays later.
MAIOCCO: Smith sustained concussion on sneak
But it happened, with the 49ers down 14-0, and Colin Kaepernick sort of rallied the lads to a hard-fought draw that left both sides feeling ... well, pretty damned meh.The players feel like I do, Harbaugh said. They dont know quite how to feel.
RELATED: 49ers not sure how to feel after 24-24 tie
Oh. Okay. Whatever that means. Maybe thats just his version of Sometimes you do both and it ends up in a tie.The 49ers played down to the Rams, that much is clear. But the Rams also played up to the 49ers, so in that way, the NFLs first split pot in 10 years was probably the right result.But that ignores the number of ways the Rams kneed themselves in the groin (never an easy thing to perform), like the 62-yard Danny Amendola punt return that was called back by a Justin Cole illegal block, or the 80-yard Amendola catch and run on the first play of overtime that was called back because Brandon Gibson didnt cover Roger Saffold in the Rams original formation. Or Greg Zuerleins 53-yard field goal in overtime that would have won the game if not for a delay of game call.And it also ignores the ways the 49ers tried to lose control of the game before that, or the missed 41-yard David Akers field goal in overtime, or the two fake punts the 49ers didnt cover that allowed the Rams to extend possessions. Or, frankly, how the loss of Smith probably damaged their offensive cohesion in a game that was much more difficult than they expected it to be.But hey, you still got more useful evidence of the Smith-v.-Kaepernick death struggle youve been itching for all these months. Over the years, Smith has been unencumbered by true competition (with all due respect to Shaun Hill), and now Kaepernick brings a crypto-comeback to the argument.An argument, frankly, that still shouldnt really exist. Smith is still the better of the two for obvious reasons, and Kaepernick showed more with his feet Sunday than with his arm (which is still the major complaint against Smith).But weve never let logic chase us away from a quarterback argument when were spoiling for one. And Kaepernick did say while the result didnt feel very good, I thought I did pretty well.He did throw some smart-looking balls to Michael Crabtree on the 49ers first touchdown. He did hold serve on two long drives, one of 15 plays and 8:34, the other of 11 plays and 6:38. And he did gain 29 of the 63 yards needed to set up Akers game-tying field goal.So yes, he did pretty well, and that will keep the fires of tavern-based shouting burning at least until Smith is cleared to play again. He has protocols to endure and baseline tests to match between now and next Mondays game against Chicago, and between now and the day Smith is cleared, the customers will get the gift that keeps on giving.The Eternal QC. An argument that cant be settled because nobody admits that theyre wrong, and the kind of thing that makes coaches very uncomfortable because it introduces so many unknowns into a world that demands as much certainty as possible.In other words, good times, children. The 49ers are 6-2-1, and the 1 is the biggest game of them all because of the rhetorical bloodsport it has just spawned.In other words, a tie has the area all in knots. How does it get better than that?

Does St. Louis' suit against NFL mean hope for the City of Oakland?

Does St. Louis' suit against NFL mean hope for the City of Oakland?

You thought you were done worrying about the Raiders. You thought the votes were in, the moving vans booked for three years down the road, and all gnashing and sharpening of teeth was over. You thought you were free.

Then those buttinsky-come-latelies from St. Louis decided to rear their litigious heads, and now you find yourselves slipping back into that desperate-hope world from which no one escapes.

It seems the city and its regional sports authority has decided to sue the National Football League and its 32 semi-independent duchies over the relocation of the Rams 15 months ago because, and you’ll like this one, the league allegedly did not follow its own relocation rules when it moved the team.

As you know, there is no such thing as a rule if everyone governed by the rule decided unanimously to ignore the rule. This doctrine falls under the general heading of, “We’re billionaires, try and stop us.”

But all lawsuits have a common denominator, and that is that there is money at the end of the rainbow. St. Louis is claiming it is going to miss out on approximately $100 million in net proceeds (read: cash) and has decided that the NFL and especially their good pal Stan Kroenke is going to have to pay for permission to do what they have already done -- specifically, leave.

Because the suit was filed in St. Louis, the benefits of home field advantage apply, and the league is likely to have to reinflate their lawyers for some exciting new billable hours.

As to whether it turns into a windfall for the jilted Missourians, well, as someone who has known lawyers, I would list them as prohibitive underdogs. But there is nuisance value here, which brings us to Oakland.

The city and county, as we know, did not put its best shoe forward in trying to lure the Raiders into staying or the other 31 owners into rejecting the team’s pleas for geographical relief. By that, we mean that the city and county did not fall all over itself to meet the league’s typically extortionate demands.

But they did play angry enough to start snipping about the 2019 part of the Raiders’ 3-More-Coliseum-Years plan, and they are threatening to sue over about $80K in unpaid parking fees, so filing their own breach-of-rules lawsuit might be a possibility.

Because, hey, what’s the point of sounding like a nuisance if you can’t actually become one?

By now, it is clear that everyone in SuitWorld got what it needed out of the Raiders’ move. The city and county could concentrate on guiding the A’s into activity on their own new stadium. The team could go where Mark Davis has been agitating for it to go for at least three years – somewhere else. The state of Nevada could find a place for that $750 million that was burning a hole in its casino vault. And the league went to a market that it, at first reluctantly and then enthusiastically, decided should be its own.

The fans? Oh, please. Who cares about them? To the NFL, and to all corporations in all walks of business, folks are just walking wallets.

But for some cash? Well, climb on board, suckers. The gravy train is pulling out on Track 3.

Nobody is fool enough to think the Raiders would be forced to return. Hell, even St. Louis isn’t asking for the Rams back. They just want to get paid for the money they probably banked on in the good old days before Stan Kroenke decided to head west.

And that would doubtless be Oakland’s stance as well if. Now the circumstances are slightly different, in that St. Louis worked harder to keep the Rams than Oakland did to keep the Raiders. St. Louis scared up $350 million toward new digs for the Rams, well short of what Kroenke would have accepted, while Oakland said it could get its hands on some infrastructure money and no more.

But Mayor Libby Schaaf complained in her relocation post mortem that the league didn’t follow its own guidelines (yay correlation as causation!), maybe with an eye toward throwing a few lawyers into the fire to see how long it would burn.

There is not yet any indication that the city and county are going that route (and the silence may simply mean that they are sick of the Raiders’ saga as everyone else seems to be), but if they do, well, don’t freak out that the team might be forced to return.

Except, of course, in that place where migraines start. Dragging this back up is a bit like the phantom pain amputees feel -- but hey, people will do a lot for a bit of court-ordered cash. Anyone who has ever watched Judge Judy will understand.

A sports-related pie-fixing scandal? Hell never felt so fun


A sports-related pie-fixing scandal? Hell never felt so fun

I’m liking this 2017 so far. Then again, after 2016, nearly any year would be an improvement.

Just this last weekend we got a flat-earth scandal that turned into a mock-up about media self-importance and fake news (yay Kyrie Irving and his impish sense of satire!).

We got the overblown Russell-Hates-Kevin narrative, and the faux Russell-Secretly-Loves-Kevin counternarrative, all because we are stunningly attracted to meaningless and utterly contrived drama (yay our ability to B.S. ourselves!).

We got the NBA All-Star Game ripped for having no defense even though last year’s game was, if anything, worse (yay short attention span!).

We got the Boogie Cousins trade and the national revulsion of all the thought processes the Sacramento Kings put into this perpetually rolling disaster (yay making Boogie and Vivek Ranadive household names!).

And now we got the Great Sutton United Pie-Fixing Scandal. Yeah, pie-fixing. Hell never felt so fun.

So here’s the deal. Sutton United, a very small fry in English soccer, got to the fifth round of the FA Cup, a competition in which all the clubs in England are commingled and play each other until one team remains. The big clubs almost always win, so any time a small club goes deep, it’s a big deal.

Anyway, Sutton went deeper in the competition than nearly anyone in the last century, a charming development given that it is such a small club that it had a stadium caretaker, goalie coach and backup goalie all in one massive fellow, a 46-year-old guy named Wayne Shaw. Shaw became the globular embodiment of the entire Sutton Experience, a jolly lark for everyone involved and especially when he ate a pie on the bench in the final minutes of Sutton’s Cup-exiting loss to Arsenal.

And now he’s been eased into resigning his jobs with the club, because – and this is so very British – there were betting shops taking action on whether he would in fact eat a pie on the bench, and he either did or did not tip off his pals that he was going to chow down on television.

He did eat the pie. His pals collected on their bets. The sport’s governing body opened an investigation into market manipulation by gambling – which is hilarious given that no fewer than 10 gambling establishments have advertising deals with English soccer clubs. Shaw was invited to quit to kill the story, and he took the hint.

Hey, dreams die all the time. But it’s still pie-fixing. Let that rattle around your head for a minute. Pie-fixing. Not match-fixing. Not point-shaving. Pie-fixing.

Now how can you not love this year?

Sure, it sucks for Shaw, but it serves as a series of cautionary tales for athletes around the world.

* Gambling is everywhere, and every time you inch toward it, you dance on the third rail.

* If you want to help your friends, give them cash.

* This is a horribly delicious way to lose your gig.

* And finally, fun in the 21st century isn’t ever truly fun because someone in a suit and a snugly-placed stick is going to make sure you pay full retail for that fun.

But it is nice to know that something that has never happened before is now part of our year. Pie-fixing is a thing now, as silly in its way as Irving’s flat-earth narrative was. And as we steer away from normal games as being too run-of-the-mill-fuddy-duddy entertainment, we have replaced them with sideshows.

Or do you forget how many people complained Saturday and Sunday that the dunk contest wasn’t interesting enough? How stupid is that?

Lots. Lots of stupid. But against pie-tin-shaped planets and pies turned into betting coups, how can it possibly compare?

We chase a lot of idiotic narratives in our sporting lives. The great What Will The Patriots Do To Roger Goodell story died like the old dog it was. We still try to flog Warriors-Thunder as a rivalry in search of better TV ratings when all the obvious evidence is that it is no such thing unless you think a couple that broke up nine months ago is still a solid story. We have Bachelor fantasy leagues, for God’s sake.

This would leave most normal folks in despair, thus matching their everyday experiences, but yin meets yang, and every time it looks like we are all barrel-rolling into the sun, we get Irving, and then we get Wayne Shaw.

In short, 2017 is going to be fun of grand surprises for us all. I look forward to the day President Trump tries to fete the Patriots and only gets to Skype with Bob Kraft and the equipment guys who midwifed DeflateGate, and Mark Davis in Las Vegas, just to see if he can get a P.F. Chang’s into the Bellagio.

Why not? This is sport’s year-long tribute to sketch comedy, and evidently everyone is signing on enthusiastically to replace lessons of morality and honor and equality and dignity and sportsmanship with slackened jaws and belly laughs.

So yay sports! Or as it is clearly becoming, A Night At The Improv.