Jacksonville Sports News, Sam Kouvaris - SamSportsline.com

Still A Game of Shadows

The Mitchell Report took a while to compile and $20 million of Major League Baseball’s money. So why then is every body in it denying the findings or just ignoring it completely? Probably because there is no real enforcement risk based on baseball’s current relationship with the players union.

The current collective bargaining agreement runs through 2011 and doesn’t allow MLB to really punish players for using illegal performance enhancing drugs.

Why hasn’t Donald Fehr, the players union representative, come out with a big statement either saying the problem is fixed, is still going on or never existed? Because he’s already positioning for the negotiating that will go on looking for the new agreement.

The baseball era just past was full of steroid and performance enhancing drug use and clearly some of the administrators of the game thought that was just fine. When the 1994 World Series was cancelled because of a players’ strike, the game was crippled. Cal Ripken Jr.’s march past Lou Gerhig’s record revived some fans interest in the game but it was the long ball, and the home run chase in 1998 that really brought the game back.

Now we know that Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and company were all using drugs to help hit those home runs. Somebody at the top of the game knew it. They might not have been there when guys were getting injections but they had some suspicions that the game was tainted.

And they did nothing.


Because people were flocking to the ballparks and watching the game on television. MLB had unprecedented growth to a $6 billion dollar game in 2007. People like the long ball and were paying money to see it. So in one-way or another, baseball turned a blind eye to what was going on.

I heard an interview with a player the other day that said he was aware of what was going on but that any illegal “actions” were performed outside of the ballpark. It’s not that there were a bunch of syringes sitting around the clubhouse, but that players were aware that if they needed some help, they could get it from one of their teammates pretty easily.

Storm Davis said the other day he wouldn’t have admitted it ten years ago but now says that he was well aware of performance enhancing drug use and it’s availability during his playing days.

Nobody wants to throw anybody else under the bus and even some say that the Mitchell Report is “incomplete.” But at the same time, nobody’s come out and said, “Yeah, I did it. I knew it was illegal and I did it because I thought I could make some more money.”

Andy Pettite admitted to taking HGH during a rehab but he didn’t exactly trumpet any willing “illegal” drug use.

I just think somebody either has to stand up and be counted in the Major League Baseball office or the commissioner and Donald Fehr should both resign. Players won’t be punished because of the collective bargaining agreement and there’s a bunch of muddling around going on instead of some explanations.

I guess it’s still a “game of shadows.”

Jacksonville Sports News, Sam Kouvaris - SamSportsline.com

Tim Tebow: The Legend Grows

I voted for Tim Tebow for the Heisman. In fact the final count followed my ballot: Tebow, Darren McFadden and Colt Brennan. It was a wide-open year but I thought Tim’s historic numbers put him at the top of the list.

He’s not going to play in the National Championship game and the Gators lost three times but in a year where there was no clear-cut favorite, the award’s focus shifted to individual achievement and that made Tebow the easy choice.

More often than not these days, his name and the word “legend” are used in the same sentence as he racks up one accolade after another. A National Championship ring, historic numbers at the position and now the Heisman Trophy.

His work ethic is also considered legendary, as well as his attitude and personality. All that stuff he said at the ceremony? That’s really him. Not rehearsed, not made up, he’s really that way. He’s very team oriented, he’s not all about “me.”

He’s normal.

And I know that makes a lot of people either angry or uncomfortable or apathetic. He says, “Yes sir” and “no ma’am” and please and thank you and all of the other things that any regular person would do.

I’ve always thought it was funny when people got accolades for doing the regular things that seem everyday. But that’s where we’ve gotten. Our expectations are lower, especially when it comes to athletes. Putting sentences together, being respectful of the people around you, showing up when you say you’ll be there, aren’t they all part of everyday life? But regrettably we see that kind of behavior and accept it, writing it off to “celebrity” status or perhaps “money.”

Tebow clearly has strong faith, thanking God at every opportunity. I know that drives some people crazy but there’s no denying it’s genuine. His father is a missionary and he was raised with strong faith.

I remember Muhammad Ali thanking Elijah Muhammad and Herbert Muhammad each time Howard Cosell would interview him after a match. He was about the first high profile athlete to do that and people were taken aback at first but it just became part of the landscape.

Maybe people who are uncomfortable with their own faith are the ones who are uncomfortable with Tim or any other athlete professing theirs. He has a pretty high profile and I’m sure he believes its part of his duty to use that stage to profess his faith.

He’s been on all of the morning talk shows and did very well, promoting his team, the university, and his friendship with Danny Wuerffel and Wuerffel’s charity in New Orleans.

He’s an academic All-America on top of all of it.

So the legend grows and you have to wonder where does he go from here? Win another Heisman? Maybe two more? There’s constant speculation that he’ll leave Florida after his junior year.

He wouldn’t be the perfect NFL quarterback right now, but if he continues to improve, and there’s no reason he won’t, he could be the top selection in the ’09 draft. If that’s the case, he’ll probably come out unless his family says stay in school.

There will be money there if he stays healthy and the endorsements would be massive. If he can play, what owner wouldn’t want him as the face of their team?

One thing’s for sure; Tim’s life will never be the same. No matter where he goes, he’ll always be, Tim Tebow, Heisman Trophy Winner.

Pretty good title to have behind your name.
Even if “Legend” is already there.