The Miami Dolphins were supposed to have the first draft pick in the NFL 2020 draft.
Heading into the season, the Dolphins had a black first-year head coach in Brian Flores, a depleted roster after several star players were traded and a forecast to be one of the worst teams to ever play in the NFL.
Flores was not distracted. The former New England Patriots defensive coordinator took what he had and surprised the NFL by winning five games. Those wins came after the Dolphins opened the season 0-7.
Instead of picking first, and most likely taking former LSU quarterback Joe Burrow, the Dolphins landed the fifth pick. "With the fifth pick of the 2020 NFL draft, the Miami Dolphins select quarterback Tua Tagovailoa," Commissioner Roger Goodell announced from his basement on the draft's first day, April 23.
After 10 more selections, the Dolphins won national praise for piecing together one of the NFL's best draft classes. Draft pundits showered Miami with mostly A's and some B's. Suddenly, the Dolphins are being taken very seriously.
It's important to note that the Dolphins are guided by General Manager Chris Grier, one of few black GMs in the NFL. It was Grier that convinced Dolphins owner Stephen Ross to hire Flores. Ross deserves credit for entrusting his franchise to Grier by handing total control of scouting and the draft to a young black man.
After hiring Flores, Grier tabbed former Buffalo Bills front-office member Marvin Allen, who also is black, as his assistant GM. He's second in command to Grier and helped mastermind the deals that secured the high number of draft picks the Dolphins used in 2020.
Former Indianapolis Colts and Detroit Lions head coach Jim Caldwell joined Flores' staff as an associate head coach in charge of the Dolphins offense.
Patrick Graham, who worked with Flores with the Patriots, was named new defensive coordinator.
This was the first time in NFL history a team has had a black person in its top five non-playing positions (general manager, assistant general manager, head coach, offensive boss and defensive coordinator).
Caldwell could not fulfill his obligation to the Dolphins because of a health issue, but the four remaining black men helped transform the Dolphins' future from bleak to promising.
While his defense ranked 30th in the NFL last season, Graham impressed the New York Giants and was hired as its defensive coordinator two weeks ago.
The Dolphins' immediate future will certainly depend on Tagovailoa's health and his success as an NFL quarterback. But Grier and Flores' immediate success should be an example to other NFL owners - and other major sports team owners - that black men can turn around moribund franchises and put their respective teams on the road to excellence.
Two and 16 for Mizzou
The hate for Missouri football generated within this state – mostly from rural area fans that don’t like the complexion of the team – has always astounded me.
The Tigers program accomplished a feat that the majority of Power 5 conferences did not during the 2020 NFL Draft - Mizzou had two players drafted.
Missouri defensive tackle Jordan Elliott was selected in the third round Friday by the Cleveland Browns, making him the 88th pick in the draft.
Elliott said his mother’s boyfriend had dreamed that he would be drafted by the Browns.
“It was just something calling my name about the Browns. My family members would have dreams about me going to play for them. I don’t know. I just feel like it’s something that’s meant to happen,” he said.
On Saturday, Mizzou tight end Albert Okwuegbunam learned he would be united with former Missouri quarterback Drew Lock in Denver when the Broncos picked him in the fourth round.
After becoming the 118th player selected, Okwuegbunam said, “it’s awesome.”
“I can’t even explain how fired up I am to get into this new offense — just to have that chemistry, that trust and confidence kind of already established there,” he told Denver media members on a conference call.
The selections in the 2020 NFL Draft mean that Missouri has had at least one player selected for 16 consecutive years. That is truly impressive.
Lakers cash in - then out
In February, FORBES valued the Los Angeles Lakers at $4.4 billion - second only in the NBA to the New York Knicks at $4.6 billion. That is a 19 percent jump from 2019 and it certainly shows that the owner, coaches and players are doing a great job for this small business.
Wait? Small business?
Yes, somebody with the Lakers considers this sport juggernaut a small business and, even more amazing, the Trump Administration agrees.
After applying for and receiving $4.6 million through the Small Business Administration's Paycheck Protection Program, the Lakers have been shamed into returning the money. As hundreds of thousands of worthy small businesses facing financial disaster because of the COVID-19 pandemic were shut out of the first round of payouts - and then the program ran out of money - the Lakers got theirs.
While never admitting it was out-of-line, the Lakers organization issued a statement to ESPN on Monday.
"The Lakers qualified for and received a loan under the Payroll Protection Program," the Lakers said.
"Once we found out the funds from the program had been depleted, we repaid the loan so that financial support would be directed to those most in need. The Lakers remain completely committed to supporting both our employees and our community."
LeBron James must be so proud.
Lest, I not just pick solely on the Lakers, many other multi-billion-dollar outfits somehow got a boatload of federal bail-out money too, including Shake Shack and AutoNation.
Impressive NBA numbers
In 2011, less than a decade ago, there were no NBA franchises valued at $1 billion.
According to FORBES, there are now 11 franchises worth at least $2 billion.
Following the Knicks ($4.6 billion) and Lakers (4.4 billion) are the Golden State Warriors at $4.3 billion.
There is a noticeable drop in franchise value after that trio - but don't feel sorry for any of the NBA's other franchise owners.
Rounding out the Top 10 in NBA value are the Chicago Bulls ($3.2B); Boston Celtics (3.1); L.A. Clippers ($2.6B); Brooklyn Nets ($2.5B); Houston Rockets ($2.475B); Dallas Mavericks ($2.4B); and Toronto Raptors ($2.1B).
The Philadelphia 76ers, at $2 billion exactly, are the final franchise at that level, ranking them at No. 11. Every NBA team, there are 30, are valued at more than $1 billion.
The NBA's bottom three in value are the No. 30 Memphis Grizzlies ($1.3B); No. 29 New Orleans Pelicans ($1.35B); and No. 28 Minnesota Timberwolves ($1.375B).
While the NBA will lose a huge amount of money because of the season's delay because of the pandemic, its future still remains bright financially.
According to FORBES, NBA franchise values climbed an average of 14 percent since the 2019 valuations - or $2.12 billion on average per franchise. In addition, the NBA’s 30 teams tallied $8.8 billion in revenue in 2019, a jump of more than 10 percent over 2018.
The Reid Roundup
Former St. Louis Battlehawks safety Kenny Robinson was selected in the fifth round of the NFL Draft by the Carolina Panthers. A star at West Virginia before being dismissed for academic fraud, Robinson didn't seek to transfer, made himself eligible for the XFL and was tabbed by Battlehawks' coach Jonathan Hayes. He said an open letter to NFL GMs which included him "owning my mistakes," helped create the NFL opportunity...Robinson was the lone XFL player that joined the league with college eligibility remaining. We'll never know if other players would have followed in his footsteps because the XFL folded after five games. XFL owner Vince McMahon was reportedly $44 million in the hole when he filed for bankruptcy...Missouri basketball coach Cuonzo Martin acquired some help at guard when former Drew Buggs announced this week that is transferring and playing for the Tigers. Buggs, who is eligible in 2020 as a graduate transfer, averaged 9.4 points, 5.4 assists and 4.5 rebounds last season with Hawaii. He earned Honorable Mention honors on the 2019-20 All Big West team...I’ll bet you didn’t know that Venus and Serena Williams are partners in ownership of the Miami Dolphins...I just don't understand the interest in "The Last Dance." I never was a big Michael Jordan fan, so I guess that must be it...Antar Thompson, who starred at Maplewood-Richmond Heights High School before joining the Missouri Tigers, was arrested last week in Columbia on charges of operating a motor vehicle in a careless and imprudent manner, along with resisting arrest. Thompson allegedly failed to stop when a police officer attempted to pull his vehicle over. Ten minutes earlier, Thompson had been stopped by another officer for allegedly speeding. He was later arrested.
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