Dave Duerson


Rangers forward Derek Boogard (above), found dead in his Minnesota apartment yesterday.

Boogard came to the team as a big ticket replacement for Jody Shelley, a tough as nails fighter, who had done the tough job of being an enforcer for the team, and was one that other players feared.  So when Boogard joined the team early last summer, all 6’8″ of him, with his imposing reputation preceding him, a young man who tough guys were reluctant to fight with because of his quick hands and menacing size, many Ranger fans were just fine with the transaction, as in hockey, unfortunately, teams need someone scary to keep their high end talent safe.

Frankly, there’s a lot wrong with the game, and so is this.  We have been debating internally our stance on fighting in the game since we read a whole bunch about Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, related mostly to ex-football players, but also to Bob Probert, a legendary NHL tough guy.  We know the league is also looking hard at fighting as well, with arguably its best player, Sidney Crosby, wrung up soundly with a concussion from which he has not recovered.  Will the golden boy whom the NHL has swung just about all of its marketing impetus behind ever be the same?

There is some question.  Derek Boogard was the type of player a team would acquire to keep players like Crosby unencumbered.  It’s thankless work.  And some, in hockey circles, can’t understand how a guy that gets 3 or 4 minutes of ice a game and who isn’t counted on for his playing skills, can occupy a seat on the bench, taking away opportunity from a more talented player, and can earn so much in the process.  The Rangers paid Derek Boogard in excess of one million dollars a year.

It’s a blood sport.  As much as we have always been fans of seeing our guy kick the hell out of the other guy, the concept of the enforcer has become barbaric to us, and always should have been.  We’re surprised more haven’t perished, and we are seriously concerned that there is no really effective way to protect top end talent, which is a dark notion for the league that gets worse ratings than NASCAR.

But Sidney Crosby isn’t on the sidelines because of a fight or what an enforcer could or couldn’t do.  There’s no way to keep players safe.  They are bigger and faster than ever, stronger than ever, and the collisions and impacts, in our humble opinion, are leaving imprints that are the same as the ones being suffered by guys like Dave Duerson, who recently shot himself in the chest with a shotgun, and left his brain to science.

Jeff Klein of the New York Times offers a much better obituary on Boogard than we ever could.  Here’s part of it:

 In poll after poll of N.H.L. players it was always a landslide: Derek Boogaard was the toughest, most feared fighter in the league.

Signed to a four-year contract averaging $1.6 million a year, Boogaard played just 22 games for the Rangers.

So fearsome was the hulking Boogaard that last summer the Rangers signed him to a four-year contract at an average of $1.6 million per year —far higher than most enforcers command.

His most significant hockey statistic was 6-foot-7, 265-pound. Playing a handful of shifts a game, he scored only three goals in 277 career games over six seasons, but amassed 589 penalty minutes including 70 fights. In one stretch of almost five years, he went 234 consecutive games without scoring, the longest drought in league history. In drills at the Rangers’ training camp last year, he trailed behind the other players, winded, as he had done at camps with his previous team, the Minnesota Wild.

Boogaard, 28, was found dead in his Minneapolis apartment by members of his family on Friday, and within hours his fellow players — including those he sometimes fought — were sending messages of condolence through the social media.

Sgt. Bill Palmer, a spokesman for the Minneapolis police, said Boogaard was dead when emergency medical technicians arrived. He said the police do not suspect foul play because Boogaard’s body showed no sign of physical trauma.

Palmer said the police would not comment about a possible cause of death until the medical examiner’s office completed toxicology tests after an autopsy performed Saturday. A final report is expected to be released in about two weeks, he said.

Boogaard was remembered fondly by former teammates in Minnesota and New York and by former fighting opponents.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/15/sports/hockey/rangers-enforcer-boogaard-is-found-dead-at-his-minneapolis-apartment.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1     

Boogard had a fight with Ottawa’s Matt Carkner in early December, suffered a concussion, and was yet to return.   You can see video of that fight below.

As for us, we don’t have a lot to say about the man because his stay was so short here.  We liked his acquisition, and his attitude, but he only played in a handful of games.  On not scoring in over 200 games consecutively, we remember how Boogard enthusiastically proclaimed in an interview before the season opener, that he planned on getting off the snide that night.  We were happy to see him get that first goal in so long a few games later.

We’d hate to conjecture about the dead, but we would not be surprised if Boogard suffered from CTE.  Whether or not that’s the case, we are calling for the league to do whatever’s necessary to make the game safer.

Crack (http://crackbillionair.wordpress.com, http://www.crackbillionair.com)

We follow labor relations very closely.  From where we sit, the side doing the most grandstanding is the side on weaker ground.  Enter Roger Goodell (above) and his downright insulting letters to fans in recent weeks, fans who he is obviously desperate to curry favor with.  Some media types have downplayed the NFL’s lack of a collective bargaining agreement, and want to tell you that no fan really cares about this mess until and unless games are lost in the 2011 season.  If that’s the case, then the fans are flat out stupid.  Occum’s Razor here: the players are the game, and the commisioner, despite being careful to always couch his deception in the the lie that he wants what is best for the players, is an employee of the owners.  It’s that simple.  The owners pay his salary, and he is their representative.  You could poll every one of the 1,500 or so players and they could all give the commish a gushing review.  Those reviews wouldn’t make one bit of difference to the man’s job security.  The only thing that matters is what the owners think of him, and the only thing the owners care about is taking money and benefits from the players.

In letter one, fired off by Goodell on January 3rd, Goodell suggested that the status quo was absolutely unacceptable and that the game would not be able to function successfully under the current labor conditions.  This is the richest sport in the world, making well more than any other sport in the world, coming off its most successful season.  Ever.  Goodell says he needs to do this, to head toward a lockout, to improve the future of the game for “the players and the fans.”

Really?  This is the league that has given us personal seat licenses.  They care about the fans so much that they devised the brilliant idea of charging people thousands of dollars for the right to purchase tickets for hundreds of dollars more.  We aren’t talking about a few thousand, either.  We are talking upwards of between $10,000-20,000 per seat.  You want four season tickets to the Jets or Giants, you are probably paying $80,000 before you even discuss the price of a game ticket. 

Having bled the fans dry and unable to squeeze any more from the tapped out masses, the owners, led by this disgusting liar, having now turned their attention to squeezing the players, who literally, are the game.  You’ve got guys, to a man, putting their bodies on the line, hundreds of times per week, and their brains, as we are now seeing with people like Mike Webster, Dave Duerson, Chris Henry, and Andre Waters.  Risking constant physical injury in a bloodsport should be lucrative work, but don’t think it’s good work if you can get it.  The life span of an average male these days is around 80 years old.  The life span of an NFL player is somewhere in the early 50’s.  Now that it is conclusive that guys are also putting their brains on the line, one would think the compensation and benefits should be increased and not decreased.  CTE–Chronic Traumatic Encephalitis–a neurological disease that ruins lives and leads to depression, suicide, drug abuse, alcoholism, and lack ofo impulse control, is a disease incurred from taking hits.  Isn’t that football, in a nutshell?

Dr. Bennett Omalu, a fantastic neurological physician who is out front with CTE research, is a guy the NFL paints a witch doctor.  His findings have been met by Goodell’s PR machine with an undignified, base smear campaign.  Omalu, as time goes by, is armed with more and more scientific data, and soon more, as he analyzes Dave Duerson’s brain–an excellent player and a brilliant man.  Last month Duerson killed himself by self inflicted shotgun blast to the chest, so that his brain could be analyzed fully intact for CTE.  And the “witch doctor” is addressing the House of Representatives on the dangers of the high intensity contact nature of football, at all levels.

These are nightmares for the players obviously, from a health standpoint, but from an economic one, for the league.  And what happened today, in the form of the NFLPA decertifying, is also a nightmare.  Small teams can not compete financially with big market teams.  The league, which is a collective, and built its greatness by sharing revenue, is now one where every owner is out for himself.  And really, it’s not the Cowboys or the Giants fault that Green Bay and Jacksonville are not able to compete economically.  Dallas and NY are real cities.  Football put Green Bay on the map in the first place.  It is not a real city.  When the Giants win the Superbowl, they have a parade 2 million strong.  When Green Bay wins, they can hardly muster 50,000 people.  How is that the players’ fault?

Jacksonville?  It’s not even a college town.  It’s a high school town.  They do not deserve pro football.  But their owner, and the moron from Carolina–a former player no less–is in these bargaining sessions screaming their heads off at the union. 

Dear NFL Fan,

When I wrote to you last on behalf of the NFL, we promised you that we would work tirelessly to find a collectively bargained solution to our differences with the players’ union. Subsequent to that letter to you, we agreed that the fastest way to a fair agreement was for everyone to work together through a mediation process. For the last three weeks I have personally attended every session of mediation, which is a process our clubs sincerely believe in.

Unfortunately, I have to tell you that earlier today the players’ union walked away from mediation and collective bargaining and has initiated litigation against the clubs. In an effort to get a fair agreement now, our clubs offered a deal today that was, among other things, designed to have no adverse financial impact on veteran players in the early years, and would have met the players’ financial demands in the latter years of the agreement.

The proposal we made included an offer to narrow the player compensation gap that existed in the negotiations by splitting the difference; guarantee a reallocation of savings from first-round rookies to veterans and retirees without negatively affecting compensation for rounds 2-7; no compensation reduction for veterans; implement new year-round health and safety rules; retain the current 16-4 season format for at least two years with any subsequent changes subject to the approval of the league and union; and establish a new legacy fund for retired players ($82 million contributed by the owners over the next two years).

It was a deal that offered compromise, and would have ensured the well-being of our players and guaranteed the long-term future for the fans of the great game we all love so much. It was a deal where everyone would prosper.

We remain committed to collective bargaining and the federal mediation process until an agreement is reached, and call on the union to return to negotiations immediately. NFL players, clubs, and fans want an agreement. The only place it can be reached is at the bargaining table.

While we are disappointed with the union’s actions, we remain steadfastly committed to reaching an agreement that serves the best interest of NFL players, clubs and fans, and thank you for your continued support of our League. First and foremost it is your passion for the game that drives us all, and we will not lose sight of this as we continue to work for a deal that works for everyone.

Yours,
Roger Goodell

A deal that works for everyone?  Franchise worth for even the smallest market teams is approaching one billion dollars.  What owner has paid a billion for their team?  What guy can’t walk away now, sell, and won’t have more money than God?  Just because you are a greedy prick who wants to make more money, doesn’t mean a deal isn’t working for you.  In reality, everyone wants more money, everywhere.  And they aren’t going to get it.  In a capitalist system, you are worth what your talent says you’re worth, and once again, it’s the players that have the talent, that get us to buy PSL’s and the NFL Ticket and who get us to turn on the games religiously.

I have news for Goodell.  A room where distinguished shark labor lawyers are being screamed on by hicks like Jerry Richardson may not be the best place for all parties to come to an agreement.  DeMaurice Smith, the NFLPA head, and the best executive director they’ve ever had, is going about his business properly.  Before he can make a deal, which he is willing to make, and one on which he is willing to take 8.5% less of the gross–very fairly too we might add, but mindful that 8.5% less of a much higher gross will actually be an increase in compensation–is willing to do this if he gets financial transparency from the league.  Laymen’s terms?  He needs to see the books.  Goodell wants him to give back billions of dollars and expects him to do so while not knowing the true financial state of the game.

What good negotiator would accept that?  Goodell is going to tell us that the league is working so hard here, that they have conceded to unprecedented givebacks, like the $82M for retired players.  How about just giving the players’ union what they need to make a deal, which is the financial information they have requested?  Here’s why they won’t do it: because he is an employee of the owners, and he is protecting his employers, because giving up this information would no doubt lead to a much worse deal for the teams.

Expert labor lawyers such as the ones employed by the players are in the driver’s seat right now.  The lockout, which just became official, means decertification, which means the players can now sue the clubs, because they are not represented by the union officially any longer, and the NFL is subject to lose it’s antitrust exemption.  U.S. District Judge David Doty, whose jurisdiction all this will fall under, is a labor friendly judge who has served the NFL owners several unpleasantries in the past.  And the national sentiment has got to be for the players here.  They want to play.  The want to work.  They are locked out.  The owners have shut down the game because they want more, not the players.

How could Goodell tell us this is what’s good for everyone when he and his crew of owners have shut down the game, and will be turning away injured players looking to get into team facilities to rehab on Monday and terminating their health benefits?  Goodell, who wants to tell us about the Michael Vick make good story, like he didn’t lie to police about a shooting just last August?  Goodell, who destroys evidence, like in Spygate, and then wants us take him at his word about what he saw on those tapes.  With financial transparency, it’s the same thing from this liar.

That salutation, “Yours”?  No way.  This guy is not our’s by any stretch.  He’s their’s.

Crack (https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com, www.crackbillionair.com