Ray Ratto

Marijuana as pain relief for NFL players? Three things come to mind

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AP

Marijuana as pain relief for NFL players? Three things come to mind

The National Football League (cue booing) and the National Football League Players Association (cue snoring) may work together to find common ground on marijuana as a pain relief technique.

But were I you, I wouldn’t wager as much as one well-rolled blunt on a beneficial outcome.

According to the Washington Post, the league has sent a letter to the union offering to work together on an agreement that could open the way to allowing medical pot as a way to help cope with the brutal physical toll of football.

Three things, though, come immediately to mind here.

One, the league is after something, and it usually isn’t to the benefit of the players.

Two, the league has pulled out of studies on CTE it promised to fund, and haggles endlessly on payments to former players with brain issues in hopes that maybe the problem, the players and their brains will all go away.

And three, the league never misses a chance to fight with the union and then blame the union on any issue, because that’s how the 32 owners get their competitive rocks off.

If this seems like a one-sided analysis, it’s because it is. Then again, it is also an analysis based on mountains and molehills of historical evidence, and there is no contravening evidence that the league has ever done anything jointly with the union that didn’t come at a cost to the players.

Plus, like everything else, the devil is in the details, and studies aren’t progress. Only signed documents are progress, and all we have on this issue is announcements from the league and the union that they are both coming up with their own studies. Great. Hurray paperwork.

In the meantime, players get the same two kinds of treatment for chronic pain – pills, which are typically far worse and less efficacious, and threats to get out of the tub or get off the club.

Thus, I choose to be less than heartened by this development, until it actually is a development and not just more piehole-flapping on a subject that has already has far too much of it, and no action at all.

Phrase that Matt Joyce left out of his apology is key to talking the talk

Phrase that Matt Joyce left out of his apology is key to talking the talk

Matt Joyce said the word, he did the apology, he’ll do the time, and then we’ll see if he’ll get the forgiveness he asks.
 
Joyce’s two-game suspension by Major League Baseball for using a gay slur at a fan during Friday’s Athletics-Angels game in Anaheim is well within industry norms (though it might have been more tactically impressive if the club itself had issued the suspension), and his apology did not deflect blame or contain the always-insincere caveat “if I offended anyone.” He did offend people and he knew it, so he didn’t couch it in the phraseology of “I don’t think what I said was improper, but I’ll do the perp walk just to get this over with.”
 
He even offered to do work with PFLAG, the support group that supports the LGBTQ community, thereby putting his time (which is more meaningful than money) where his mouth was.
 
In other words, he seems to have taken his transgression properly to heart, which is all you can really hope for, and now we’ll see if he is granted the absolution he seeks.
 
You see, we’re a funny old country in that we talk forgiveness all the time but grant it only sparingly, and only after a full mental vetting of important things like “Do we like this guy?” and “Is he playing for my favorite team?” and “Do I feel like letting him up at all?”
 
In other words, forgiveness is very conditional indeed.
 
Joyce said what he said, but his apology seemed to be given freely and unreservedly rather than crafted to meet a minimal standard of corporate knee-taking/arse-covering. If he follows through on his offer to do face-to-face work with PFLAG or an associated group and absorbs the lesson of not using other people as a weapon for his own frustration, then he ought to be acknowledged for doing so. That’s what forgiveness is.
 
But if the principle you adhere to is “once guilty, forever doomed,” then you’ve succeeded at giving in to the mode of the day, which is jumping to a conclusion and never jumping back because it’s just easier and more convenient to do so.
 
It’s up to him. But it’s also up to you.

Promotion and relegation would be a great idea in all sports

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AP

Promotion and relegation would be a great idea in all sports

There is no inherent reason why you should care about Miami FC or Kingston Stockade FC, two lower level professional soccer leagues in the lower right quadrant of the nation.

But when they joined together to go to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, the international governing body for any sport not run by Americans for Americans, to demand that all American teams submit to the concept of promotion and relegation, from MLS to, presumably, your kid’s under-8 team, they became interesting.

And the best part about soccer, except for Neymar being worth twice as much as all other humans in the history of the sport, is promotion and relegation.

In fact, it would be a great idea in all sports – although the idea of the Giants and A’s in the Pacific Coast League might scare the bejeezus out of Larry Baer and John Fisher.

Now we are not optimistic that the CAS will see this Kingston and Miami’s way. Americans like their sports top-heavy, where only a few megaclubs get most of the money and attention while the rest sort of muddle along, safe but unremarkable. And to be frank, promotion and relegation is most a fun media construct for making fun of bad teams – say, like the A’s and Giants.

But we can agree, I think, that having Jed York pay Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch to keep his football team out of the Canadian Football League, or better still, the Mountain West Conference, would add to healthy dose of spice to what promises otherwise to be a pretty humdrum year.

And promotion/relegation would certainly reduce all that troublesome tanking in the NBA people endlessly whinge about.

So here’s to Kingston Stockade and Miami FC. Your cause is just. Persevere. After all, in this rancid period for American sporting culture, someone's got to stand for the quixotic yet indisputably correct thing.

And when it fails, and it probably will, just know you sleep with the angels -- if that’s what passes for fun at your house.