During its coverage of Hurricane Florence, The Weather Channel has talked a lot about the scary Cone of Uncertainty. Whatever the weather, don’t we all live every day in a cone of uncertainty? Not that I’m certain of that.
Quick hit: It’s obvious, isn’t it? Mother Nature has a problem with college football.
Soul-less business: Some of us are still waiting for Nike’s other shoe to drop after the “Just Do It” ad featuring Colin Kaepernick. As many, including some of this column’s readers, have noted, the company’s social conscience and that of its target audience — online sales have soared — does not extend to Nike’s reputation for exploiting Third World labor in the making of its shoes. Another case of selective outrage.
Playing those cards: There’s enough blame to go around over what happened near the end of the U.S. Open women’s final, but Serena Williams’ most vociferous defenders have indulged in quite a bit of “Whataboutism.”
Clear cut: Let’s be real. The episode between the chair umpire and Williams was embarrassing for tennis and a great champion, but Williams wasn’t going to beat a younger, fitter Naomi Osaka. Not that day. Perhaps Williams wouldn’t have lost her composure had Osaka not been bullying her on court.
Idle thought: It’s curious that even under today’s stricter rules of match conduct, a sport with the country club roots of tennis still allows players of both sexes a relatively wide berth when it comes to chewing out the chair umpire. No other sport I can think of permits its athletes to hurl so much penalty-free invective at an official. Was Carlos Ramos too thin-skinned in the women’s final? I don’t know. But how long would Serena’s harangue have been tolerated by an MLB umpire?
Such nonsense: ESPN’s Monday Night Football crew was complicit in promoting a cynical narrative during the L.A. Rams at Oakland Raiders game. The broadcast parroted the storyline that former and now-new Raiders coach Jon Gruden is working hard to bring back the rich football tradition to the East Bay. About that Oakland tradition. It means so much to Raiders ownership that the team will be moving to Las Vegas in 2020. Can’t anybody on TV tell it like it is?
TV timeout: Media critiques of the MNF crew negatively noted that rookie analyst Jason Witten didn’t talk enough. After years of listening to Gruden opine endlessly from the booth, I thought the best thing about Witten’s debut was that he did not talk too much.
Update: As far as the NFL’s new helmet rule is concerned, there’s nothing much to report after Week One. In 16 games, one penalty was called for a player leading with his helmet. So much — so far anyway — for the rule having a greatly negative impact on the sport.
Customers wanted: The Redskins — who for years claimed to have a long waiting list for season tickets before admitting to their fib this summer — now assert that the team has sold out every home game since 1967. Genuine or not, the Skins acknowledge that the streak could come to an end Sunday, despite the reduction in seating capacity at FedEx Field. In any case, for years now, the Skins’ home games have featured more than a few empty seats, the residue of failure.
Upcoming: Good luck to NBC trying to promote this week’s Football Night in America game to a public that, judging from the first week’s results, might be inclined to think both the Giants and Cowboys are not ready for prime time. Oh, who am I kidding? It’s the NFL. The audience will be huge.
Not so fast: If I were the Packers, I wouldn’t put a less-than-fully mobile Aaron Rodgers on the field Sunday against the man-eating Vikings defense. And what about reports of the team doctor saying Rodgers can’t do any more damage to his sprained knee? That sounds like a dare the Vikings will gladly accept. Take a loss and regroup should be Green Bay’s approach.
Jet-lagged: The lengths to which the University of Hawaii’s football team is going to in order to play at Army on Saturday measures out to a round trip of 9,966 air miles. The kickoff at West Point is scheduled for noon — 6 a.m. Hawaiian time. The Rainbow Warriors are road warriors.
Closing: The Oakland A’s, a club made up of players only a little less anonymous than the writer of that explosive New York Times op-ed piece, have been the winningest MLB team over the last 76 games. The A’s are pressuring the Houston Astros for the top spot in the West, while having the audacity to threaten the Yankees for the No. 1 wild-card spot.
Bottom line: With an average annual revenue of $148 million, Texas A&M has surpassed Texas as the most valuable college football program. Still, universities can’t possibly afford to pay their athletes. Uncanny how that works.
Bob Molinaro is a former Virginian-Pilot sports columnist. His Weekly Briefing runs Fridays in the Pilot and now the Daily Press. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and via Twitter@BobMolinaro.