It took a Missouri mom to slow the madness that is devouring major college football.
The Big Ten Conference listened to medical professionals, its university leaders and this mom who worries for her son.
The Pac-12 Conference did the same.
There will be no Big Ten fall football, with hopes of playing in the spring.
When Debbie Rucker, the mother of Indiana freshman offensive lineman Brady Feeney and CBC graduate, shared their story on Facebook, suddenly important people began listening.
Feeney contracted COVID-19 and Rucker told the world he is “very sick,” and “dealing with possible heart issues.”
The post said that a family friend is a physician with the St. Louis Cardinals and that our state is a cause for worry.
“The whole point of my Facebook post is because in Missouri, where we live, the state is not taking this as seriously as they should,” Rucker said Monday.
“With everything Brady is going through and has been struggling through, it has been infuriating to me that people are not taking this seriously and not wearing masks.”
Feeney moved to Bloomington after summer workouts were approved by the university and athletic department.
There could be long-term effects for people who contracted the virus. It’s a fact that helped the Big Ten and Pac-12 make the right decision. As of Tuesday night, the SEC, ACC and Big 12 had not come to their respective senses.
Hopefully, they will. But don’t hold your breath. Most of these schools are in the South or Texas – and of course one is in Missouri. When it comes to COVID, ignorance is bliss.
Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren told Big Ten Network, “We just believed collectively there’s too much uncertainty at this point in time in our country to encourage our student-athletes to participate in fall sports.”
“While I know our decision today will be disappointing in many ways for our thousands of student-athletes and their families, I am heartened and inspired by their resilience, their insightful and discerning thoughts, and their participation through our conversations to this point.”
Commissioner Larry Scott told the Pac-12 Network, “We cannot bubble our student-athletes like pro sports can.”
“They're part of broader campus communities. Student-athletes are living with peer students on campus.
“Enough questions have been raised that we didn’t feel comfortable moving forward.”
Earlier this week, the Mid-American and Mountain West Conferences announced there would be no fall football. HBCU conferences, the SWAC and MEAC, made the same decision two weeks ago. Overall, 53 of the 130 programs in college football have cancelled their seasons.
The real fear
As much as college football fears COVID-19, there is another factor looming over its landscape.
Players are seizing the power.
Last Sunday, several big-name players posted a statement that they want to play this fall. The president and other chimed in that they should play and praised them
These folks didn’t read the fine print.
“We all want to play football this season,’’ the post begins. Then: “Establish universal mandated health & safety procedures and protocols to protect college-athletes against COVID-19 among all conferences throughout the NCAA.”
Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, teammate running back Darien Rencher, Stanford defensive end Dylan Boles and Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields were among the 12 players that agreed to post the statement.
The “let them play” backers are thrilled. But athletic programs across America are more interested in the other demands and the fact these players also brought up the dirty words of “players association.”
The statement also said:
▪ “Give players the opportunity to opt out and respect their decision.’’
▪ “Guarantee eligibility whether a player chooses to play the season or not.’’
▪ “Use our voices to establish open communication & trust between players and officials: Ultimately create a college football players association.”
▪ “Representative of the players of all Power 5 conferences.”
Last month, Pac-12 and Big Ten athletes announced they were binding together as a “union” to seek proper representation and see to it that their respective thought and wishes are heard.
A Sports Illustrated report said the University of Central Florida Knights forced a delay of fall camp after a player-led movement demanded that issues including COVID-19 safety, scholarship security, “hazard pay” and athletes receiving 20 percent of American Athletic Conference revenues be addressed.
One thing is for sure. Major college football will never be the same again.
Settle or be sorry
I have no idea what attorney Bob Blitz and his legal eagles are billing the St. Louis Regional Convention and Sports Authority Complex and the city and county of St. Louis, but the latest development in the civil lawsuit against owner Stan Kroenke and the Los Angeles Rams guarantees they will be owed millions of dollars.
Never mind the trial, which is scheduled for fall of 2021, Blitz and company want to collect depositions from more than 40 people. If a judge grants this wish, imagine the hours it would take to interview all these folks. Also, hear that cash register going berserk.
Included on the deposition request list are Rams COO Kevin Demoff and Eric Grubman, a former executive vice president of the NFL.
According to the court document, (Kroenke, Demoff, Goodell and Grubman) “were involved in the highest levels of discussions, planning, and decision-making related to the Rams 2016 relocation to Los Angeles. Furthermore, the relevant timeframe spans several years and numerous actions taken by NFL and its member team owners.”
Jones is included because he was a driving force in convincing other owners to vote for relocation. San Diego Chargers owner Dean Spanos is on the list because he had filed a relocation plan that the NFL rejected. Former Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson is also included because he reportedly opposed the move. This is the same Richardson that was pressured to sell his team amid charges of racism and sexual harassment. Won’t he make a great witness.
Kroenke and the Rams wanted to settle this lawsuit privately. The U.S. Supreme Court didn’t want to bother with that request, but a settlement could still be reached.
My advice is to settle, and settle fast. The lawyers in St. Louis want this to drag on for more than a year. The case could also be dismissed by a judge at some point, leaving nothing but a lot of bills to pay for St. Louis and the County.
By the way, I don’t think the NFL and Jones are sweating this. They have good lawyers too. And they can easily foot the bills.
A double-header between the St. Louis Cardinals and Detroit Tigers was postponed today (August 13), which means the Redbirds have gone two weeks without playing a game.
How does 55 games in 45 days sound? That’s what the Cardinals will have to do to complete a 60-game schedule. Maybe it’s doable, with an average of a double header a week from now until the season ends. Regardless, St. Louis should be forced to play a full schedule or forfeit the games missed.
Commissioner Robert Manfred certainly drew the ire of many teams when he suggested on Monday that the Cardinals might not have to play all scheduled games – and still make the playoffs.
“I think whether you get all the way to 60 or not, that’s difficult at this point,” Manfred told the Post-Dispatch.
“I think that they are going to play. I think it’s possible for them to play enough games to be credible, to be a credible competitor this season.”
The Cardinals’ berth in the postseason, if 60 games aren’t completed, would be based on winning percentage. Total BS, commissioner. The other National League teams won’t stand for this.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the Cardinals had not received worse COVID news. However, if another positive confirmation occurs and the weekend series against the Chicago White Sox is postponed, St. Louis season is in deep trouble. Very deep.
The Reid Roundup
I was looking forward to going to Chicago for the White Sox series against the Cardinals back in the spring. Oh well… After finishing ninth at the Michigan 500 last week, NASCAR’s lone black driver Bubba Wallace confirmed that he has offers from his current employer Richard Petty Motorsports for next season and also Chip Ganassi Racing... Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban told Business Insider that sports franchise owners don’t have an obligation to support Black Lives Matter. “But there are consequences if you don’t.”… Grambling State University will establish the Doug Williams Center for the Study of Race and Politics in Sports. “It’s not a new concept. Politics and race have historically been intertwined in the sporting world,” Williams said. Williams played and coached at Grambling before becoming the first black quarterback to win the Super Bowl… Most people hysterically calling for college football this fall are self-serving. Joe Burrow was the among the first pro or college football players to stand up for Black Lives Matter. He is not among that group. He said Monday, “If this happened a year ago, I may be looking for a job right now,” he wrote on Twitter… Calling the Kansas City Chiefs franchise, “my happy place,” receiver Sammy Watkins said he took less money to re-sign with the team. “Really just showing the world it’s not all about money. Why not take a smaller contract and come out and play with the guys I’ve been playing with?”… Literally within hours of his arrest on domestic abuse charges, the NFL’s Washington Football Team, the most scandal ridden franchise in the league, cut running back Derrius Guise… There will be a Spring League of professional football – in a bubble – in Las Vegas. Six teams with players who were cut from NFL teams and 20-30 college players will make up the rosters… Speaking of bubbles, Major League Baseball is considering playing its post season in a bubble format with at least two sites like the NHL has. This should have been done when the season began in late July.
Alvin A. Reid was honored as the 2017 “Best Sports Columnist – Weeklies” in the Missouri Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest and is a New York Times contributor. He is a panelist on the Nine Network program, Donnybrook, a weekly contributor to “The Charlie Tuna Show” on KFNS and appears monthly on “The Dave Glover Show” on 97.1 Talk.” His Twitter handle is @aareid1.