By TJ Carpenter
Until the football team got involved none of us knew University of Missouri grad student Jonathan Butler hadn’t eaten in a week. Few of us, if any in Kansas City knew racial tensions had been brewing and getting hotter over the previous few weeks and months, until the football team got involved. Gary Pinkel didn’t know much if anything, at least he didn’t care to know, about the demands of Concerned Student 1950.
Scariest of all may be, a lot of us may have not wanted to know. This is political, it is racial, it is a river that meanders through the territories of white privilege, hypocrisy, violent protest, hate crimes, the power of sports, just plain downright privilege and victim culture. It is an airshow disaster of political controversy. Mizzou brass seemed to be apathetic toward the protests, but Mizzou faculty and students joined in. Mizzou alum seemed split, as did outsiders. There wasn’t really even a clear message of what the protests were exactly against or for. It was hard to see what Mizzou stands for. And for someone who just recently realized this was happening is incredibly confusing.
I encourage anyone who hasn’t read up on this specific issue, background of Jonathan Butler, the history of racist activity around Mizzou’s campus, and what attempts to discuss issues by Tim Wolfe resulted in to do so. Because feeling lost on an issue because you know nothing is worse than feeling lost on an issue because you know everything. If we as a society are guilty of anything, it’s ignorance.
Writing this as a white man, I can acknowledge I have advantages I’ve lived with my entire life that probably won’t change and I can’t really do anything about it. My white privilege isn’t something I can transfer. When they stamped my butt with white privilege after I came out of the womb the fine print said, “non-transferrable.”
The systems we all live in, that oppress some and prop up others, sometimes because of race but also because of gender, religion and wealth, are a byproduct of our history as a nation and as a planet. We must become more educated on these issues, challenge one another, but most importantly, we must listen to one another’s viewpoints. Everyone wanted to talk and no one wanted to listen at Mizzou. I have always believed I am better at talking because I am better at listening.
Tim Wolfe didn’t know anything about what was important to the protesters on campus, which is why his tone-deaf approach through this entire process was an abject failure. He was forced to resign because he let things get to the point they did. Concerned Student 1950 has been criticized and muted by many because their message has been malicious and aggressive, while failing to acknowledge that there is an enormous difference between systemic oppression in America and systemic oppression throughout history even though their rhetoric in opposition to it is the same. Apartheid South Africa was systemic oppression, Nazi Germany was systemic oppression. America has a great many things that could be deemed systemic oppression, no doubt, but we are a far cry from government sanctioned racism. We’ve evolved, but I hate to disappoint you, humanity doesn’t evolve that quickly. We still have problems in this country when it comes to how we talk to one another and more importantly how we listen to one another.
I’m not the first to say it, white America does a terrible job of seeing things from a different viewpoint, and to look inward, I am constantly striving to do a better job at understanding what part it is I can and should play in all of this. The best thing I can think of is this, listen. I can listen. And my advice would be the same to anyone who is trying to get a better grasp on these issues. It is my advice to someone who thinks they ALREADY KNOW THESE ISSUES backwards and forwards, listen.
The plight of minorities in this country is real, the complete ignorance of that plight by a lot of america is REAL. Should they be blamed for that ignorance? If Gary Pinkel doesn’t want to do anything but coach football, and avoid any sort of social activism as he did today on these airwaves, should he be twitter-shamed for that? My personal opinion is that if he has an opinion, because he knows the issue and took a stand he should express that opinion. But that isn’t what he did, because he clearly didn’t know the issue. He just knew, something was important to his players, players good, support good, support players, and that’s as far as his football brain computed it.
It brings us to the point: Mizzou stands for football, Gary Pinkel stands for football, America stands for football. For all its opinions and takes and debating and politicizing the one thing America seems to stand for above all else is football. If nothing else, we should learn from the events of the last few weeks at Mizzou: we all need to do a better job of listening and talking about issues, building relationships that can result in solving problems that affect everyone, especially those disadvantaged. It starts with leaders. That was Mizzou’s failing. It ends with leaders. That is certainly Mizzou’s failing. They bookended protests and concerns of students and a hunger strike with apathy and greed. Apathy because it wasn’t the overt systemic oppression and racism of Apartheid South Africa and greed because football was threatened. For that, I cannot defend the University of Missouri. It only reinforces the arguments, though made often times poorly, the protesters made. And a poorly argued good point is still a good point. Mizzou did nothing but reinforce that fact. Football and money is all Mizzou stands for. It seems to be the only thing we can all agree on.
By TJ Carpenter
There is no doubt the Royals own Kansas City right now. Everywhere you look, there are Royals flags on every car, Royals shirts on every man, woman child and dog - the town is painted Royal blue. In fact, if it weren’t for the Kansas City Royals, the town’s outlook on sports would be rather bleak. In particular, the Chiefs could learn a thing or two from their partners on the other side of the parking lot.
Kansas football is winless, Kansas State football just got whacked 55-0 by a so-so Sooners team, Missouri is in a rebuilding year, Sporting KC won the US Open Cup, but the outlook on winning MLS Cup may be the worst it has been in several years, and then there’s the Chiefs....
The Chiefs are 1-5. I asked Andy Reid how frustrating that is this week and he said, “Well, we’re sitting here and we’re 1-5. That’s real. And we’re not playing very well as a football team. I’m not saying it’s frustration – as a coach, you’re a problem solver and I have to solve the problems and get that done quick here. I still believe in my locker room, I believe in our coaches. We need to get over this hump here and figure out a way to play better football, consistently. That’s the challenge and that’s the way I approach it.”
That isn’t exactly what fans want to hear at this point. Bill Snyder wrote an apology note to Kansas State fans after the loss to Oklahoma, which is perhaps the most Bill-Snyder-thing ever. David Beaty doesn’t need to apologize because people expect the Jayhawks to be terrible. Gary Pinkel did what fans wanted, if albeit for different reasons, he benched is quarterback. Peter Vermes will openly and vocally criticize his own players and himself and officials, really anyone who he blames for their losses… and he’s usually on point with those criticisms. The fact remains, outside of Kauffman stadium, things aren’t great, but the message has at least has been on point from the leaders of these teams, except for Andy Reid and the Chiefs.
Kansas City is a passionate sports town; being loyal is a part of the city’s culture. Regardless of whether its passion for a winner, or passion for a loser, there’s no denying Kansas City is passionate about its teams. That passion is why fans call in and want Alex Smith benched and why fans try to vote Omar Infante into the All-Star game. The one thing that can kill a franchise is apathy. For 30 years, Royals fans beat their head against the wall of apathy, and it almost killed the fanbase. But they finally broke through and now, you can see what attention a winner will garner in this City. We’ve seen Ned Yost grow into being a good manager, not a perfect one, but fans will go to bat for him and his methods now more than ever. Fans will defend anyone in the Royal Blue and White, even Alex Rios. Kansas City is a Royals Town for now. That doesn’t mean it has to be JUST a Royals town. The same people who root for the Royals are the same people who root for the Chiefs. Plain and simple, Kansas City loves a winner. Not every town can say that. Tampa Bay had a winner in the Rays and still they had poor attendance numbers and little notoriety.
Kansas City is a great sports town because those cliche’d moments we see every time the Royals come back in a game, Salvy hits a homerun late, Wade Davis strikes out the side in a close game or Jarrod Dyson steals a base. The Royals are embraced as much now for how they win as the fact they are winning. They never quit, they believe in themselves and one another. It’s plain old confidence and swagger. They aren’t just simply a more talented team than their opponents. Look at the Blue Jays, they have plenty of talent, but the Royals could just as easily beat them on two fielders choices and 4 singles as they could with three home runs. The Royals are the greatest personification of every sports cliche Henry Grantland Rice ever wrote. They are a team writers glorify and mystify. A team that embodies the blue collar, down home, hard-working community it represents. And that’s why they are loved, not just cheered for.
The point is this, the Royals are a great story, and for that reason, they own this City. But there is plenty of love and cheering in Kansas City to spread around. The Royals get all your attention because there isn’t anywhere else to give it that’s worth your time right now. That has to change. The Chiefs aren’t in a place where they can just be patient with some developmental players and eventually their belief in themselves will turn everything around. It’s something the Royals get, even Sporting and KU and K-State and Mizzou seem to get to a lesser extent that the Chiefs never have, and that is that Kansas City will support its own. Kansas City wants home grown players, players that learned how to win IN Kansas City. Alex Smith isn’t that guy, in fact, a lot of the biggest issues on the team come from players who are mercenaries, free agents brought in to solve some larger issue. Ben Grubbs has been a disappointment, Mike DeVito continues to struggle, Alex Smith though is the prime example of what Chiefs fans have been pulling their hair out about for more than 30 years: The Chiefs simply don’t develop and grow their own talent.
It’s more complicated than just drafting a quarterback in the first round, it’s having the confidence that in doing so will get you out of a 30-year rut. The Cincinnati Bengals have over 40 players on their roster they acquired through the draft. That’s home-grown success paying off. But you don’t have to look to another state, just look across the parking lot and you’ll see it’s a system that not only works, it works WONDERS in Kansas City. Until the Chiefs learn the hometown way and the hometown message have to line up, and take a look at the Royals and see, invest in yourself invest in your own, do things your own way, do things differently and the City will embrace you the way no one can be embraced, Kansas City will continue to be a Royals town, when it has the potential to be so much more.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s credibility and authority took another hit today as Tom Brady’s 4-game suspension was overturned by a judge in court. Deflategate initially seemed like a bad joke, and spawned limitless actual bad jokes: Tom Brady deflated his balls and the NFL was going to pound him for it. The NFL spent a lot of money reinforcing its own narrative that Tom Brady and the Patriots, cheaters in the highest degree, repeat offenders, had to pay and pay heavily for putting another blemish on the sterling “SHIELD.”
So where did the NFL and Roger Goodell go wrong? This seemed like a layup for the league. They have the lawyers, they have the power, they have the collective bargaining agreement on their side, they even had public sentiment (outside of Boston) on their side. How did they screw this up?
What the NFL lacked, was evidence. What Roger Goodell seems to often lack are facts to back up his decisions. Why did Roger Goodell take so much heat over Ray Rice’s suspension? He didn’t have enough information; important information to make an informed, rational, and well-sourced decision. He didn’t have the video. When that video surfaced, it exposed the corner-cutting, one dimensional thinking of the league and its commissioner.
In Deflategate, the had plenty of incentive to make a decision, but what they didn’t have was evidence. At no point could they directly tie Tom Brady to a conspiracy to commit fraud against the game - and that’s if you even think deflating footballs at marginal levels “fraud against the game.”
Goodell and the league were arrogant and ignorant, which is a dangerous combination. They didn’t have enough information… they spent a lot of money on the Ted Wells report to dress up that lack of information as enough and then got called out on it. They thought they could plant fraudulent information in the press, mislead good reporters, and stick to the company line and their omnipotent power granted in the CBA and do whatever they wanted. They were wrong.
What Goodell did in one swift frontier justice style ruling against Tom Brady was abuse his power as the commissioner, undermine his own authority, expose the lopsided and unfair collective bargaining agreement AND make himself out to be a patsy for the owners - bad one at that.
In keeping with the initial ridiculousness and now ultimate seriousness of this controversy, I quote Tobey MaGuire’s Spiderman, “With great power, comes great responsibility.”
Goodell undermined his own power by abusing it in the punishment. Had he not, and instead levied a 50 thousand dollar fine, we wouldn’t know what we know now and we wouldn’t have such depth of understanding of just how incompetent the NFL’s front office can be with its extraordinary power.
Ultimately, the NFL’s power over the players is going to remain an important issue, but not one that will derail the league’s ability to generate revenue and constant attention around its brand. The NFL still prints cash, still has the most addictive product in entertainment, still has the most popular show on four networks. It may not matter Roger Goodell always gets it wrong because he’s a one-dimensional thinker who doesn’t do his homework and is little more than living South Park caricature of himself. The NFL has seen unprecedented growth under his watch.
I just hope someone realizes sooner rather than later, that would be true of anyone in his position. If Roger Goodell, who has botched controversies over domestic abuse, integrity of the game, concussion lawsuits, player safety and owner-player relationships… nothing ever will.
Alex Smith is set up to have career numbers this season with the addition of Jeremy Maclin to the Chiefs offense. The best player comp for Smith since joining the Chiefs has always been Donovan McNabb. It follows Smith could be similarly impacted by the addition of a Maclin this season the way McNabb was impacted by Terrell Owens in 2004 - a year McNabb had the best statistical and accomplishment seasons of his career.
I drew a lot of criticism in 2013 for comparing Smith to McNabb before the season began. I contended that Smith would have numbers similar to McNabb in 2007 based on a number of factors including surrounding personnel, coaching staff similarity, history of injury and years of experience.
In 2007 Donovan McNabb threw for for 3324 yards, 19 touchdowns and 7 interceptions at a 61.5% completion percentage. In 2013 Alex Smith threw for 3313 yards 23 touchdowns and 7 interceptions at a 60.6% completion percentage. Not to gloat, but I nailed that one. If you take into consideration screen-pass-a-palooza against Oakland wherein Jamaal Charles scored three times on screen passes from Alex Smith (who had 5 touchdown passes in the game), even the disparity in touchdowns between McNabb in 2007 and Smith in 2013 is explained. Once again… I was off by 11 in total passing yards, 4 in TDs, zero in interceptions, and .9% in completion percentage. I FREAKING NAILED IT!
… Just needed to get that off my chest. (I’m wrong about plenty, but given that I got so much grief for this comp, I felt the need to gloat a little.)
I say that to say this: Alex Smith is primed to have the best season of his career, and the comp for 2015 Smith is 2004 McNabb. In 2004, McNabb had a legitimate number one wide receiver for the first time in his career - Terrell Owens. Smith now has Jeremy Maclin, who a season ago was targeted 143 times had 85 receptions, 1318 yards and 10 touchdowns. Maclin hasn’t fumbled a ball in three years. He’s incredibly sure-handed, runs crisp routes and perhaps most importantly has a personality that meshes perfectly with Alex Smith. T.O. had 1200 yards and 14 touchdowns. Maclin can have similar production numbers in 2015.
The first concern about Maclin’s production is always, “what if he’s double-teamed? Who will take pressure off of him, there aren’t any other targets.” First, that isn’t true - Travis Kelce and Jamaal Charles will demand plenty of attention from defenses - and second it didn’t matter for T.O. in 2004, why should it matter for Maclin in 2015? The Eagles second best wideout in 2004 was Todd Pinkston. TODD. PINKSTON. Having a number one wide receiver dynamically changed the Eagles offense and Andy Reid’s playcalling and Donovan McNabb’s effectiveness despite fundamental limitations.
McNabb threw for 3875 yards, 31 touchdowns and 8 interceptions at a 64.0% completion percentage in 2004. That’s significant for a couple of reasons. If Smith is to match that production it would not only be the best statistical season for him personally, it would be the highest touchdown total in CHIEFS HISTORY. Sidestepping how sad it is that the franchise record for touchdown passes (Len Dawson, 30) has stood since 1964, that would be an amazing feat for Alex Smith who is largely, and accurately, considered to be the most average quarterback in the league.
I cannot predict the Chiefs making the Super Bowl, as Philly did in 2004; but I do think they are a playoff team and should be considered the favorite to win the AFC West. The fact Smith is more well equipped to succeed this season than any he has played prior to this coupled with what is set up to be an elite defense even without Dontari Poe means high expectations for the Chiefs are justified.
There have been plenty of times you may have been rooting for me to be wrong, and I often say I would be happy to be proven such. This year, I’m hoping I’m right for the right reasons. If I am, the Chiefs will be one of the best teams in the NFL in 2015.
CHIEFS TRAINING CAMP NOTEBOOK: ROOKIE DAY 2
- St. Joseph, Missouri
- In team drills Marcus Peters and Stephen Nelson looked good at times. Nelson worked some at the Nickel and broke up a pass.
- Da’Ron Brown had some issues knowing where to line up today working in a role as H-back and slot receiver. Brown can catch, but working a lot as the motion man today, he seemed to struggle, especially when asked to get down into a 3-point stance.
- James O’Shaughnessy continued to look good and with the absence of Demetrius Harris could compete for the no.2 TE spot. The Chiefs have not brought in a veteran to fill that hole, so that is something to continue to watch.
- Offensive Lineman worked mostly in drill work. Andy Reid actually spent a lot of time today working with the offensive lineman watching technique and stance.
- Ramik Wilson, Demetrius Harris, Tyler Bray and Chris Conley all sat out practice.
- Chris Conley sat out practice after suffering a knee strain yesterday. He is currently day-to-day.
- Keyshawn Hill suffered a hamstring injury and will be evaluated further. Chase Daniel actually played some running back in his stead
CHIEFS TRAINING CAMP NOTEBOOK: ROOKIE DAY 1
- St. Joseph, Missouri
Berry is back with the team and will be evaluated on a practice by practice basis by the coaching staff and head athletic trainer, Rick Burkholder. News broke late last night that Berry had been clear to play, which by itself is remarkable. While Berry did not participate in team drills he took part in all other facets of practice with the rookies today. To test his strength the coaches had him do some lifting. He benched 275 pounds five times and squatted 300-plus pounds five times. Burkholder said, “He sailed through every test we gave him.”
Berry didn’t get a PICC line put in for his chemotherapy because we wanted to continue his workouts through treatment, which is clearly unorthodox. Burkholder added that he gained a pound during his cancer treatment. The context of the comments made it seem as though that was also rare in Berry’s case during treatment. A LOT more on Berry will come in a separate article on 810 WHB.
- A clarification on Dontari Poe’s back surgery. The disc in his back was only partially removed, not wholly removed. This would affect his recovery time. Yesterday Rick Burkholder had mentioned the disc had been removed, but did not specify whether it was partial or whole. Now we know.
- Cyrus Gray has been released for football reasons. This came as a surprise because Gray had been one of the more reliable special teamers and seemed relatively productive when given the rare opportunity to carry the football. The Chiefs drafted Gray in the 6th round in 2012.
- Chris Conley, who was drafted in the 3rd round out of Georgia in this year’s draft, sprained his knee near the end of practice.
- Da’Ron Brown (WR) and James O’Shaughnessy (TE) both Chiefs draft picks were able to snag some big receptions in practice today. Brown worked primarily out of the slot and showed some nice hands throughout the day.
- Demetrius Harris has been placed on the Physically Unable to Perform list.
- Linebacker Ramik Wilson, along with Tyler Bray and Demetrius Harris, did not practice at all today.
There are no games scheduled for today.
There are no games scheduled for today.
There are no games scheduled for today.