June 17th, 1994 was such a memorable day in sports that ESPN dedicated a 30 for 30 documentary to highlight how the O.J. Simpson car chase overshadowed news from the NBA, NHL, FIFA World Cup and PGA- all on the same day.
September 8th, 2014 will likely never be remembered or heralded as vividly as June 17th, but this past Monday was arguably the most newsworthy day in sports since.
While ESPN frequently gets heat for not being able to fill 24 hours a day and 7 days a week with enough legitimate news and discussion, even “The Mothership” had no chance of keeping up with Monday’s news cycle.
In case you spent the day under a rock, were too overwhelmed by the never ending news pouring in, or just want a recap of a crazy-ass day in sports, here’s what you missed:
This was undoubtedly the biggest news of the day. Before I even got out of bed in the morning I had already watched the most vicious, cold-hearted punch I have ever seen in my life.
We had already known Ray Rice knocked his wife out, so what’s new? Well this definitely debunks any theory that he was provoked by his finance in any serious way (not that it would ever matter, but it was part of the Ravens and NFL’s justification for the light two game suspension).
It provided us with a visual of what happened instead of just primarily hearing it happened. Nobody wanted to imagine a 220 pound professional football player haymaker a defenseless woman, so even though we knew exactly what happened in that elevator, it was every bit as shocking to see in action.
A lot of underlying questions come into play now.
We know the prosecutors have seen the video, so how is Ray Rice not facing jail time? It’s impossible to watch that disturbing clip and not think that a crime of domestic abuse has been committed.
Keith Olbermann summed it up best when he said that the New Jersey justice department is either extremely incompetent or simply failed to do their job due to being part of a bigger cover up.
Goodell claims he has never seen the video. The Associated Press claims he saw it three months ago.
The bottom line has to be this: If Goodell saw the video, how could he possibly suspend Rice only two games, and how could he possibly think that he could lie for so long about having not seen it? If Goodell didn’t see the video, how is he, as an employer of Ray Rice, unable to find the evidence when somebody like TMZ can?
Penn State Football
What seemed to be 30 seconds after every sports media outlet kicked into full gear with Ray Rice coverage, NCAA president Mark Emmert announced that the Penn State football program will have all 85 scholarships and bowl eligibility returned back to them in 2015 as a reduction in their punishment from the Jerry Sandusky scandal.
It appears Emmert is finally coming around to the popular belief that his initial punishments to the program after their involvement in the Sandusky mess unfairly took action against players and coaches who had no connection to the scandal, or even the school, at the time.
Whether or not Emmert, widely criticized for his lack of logic, will change the way he issues sanctions is yet to be seen. For PSU this is a great day, and after the embarrassing start the Big Ten has had on the field, it’s safe to say the conference could use a Nittany Lion turnaround.
Legal Sports Gambling in New Jersey
As of Monday, casinos in New Jersey are allowed to run sportsbooks similar to those in Las Vegas. This is great for the state of New Jersey in terms of raising tax revenues and tourism, but there are bigger implications to the wide world of sports.
Last week NBA commissioner Adam Silver said that legalized gambling in sports is “inevitable” and the NBA will eventually love to be a part of it. Legalized gambling in New Jersey has the potential to be a good model for other states to adopt, and eventually the dominoes might fall just as Silver predicts.
If the NBA is this excited about gambling, they clearly believe it will increase their revenue. If that becomes the case, the NFL, MLB, NHL will soon follow suit.
The already very profitable professional sports industry could be in line to skyrocket their revenue streams (Vegas is pissed though).
Somewhat lost among all these stories, and opening weekend of the NFL season, was Atlanta Hawks owner Bruce Levenson being forced by the NBA to sell the team after racially insensitive comments made to GM Danny Ferry in a 2012 email. Ferry also made insensitive comments about former Chicago Bull Luol Deng, saying he had a “little African” in him.
The NBA caught a fortunate PR wave by releasing this story 60 minutes before NFL kickoff and then having all the events of Monday- notably the Rice story- firmly in the way.
The madness and consequences of September 8th, 2014 will surely continue in the weeks and years to come. We could have just witnessed the end of Roger Goodell, the re-emergence of Penn State football, a massive boom in the sports gambling industry, and another NBA owner’s exit in the same day.
All on top of regular season MLB action and a NFL Monday Night doubleheader.
Maybe it won’t be a ’30 for 30,’ but don’t be surprised if this past Monday gets its own documentary one day.
(Photos courtesy of Keith Allison)