Why NBC Dumped Bob Costas

Costas

It has to do with his outspoken criticism of the NFL in relation to the league’s concussion crisis.  Here is a taste of some great long-form sports journalism from Mark Fainaru-Wada at ESPN’s “Outside the Lines”:

By this point, Costas’ line at Maryland — This game destroys people’s brains — had gone viral, raising hackles in the NBC offices. The New York Daily News asked NBC for comment, and a spokesman responded, “Bob’s opinions are his own, and they do not represent those of the NBC Sports Group” — prompting a story from Raissman under the headline, “NBC throws Bob Costas under the bus and in the process sends warning to rest of its talent.”

Sensing a budding problem with his employer, Costas says he decided to appear on CNN on Saturday morning to make it clear he wasn’t being critical of NBC. So, for the third time in a week, Costas was talking publicly about football and brain damage. He didn’t soften any of his comments — in fact, he reiterated them — but he did attempt to defend the network.

“I’ve been saying these things for the better part of a decade, and often on NBC, in front of the biggest audience not just in all of sports, but in all of television — ‘Sunday Night Football,'” Costas told host Michael Smerconish. “And I think NBC Sports deserves credit for this.”

Within an hour, Costas says he received a text from Flood, who oversees sports production for NBC.

“I think the words were, ‘You’ve crossed the line,'” says Costas, who says he no longer has the text.

“My thought was, ‘What line have I crossed?'”

Later, Costas says he pointed out that he had been saying these things about football for years — often on NBC. That didn’t matter; it seemed this was one time too many.

Costas was told he was off the Super Bowl LII broadcast.

“I recall the phrase, ‘It’s a six-hour, daylong celebration of football, and you’re not the right person to celebrate football,'” Costas says. “To which my response was not, ‘Oh please, please, change your mind.’ My response was, ‘Yeah, I guess you’re right.'”

Read the entire piece here.

More Politics of Fear

Believe Me 3dMembers of my extended family are sharing this on Facebook.  It has apparently been shared over 479,000 times:

Fear

There are people who say that I was wrong for suggesting in Believe Me that “fear” may have motivated people, especially evangelicals, to pull the lever for Trump in 2016. Fear is often stoked by false information and propaganda.  Without this kind of fear-mongering, Trump has no base.  How did we allow ourselves to elect a president who consistently appeals to the darkest corners of the human mind?

Do You Expect Me to Believe that Mike Pence Did Not Know the 49ers Would Kneel?

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Apparently the President of the United States and the Vice-President of the United States plotted to pull a political stunt at yesterday’s Colts-49ers game.

 

So let’s get this straight:

  1. These two guys are spending their time discussing how to use the NFL player protests on racial inequality for their own political advantage.  This is grandstanding at its worst.
  2. Does Pence really believe that these NFL protests are about the American flag or the national anthem?
  3. Pence knows how to take orders.  He is the court evangelical of all court evangelicals.  I would love to know if the United States or Donald Trump has ever done something that would force him to choose his identity as a Christian over his patriotism.
  4. Pence made all the Indianapolis Colts fans come early to the stadium and go through extra security when he knew darn well that he would be leaving before the start of the game.
  5. It is likely that Pence spent well over $200,000 in taxpayer money to pull off this stunt.
  6. Please, please, please don’t tell me that Trump and Pence “want to bring this country together” when they pull stunts like this.
  7. Hard-core Trump supporters who practice the religion of patriotism will love this stunt.  Even worse, I know evangelical Christians who claim to worship a God who transcends national identities who will cheer this stunt.  When these people see the image I have posted above their chests will swell and their hearts will beat faster.  Patriotism is not wrong, but the kind political anger they feel–the same kind of anger expressed during their “lock her up” chants at Trump rallies–is sinful.

Here is Gregg Doyel of the Indianapolis Star:

INDIANAPOLIS – North Korea and its nukes can wait. The White House has declared war on the NFL. And on the First Amendment.

Two weeks after President Trump decreed that NFL players who kneel during the national anthem should be fired, Vice President Mike Pence walked out of Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday after about 20 members of the San Francisco 49ers knelt during the anthem. The 49ers were in town to play the Indianapolis Colts.

Pence was in town to upstage Peyton Manning.

What, you think he didn’t know the 49ers would kneel on Sunday? Pence knew. The 49ers are the one franchise, the only franchise, that have had at least one player kneel before every game since Colin Kaepernick was the first to do it in the 2016 preseason. Kaepernick played for the 49ers, of course. Last week, following Trump’s unpatriotic assertion that he would fire someone for exercising their First Amendment rights, more than half the San Francisco roster knelt.

Pence knew.

Hell, the media members that follow Pence were told before the game not to bother leaving their vans and enter Lucas Oil Stadium, according to a tweet from NBC News Vaughn Hillyard. They wouldn’t be there long, because Pence wouldn’t be there long. Trump, as Trump is wont to do, took credit in a tweet for Pence’s walkout by saying he’d asked Pence to leave if anyone knelt.

This was planned.

Read the rest of the piece here.

Are the NFL Protests Religious?

Kap

In the movie “Concussion,” Dr. Bennett Omalu, the medical researcher who discovered chronic traumatic encephalopahty (CTE) in the brains of deceased NFL players, is told that he is going to war with a corporation that “owns a day of the week, the same day the church used to own.”  Here is the scene

I thought about this scene as I read Tara Isabella Burton’s piece at Vox titled “Football really is America’s religion. That’s what made the NFL protests so powerful.

She writes:

But, for better or for worse, football — like many American sports — has always been, if not political, then at least politicized. The popularity of American sport culture is deeply rooted in the history of a particular kind of American “muscular Christianity,” a conflation of nationalism, nostalgia, piety, and performative masculinity. From the football stadium to the basketball court, American sports have been as much about defining a particular kind of male and typically Christian identity as they have been about the game itself.

For participants and spectators alike, sport culture is quite religion-like. As professor and theologian Randall Balmer put it in an article for Sojourners, “the sports stadium has replaced the church sanctuary as the dominant arena of piety at the turn of the 21st century, especially for American men.” And that makes the decision of athletes to protest during the “sacred” time of the game, rather than off the field, all the more powerful.

To better understand how American sports culture developed, we should turn to Victorian England, where “muscular Christianity” originated as backlash to the culture of the time. The rise of the middle class and the development of industrialization meant that your average Victorian gentleman wasn’t exactly physically active. And Victorian religion tended to focus on women and female piety. Women were generally seen as the “angels in the house” who would domesticate their men — and make them better Christians.

Read the entire piece here.

This brings a whole new perspective on “taking a knee.”

Gerson: Trump is a “racial demagogue”

buffalo-bills

It is rare when a white evangelical who is politically conservative calls someone a ‘racial demagogue,” but that is actually what Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson has called the President of the United States.  Here is a taste of his piece on the NFL protests this weekend.

Here is a taste:

Stop and consider. This is a sobering historical moment. America has a racial demagogue as president. We play hail to this chief. We stand when he enters the room. We continue to honor an office he so often dishonors. It is appropriate but increasingly difficult.

In this case, demagoguery is likely to be effective, in part because protesters have chosen their method poorly. The American flag is not the racist symbol of a racist country. It is the symbol of a country with ideals far superior to its practice. This is the banner under which the 54th Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry — the first African American regiment organized in the Civil War — fought the Confederacy. This is the flag that flew over the U.S. Capitol on July 2, 1964, when the Civil Rights Act was passed. This is the flag that drapes the coffins of the honored dead on their final homeward trip, to a flawed nation still worthy of their sacrifice.

The extraordinary achievement of America’s founders was to elevate a set of ideals that judged (in many cases) their own hypocritical conduct. With the Declaration of Independence, they put a self-destruct mechanism in the edifice of slavery. They designed a system that eventually transcended their own failures of courage. At least in part. With more to go….

Read the rest here.

Maybe it is time to take a knee when Trump enters the room.

A Member of Ben Sasse’s Dissertation Committee Offers Him Some Advice

Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse has a Ph.D in American history from Yale.  Here is an exchange between Sasse and Yale historian Glenda Gilmore.  She served on Sasse’s dissertation committee along with Jon Butler and Harry Stout.

Court Evangelical Robert Jeffress Has a Message for NFL Players

Here is court evangelical Robert Jeffress on NFL players taking a knee:

Let’s get the facts straight.  These NFL players were protesting more than social injustice on Sunday.  They were also protesting the way that President Donald Trump responded to their protests of social injustice.  Their protests on this particular Sunday were more geared toward the latter than the former.  Jeffress seems to have conveniently forgot what Trump said about NFL players who have refused to stand for the playing of the National Anthem:

I would also add that it is impossible to interpret Trump’s remarks here apart from his remarks after Charlottesville:

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Would You Cheer for the Buffalo Nickels?

Did you know that the Philadelphia Eagles were named after the symbol on the New Deal’s National Recovery Act?  Did you know that the New York Jets were almost called the New York Gothams?  The Los Angeles Rams were named after the mascot of Fordham University.  The Minnesota Vikings were the first team to be named after a state, rather than a city.

This article at Mental Floss explains how all the NFL teams got their names.  Very interesting, especially on the eve of a new season.