Timothy T. Ludwig/USA Today Sports

Thinking out loud: NFL got Rob Gronkowski suspenson right

December 09, 2017 - 8:57 am

By John Rooke

Thinking out loud…while wondering if Angelo Cataldi continues to hold court in Philly?

  • Rob Gronkowski’s, um, transgression was wrong.  It was mean-spirited and injurious, and he called himself out for the after-the-whistle hit to Tre’Davious White in the aftermath.  But for one of the few times in recent history, the NFL was right in its’ suspension decision.


  • The problem as I see it, is that the NFL has gone from relative inaction to over-reaction on issues that require punishment.  Public sentiment, right as it may be, should not be a cause-to-act for the league.  How about some real leadership at the top, someone with the foresight – and guts – to call it as he/she sees it?


  • That is impossible, unfortunately, when the NFL’s Grand Poobah has 32 bosses to answer to.  And, when he has a $40 million annual salary to protect.  It’s an “insiders” club, it always has been, and it will probably always be. 


  • But if you really want to clean the game up from hits like we saw last weekend?  A caller this week suggested utilizing soccer’s “red card” as a threat, then forcing the guilty side to play short-handed thereafter. 


  • Now, I don’t believe that would ever pass muster from the competition committee.  But the thought merits consideration.  If, of course, you really have the true health and well-being of the players in mind.


  • The NHL has a penalty box.  Soccer has its red card.  Rugby forces sides to play short-handed.  Didn’t we just see a college basketball game played with five-on-three?  It can – and should – happen in football. 


  • But only if you really have the health and well-being of the players in mind.  That’s a repeat phrase written purposely here, because I don’t have a sarcasm font.


  • It starts with the officials, however.  Get together on what is and isn’t pass interference, for one.  Be consistent with calls, rules, penalties.  Then maybe, guys won’t try to take matters into their own hands.  Just sayin’.


  • Although Tre’Davious White is a real piece of work.  He rides Gronk like a cowboy rides a bucking bronco, then has the gall to say “I’ve got a young son to support?”  It doesn’t excuse the cheap shot, but dude, get real.  If you don’t clutch and grab all game, you probably don’t get your head pounded.


  • We now have some spice potentially added to a Christmas Eve NFL game in Foxboro, don’t we?  Question is, who will be naughty, and who will be nice?


  • Eric Lee is a story.  From the Texans’ preseason roster, to the Bills’ practice squad, to wreaking havoc on his former team last week in Buffalo.  Glad we can find guys like this every now and then.


  • The Dolphins matchup this week is a scary one.  Getting caught looking ahead to bigger things, especially after beating the ‘Phins 35-17 two weeks ago, is a natural happenstance. 


  • Who is NOT looking ahead to next week’s game with Pittsburgh?  That’s the trouble – everyone in both cities, states and regions appears to be looking ahead.  The entire NFL, practically, is looking ahead.  Steelers’ coach Mike Tomlin was looking ahead TWO WEEKS ago, on national TV. 


  • Oh, that Ben Roethlisberger. So misunderstood.  He defended his receiver, Juju Smith-Schuster, for his hit last Monday on Cincinnati’s Vontaze Burfict.  Oh wait.  No, not for the hit, but for the taunting standing over him after the hit. Yeah.  Even though peel-back blocks were ruled illegal a while back.


  • With so many NFL coaching vacancies to come, I’d be genuinely surprised if Josh McDaniels or Matt Patricia are in New England next season.  Both could be gone.  But if they’re here, there might be something to that succession theory for Bill Belichick disciples.


  • I’d say that the position as Vice President of the Super Bowl Host Committee is an important job, amiright?  Did you know that a 26-year-old is running this planning committee for the city of Minneapolis?  Kyle Chank is his name, and if all goes well, he’ll be on a lot of CEO lists for companies looking for leadership.


  • In case you might be wondering, Chank has already worked on three SB committees, and holds a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Arizona State, and a master’s in Sport Management from Georgetown.  Nice mix.


  • I was saddened by the news this week of former Patriots’ coach Ron Meyer passing away.  Coach Meyer and I worked together, briefly, in the early ‘90’s after he had left his coaching job with the Colts, and well after his time in New England and at Southern Methodist University.


  • I’d like to say he’ll be remembered for something more than scandal, but honestly, his tenure in Dallas was at the very start of what led the Mustangs’ program down the path of no-return, right to the NCAA’s Death Penalty.  Only now, some 30 years after the fact, has SMU’s football program recovered to the point where they’ve reached five bowl games since 2009.


  • And just about everyone worth a crap makes a bowl game these days, unlike 30 years ago.


  • This week, it’s Hall of Fame QB Warren Moon’s turn to twist in the wind.  It’s getting to the point where we’ll be describing famous people as “Warren Moon, S.A.,” or “Matt Lauer, S.A.,” standing for “Sexual Allegations” after their names.   


  • Al Franken’s decision to resign from the US Senate was the right move to make, following the sexual misconduct allegations and the subsequent stories making the rounds.  But every time I look at him, I see Stuart Smalley – the geeky character he once played on Saturday Night Live.  How could anyone in their right mind take this man seriously, much less vote him in as a Senator?  Just askin’.


  • "I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and dog-gone it, people like me," was his now-ironic SNL character line.  Franken was one of the best writers SNL ever had.  Can’t say much for his politics.  Or his political (and apparently non-political) behavior.


  • Tweet of the Week, from ESPN’s @darrenrovell: “A Cleveland man asked for $10,000 on GoFundMe to organize a Browns’ “Perfect Season” 0-16 parade. Excedrin contributed the final $7683 and will be the sponsor of the parade should the Browns complete the feat.”


  • My old buddy “Big E” sez he was waiting in the dentist’s office this week, and noticed a new diploma up on the wall.  He recognized the name, and he remembered a tall, dark-haired girl from high school he had a crush on years ago.  Could it actually be her, he thought?  Sure enough, he recognized her as she walked into the exam room, so he asked if she had gone to Paschal High?  “Sure did,” the dentist said, “Class of ’77!”  Then she asked “E” when he had been there, and he replied “1977!  You were in my class!”  The dentist gave him a puzzled look, and said “wow, that’s great.  What did you teach?”


  • It’s hard to say college student-athletes should be restricted from transferring anywhere, at any time, when a football coach like Willie Taggart moves to Florida State, from Oregon and again from USF within 365 days’ time.  That’s just plain distasteful.


  • It’s almost as if the College Football Playoff committee is afraid to leave Alabama out of the mix, for fear of screwing things up.  We need legitimacy, so let’s invite Bama?  They couldn’t win their own conference, and they now have a chance to win the national title?  Joke.


  • Fix the problem – expand the playoff.  Or ditch it, and go back to bowl games-for-merit, and the AP poll. 


  • As a member of the Football Writers Association of America, I cast a ballot this week for the Eddie Robinson award, which goes to the nation’s top college football coach.  UCF’s Scott Frost got my attention, as he led the Golden Knights from 0-12 two years ago to 12-0 and the Chick Fil-A Peach Bowl this year, before he left for his former home at Nebraska.  That’s a helluva job right there.


  • Rhode Island played very well against the Friars last weekend, and deserved to win at the Ryan Center.  There.  That didn’t hurt a bit, contrary to what several Rhody fans hit me with in the aftermath on social media.


  • Their reaction proved a point – the game means more to alumni than it does to the players, and even (some of) the students.  Although the students present were energized, to say the least.  I had a bit of a problem with the “F--- PC!” chants, however.  I’m no saint, but what are they teaching those kids at the State U?


  • I will also point out that 21 turnovers hurt Providence, badly.  Many were forced by the Rams, however, and Jarvis Garrett deserves to plant his flag on Smith Hill for many of those.  Still, what beat the Friars was a pitiful 10-for-21 performance from the free throw line.  Hypothetically, the Friars probably win 7 out of 10 between the two teams, but hypothetical is not realistic, either.


  • Brown?  I know Bears’ fans feel they were jobbed by a Big East officiating crew, but Ed Corbett is notorious for “evening” things out, usually favoring a road team.  You didn’t get screwed.  You got “Corbetted.” 


  • Still, Brown played very well.  And the Friars are banged up – likely without three regulars (Holt, White, Diallo) for UMass Saturday – with Kyron Cartwright on a leg-and-a-half.  Time to test that depth.


  • Tough loss for Rhody at Alabama this week, where a win likely had the Rams squarely in the Top 25 polls.  No panic, however.  The Atlantic-10 isn’t expected to be strong overall, so a solid run (with 24 or 25 wins overall) should have them there before seasons’ end.


  • It’s about that time to start paying attention to RPI ratings, as non-conference play winds down.  They’ll still fluctuate from game to game, but the big week for two of the Big East’s best – Villanova over Gonzaga, Seton Hall over Louisville – will rate well nationally for the rest of the season.


  • And it was a very Big Week for Xavier, blasting crosstown rival Cincinnati (ranked 11th) and Baylor (ranked 15th).  For my money, if anyone beats Nova, the Musketeers are likely to be the perpetrators.


  • Hard to tell anything about Georgetown yet.  But the Hoyas are 7-0 going into the weekend, after a win over Howard Thursday, and they are one of eight undefeated teams remaining.  They just haven’t played anyone of note – a purposeful way for new head coach Patrick Ewing to gain some traction early in his career.


  • Not for nuthin’, but the Big East’s record against outside competition is 69-16 going into this weekend, which is winning at an 81% clip.  If non-conference play ended today (and it doesn’t), that would be the league’s best mark since 1988-89 (winning 83%).  Requiem for the Big East, ESPN?


  • Bryant’s mascot, Tupper I, passed away this week after suffering an apparent stroke while performing his duties as a campus icon.  Nothing snarky to say here – he was more than just a campus symbol, he was also a beloved pet.  Glad to hear the search for Tupper II is underway.


  • Live mascots are becoming more and more a thing of the past – and before you sic PETA on me – most mascots are usually treated very well by their schools and handlers, and live far better lives than many other deserving animals.  Bevo, the University of Texas Longhorn steer, is a perfect example.


  • Who doesn’t like to see Ralphie the Colorado Buffalo stampede onto the field, or Georgetown’s Jack the Bulldog skateboard onto the floor?  Bravo Bryant, for keeping a decades’ old tradition alive and thriving.  Yale was the first school to adopt a mascot, in 1889, with “Handsome Dan.” 


  • Will you miss the Russians at the Winter Olympics?  I won’t.  The IOC dropped the hammer on Russia’s doping scheme, even though some athletes will still be allowed to participate.  What is that? “You’re guilty as sin, but we’re afraid of Putin?”  Stupid is as stupid does.


  • Wait a minute, do I have this straight?  Disney/ESPN is making a bid to buy out 20th Century Fox, and as part of the deal it includes purchasing the 22 Regional Sports Networks (like Fox Sports Ohio, Southwest, etc.)?  That would be a huge move toward stifling (and whipping) the competition.  But will the Feds approve?


  • The potential purchase could improve ESPN’s value by 50%.  Take that, declining subscriber base!  As I’ve always said about that Mickey Mouse – he can be one mean rat, but he’s also rich and smart.  Just sayin’.


  • Who around here remembers Angelo Cataldi?  The one-time Providence Journal reporter – and Providence native, if you didn’t know – has been a long-time sports personality in Philadelphia.  Cataldi wrote for the Philadelphia Inquirer after he left the Journal, where he (allegedly) was one of two writers to have covered all 32 innings of the first day of the 33-inning, record-setting baseball game between Pawtucket and Rochester in 1981. 


  • Cataldi has been a highly-rated morning show host on Philly’s Sports Radio WIP for nearly 30 years, and he recently returned to putting his thoughts in printed form, albeit on the world wide web, rather than the print of a newspaper.  And he’s not through with radio yet, either.  Cataldi missed some time due to illness last month, but just this week the station announced they were re-upping their morning show star – on the heels of a 22-percent ratings increase over last summer.


  • Richard from Deerfield Beach, Florida posted this week on Facebook: “A couple of weeks ago Minnesota played Miami with Richard Pitino coaching against Jim Larranaga. I have followed the Friars since Wilkins, Egan and Walker and do not recall two PC grads coaching against each other.  It could have happened with Thompson, Donovan or Larranaga.  Any thoughts?” 


  • Richard:  It took me a while to come up with some possibilities to this one, Richard, along with some help from two FB friends, Ted and Bobby.  1998, Billy Donovan and John Thompson met in the NIT as Florida battled Georgetown.  It happened again in the 2006 Final Four, when Donovan’s Gators beat Jim Larranaga’s George Mason Patriots.  On the Division I level, right now it’s Larranaga and Pitino as head coaches and PC grads, but there are several waiting in the wings at the assistant level, and lower levels of college basketball. 


  • Interested in having your questions on local Rhode Island sports (and yes, that includes the Patriots, Red Sox, Bruins and Celtics) answered in a somewhat timely fashion? Send ‘em to me! It’s your chance to “think out loud,” so send your questions, comments and local stories to [email protected]. We’ll share mailbag comments/Facebook posts/Tweets right here! Follow me on Twitter, @JRbroadcaster…and on Facebook, www.facebook.com/john.rooke ...


Don’t forget to tune into Providence’s 103.7 FM, every Saturday from 7:00-9:00 am for Southern New England Sports Saturday!  Call in at 401-737-1287 or text at 37937.

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