Oh my gosh. The NFL world has gone bat crazy because Tom Brady is skipping the New England Patriots voluntary Organized Team Activities (OTAs).
His legion of fans says it is not a big deal because he wants to work out with his own personal trainer, who coach Bill Belichick barred from the team facilities last season.
“He’ll be there when it counts,” said ESPN’s Adam Schefter and other pundits who seem at times to almost worship at the altar of all things Brady.
Look, Brady isn’t at OTAs because he doesn’t feel appreciated by his head coach and maybe his owner, Robert Kraft. Belichick was grooming Jimmy Garoppolo to move into Brady’s starting position sooner rather than later.
Brady didn’t like it, and he won the power struggle when Garoppolo was traded during the season to San Francisco.
When asked about Brady’s absence from OTAs, Belichick coldly said, “I’m not going to talk about players who aren’t here.” There is bad blood here, folks.
Last month, in an interview with his hand-picked inquisitor Jim Gray during the Milken Institute Global Conference, Brady was asked if he feels appreciated by his team.
His answer was “I plead the 5th (Amendment).” The man who has helped deliver multiple Super Bowl titles to the Patriots found a way to let his team know how exactly how he felt – without saying it.
He is now AWOL at OTAs.
Aaron Donald of the Los Angeles Rams, Le’Veon Bell of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Earl Thomas of the Seattle Seahawks are no-shows at their respective teams’ OTAs as they seek long-term contract extensions.
Business wise, these three players feel disrespected.
As a group, no collection of professional sports players should feel as disrespected as the NFL’s black players.
A small number of their brethren have protested during the national anthem and, as a result, the president of the United States insulted their mothers. He didn’t insult just the protesters, but every player that supports them and every black fan that stands with them.
Colin Kaepernick has been effectively blackballed by owners and has filed a collusion lawsuit because it’s obvious why his NFL career was halted.
Eric Reid, who also protested with Kaepernick, is a free agent without a team. He is still one of the better safeties in a time when many teams need a solid safety. He has joined Kaepernick’s collusion litigation. Reid said he was asked by teams if he would rule out protesting in the future. He said it could not do that. He remains unemployed.
Houston Texans owner Bob McNair called black players “inmates,” apologized, then said he should never have apologized.
Jerry Jones laid down an ultimatum that any player who protests during the national anthem would not play in that game and would most likely be cut by the Dallas Cowboys.
Thus, I ask: Why is any black player in the NFL taking part in “voluntary” OTAs?
If there was any time during the NFL offseason calendar when they could demand respect without facing any type of punishment it is during OTAs, or any other “voluntary” team function.
Last year, I wrote that OTAs should be targeted for a black player boycott.
Training camp is two months away, and the NFL still has not established what its policy will be regarding the national anthem.
A black OTAs boycott would tell the NFL that it should not mandate what players do during the anthem.
A black OTAs boycott would be a reasonable way to demonstrate support for Kaepernick and Reid.
A black OTAs boycott would help shut McNair’s mouth and cause Jones to ponder his threats.
Brady is making his stand in New England. Why are black players throughout the NFL so frightened to make their stand?
The season would come to a halt if black players decided to simply not show up for a week’s games. I’m not advocating that stance - yet.
But this was a perfect week to collectively take an action that could have sent a chill through the NFL.
The NFL’s owners can blackball Kaepernick and Reid and probably get away with it. But they can’t shut down the power of all black players. If they would just take the first, simple step of not “volunteering” for OTAs they would finally make owners realize the power they possess.
HSSU reaches 30 wins again
Harris-Stowe State University dropped successive games in the American Midwest Tournament earlier this month in Joplin, which ended the Hornets’ season with a 30-24 record.
A 4-0 setback to Lindenwood University-Belleville drew the curtain on the season, with HSSU stranding eight runners in scoring position.
However, the Hornets posted their second consecutive 30-win season on the way to a sixth-place conference finish. HSSU is currently ranked No. 7 in the CollegeNines HBCU small school rankings.
The 30th win came in thrilling fashion
Trailing 6-5 to Freed-Hardeman University, Leobardo Saldivar, Jr. crushed a three-run walk off home run in the final regular season game of the season.
Pitcher Stephen Wells and outfielder Cole Danielson were named first-team All-Conference members after stellar seasons.
Wells posted a conference best 1.76 ERA with 74 strikeouts and a 6-1 record. He was eighth in the NAIA in ERA and 17th in runs allowed after surrendering just 15.
Danielson led the Hornets with a .359 batting average and he added 10 home runs, 44 RBIs and a .654 slugging percentage. He ranked fifth in the conference in home runs, third in on-base percentage with a .507 mark and fourth with 102 total bases.
Tanner Disibio was named Second Team All-Conference after his 9-4 season with a 2.91 ERA in 74.1 innings of work. He struck out 68 batters while walking just 21 in 14 games. He ranked second in the AMC in wins and 15th in the NAIA.
Jackson takes Jackson
Calling himself a “history freak,” former St, Louis Rams running back Steven Jackson has declared himself the best running back in the history of the Rams’ franchise.
He could be right.
Sometimes, I talk to current fans here [in Los Angeles] and there’s an argument of who’s the greatest running back to be a Ram,” Jackson told the L.A. Times.
“I think it’s me. Look at the record book. Everybody has their pick.”
Eric Dickerson, a Hall of Fame member, was traded to the Indianapolis Colts during his fifth season with the Rams. He still gained 7,245 of his 13,259 rushing yards with the franchise. Fifty-six of his 90 career touchdowns came as a Ram.
Marshall Faulk, also in the Hall of Fame, played seven of his 12 seasons with the Rams and gained 6,959 of his 12,279 rushing yards in St. Louis after a trade from the Colts. Of his 6,875 receiving yards, 4,071 came with the Rams. He scored 85 of his 136 touchdowns as a Ram and he also helped the team reach two Super Bowls, winning one. He was also the NFL MVP in 2000.
Jackson rushed for 10,138 yards and 56 touchdowns as a Ram and caught 407 passes for 3,324 yards and eight touchdowns. He is a longshot to make the HOF after he becomes eligible in 2021.
So how could Jackson be considered the best?
Most teams he played for were awful. He played for bad coaches and ran behind terrible offensive lines.
Dickerson was a product of the late Chuck Knox “Ground Chuck,” offense and Faulk was a member of the “Greatest Show on Turf.”
Had Jackson played during either of those eras, he probably would have had more rushing yards, more touchdowns and more Pro Bowl appearances.
It doesn’t make him the best, but it helps make his argument.
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