“A LEAGUE AT THE CROSSROADS” A LOOK AT THE NFL AS TRAINING CAMPS OPEN
BY PETER KING AND MATT GAGNE
A RETURN TO SANITY: THE WILD AND WOOLY RIDE FOR JEREMY LIN BY LEE JENKINS AND PABLO TORRE
THE BUNDY PROJECT BY TOM VERDUCCI (ALSO ON “SPORTS ILLUSTRATED” ON NBC SPORTS NETWORK)
(NEW YORK – July 26, 2012) – Sports Illustrated’s July 30, 2012 issue cover, on newsstands Wednesday, declares “We Were Penn State,” with a single PSU football helmet and the NCAA’s scathing decree— “an unprecedented failure of institutional integrity.” Sports Illustrated senior writer Alexander Wolff (@Alexander_Wolff) has this week’s cover story.
To download a hi-res JPEG of this week’s cover here.
Is this the end for Penn State? The Worst Scandal in the history of college sports led the NCAA to impose hard and unprecedented penalties on the Nittany Lions. What’s left is a legacy in ashes, a program in shambles and a community in disbelief. Wolff and Gagne – SI Senior Writer Alexander Wolff (@Alexander_Wolff) with Special reporting from Matt Gagne (@SI_mattgagne).
A scene from the piece is a window into the cauldron of emotions stewing in State College:
“By the player’s entrance to the stadium a 69-year old Penn State alumnus named Vin Tedesco stood alongside a life-sized cardboard cutout of Paterno. ‘For 60 years this guy lived, talked and required his soldiers to have truth and integrity,’ Tedesco said. ‘That’s why it’s hard for me to accept what’s going on here. I may sound like a stupid old man, but the Freeh Report is being used by the university as a big deal. They paid a lot to get it.’
It continues: “As Tedesco spoke, the driver of a passing car shouted out his approval.
And then, moments later, a shout from another car: “F— You!’”
A League at the Crossroads Once seemingly impervious to criticism, the NFL embarks on the 2012 Season plagued by issues that threaten its invincibility— SI Senior Writer Peter King (@SI_PeterKing) with Special Reporting from Matt Gagne (@SI_mattgagne).
As training camp opens, King and Gagne take stock of the league after a turbulent off-season which included Bountygate, the Junior Seau suicide, labor strife between the league and the refs, and a spate of litigation. Says NY Giants Co-Owner John Mara: “I’m a little surprised and a little disappointed at the number of issues we’re facing.”
From the piece:
It appears Bountygate may not be totally closed and the case of former Saints’ and now Green Bay Packers TK Anthony Hargrove is pivotal. He received an 8 game suspension largely on the strength of a video tape which allegedly captured him saying, “Give me my Money” in reference to a hit which saw Vikings QB Brett Favre helped off the field. According to King who spoke with NFL legal counsel Jeff Pash, an audio expert brought in by the league could not confirm that the voice was Hargrove’s. Pash says, “The question is not, and never was, Was Antony Hargrove paid some money for making a hit?’… “It was, What did he know, and what did he deny?” Writes King: The admission by the NFL front office that it can’t verify a key piece of evidence against Hargrove opens a hole in the case that (Jonathan) Vilma and other will try to exploit.
On the NFL/Referee Labor Situation: “What’s alarming,” says a source close to the officials, “is there’s so much more animosity between the two sides than there was the last time there was a stoppage.”
How concerned is NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith? He tells King: “On a scale of 1 to 10? Twelve. The officials are being asked to be first responders on the field for player safety as well as to officiate the games. How do you expect officials not used to doing games at that level to be able to step in and handle the job? To use a (lockout) as a motivational tactic in negotiations… we find repulsive.”
Also this offseason 80 lawsuits from 3,000 plaintiffs were combined into one large lawsuit which the NFL will need to address in court on 8/19. King writes that the NFL will possibly ask for a dismissal. Pash says: “We have a high degree of confidence in our legal position.”
Says one of the plaintiffs Dorsey Levens: “I’m a football fanatic, and I don’t want to see the game destroyed… But we know the NFL is ignoring a lot of guys who need help. My ultimate goal in this would be to get lifetime care for all the guys who played this game.” King notes that Levens says he suffered from multiple concussions in his seven-year career leading to sleeplessness, irritability and forgetfulness.
Return to Sanity Just Five Months after Jeremy Lin became an overnight global icon, the Knicks decided not to keep him, clearing the way for a return to Houston where things promise to be significantly more relaxed — Lee Jenkins (@SI_LeeJenkins) and Pablo Torre (@SIPabloTorre).
So what was the 2012 season really like for Lin? The emotional roller coaster began after being cut by Houston just days before the season. “I was leaning toward not playing for the year,” Lin says. “I was going to call it quits, go home and then figure out what’s next for me.” He spent a night venting to Cheng Ho, a former Harvard running back and one of his best friends. “He was hopeless,” Ho says. “That was the all-time low by far. He talked about giving up basketball.’”
Then to the Knicks and his meteoric rise.. all good right?: “I had a lot of weird things happen to me, a lot of creepy stuff,” he says. “Some people are so aggressive: ‘Give me this picture, give me this signature.’ Sometimes they’ll follow me back to my car, knock on my window and pull on my door. That really scares me. I have no idea they’re going to do. They’re banging on the car. I was just like, O, my gosh what is going on? I kind of freaked out.”
Outside of basketball he rarely left his hotel room: “I was pretty much eating in my room every night,” Lin says. “I could probably recite the menu to you.”… “I think the toughest part was the lack of privacy. I’m a very private person. When people approach me on the street, I still get nervous.”
THE BUNDY PROJECT The Orioles have the Game’s Best Pitching prospect, a 19-year-old natural with the stuff – and the work ethic – to weaken the knees. now comes the hard part: turning dylan bundy into an ace, and keeping him healthy enough to stay one – Tom Verducci.
In the 47 year history the Orioles have had only one of 458 draft picks win more than 15 games in the majors. They took prized pitching prospect Dylan Bundy, the No. 4 pick of the ‘11 draft. This selection followed an extraordinary high school career and senior season (11-0, 0.20 ERA, 71 IP, 158Ks) which had one NL scout reporting: “The greatest, most complete high school pitching performance I’ve seen since Kerry Wood.”
The program represents a sea change in the way organizations approach the care for prized high school pitching prospects. For the O’s it is under the watchful eye of Rick Peterson, director of pitching development. Verducci brings you inside the program which includes biomechanic research and analysis with Dr. James Andrews, the decision to abandon the cutter (“You don’t want to get me started on that,” Bundy says. “That was my best pitch.) and strict limit to the innings he pitches.
Verducci spoke with 355 game-winner Greg Maddux on issue of IP limits. In Maddux’s first full professional season, as a 19-year-old, threw six complete games and logged 186 innings. “I don’t remember a pitch count,” says Maddux. “If you looked like you were getting tired, if there was a change in arm slot, they took you out. I watch 50 or 60 minor league games over the last three years. I haven’t seen a complete game yet.”
“I can see both sides,” he says. “But I think it takes them longer to develop (now). The easiest way to improve as a pitcher is to throw. Cutting the throwing is cutting the improvement. You do it to reduce injuries. Bust is a pitcher going to develop at a reasonable rate?… I also think there is a lot of development that comes from pitching tired. Anybody can do well when they feel great. But what happens when you’re tired and you have to rely on pitch selection and location? Where is the ability to get a hitter out more than one way? I don’t see that.”
THIS WEEK’S FACES IN THE CROWD
- Dondre Echols (Upper Marlboro, Md./Potomac High) – Track and Field
- Anna Smith (Venetia, Pa./Peters Township Middle School) – Tennis
- Sam Dexter (Oakland, Maine/Messalonskee High) – Baseball, Ice Hockey, Football
- Ashley Park (Arcadia, Calif./Highland Oaks Elementary) – Golf
- Ryan Patterson (Goddard, Kans./Kansas State) – Bass Fishing
- Isabella Caracta (Piscataway. N.J./Conackarmack Middle School) – Taekwondo