Sports & Politics Intersect: Is Jerry out of his league?

Front Five: The top stories that shaped both sports & politics this week

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"I'm gonna come after you with everything I have." - Jerry Jones, Dallas Cowboys owner

In this week's episode of the ongoing soap opera that is the NFL, it's Jerry Jones versus the whole world.

Last week, Jerry Jones threatened to sue the NFL and his fellow owners over a contract extension for commissioner Roger Goodell. This week, the NFL struck back – perhaps a sign that the other owners are siding with Goodell? – sending a letter accusing him of "conduct detrimental to the league's best interest." The letter serves as an official document the other owners could use should they pursue disciplinary action against Jones. There's even a rumor going around that the other owners are exploring a nuclear option that would kick Jerry Jones out of the league. Jones has called this possibility "laughable."

It's unclear what next week will bring, but at the very least, we now know exactly why Jones has been waging war against Goodell: the Zeke Elliott suspension. Despite previous claims that his beef with the commissioner was about something bigger, including Goodell’s handling of players’ activism, ESPN's “Outside the Lines” published a story Friday that says otherwise.

"If you think Bob Kraft came after you hard, Bob Kraft is a p---y compared to what I'm going to do," Jones reportedly said on the call where the league informed him that Elliott was going to get a six-game ban.

By the looks of it, Jerry Jones might have lost this battle. At least he can take comfort in knowing that he's not alone in thinking that Roger Goodell doesn't deserve such a lucrative extension. Earlier this week, several current NFL players made their thoughts known.

- Fidel Martinez

GQ Magazine

"You are an American hero. You may not feel like a hero right now, but one day, people will realize the sacrifices that you made for so many others." - Linda Sarsour on Colin Kaepernick

Because Colin Kaepernick took a seat during the national anthem, he still has not been signed by any of the 32 NFL teams, but everything he’s stood for off the field has led to GQ naming him one of the publication's Men of the Year

Kaepernick began sitting, then taking a knee to protest unjust police brutality against unarmed black men last season and has since been joined not only by some of his peers in the NFL, but many athletes in the sports world at large. Kap’s stance, however, has been the most divisive sports story for more than a year now, with the conversation reaching the country’s executive office for two different administrations – with current President Donald Trump using expletives to describe those who kneel during the national anthem. 

Kaepernick has largely excused himself from the public conversation during his free agency, but has silently continued his work in inner-city communities and finished his pledge to give $1 million to “organizations working in oppressed communities.”

Kaepernick has also filed a collusion lawsuit against the NFL, which he believes is intentionally keeping him from playing for reasons other than performance. While Kaepernick still wants to and believes he can play, ex-NFL star Ricky Williams believes Kaepernick should let the NFL go and be celebrated instead of tolerated. Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said that he’d sign the quarterback if he were an owner.

Michael Bennett is leading a group of athletes who are putting in an effort to get Kaepernick signed by an NFL team. The group, called Athletes in Action, released a statement detailing why they believe Kaepernick isn’t signed and how it’s an injustice against a man who was simply fighting one of the country’s biggest continuing injustices. 

There is no end in sight in the saga between Kaepernick and the NFL, but at least in the moment, he’s GQ’s Man of the Year. 

- Phillip Barnett

Kyle Terada/USA Today Images

“In response to our alleged interference in their elections, they want to create problems during the election of the president of Russia." - Vladimir Putin, Russian president

The chances for the upcoming 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, to be successful have been put in jeopardy by a foreign nation, and this time it's not North Korea. 

On Thursday, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) said that it would not remove Russia's suspension because they had not admitted to running a state-sponsored doping program. Last week, WADA received key documents from a whistleblower that corroborated their claims against Russia.

The International Olympic Committee is scheduled to meet in early December to decide whether Russia will be able to participate. Russia has already said it plans to boycott the Olympics if Russian athletes aren't allowed to represent their flag, and that they would not compete under a neutral banner. 

For his part, Russian president Vladimir Putin is blaming it all on the United States, saying that our government is plotting against his upcoming presidential campaign. 

"I have very serious suspicions that this is done to create the necessary environment, to incite discontent among sports fans, athletes, that the state was allegedly involved in these violations and is responsible for them,“ Putin said, according to the New York Times. "In response to our alleged interference in their elections, they want to create problems during the election of the president of Russia."

Though he hasn't announced his candidacy yet, Putin already enjoys the support of NHL players Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin.

- Fidel Martinez

Bill Streicher/USA Today Images

“Realistically, he should be getting no time.” - Attorney Joe Tacopina on Meek Mill’s jail sentence

On November 6, rapper Meek Mill was sentenced to two-to-four years in Pennsylvania state prison for violating the terms of his probation from a nine-year-old gun case. Despite a recommendation from the prosecution that Mill not see jail time, Judge Genece Brinkley decided that a failed drug test and travel violations were enough for the sentence. 

The decision was not received well by the general public, and many have come out in support of the Philly-based rapper. Among those in Mill’s corner is 76ers co-owner Michael Rubin, who wrote a letter to Judge Brinkley asking for leniency

Earlier this week, there was a rally outside of the Philadelphia Criminal Justice Center in support of Mill. The Philly community, his peers in hip hop and Philly professional athletes helped lead the rally in hopes that Judge Brinkley would reconsider the decision. Among those who showed up to support Mill was NBA legend Julius Erving, who said that the decision was “excessive and cold.” 

Five members of the Philadelphia Eagles showed up to the rally, including Malcolm Jenkins, who spoke to the massive crowd. "We cannot sit back and watch our brothers and sisters get hauled off to prison," Jenkins said. "Our leaders, our innovators and our talent is gone. And for what? For petty violations."

There is a petition directed at Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf to release Mill, and as of Friday afternoon, there are more than 375,000 signatures

Colin Kaepernick, who has largely been silent regarding his own issues, took the time to show support to Mills in an Instagram post saying that “Meek Mill is a victim of systemic oppression.” 

Mill’s attorney has plans to appeal the decision.

- Phillip Barnett

Kirby Lee/USA Today Images

"I'm a young man; however, it's not an excuse for making a really stupid decision.” - LiAngelo Ball on shoplifting in China

Three UCLA basketball players, including LiAngelo Ball, brother of Lakers point guard Lonzo Ball, were arrested for shoplifting from a Louis Vuitton store in China on Nov. 8. The players were detained and remained in China while the rest of the team made a return trip home. 

There were talks that Ball and his teammates could remain in China for up to two weeks, but President Donald Trump spoke with Xi Jinping, the Chinese General Secretary, about the matter. After President Trump reached out, the players’ charges were reduced and the process of their return began. 

According to Kyle Bonagura, all three players involved in the incident thanked President Trump for his help in their return during a press conference on Wednesday. Following the press conference, it was reported that head coach Steve Alford suspended all three players indefinitely without the ability to travel with the team or dress for games. 

LiAngelo’s brother Lonzo said that it’s "nice to have [LiAngelo] back," after his brother’s return and said that he’ll have to learn from the mistake and move on. 

Alford has not commented on whether he will remove the three players from suspension, but they should at least be happy they’re back home, considering that a shoplifting conviction in China could lead to three to ten years in prison

- Phillip Barnett

Of Note:

"That’s funny, because I see everyone thinks they can speak basketball." - Draymond Green on when people say "stick to sports"

  • Before engaging in his protest during the national anthem starting last season, Malcolm Jenkins got permission from an Air Force veteran. The Philadelphia Eagles safety spoke with Tech. Sgt. Edileerto Malave, whom he struck a friendship with after meeting at a Wounded Warriors charity event.

  • While also expressing an appreciation for veterans, Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry shared insights on discussions he had with members of the military about the protests. With Veterans’ Day on his mind, the two-time NBA champion expressed his concerns about how veterans are treated after serving their country.

  • Where Jerry Jones has stood out for his hard stance against the player protest, Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross appears to be a contrast to the Cowboys’ patriarch. The Miami Herald observed the relationships Ross has cultivated with players, especially as both sides partner in community engagement.

  • Whether it was seeing Nazis embrace the brand or getting tired of being roasted by the competition, Papa John’s apologized for comments from founder and CEO John Schattner where he blamed the pizza chain’s sluggish sales on the ongoing player protests. Papa John’s has been a long-time sponsor of the NFL, which has included endorsements from Houston Texans star J.J. Watt, Hall of Famer Joe Montana, and most famously, Peyton Manning.

  • A NFL replay assistant made his own statement against the protests with a sign taped to his hat that said “I will always stand.” The unnamed official was seen with the sign during the CBS broadcast of the New York Jets-Tampa Bay Buccaneers game during Week 10.

  • Vice President Mike Pence's much-criticized visit to a game between the Indianapolis Colts and San Francisco 49ers cost $14,000 in overtime pay and incidentals for the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department. The left-leaning Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics released the figures as part of its claim that the former Indiana governor left the Oct. 8 game as a political stunt. Pence walked out moments after seeing several 49ers kneeling during the national anthem.

  • The White House hosted an array of NCAA champions on Friday, including the University of Maryland’s men’s lacrosse team and Penn State’s women’s rugby team. Women’s basketball champion South Carolina declined its invite, saying they were concentrating on the season. 

  • With a proposed ban on sports and recreation at the National Mall in Washington, D.C., a petition was created to stop the National Park Service from enacting it. Whereas the NPS states that it is concerned about damage to park grounds (with plans to increase the already existing reservation fee), the petition says that these restrictions run against the purpose of the National Mall itself.

  • The infamous racist comments filmed in secret conversations that led to the exile of former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling resurfaced in a retrial involving one of his real estate holdings in West Hollywood. Potential jurors in a second trial from a lawsuit by a former tenant were asked if they had reservations serving because the case involved Sterling, who himself may not have to testify

  • In Australia, the majority of ‘superfans’ believe that the continent’s governing bodies are right to support marriage equality. Along age lines, 71 percent of those between ages 18 and 35 and 56 percent of those between 35 and 54 believed that organizations such as the National Rugby League, Cricket Australia and others were right to support the ‘yes’ vote for marriage among same-sex couples.

  • Closer to home, Mark Cuban testified that a proposed ‘bathroom bill’ in the Texas state legislature would be bad for business in the state. Cuban joined other business leaders, including Dallas Stars president/CEO Jim Lites, in trying to convince lawmakers to vote against the bill.

  • Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta met with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman to discuss the potential of bringing a NHL franchise to the city. Fertitta, who purchased the Rockets prior to the start of the NBA season, expressed an interest in bringing hockey to  the Toyota Center, and although the league claims that relocation of existing teams is not on the table, Houston could be an expansion candidate.

  • In a narrow vote, the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins won a bid for more time to complete its redevelopment of the land that once housed the Civic Arena. The Pens have until mid-October 2025 – an addition of one year on the current deal – to move on its 1,000-unit residential development/entertainment center, but must adhere to new financial conditions added in order to get the extension.

  • A controversial idea has once again come up regarding the future of the Arizona Coyotesa new arena on Native American tribal land in the northeast Valley. While the team hasn’t commented, there’s a belief that if the majority stake in the ‘Yotes is bought by someone with deep pockets, a new facility could be had in Talking Stick. Local reporter Jim LaCava also claims that there could be a shared arena for both the Coyotes and the Phoenix Suns, although Suns owner Robert Sarver says sharing a venue is unlikely.

  • Premier League franchise Chelsea announced that its rebuild of Stamford Bridge will be delayed by at least three years. The delay is being attributed to legal concerns and approvals yet to be made. However, shifting the construction timeline will make the redevelopment of the grounds, which the team has used since 1905, more costly, meaning owner Roman Abramovich will have to secure even more money for the project.

  • Cincinnati mayor John Cranley announced a financing package for a new stadium for its United Soccer League franchise, FC Cincinnati, which was overwhelmingly approved by the City Council. While there are concerns from the community where the new venue will be located, the timing is critical as MLS is expected to announce which cities will be picked for league expansion in mid-December. FCC could be ‘promoted’ to MLS as the league considers bids from the Queen City, Nashville and Sacramento.

  • The last founding franchise of the WNBA is up for sale. The Madison Square Garden Company announced its intentions to sell the New York Liberty, an original member of the league since its 1997 inception. With significant restructuring at the parent company in recent years, it may have been a matter of time before the Liberty were sold – though there seems to be a great desire for the team to remain in New York.

  • Player unions for both the WNBA and the United States women’s soccer national team have partnered with the NFL Players Association to form a new licensing and brand management company called REP Worldwide. The new firm (REP meaning ‘Representing Every Player’) will help members grow new revenue streams separate from player contracts.

- Jason Clinkscales 

For the record books: This week in sports politics history

Bettman/Getty Images

"It's no accident that the most repressive political regime in the history of this country is ruled by a football freak." - Dave Meggysey, former St. Louis Cardinals linebacker and anti-war political activist, on Richard Nixon.

This week marks the 48th anniversary of the first time a sitting president attended an NFL game. On November 16, 1969, Richard Nixon went to RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C., to witness the Dallas Cowboys trounce the Redskins 41-28.

Nixon's presence at the game was significant beyond the trivial. The day before, the largest demonstration against the Vietnam War took place in D.C. – estimates put the crowd at half a million people. Nixon didn't acknowledge the antiwar protest; his press secretary had said the president was going to spend the afternoon watching football because "It was a good day to watch a football game." The blasé response did not go over well.

"[For] sheer piquancy, we have not heard the likes of that since Marie Antoinette," wrote the Washington Post editorial board

Nixon used the NFL to shield himself from criticism, and it largely worked despite the immediate bad optics of it – he won reelection in 1972 in one of the most lopsided presidential elections in history. Nearly fifty years later, going to an NFL game is still a good way to earn yourself political points with your base. The only difference is that nowadays you have to leave early and tweet about it.  

- Fidel Martinez

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All Sports News
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You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Yardbarker Privacy Policy and Terms of Service. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

Sports & Politics Intersect: Presidential sports coverage from coast-to-coast

The 'Braves new world' quiz

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Top 10 players at every MLB position for the 2018 season

Jamal Murray's heel turn is exactly what the Nuggets need

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Why you should watch this year's NCAA Tournament

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