How TMZ Changed the NFL

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Baltimore Ravens RB Ray Rice and his fiancée (now wife) Janay Palmer.

The incident between Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice and his fiancée, Janay Palmer, was ugly when it happened. And what happened next was just confusing. They got married. They held an awkward press conference. Palmer apologized for her role in the incident. They met with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. And eventually, Rice was suspended from the league for two games.

It all led me to one conclusion: there must be more to the story. Maybe we’d never know what it was. Maybe we didn’t need to know. Maybe it was none of our business.

Then, TMZ released the video. And that’s when I got angry.

Not that it would have made it better (much less acceptable), but I guess I expected to see Palmer attacking Rice and him defending himself. Maybe that’s what I wanted to believe. At least in part, it’s what I feel I was led to believe. And consequently, that’s exactly what some of Rice’s teammates have said.

I won’t post the video from the elevator in the Atlantic City casino, because I don’t want to see it again (and you probably don’t either). But, you know where to find it. There was obviously some kind of disagreement. Followed by an altercation. Followed by Palmer hitting the floor unconscious.

Rightly so, the release of the video sent social media into a frenzy. It wasn’t long before fans, journalists, even former and current players were calling foul. And not just calling it…screaming it.

By mid-afternoon, the Ravens had released Ray Rice and the NFL followed with an indefinite suspension. Both claimed they hadn’t seen the disturbing video until that morning.

What does it say that Ray Rice wasn’t blackballed until we saw video evidence of the brutal assault on his then fiancée? Among other things, that people are innocent until proven guilty. That it’s a tough area to prosecute by nature. That we want to give people (and especially famous people) the benefit of the doubt. And that sometimes, we believe what we want to believe.

As a result of the incident, the NFL put in place a new policy with a mandatory six-game suspension for players who commit acts of domestic violence and a lifetime ban for the second offense.

But what we’ve learned more than anything, is that the fans, the media, and the players have influence. That by speaking up, they can help draw the line on acceptable boundaries. And that on this issue, those lines are very clear.

Whether it’s the first time or not, any time a player puts his hands on a woman…should be the last time he steps foot on an NFL field.

Zero excuses. Zero apologies. Zero tolerance.

XO

Letter from the Baltimore Ravens to the Orioles

Dear Baltimore Orioles,

We don’t know if you noticed, but a few months ago your city’s football team went to New Orleans to play the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII. And you know what? They won! And that’s kind of a big deal. You remember what that was like…back when you last won a world championship. In 1983.

Well, one of the honors the NFL grants the Super Bowl winning team is a home opener to kick off the NFL season with a tailgating party for fans. The NFL is having problems scheduling this event on September 5th, because the Orioles have a game at the same time which utilizes some of the same facilities.

One solution was to ask the Orioles to move their game up to accommodate the NFL World Champions and their fans. By the way, these are the same fans who packed the stadium all season, rallied around the team and the players, and stood outside in freezing temperatures for hours to welcome them home with the Lombardi Trophy.

We know you will work with the NFL, the Ravens, and the City of Baltimore to make this celebration possible for the team and the fans. Because, we would venture to guess…some of the fans of the Baltimore Ravens also support the Baltimore Orioles.

Give the Ravens their day. Give the fans their day. They’ve earned it and they deserve it. Also, people like football better than baseball.

And retired or not…we wouldn’t want Ray Lewis on our bad side.

Just saying.

The Baltimore Ravens

XO

 

Crushing…on Joe Flacco

Super Bowl XLVII MVP Joe Flacco (Photo: Sanchez/AP)

Super Bowl XLVII MVP Joe Flacco
(Photo: Sanchez/AP)

Joe Flacco. Baltimore Raven. Super Bowl XLVII MVP. And the latest NFL Quarterback to benefit from the “Lombardi Effect.” That happens when an average looking quarterback hoists the Lombardi Trophy and goes from Joe Schmoe to Holy Hotness overnight.

I mean, if you look at the picture, you can almost see it happening. At the beginning of the season, I would have said the prettiest thing about Joe Flacco was his spiral. But not anymore. Suddenly…he looks stronger, smarter, handsomer.

And he’s about to be richer. By $100 million dollars. Yes, with everything else he has going for him, Joe Flacco also has timing. He won a world championship for the Ravens. In a contract year. He hit the jackpot…and it’s about to pay out. Flacco is expected to be on the receiving end of a Tom Brady/Peyton Manning payday.

If that doesn’t make him elite…I don’t know what does.

(Photo: TMO.com)

(Photo: TMO.com)

Little Joey Flacco is all grown up.

“Joe Cool” just became “Joe Hot.”

XO

Lights out on Super Bowl XLVII and NFL season

Photo: @Rachel_Nichols

Photo: @Rachel_Nichols

The Baltimore Ravens’ victory over the San Francisco 49ers in New Orleans on Sunday was both an end and a beginning. It was the end of a long season, a long road, and a long career.

Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis retires a two-time world champion and vows to spend his time sacrificing for his children the way they have sacrificed for him during his career. He also vowed to hoist the Lombardi trophy and ascend directly into heaven. I’m not going to hold him responsible for not delivering on that one though. For all we know, there was some kind of electrical malfunction with the Superdome roof.

Super Bowl XLVII also marks the end of the questions surrounding Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco and whether he is an “elite” quarterback. Flacco is elite. How do I know that? Because #EliteAsFu** is trending on twitter. And because the Super Bowl MVP is about to be paid as an elite quarterback.

“Steve Bisciotti (Ravens owner) told me that if this happens, that I can go pound on the desk and really stick it to him. And that’s what I’m going to do.”

-Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco

Bad Flacco just walked off into the sunset. Never to be heard from again. Wearing Ray Lewis’ white suit.

Sunday also marked some beginnings. The beginning of what is sure to be a long and exciting career for 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. And for all the talk of his mistakes on Sunday, let us not forget…the Super Bowl was this kid’s tenth NFL start. He could pee his pants in the huddle and I wouldn’t look down on him. He gave his team a chance in the second half of the game, just like he did the second half of the season…and just like he will continue to do for a long, long time. We hope.

It could also be the beginning of some awkward family dinners for the Harbaughs. Do you think that maybe (after a few drinks) that no-call in end zone will come up at Easter dinner? And Jim Harbaugh is sure to throw a tantrum. And color all over John’s eggs with his red sharpie.

And perhaps, the beginning of the end of New Orleans hosting Super Bowls (at least for a while). I think they can pretty much rip up that 2018 Super Bowl bid. And I wonder if Mercedes-Benz will renew their naming rights for the stadium. They already have reliability issues with electricity in their vehicles.

But the 49ers should be grateful, because the lights going out was the only thing that got them back in that game. I would also like to express my appreciation, because when the Superdome went dark…the Twitterverse lit up like a Christmas tree. Here are some of my favorites:

 

Yes, the end of Super Bowl XLVII is the beginning of a long offseason for football fans. Thanks, all…for hanging with me this season. I have loved every minute of it. You have made my first season as an official football blogger not only a success, but a new beginning for me as well. Where this will go…I have no idea. But I couldn’t do it without each and every one of you taking the time to read my musings. I thought I was just entertaining myself.

In the meantime, don’t be a stranger. It’s going to be an eventful offseason and I’m going to need someone to mock the ridiculous with.

Thanks also to my husband Michael, who has been very patient with the household chores I have neglected in the meantime. I promise to keep up on laundry…at least until August.

And so, the lights go down on the season. And the Superdome. Again.

Boom!

XO

A Tale of Two Harbaughs

Jim and John Harbaugh(Photo: Getty)

Jim and John Harbaugh
(Photo: Getty)

And then there were two…Harbaughs.

At the beginning of the season, anyone who referenced the Bro Bowl was clearly talking about the Manning brothers. Right? Well, not anymore. Step aside Peyton and Eli, for the new first family of football…the brothers Harbaugh.

The Harbaughs 1964(Photo: SI.com)

The Harbaughs 1964
(Photo: SI.com)

John and Jim Harbaugh were born just 15 months apart, to their parents, Jack and Jackie in Toledo, Ohio. Jack was an assistant college football coach. They grew up in Kentucky, Iowa, and Michigan. They didn’t have everything, but they had enough. And they appreciated it. Jack’s saying…“Who’s got it better than us?” became their family mantra.

John followed in his father’s college football footsteps as an assistant coach with Western Michigan, Morehead State, Cincinnati, and Indiana. He made the jump to the NFL as an assistant coach for the Philadelphia Eagles and accepted the position of head coach for the Baltimore Ravens in 2008, after current Cowboys coach Jason Garrett turned it down.

Jim played quarterback for the University of Michigan before he was drafted by the Chicago Bears. He went on to play for the Colts (where he earned the nickname “Captain Comeback”), the Ravens (where he was teammates with Ray Lewis), and the Chargers. Jim Harbaugh eventually took his experience as an NFL quarterback and his family coaching legacy to Stanford and the San Francisco 49ers. He took something else with him too…Jack’s motto. “Who’s got it better than us?” has become Harbaugh’s team chant. And the team responds, just like he did…“Nooobody!”

On Sunday, Jim Harbaugh and the San Francisco 49ers beat the Falcons in the NFC Championship game. Three hours later, John Harbaugh and the Baltimore Ravens beat the Patriots for the AFC Championship. When their teams meet in New Orleans on February 3rd, the Harbaughs will become the first sibling rivalry in NFL history to make it all the way to the Super Bowl.

The Harbaughs 1977(Photo: SI.com)

The Harbaughs 1977
(Photo: SI.com)

Unlike the Manning family, there is no legend of a third Harbaugh brother with more talent than both. But John and Jim Harbaugh do have a sister, Joani. She isn’t a coach, but she is married to one…Indiana University Basketball Coach Tom Crean, whose team opened the college season ranked number one.

“Who’s got it better than us?”

Nobody.

If you’re a Harbaugh.

XO