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Dave Long




The Numbers
1 – national Division II soccer ranking SNHU occupied as it began defense of its 2013 national championship title.    
2 – goals for Katya Levasseur leading Central to a 3-0 win over Dover Tuesday as Emma Levasseur chipped in with the other score and Lindsay St. Pierre turned back three shots to pick up the shutout. 
4 – consecutive wins for defending state soccer champion Bedford after a 1-0 win over Nashua North when Anna Bogursky scored the game-winning goal and Lauren Johnson got the shutout with a five-save effort. 
5 – assists racked up already by Bedford’s Seana Gosselin to go along with two goals, after tacking on three assists while leading the Bulldogs to third straight win in a 3-0 win over Memorial on Tuesday. 
61 – minutes into the game before Peter Steckowych broke a scoreless tie with what turned out to be the game-winning goal for Goffstown in its 1-0 win over Trinity in Division II soccer action on Wednesday. 
154 – yards gained on 21 carries in his first start for Colin Cashin in Bedford’s 37-7 win over Portsmouth.   

 





NFL problem bigger than it seems


09/18/14
By Dave Long dlong@hippopress.com



 The Ray Rice domestic assault story broke the way things normally do these days. TMZ broadcasts an incriminating video and then, after the national media employs its usual “shoot, then aim” approach, like a snowball cascading downhill it explodes into a full-scale national avalanche. It’s an approach that pursues attention-grabbing headlines, whether they get it right or wrong, like in the Duke lacrosse story several years ago.

That didn’t happen this time, as the video of Rice knocking Janay Rice out cold clearly shows. The media gets credit for intensifying national attention to the NFL’s pathetic response to this scary incident. But there’s a lot more to this story than the obvious — the obvious being the NFL’s attempt to (a) protect the shield from negative publicity, (b) keep a star on the field and playing, and (c) hide its appalling apathy for this national epidemic. Instead, there really are several interrelated story lines illuminating how the NFL does business, how teams do, a contemptible side of the sports culture and what it says about the shortcomings of the society in general. 
Roger Goodell: Could anyone screw something up more? What I don’t get is why he did it. I understand the backtracking double talk and what may be a Watergate-style cover-up because this could cost him a job that paid him $44 million last year. But giving just a slap on the wrist to a guy he could’ve cut loose with no blowback, I don’t get. I’m most curious about that answer.     
NFL Punishment System: It’s arbitrary. Michael Vick runs a dog-killing ring and his suspension runs concurrently with his prison term when he couldn’t play anyway? Ben Roethlisberger is investigated for an alleged sexual assault and gets six games even though he’s not charged with a crime, while Rice gets two games AFTER pleading guilty to assaulting his fiancée. Wes Welker gets four games for what some speculate was taking a recreational drug (which he denies) four months before the season started, and Josh Gordon gets a year for repeatedly smoking pot. Even the fines are nuts, where Jimmy Graham gets hit for $33,000 for twice dunking a ball over the crossbar the same weekend Johnny Manziel acts like a punk by flipping off the Redskins bench in full view of the stadium crowd and a national TV audience and is only fined $12,000. 
Then there’s the “held to a higher standard” Colts owner Jim Irsay. He got caught with $29k in cash and a pharmacy in his back seat while so under the influence he was creeping along at 4 miles an hour. After rehab he pleaded guilty and got a six-game suspension and a $500k fine — neither of which has any impact on the billionaire owner. It’s a long way from Fay Vincent suspending George Steinbrenner for LIFE in the Howard Spira saga. Of course that cost him his job, so maybe that’s the real point. 
The Baltimore Ravens: How can anyone be surprised at how this organization conducted itself in the Rice incident when they’re about to unveil a statue to honor Ray Lewis, who was welcomed back with open arms after his obstruction of justice conviction in a still unsolved double murder? Terrell Suggs also kept playing after being accused of holding bleach over the head of his girlfriend and one-year-old child, and later of punching and dragging her in front of their children. Simply put: This team has no moral compass other than to get the best players on the field no matter what. It’s why I hate the Ravens. 
The Thug Element: Does any other league have more incidents of violent off-field activity than the NFL? The list of those in serious trouble — Aldon Smith, Michael Vick, Jovan Belcher, Ray McDonald, Alfonzo Dennard, Pac Man Jones, Greg Hardy, Plaxico Burress, Aaron Hernandez and Rae Carruth — seems endless. All told, according to the New York Times, it adds up to 85 arrests or citations for domestic violence alone since 2000.There’s even a website devoted to the Top 10 Arrests in Cowboys history — with three being for indecent exposure to young girls.
Second Chances: I don’t believe people “deserve” a second chance. The guilty earn what they get and should get a second chance ONLY if earned. So for Rice to get one, he’s got to demonstrate contrition for what he did, showing that he understands its gravity AND that he’s changed. 
The Media: They must do better than just chase headlines like they did in the Donald Sterling saga, when he was turned into Adolf Hitler instead of being closer to a pathetic, wealthier version of Archie Bunker. Where was their outrage when the Clippers owner lost the largest landlord discrimination case in history, which was much worse? Here, the real story should be the NFL’s continued tolerance of abhorrent off-field conduct of guys because they have talent that’s hard to find. 
The Fan Culture: This group needs to take the biggest look in the mirror. Why? Because Lewis was welcomed back in Baltimore. Ditto for Big Ben in Pittsburgh, Vick in Philly, Dennard in New England and many others who’ve gotten into serious trouble. And many were wearing Rice’s jersey in Baltimore on Thursday. That says something about the culture. The only way league acceptance of this behavior changes is if fans express their outrage en masse.  
The solution seems simple: zero tolerance. Being a leader on this national calamity may cost teams a few really good players, but it’ll help change the culture because it will cost transgressors big money. If you’re arrested for domestic assault, you’re deactivated like Adrian Peterson (though he was reinstated on Monday) and Hardy (finally) were Sunday. If convicted, you’re released and suspended until you demonstrate you’re worthy to play in the NFL. If you don’t, good riddance.    
Email dlong@hippopress.com. 
 
As seen in the September 18, 2014 issue of the Hippo.





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