TIME NFL

Watch Michael Sam’s Emotional Speech at the ESPYs

“Great things can happen if you have the courage to be yourself”

Michael Sam, the first openly gay football player to be drafted by the NFL, gave a powerful speech about being true to oneself during his acceptance speech for the ESPYs Arthur Ashe Courage Award in Los Angeles.

The defensive end, who made history after being drafted by the St. Louis Rams earlier this year, began by quoting the late tennis star Arthur Ashe: “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”

“Those are words to live by, whether you’re black or white, young or old, straight or gay,” Sam said, holding back tears.

Sam told a story of speaking with a woman who was considering suicide rather than come out to her loved ones. “When we spoke she told me that she would never consider hurting herself again and that somehow my example would help,” he said to a round of applause from the crowd.

“To anyone out there, especially young people, feeling like they don’t fit in and will never be accepted, please know this: great things can happen if you have the courage to be yourself.”

TIME NFL

Pro Gay-Rights Former NFL Player Suing Vikings to Release Dismissal Report

Chris Kluwe
Former Vikings punter Chris Kluwe, pictured in a 2012 Minnesota Vikings NFL portrait. AP

Chris Kluwe, the outspoken ex-NFL punter, plans on suing his old team, the Minnesota Vikings, for discrimination

When former Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe posted an explosive article on Deadspin in January, alleging that the team dumped him for being an outspoken supporter of gay marriage, he knew his career was pretty much over.

“I’m now known as the activist punter,” Kluwe tells TIME. “So when teams are choosing between a guy who has baggage and a guy who doesn’t, then it’s usually an easy choice for the team to make.”

What Kluwe didn’t expect was that the Vikings would open an independent investigation of his claims, and then, he says, keep those findings hidden.

So Kluwe announced Tuesday that he plans to file a discrimination suit against the Vikings, unless the findings of the investigation are made public. According to Kluwe’s lawyer, Clayton Halunen, over the past few months he and the Vikings have discussed terms of a possible settlement, which included the report going public, a donation of $1 million to two LGBT charities, and a public apology from special teams coordinator Mike Priefer, who allegedly said in a meeting “we should round up all the gays, send them to an island, and then nuke it until it glows.” (Priefer was retained as an assistant by new Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer).

Halunen said he talked to the investigators hired by the Vikings to probe the case, and they told him the report was finished and corroborated the gist of Kluwe’s allegations, including Priefer’s remark. On Monday afternoon, however, Halunen says he met with Vikings lawyers, and they told him the team wouldn’t release the report. “For six months, we were repeatedly told that the report would be made public,” says Halunen. “This news was very shocking.”

In a statement, the Vikings said, in part, that “in order to further maintain objectivity and integrity, the team engaged a nationally-prominent law firm — Littler Mendelson P.C. — to evaluate employment law matters and provide findings and recommendations to the Vikings. Those recommendations are to be provided to the team this week … the Vikings have never made or broken promises as Kluwe and his attorney Clayton Halunen have claimed … As we have consistently communicated throughout this process, the Vikings will have further comment when the investigation is entirely complete and the team has made determinations on next steps.” You can read the full statement here. The Vikings did not return a request for further comment. Halunen and the team’s lawyers are scheduled to meet on Thursday.

Why does Kluwe want the report to go public?

“For one, it corroborates my claims, obviously, or else they would have made it public by now,” says Kluwe. “And two, it shows the kind of atmosphere that could be allowed to happen if steps aren’t taken to correct that kind of culture. We want to make people aware that what they’re saying has consequences, and can be potentially hurtful to other people.” He also hopes the NFL can learn lessons. “Even though you are the NFL, you are still a business, and you are required to abide by the law,” Kluwe says. “You can’t say, just because this is football we don’t have to play by the same rules as everyone else, which I think is very important when you’re talking about a multi-billion-dollar-a-year industry that frequently takes public funds to construct stadiums and host events.”

In his Deadspin piece, Kluwe wrote, “If there’s one thing I hope to achieve from sharing this story, it’s to make sure that Mike Priefer never holds a coaching position again in the NFL.” Kluwe wants that one back.

“I was being too harsh there,” Kluwe says. “What I would like to see is coach Priefer suspended for a period of time, subject to the personal conduct policy — I mean, that’s something we all have to abide by — and then to get training and work with the LGBT groups to understand why what he did was wrong. Because that way, he can serve as a positive role model to other potential coaches or managers out there who might be thinking of doing the same thing he did.

“The NFL is all about redemption stories, right?”

Lately, Kluwe spends his days as a stay-at-home-dad and science fiction novelist. He’s currently shopping a book, entitled “Genesis Prime,” which he co-wrote with friend and bandmate Andy Reiner (Kluwe plays bass for Tripping Icarus, a Minneapolis-based group).

“It’s essentially a very human story about what happens with those in power, as power always corrupts,” Kluwe says. “You can start out with the noblest of intentions, but then along the way you get to a point where you might think you’re doing things for the right reasons, but you’re not.” Hmmm. NFL metaphor, anyone? “No so much the NFL, just large structures in general,” Kluwe says. “You can look at what’s happening with the NSA, you can look at what’s happening with our drone program, even what’s happening with the Catholic Church.”

While Kluwe is comfortable pursuing a writing career and looking after his two young daughters in their Huntington Beach, Calif. home, he still wants an NFL job. He has eight years of punting experience, and was in the top-10 in yards-per-punt during three different seasons. Kluwe says he’s been kicking balls, and is in game shape. Still, since the Deadspin story posted, no NFL team has called. He doesn’t regret writing the piece, but is still disappointed.

“In the NFL, it’s okay to commit crimes or beat your wife or get caught drunk driving, but when you speak out for something, that’s the line you can’t cross.

“Apparently, I can’t be redeemed.”

MONEY Sports

Why Germany Is So Good At Soccer (and the U.S. Is So Mediocre) in 2 Charts

Germany's national soccer players Roman Weidenfeller, Shkodran Mustafi, Andre Schuerrle , Kevin Grosskreutz and Per Mertesacker celebrate
Kai Pfaffenbach—Reuters

Hint: It's Focus.

As Germany takes the pitch Sunday, fresh off crushing Brazil’s World Cup hopes in a historic 7-1 blowout, it’s worth reflecting how Germany got there. Not the team; the country.

See, this isn’t Germany’s first grab at the sport’s brass ring.The German national team is one of international soccer’s most consistent powerhouses. German teams—including those from the Nazi era, post-war West Germany, and reunified Germany—have qualified for 18 of 20 World Cup tournaments and missed the quarter finals of those only once. The team has also made it to a mind-blowing seven finals — a 35% appearance rate — winning three of them.

On the other side of the Atlantic, the United States has not exactly replicated Deutschland’s success. The U.S. has zero titles and zero finals appearances, and reached the semi-finals only once, at the first World Cup in 1930. This year, we were eliminated by Belgium in the round of 16, and finished 15th overall in the tournament. Not bad by our standards, but not great. And certainly not befitting of a country with the world’s largest economy, 300 million people, and an extremely competitive national team in almost every other team sport.

So why is Germany is so good and the U.S. so mediocre? Following America’s most recent loss, many theories have been offered. We over-coach our players; our college system doesn’t mirror international play; we don’t have a soccer “culture.” There’s likely some truth to all of these answers, but there’s one I find most convincing: competition from other sports. The U.S. has only so much athletic talent, and unlike many other nations, we tend to spread it around. Germany, on the other hand, concentrates the vast majority of its athletic talent on soccer—and they’ve certainly reaped the rewards.

In order to visualize this, I’ve assembled pie charts showing the revenue breakdown of the most popular professional sports leagues. The numbers aren’t perfectly analogous—updated figures on smaller German team sports are hard to come by, sports seasons don’t coincide and sometimes span more than one calendar year, and we’re including only major team sports. But as a rough proxy for each nation’s athletic focus, they are offer a clear picture of the sports the two nations care most about and to which they dedicate the most resources and, as economists and others would argue, talent.

In the two charts below, the green pie slice represents the percentage of major team sports revenue that goes to soccer. As you can see, it’s not even close.

GermanySportsRevNew

 

USSportsRev

Soccer eats up the overwhelming majority of German team sports revenue, while in the US, it barely makes up a sliver. Germany’s three major soccer leagues each take in over €100 million, and their combined revenue is €2.8 billion—the equivalent of over $3.8 billion. There’s really only one major sport in Germany, with a few second-tier leagues running far behind.

In comparison, America’s MLS teams have a combined revenue of about $494 million, as estimated by Forbes in 2013 (the MLS does not release total revenue figures). That’s about 1/7th of the NHL’s revenue, and 1/20th of the NFL’s total income.

So next time you’re wondering why the U.S. isn’t good at soccer, remember: the American people are not exactly focussed on the “beautiful game.” All things considered, it’s surprising we aren’t worse.

Sources: BBL: Deloitte via SportsBusinessDaily; DEL: Deloitte via SportsBusinessDaily; 3. Liga: DFB official figure; Bundesliga: 2014 report; 2. Bundesliga: 2014 report; NFL: Forbes via Statistica; NBA: Forbes via Statistica; NHL: CBS Sports; MLB: Forbes; MLS: Forbes

 

TIME Football

Judge Okays Preliminary $765M Settlement for NFL Concussion Suit

The new deal addresses a judge's concerns about the earlier terms

+ READ ARTICLE

A federal judge on Monday granted preliminary approval of a $765 million settlement between the National Football League and the lawyers of more than 4,500 retired players who sued the league for allegedly covering up risks from concussions and head injuries.

The more than 20,000 eligible retired NFL players and their beneficiaries will now vote on the settlement, which eliminates the cap on damages that the NFL would pay to retirees with particular neurological conditions, the New York Times reports.

The new settlement addresses the concerns of U.S. District Court Judge Anita B. Brody of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, who rejected the original $675 million settlement terms in January because she thought the funds would not last the duration of the 65-year settlement, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. To reduce the risk of fraudulent claims, the new terms also allow the NFL to challenge retired players’ claims.

Retired players, who will receive information about the settlement in the mail ahead of the vote, will be counted as in favor of the settlement unless they specifically opt out. Retired players are also allowed to object to some of the terms of the deal.

Last week, seven players formally objected to the terms of the settlement. They can appeal it if the judge does not take their objections into account, and no money will be awarded until all the appeals processes are completed.

[NYT]

TIME NFL

It’s Time for the Redskins to Change Their Name — or Be Buffoons

Dan Snyder is out of excuses

Over the past year or so, we’ve seen landmark shifts in sports. Not that long ago, these movements and actions seemed like long shots at best. An openly gay player suited up for an NBA team, another one was drafted by an NFL franchise. The Ed O’Bannon trial, which is playing out in court in Northern California, threatens the amateur model in college sports. A group of Northwestern players have voted on whether or not to unionize. The NFL settled a lawsuit, brought by former players, that claimed the league was negligent in its handling of concussions — though the amount of money the league ultimately doles out may change.

These are big moves. And now, finally, the easy one — the controversy with such a frustratingly common-sense solution that it should really never have been a controversy at all — got a nice win on Wednesday. If Daniel Snyder now doesn’t just give in and change the name of the Washington Redskins, a nickname that is clearly offensive to some segment of the American population, he will set an all-time record for ownership buffoonery. And if the other NFL owners, led by commissioner Roger Goodell — a man who has long taken pride in doing what he sees as the right thing — don’t squeeze Snyder hard enough so that he changes the name, they’re all officially a bunch of rich buffoons as well.

Goodell & Co. may put more pressure on Snyder, because Wednesday’s ruling by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office canceling the Redskins’ federal trademark registrations could hit the owners where it hurts most: their wallets. Licensed merchandise creates revenue not only for the Redskins but also for all 32 NFL teams who share it. The ruling does not mean the Redskins legally have to change their name or stop selling Redskins merchandise. But the lack of federally registered trademark protections means counterfeiters selling T-shirts with the Redskins name could have more of a claim to cash that normally goes into the NFL revenue pie. “For the owners, this has gone from a moral to a financial issue,” says Warren Zola, sports-law expert at the Caroll School of Management at Boston College.

Practically, the ruling could challenge the NFL’s ability to enforce its trademark protection, says Christine Haight Farley, a trademark-law expert and professor at the American University Washington College of Law. If the ruling withstands appeal — and the Redskins are sure to appeal it — and a counterfeiter starts selling merchandise with the Redskins name, with a design that the patent office has deemed a canceled trademark, that person would likely receive a cease-and-desist letter claiming that while the trademark is unregistered, the Redskins have a common-law claim to the mark. The big question, says Farley, is, If the counterfeiter then challenged the Redskins claim in a federal court, would that court protect a trademark that another federal government entity has canceled and deemed “disparaging to Native Americans”? In some recent cases, Farley says, courts have not protected unregistered marks that have been denied registration under the trademark act. “A federal court may deny a remedy to a party who comes to court with unclean hands,” Farley says.

More important, really, is the timing and wording of the decision. The anti-Redskins movement has been boiling. In May, 50 U.S. Senators signed a letter asking the Redskins to consider changing the name. An effective anti-Redskins ad ran during the NBA Finals. And now the U.S. government has ruled that the term is indeed offensive. Last year, USA Today asked Snyder if he would consider changing the name it he lost the trademark lawsuit. “We’ll never change the name,” he said. “It’s that simple. NEVER — you can use caps.”

The government canceled the trademarks. It’s time for Snyder to cancel those caps.

TIME

7 Ridiculous Exhibits the Redskins Invoked in Their Trademark Defense

Detroit Lions v Washington Redskins
A Washington Redskins flag on the field before the game against the Detroit Lions at FedExField on September 22, 2013 in Landover, Maryland. G Fiume—Getty Images

How do you defend the seemingly indefensible? The Washington Redskins' heavyweight lawyers tried everything from Philip Rahv to Lou Diamond Phillips

A decision on Wednesday from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board stripped Pro-Football Inc. (d/b/a the Washington Redskins) of its Redskins-related trademarks. This is not the first time Pro-Football Inc. has lost in this venue: The TTAB cancelled all Redskins trademarks in 1999, too. (A federal court later overturned that decision on procedural grounds.)

The board held both times that “Redskins” disparaged Native Americans and as such, under federal law, could not be trademarked. But the standard for disparagement isn’t what one would immediately expect. Wrote the Board, “[T]hese registrations must be cancelled because they were disparaging to Native Americans at the respective times they were registered…”

In other words, it’s not a question of whether “Redskins” is disparaging in 2014—a recent survey from Cal State-San Bernadino’s Center for Indigenous Peoples Studies reported that 67 percent of American Indians considered the team’s name racist—but whether the word was disparaging in 1967, 1974, 1978, and 1990 (this last year, for what it’s worth, concerns a registration for “Redskinettes,” which is kind of comprehensively tasteless). Asking the question that way introduces a bit of lightness to the proceedings, primarily into the appendix containing the defense’s exhibits.

After all, not only does the trademark case concern good taste in usage (a magnet for pedantry if ever there were one) but it does so for usage in the 1960s and 70s. The Redskins’ file, then, cooked up by the legal minds at Quinn Emanuel, teems with low and high culture. It’s Billy Jack meets the English departments of the mid-20th century. Below we’ve plucked a handful of highlights, ones we imagine had never before landed in federal records together until the first time the TTAB heard the case.

A two-page selection from James Joyce’s Ulysses (1922). The relevant sentence: “Their mudcabins and their shielings by the roadside were laid low by the batteringram and the Times rubbed its hands and told the whitelivered Saxons there would soon be as few Irish in Ireland as redskins in America.” And then the following sentences: “Even the Grand Turk sent us his piastres. But the Sassenach tried to starve the nation at home while the land was full of crops that the British hyenas bought and sold in Rio de Janeiro. Ay, they drove out the peasants in hordes. Twenty thousand of them died in the coffinships. But those that came to the land of the free remember the land of bondage. And they will come again and with a vengeance, no cravens, the sons of Granuaile, the champions of Kathleen ni Houlihan.”

• This Land O’Lakes carton.

Screen Shot 2014-06-18 at 11.46.22 AM

Mary McCarthy’s 1974 New York Times Book Review remembrance of Philip Rahv. Rahv (1908-73) was a critic and editor for Partisan Review during the ’40s and ’50s heyday of the literary left. McCarthy, the novelist and critic, ran in the same circles, and was once Rahv’s lover. Were they big football fans? Presumably not. We imagine it’s in there because Rahv wrote “Paleface and Redskin,” a celebrated 1939 essay on the American literary oeuvre, which turns up in Pro-Football Inc.’s exhibits too. Does the essay concern the appropriateness of the term, or the role of Native Americans in American fiction? It does not. But it does have a lot to say about a fundamental schism between Mark Twain’s school and Henry James’s, if that’s your bag.

A scene from Courage Under Fire (1996). The film stars Denzel Washington, Meg Ryan, a young Matt Damon and, most importantly, a young Lou Diamond Phillips. Why is it relevant? We’re not really sure. For what it’s worth, the appendix represents it like so:

Screen Shot 2014-06-18 at 11.49.43 AM

A selection from Neo-Realism in Contemporary American Fiction. (Again, Rahv’s doing. An included essay from Sanford Pinsker, a now-emeritus professor of English at Franklin and Marshall College, riffs on Rahv.)

This Argo Corn Starch box. According to Argo’s website, the lady on there is a “corn maiden.”

Screen Shot 2014-06-18 at 11.46.47 AM

A flyer for a Duke University campus event with then-Harvard president Derek Bok. Ronald R. Butters, who is now a professor emeritus of English at Duke, was retained by the team in 1996 as an expert witness on the English language. He produced many documents for the defense (at a cool $150 per hour, or $220 per in 2014 money). But somewhere along the line he must have run out of paper, resulting in the appearance of this flyer in evidence. So much time has passed since Bok’s talk that Duke now has a “new old chemistry” building, owing to the French Family Science Center, which opened in 2006.

Screen Shot 2014-06-18 at 11.44.50 AM

Did we miss something silly? You can view the entire case file here.

TIME NFL

The Washington Redskins’ Trademark Just Got Canceled

Dan Snyder of Washington Redskins
Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder watches warmups before an NFL game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Washington Redskins at FedExField on December 8, 2013 in Landover, Maryland. Patrick McDermott--Getty Images

The U.S. Trademark Trial and Appeal Board said the Washington Redskins name was disparaging and canceled the team's trademark

In another victory for those who say the team’s name is offensive and should be changed, a U.S. Patent and Trademark Office appeals board on Wednesday canceled the trademark registration for the National Football League’s Washington Redskins.

The USPTO’s decision was the result of a case brought in 2006 by law firm Drinker Biddle & Reath on behalf of a group of Native Americans who argued the “Redskins” name was offensive. Federal law bans trademarks that “may disparage” individuals or groups “or bring them into contempt or disrepute.”

This litigation has been hard-fought,” the lawyer litigating the case, Jesse Witten told TIME. “The term ‘redskin’ is an ethnic slur… Many people who are Native Americans and not Native Americans have objected to this team name for a very long time.”

The U.S. denied the Redskins their trademark once before in 1999, but the decision was later overruled after the team appealed. The team is likely to respond to Wednesday’s decision with yet another appeal.

Senator Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada applauded the USPTO’s decision, calling the Redskins’ team name racist. “Every time [Native Americans] hear that name, it’s a reminder of a history of racism and bigotry,” Reid said. “This is extremely important to Native Americans all over the country. It’s racist.”

The USPTO’s decision does not mean the Redskins can no longer use their name, but it does call into question the economic future of Redskins merchandise and other related revenue streams.

Pressure has long been mounting on the Redskins to change their name, which many Native Americans, football fans and others find disrespectful. A group of 50 U.S. Senators signed an open letter to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell last month calling on the NFL to change the team’s name, something team owner Daniel Snyder has refused to do.

“Daniel Snyder may be the last to see this, but it’s just a matter of time before he’s forced to change the name,” Reid said Wednesday. “The writing is on the wall.”

Wednesday’s decision makes it more difficult for the Redskins to bring successful lawsuits against competing merchants who use the team’s name, trademark lawyer for Kenyon & Kenyon LLP Jim Rosini told TIME, and the Redskins will have to rely on state trademark and unfair competition laws rather than federal courts to stop infringements.

In response to the mounting criticism, Snyder in March announced the creation of the “Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation,” a group meant to help struggling Native Americans across the United States.

TIME e3 2014

WATCH: Madden NFL 15 Going Heavy on New Defensive Features

+ READ ARTICLE

Electronic Arts is taking on the difficult task of making playing defense in sports games fun. The company is introducing a variety of new features to improve defensive play in Madden NFL 15: A new defensive camera aims to give defense a more visceral feel, while a revamped tackling system will allow players to more precisely choose where they hit an opponent.

A gritty trailer for the game celebrates past defensive greats like Mean Joe Green, the former Pittsburgh Steelers defensive tackle.

Madden NFL 15 will be released on PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One on August 26.

TIME

NFL: It’s ‘Super Bowl 50,’ Not ‘Super Bowl L’

NFL

The league has decided that 2016 will be the year of Super Bowl 50

If you’ve been relying on Super Bowls and Rocky movies to learn Roman numerals, you’re out of luck — for a year, at least. The National Football League will not be using Roman numerals for 2016′s Super Bowl, instead calling it simply “Super Bowl 50.”

The switchover from Roman numerals is temporary, said Jaime Weston, the league’s vice president of brand and creative, according to ESPN. “Super Bowl L” just isn’t as pretty as Super Bowl 50.

The NFL has been using Roman numerals since Super Bowl V in 1971. It’s been working on the Super Bowl 50 logo since April 2013 and went through 73 versions, concluding along the way that Super Bowl “L” just wouldn’t work.

“When we developed the Super Bowl XL logo, that was the first time we looked at the letter ‘L,’” Weston said. “Up until that point, we had only worked with X’s, V’s and I’s. And, at that moment, that’s when we started to wonder what will happen when we get to 50?”

Super Bowl 50 is set to take place at Levi’s Stadium, the soon-to-be home of the San Francisco 49ers, on Feb. 7, 2016.

[ESPN]

TIME Football

Dan Marino Joins Concussion Lawsuit Against NFL

The Hall of Fame quarterback joined 4,800 other retired players in a lawsuit claiming the NFL misled them about the long-term effects of concussion

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Legendary quarterback and NFL Hall of Famer Dan Marino has joined 4,800 former football players in a concussion-related lawsuit against the NFL.

The former Miami Dolphin was one of 15 former players who added their names to the longstanding federal lawsuit, filing in a Pennsylvania court May 28. The lawsuit claims the NFL is guilty of “carelessness, negligence, intentional misconduct,” and of misleading athletes about the long-term damage associated with concussions, according to documents obtained by USA TODAY.

In August, the NFL and plaintiffs signed off on a $765 million settlement. While TIME’s Sean Gregory argued that the settlement was the safest bet for retired players, even though no amount of money could lessen the damage of the injuries, a federal judge rejected the deal in January for fear that it wouldn’t be enough to cover all of the retired players, as there are approximately 20,000 living former NFL players.

The lawsuit doesn’t contain information regarding Marino’s health, however he does not have a documented history of serious concussions.

[AP]

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