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Nickname Controversy

September 26, 2013


I have stayed away from this topic for years and years. The issue seems to come and go on an annual basis. I could fall in line with the majority of those who write about sports and come out against all team nicknames that refer to Native Americans. I could then say that those particular nicknames are racist and offensive and a slap in the face to all Native Americans who ever lived. I just can’t do it.

In saying that, polls taken annually indicate that a high majority of Native Americans feel the same. I read some comments from Native Americans prior to writing this column. A number of Native Americans spoke of how the issue is a “silly” one. They speak of the nicknames not upsetting them. I read more then one comment noting how the name ‘Redskins’ is an honorable name. So if the Native Americans are fine with it, what is the problem?

In these days of politically correctness, I think it is a case of white American speaking. You are not offended, so we will be offended for you. Let me go back to the numbers to confirm what I just told you. The Annenberg Public Policy Center poll found that 90 percent of Native Americans were not offended by the Redskins nickname. Why should we let 10% of a population group dictate outcomes? What next? What if 10% of the atheists out there say they are offended by religious nicknames like the Los Angeles Angels or the New Orleans Saints? Should the Ole Miss Rebels be forced to change their name? What about the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame?    

Panthers Win, Panthers Win 

Perhaps the Carolina Panthers have found a way not to lose a close game. Just win big. 

My regular readers may remember the many times over the past few years I have pointed out just how many close games the Panthers lose. Just last week, I gave my opinion on just why they lose close games. That issue can take a week off as Carolina won big. Very big, as it posted a 38-0 shutout victory at home over the New York Giants. 

I read where the Panthers’ performance was the most dominating in the NFL since 2002. Carolina became the first team since 2002 to record a shutout of 38 points or more, force three turnovers, record seven sacks and hold the opponent to 150 yards. The Panthers were involved in that 2002 game as Atlanta blanked Carolina, 41-0. In that game, the Falcons had eight sacks, forced six turnovers and held the Panthers to 122 yards. 
Cam Newton had his best game of the season against the Giants. He benefited a great deal from the running of DeAngelo Williams who rushed for well over 100 yards. Williams currently ranks third in the NFL in rushing with 291 yards on 62 carries. 
 
NFL Notes 

There have been a bunch of surprises thus far early in the 2013 season. The biggest one for me is the downfall of the NFC. Did you know that the NFC playoff teams from last season are off to a 6-12 start this season. And the 3-0 Seattle Seahawks have half of those wins. 

Let me move to the AFC. The AFC East was supposed to be down this year. It does not look like that will be the case as the division  is off to a 9-3 start. All four members (Miami, New England, NY Jets, and Buffalo) are 1-0 against NFC opponents. Year two as starting quarterbacks has not started out well for Robert Griffin III and Colin Kaepernick. RGIII is the 20th rated signalcaller in the NFL and his Washington Redskins are winless at 0-3. Kaepernick has the San Francisco off to a disappointing 1-2 start and is currently the 25th ranked quarterback.  

Last Yankee Standing 

Last Sunday, two of the greatest Yankees in that team’s storied history, Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte, pitched in Yankee Stadium for the last time in their careers. Yankees fans let it be known that they will miss the duo. And they are probably wondering what is next for Derek Jeter. Due to numerous injuries, they only saw the Captain perform in about 20 games this season. The Yankees are in a difficult position with Jeter. Barring an amazing comeback for a player of his age, Jeter is no longer valuable as a full time shortstop. Being a 40-year old major league shortstop, even when healthy, is a very difficult challenge. And Jeter has made it clear that he wants to play shortstop next season. 

Offensively, Jeter may be able to help the Yankees. He is only one year removed from being a valuable offensive player. If this were another player, the Yankees would probably try to move him to another team or persuade him to play another position, but the Yankees have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in Jeter as the face of the franchise. They cannot risk damaging that now by either having a fallout with the future Hall of Famer or seeing him spend a year in the uniform of another team. 

Jeter

This means that Jeter has some leverage with the Yankees. But many feel that the Yankees have some leverage with Jeter too. Jeter has invested a great deal of time cultivating an image of himself as loyal, sincere, hard-working, and a team player. Risking that image on the off-chance he can still contribute as a full time shortstop may not be a wise decision. That is why I feel there will be a compromise. Jeter has a few milestones he would probably like to reach. Three more hits and he will tie Paul Molitor for ninth place on the all time hit list.

Accomplishing this means he will have had more hits than any player who started his career after 1970. Jeter has currently played the third most games at shortstop in history. It is conceivable that he could play 37 more games at the position to tie Luis Aparicio for second, but would need 173 games at the position to catch Omar Vizquel. 

Forcing Jeter to retire or abandon the shortstop position is only going to create problems for the Yankees and Jeter. He and Yankees fans will have a hard time recognizing that Jeter is no longer the player he once was, but that is almost certainly the case.

Seeing Jeter play poorly at shortstop and be a shadow of what he once was at the plate is in neither of their interests. Moving forward with that in mind is doable, but will require compromise by both sides.

 


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