Category Archives: National Football League

Media Dialogues about ‘Race’ in Super Bowl 50

Dr. Nancy E. Spencer
February 7, 2016
The time between January 24 and February 7, 2016 may seem like “the longest two weeks of the NFL season”  (Rosenthal, 2016, para. 1). However, during those two weeks, the media manages to construct story lines that generate plenty of hype. The lead-up to Super Bowl 50 was no exception. On Thursday, January 28, Cam Newton, Quarterback of the Carolina Panthers kick-started one conversation with his response to a question about why he had taken so much heat for his celebratory behavior on the field. Newton responded by saying, “I’m an African-American quarterback that scares people because they haven’t seen nothing that they can compare me to” (Samuel, 2016, para. 4). Cam’s statements fanned the controversy that had begun earlier in the season. Most of the criticism stemmed from his style of celebration that consisted of dabbing; some parents characterized his dances as “arrogant struts” and “pelvic thrusts” (Samuel, 2016, para. 9).
Despite teaching in a Sport Management program, I must confess that I did not watch a lot of football this season. Being a Browns’ fan does that to you. But I did catch some of the play-offs and saw what has become a tradition whenever Newton scores a touchdown. In this case, he awarded it to a young girl in the stands. I was so enamored by the spontaneous expression on her face that I took the photo below and posted it on my new Instagram account:
IMG_20160117_133933
Later that week, I heard Cam’s statement followed by ensuing conversations on various media outlets. On First Take, Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless navigated the thorny terrain of racial dialogue that can become contentious. In their conversation, Skip carefully outlined his ‘credentials’ as if to suggest that he should in no way be construed as ‘racist’ in what he was about to say. In fact, he took so much time emphasizing that he was not a racist that I cannot remember what he said about Cam’s statement.
Several days before Cam made the statement (above), Stephen A. Smith speculated that Newton would be the “villain” of Super Bowl 50 and that most of America would “be rooting for the fairy tale ending for Peyton Manning” (Miller, 2016, para. 5). Smith emphasized that his prediction had nothing to do with race. Rather, he suggested that it was just about people wanting a happy ending for Peyton; and besides, he added, “people are annoyed with Cam and the Superman pose and all this other stuff” (Miller, 2016, para. 10).
After watching countless conversations about Cam Newton that tried to convince it was not about race, how are we to have a fruitful dialogue? Ironically, (or maybe not), the Daily Show (now featuring Trevor Noah) did one of the best takes on how we could understand the conversation started by Cam Newton. Maybe Comedy Central is where we need to convene our much-needed dialogue about race!
References
Miller, R. (2016, January 25). Will Cam Newton become Super Bowl 50 villain? Stephen A. Smith will ‘bet check’ it happens. NJ.com. Retrieved from http://www.nj.com/super-bowl/index.ssf/2016/01/is_cam_newton_super_bowl_50_villain_stephen_a_smith_will_bet_check_it_happens.html
Rosenthal, G. (2016, January 25). Seven big storylines heading into Super Bowl 50. NFL.com. Retrieved from http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap3000000628271/article/seven-big-storylines-heading-into-super-bowl-50
Samuel, E. (2016, January 28). Cam Newton: ‘I’m an African-American QB that scares people.’ The Daily News. Retrieved from http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/football/cam-newton-african-american-qb-scares-people-article-1.2511614

Reactions to Tom Coughlin’s resignation

by Brendan Ripley-Barasch

As new head coach, Ben McAdoo sits in his office, evaluating the state of the New York Giants organization and Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr. prepare for the Pro Bowl later tonight. One man is confined to his couch getting ready to watch his former superstars perform, Tom Coughlin.

After 12 years as the head guy in New York, on Jan. 4, Tom Coughlin decided to step down from the position. Coughlin leaves with an overall record of 102-90 and two Super Bowl rings while also having had the opportunity to coach multiple elite players such as Michael Strahan, Eli Manning and Odell Beckham. During his tenure as Head Coach, something fans could always count on from the team was that the players were going to run out of that tunnel and play as hard as they could for Tom. It was hard to say that was true the past three years. Maybe that is what led to his resignation, or was it that the team had not made the playoffs since 2011? Or was his age becoming an issue? At 69 years old, Coughlin was the oldest coach in football. Any one of these reasons could have been the deciding factor for him to move on from the New York Football Giants.

At first it wasn’t clear whether Coughlin had stepped down under his own power, or the Giants had actually let him go, but out of respect told him he could tell the media he was resigning. Adam Schefter of ESPN cleared the air when he said Coughlin, “decided to step down before Giants asked if he wanted to stay.” Most New York media outlets running stories about Coughlin chose to describe the resignation as him stepping down or moving on from the organization; its easy to see the amount of respect that not only the fans have but also the media because instead of saying he resigned or was forced out they chose to use softer words to describe it.

During this past season, especially towards the end, there were pretty much two points of view on Tom Coughlin and his future with the Giants among fans and the media. One was that it was time to start fresh, after four years of missing the playoffs and having a losing record three of those years, most people were ready for a change. Many media sources wrote about Coughlin in negative but respectful ways, citing his multiple failed attempts at going for it on fourth down rather than kicking the field goal and more notably about how Coughlin didn’t remove Odell Beckham Jr. from the game when he and Carolina Panthers cornerback, Josh Norman, had multiple altercations during the game including trash talk, shoving and pushing, and even throwing punches at each other. The other view people had on the Tom Coughlin issue was that fans should stay loyal and the Giants organization should keep offering him one-year deals until he was ready to call it quits. Some people might have felt this way because of the two Super Bowls he brought to New York or because he brought the Giants back to elite status. The thing that may have swayed many loyal fans into having the first point of view was probably when the Giants were absolutely dismantled on Monday Night Football by the Minnesota Vikings, losing 49-17. When the team was pushing for the playoffs and playing in a huge Monday night game, they came out just flat and no one seemed like they wanted to be there or even cared about the outcome. With those circumstances, the team should have come out and played with a fire under them, but instead they rolled over and allowed the Vikings to do whatever they wanted.

All of the wins and losses, Super Bowls, and division titles are now just a thing of the past. All we can do now is look back at Tom Coughlin’s legacy with the Giants and it’s probably a safe bet to say that most people will remember him in a very positive way. He goes down as one of the best coaches in New York Giants’ history and we will all miss seeing him and his rosy cheeks on the sideline every Sunday.

Greg Hardy is Back in the NFL But Has He Changed?

Bernadette Compton is a PhD student (with an emphasis on sport) in American Cultural Studies at BGSU. She graduated with a major in Psychology and a minor in Sociology from the University of Central Arkansas. She received her Master’s in Sport Psychology from Miami University (OH) where she first became interested in sports media writing. She spends most of her time watching, reading and writing about, and discussing any and all sports. Specifically, she is interested in the intersections of gender, sexuality, race, and sports. Her main sport writer influence is Kate Fagan.

By Bernadette Compton

If you haven’t heard, Greg Hardy is back playing football, after serving a four game suspension for his relation to a 2014 domestic violence case. Back in 2014, Hardy was found guilty of assaulting his girlfriend, but his conviction was overturned when she failed to cooperate with the case. Hardy, former player for the Carolina Panthers, left Carolina as a free agent, and the Cowboys signed him to a one year deal this March. In the week leading up to his first game in over a year, Hardy met with the media for the first time since coming back from suspension (Moore, 2015). Here is part of that interview: http://www.dallascowboys.com/video/2015/10/06/greg-hardy-breaks-his-silence-after-suspension.

There are a few comments that many people addressed, especially with his recent domestic violence case. When asked if he was ready to start playing again, he responded with “I hope I come out guns blazing, I’m full of excitement and full of juice. I’m ready to go” (Martin, 2015, para. 4). While “guns blazing” is a common phrase used in sport, it is questionable for Hardy to use since he had thrown his girlfriend on a couch with at least four semi-automatic rifles (Moore, 2015). He also deflected a question about if he had remorse for his actions, and instead focused on how sorry he felt that he couldn’t be there for the team. At the end of the interview (not included in the above video), Hardy had this to say about heading to New England, “I love seeing Tom Brady, he’s cool as crap…. Have you seen his wife? I hope she comes to the game. I hope her sister comes to the game, all her friends come to the game. One of my favorite games of the year, guys” (Martin, 2015, para. 6). And when a reporter mentions Blake Bortles’ wife’s attractiveness, Hardy responded “Is she? This kind of information is important. That’s how I select my Pro Bowls” (Martin, 2015, para. 8).

Katie Nolan, host of a Fox Sports show called Garbage Time, voiced her concerns with Hardy’s comments, especially with those mentioned above. Here is Katie Nolan:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rGrL39Q99sE

While many people agreed with her comments and how it seemed Hardy still shows no remorse for his previous action, many people disagreed with her. But instead of just stating their points, they instead were sexist towards Nolan, which is difficult to take when the main conversation with Hardy is his previous domestic violence case.

For example, some comments on Facebook found it appropriate to say she belongs in the kitchen and not talking about sports or sport related issues. This is a common occurrence in comments towards female sport announcers and journalists.

Another felt the need to make a sexual reference about Nolan, the below comment being the cleanest comment regarding this reference.

And finally, Greg Hardy found it necessary to retweet the following tweet “Gonna buy his jersey now because of the wife comments @OverlordKraken go boys!!”

There were many other comments and tweets on Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook involving the same sort of language towards Nolan, even using extreme vulgar language regarding her looks and what she should be doing instead of talking sports. These comments and tweets came from both women and men.

This language towards female sport announcers and journalists is very common. Jane McManus, a sport journalist for espnW, also received comments about being in the kitchen when her article on Greg Hardy was published (McManus, 2015).

In the MLB, Jessica Mendoza, the first female announcer for an MLB postseason game, also received remarks about being on air (Rogers, 2015):

In a recent Sports Illustrated article on women in sport and social media, this language towards women is very real (Dicaro, 2015): http://www.si.com/cauldron/2015/09/27/twitter-threats-vile-remarks-women-sports-journalists?utm_source=The+Daily+Rally&utm_campaign=39a87457a0-The_Daily_Rally_20150929&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_8529cab2df-39a87457a0-128054941

Lack of respect towards women in sport and social media is still an issue. Women are sexualized, viewed as objects, and constantly receiving comments using vulgar language. We see this not only in comments on articles, but in magazines, commercials, and discussions on blogs about the typical “beautiful” female athlete. So while women have made great strides in sports, there is still a long way to go to gain respect as a sport fan and journalist.

References

Dicaro, J. (2015, October 1). Threats. Vitriol. Hate. Ugly truth about women in sports and social media. Sport Illustrated. Retrieved from http://www.si.com/cauldron/2015/09/27/twitter-threats-vile-remarks-women-sports-journalists?utm_source=The+Daily+Rally&utm_campaign=39a87457a0-The_Daily_Rally_20150929&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_8529cab2df-39a87457a0-128054941

Martin, J. (2015, October 8). No apologies from Greg Hardy as he talks about Tom Brady’s wife. CNN. Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2015/10/08/us/nfl-greg-hardy-returns/

McManus. J. (2015, October 9). Greg Hardy’s comments make a mockery of NFL change efforts. espnW.com. Retrieved from http://espn.go.com/espnw/news-commentary/article/13838832/greg-hardy-comments-make-mockery-nfl-change-efforts

Moore, D. (2015, October 7). Suspension over, Cowboys DE Greg Hardy meets the media: Here’s what we found out. The Dallas Morning News. Retrieved from http://www.dallasnews.com/sports/dallas-cowboys/headlines/20151006-moore-suspension-over-cowboys-de-greg-hardy-meets-the-media-here-s-what-we-found-out.ece

Rogers, K. (2015, October 7). Criticized for being a ‘woman announcer,’ Jessica Mendoza shines anyway. New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/08/sports/criticized-for-being-a-woman-announcer-jessica-mendoza-shines-anyway.html?_r=0

Media Reacts: NFL’s First Month in 6 Years With No Arrests

by Nicholas Muhl

The first month of the 2015 NFL regular season ended this past weekend. The end of September also marked the first month in 6 years that no NFL player has been arrested.

According to Reuters reporter Mike Rosenberg, the NFL has averaged “an arrest per week” since 2009. Rosenberg also reported that this is the first time in 15 years “the NFL went a calendar month during the season without an arrest.” The league has already had 33 total arrests in 2015, most recently San Fransisco 49ers Linebacker Ahmad Brooks who was charged with sexual battery at the end of August.

Alexandra Sifferlin reported the news for TIME and included a link in his article to USA Today’s NFL arrest archive. The archive contains a complete, descriptive account of a total of 805 NFL player arrests records dating back 15 years to January 24, 2000 when Broncos wide receiver Rod Smith was arrested for allegedly beating and choking his wife. It seems paradoxical that 15 years later we continue to see so many similar headlines. Katie Link and Christian Bryant of the Ventura County Star posed this question about the news of an arrest-free month, “should we view this ‘achievement’ as pathetic, or impressive?” On the other hand, the Dispatch Times referred to it as a “mind-blowing milestone.”  

Since 2009 the NFL has been subject to many media and criminal investigations regarding their many player arrests. Most notably is former New England Patriots Tight End Aaron Hernandez who was convicted of murder in April. Hernandez and other high profile players like former Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy, San Francisco’s Ray MacDonald, Baltimore Ravens Ray Rice, and Viking’s Adrian Peterson have made national headlines and brought up many social issues outside of the sport of football; including rape culture, drug use, animal cruelty, and alcohol and drug abuse. 

The criminal history and violent backgrounds behind many NFL players is not an issue the media has shied away from reporting. However, it is important to note that news of the NFL’s arrest-free month quickly spread on social media, sports blogs and major media conglomerates. This differs from the issue of injuries which I detailed in my article last week, “Protecting the player’s or Protecting the Shield”. Approximately 15 percent of players in the league have experienced an injury this season. While on an individual level this has been heavily reported, injuries and their increasing totals have been a largely avoided issue. However, media and the league did not shy away from making sure (quite literally) that everyone knows it went through an arrest-free month. The NFL and it’s PR department have attempted to put some distance between itself and both the injury and conduct issues the league faces, and will jump at any opportunity they can to make the league look better as it and commissioner Roger Goodell continue to face extreme criticism for the way the league is currently being run. It remains to be seen whether real change is progressing in the league or if this month was merrily a statistical anomaly that further proves the major conduct issues the NFL faces.

Patriots 2015 Campaign: Out for Revenge?

By Josh Roeloffs

Before the Patriots preseason opener, Rob Gronkowski was asked, in response to deflategate, if he thinks Tom Brady is “more motivated and focused because of everything that is going on,” and Gronk laughed it off, making the point that Brady is always focused and motivated regardless of what’s going on.

How many times have you seen or heard the headlines, “Patriots Starting Revenge Tour” or “Patriots will be out to get their Revenge?” Obviously a Patriots’ player would have said that they were out for blood this season. The media wouldn’t just make this into an episode of the Road Runner would they?

When you take a closer look, a Patriots’ player has never even mentioned revenge once in an interview. Just like Gronk was practically asked if this would motivate Brady, he replied like it was obvious. It won’t.

Sure! The Patriots may have a little extra motivation, but is it necessary to label a season as a “season of revenge.” Possibly a more engaging story would be how Tom Brady’s start of the season could lead to an MVP and another deep push in the playoffs for his team; or if the Patriots can win another Super Bowl, how it will affect the Patriots’ relationship with the NFL or the fans.

So far this season, the Patriots have been phenomenal. Heading into their bye week, the Patriots are 3-0 and, first in the league in yards per game, second in the league in points per game, first in pass yards per game, and third in the league in interceptions. Already beating the Steelers, Bills, and Jaguars, the Patriots hope to keep this early momentum going.

Coming out of their bye-week, the Patriots will be facing the Cowboys on October 11th. The Patriots will be looking to improve their record to a perfect 4-0 in the first quarter of the regular season.

As the season comes closer to the mid-way mark and closer to a time in which the Patriots can truly make a statement, Tom Brady was asked about the whole situation by NBC sports, he replied by saying, “I need to be tough enough to overcome controversy.” It’s important when playing for a team as popular and publicized at the Patriots to keep composure like Brady mentions.

At the end of the day, the Patriots are heading into week five unbeaten and ready to play some football and compete at a high level in the NFL.

Protecting It’s Players or “Protecting the Shield”

by Nicholas Muhl

“We’ll take a quick break while the trainers tend to the player down.” I have never heard this statement made by football broadcasters more than this National Football League season. As of last week, according to official NFL statistics, 15 percent of NFL players had suffered some type of injury through the first two weeks of the season.

15 percent. That’s 234 players.

If you want to take a look at it another way, NFL teams can have an active roster of 53 players. That means that over four full active NFL rosters had suffered an injury out of 32 total NFL teams. Worse than you thought, right?

This past weekend was highlighted by even more injuries, specifically Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger who suffered an MCL sprain and bone bruise to his left knee. He joins starting quarterbacks Drew Brees (Saints), Tony Romo (Cowboys) and Jay Cutler (Bears) on a growing list of high profile NFL players who have suffered serious injuries this season.

A lot of sports media coverage has been highlighting these individual NFL injuries, specifically the quarterbacks ones, but coverage of the overall issue seems to be lacking. A simple google search of “15 percent of NFL players hurt” will provide you with very limited results. Outside thinkprogress.org and one Bleacher Report article, the only coverage of this issue seems to be on the many low profile sports blogs. ESPN and other major sports media outlets continue to shy away from serious dialogue about the growing injury problem in the NFL. They rather spend most of their time discussing how long players will be out and how it effects our fantasy football lineups.

The NFL continues to damage control as it faces more and more questions about the safety of it’s players and medical care after their careers have ended. According to a report released by Frontline earlier this month,  87 of 91 deceased former NFL players that were included in their study tested positive for chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). The leading cause for CTE is repetitive trauma to the head. This report comes just a few weeks after the trailer of the new movie Concussion, which stars Will Smith as Dr. Bennet Omalu. A doctor who challenged the NFL’s policy’s and medical treatment of players, specifically after retirement, when he discovered CTE in the brains of several NFL players.

Despite new medical research being done everyday and legal action being taken against the NFL, it seems that the major media still is shying away from the issue. Whether its because the NFL is working to repairs its image in cooperation with the media or because major media decides fantasy football and other coverage brings in better ratings, something needs to change. The media needs to begin asking the question, is the NFL and commisioner Roger Goodell truly doing everything in their power to protect it’s players? Or are they more concerned with “protecting the shield.”

Free Agent Frenzy

By Paul Duncan

March 16, 2015

NFL free agency has gotten off to one of the fastest starts in history. Moves have been happening by the hour and it has been hard to keep up with. Thankfully there is Twitter and the race between reporters to get it first and get it right.

On March 10th we had a quarterback swap, a 26 QB retire, Jimmy Graham got traded, and Darrelle Revis went back to the Jets. Some of these events were rumored and others came out of the blue but most of this news was broken on twitter. The one man at the center of all of this is ESPN’s Adam Schefter who has the following and the skills to be considered the king of breaking NFL news.

Many people don’t even consider a rumor to be true until Schefter reports this. But in looking at his tweets he just says he gets them from “sources” while not mentioning who they are. After a quick look into it I discovered that local beat reporters usually report it first and then the big ESPN guys fact check it.

These writers who cover one team for a newspaper, radio, or blog based website. Sometimes these writers get their sources directly from the team like Vic Carucci of the Buffalo News, who broke news about the Scott Chandler release and was one of the first to break the Jerry Hughes signing.

Other reporters like Dustin Fox use personal connections. Dustin Fox and Brian Hartline both went Ohio State so when Hartline signed with the Browns he told Dustin first.  The most direct free agent news has come straight from source, or the player himself.  Andre Johnson was the very first to confirm that he was signing with the Colts via Instagram.

All these different methods of breaking NFL news in addition the frantic pace have made this free agency period one of the most exciting ever, and it’s not even halfway done. Oh and we still have the NFL Draft where rumors really can swirl around. The NFL media help make the NFL’s offseason the most exciting in sports.