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ESPN Wisconsin Blogs - Bill Johnson

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Agree With Us Or Else..

Jul 30, 2014 -- 10:34am



Domestic violence is a horrible thing. Violence against women is a horrible thing. Both should be vigorously discouraged, both by law and by employers, including our professional sports leagues.


With that, in the United States of America, there is no room for the mob to rule. There is no room for lynch mobs. There is no room for vigilante justice.


Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice was given a two game suspension by the NFL this week, and reaction was swift and severe. Angry talk show hosts, angry women, angry Cleveland Browns fans. Everyone was angry.


As angry as they were at the NFL, they were more angry at anyone that didn't completely agree with their point of view.


Domestic violence is a horrible thing. Violence against women is a horrible thing. Both should be vigorously discouraged, both by law and by employers, including our professional sports leagues.


With that, I can understand why the NFL did what it did.


I don't know every detail in this case. Neither do you. We shouldn't know every detail. Law enforcement should. The court should. The attorneys should. I believe they do.


With all of the details available, law enforcement, the court, and the attorneys decided to put Rice in a pretrial diversion program. It's a one year counseling program. If Rice completes it the charges against him will be dismissed. The arrest will remain on his record without conviction.


The details of the case convinced the court and the lawyers to go this direction.


What does this say?


Is Rice being given special treatment because he is a star athlete? I don't know that that really happens these days, but I especially don't think it happens in domestic violence. I think there's more of a chance that a prominent celebrity would be made an example of.


In this case, the prosecutor and the court decided that the details of the case dictated that Rice be given an opportunity through the diversion program to avoid conviction.


What can we surmise from this?


We can jump to a bunch of conclusions, depending on our own opinions. The one thing that we can all agree on is that this isn't an open and shut case. It sounds like there were, and still are, many questions as to what happened that night. After reviewing the evidence, the prosecution and the court decided that even though none of us will forget seeing the video of Ray Rice dragging Janay Palmer out of that elevator, the case was NOT JUST THAT.


Enter Roger Goodell, who I'm assuming is also one of the parties that knows all of the details of the case. In the past, Goodell's rulings have usually been considered tougher on players than those of previous commissioners. Goodell and his staff reviewed the evidence and decided that Ray Rice should be suspended for the first two games. (As it works out, the Ravens first two games are against AFC North opponents, though I don't think that was taken into consideration.)


In comparison, Goodell's punishment of Rice is much harsher than the punishment he received from the courts, yet after the suspension was announced, all Hell broke loose. 


It sounds to me like most of the outrage is coming from a poor comparison. Fans and media members are looking at some of the suspensions given out to players for use of recreational drugs and banned PEDs. Because the suspensions for those offenses are longer, the assumption is being made that the league regards those offenses as more serious than violence against women. This view is presumptuous and dangerous.


If a player is suspended for four games for use of recreational drugs, it is already at least that players second offense. After a first offense, players are entered into the league's Substance Abuse program without any public acknowledgment or suspension. Josh Gordon and Justin Blackmon both face indefinite suspension, but after multiple violations and infractions. 


Violence against women is much worse than recreational drug use, but comparing a first time offender with a clean past to players that have violated league policy on numerous occasions isn't fair.


I believe that Roger Goodell's handling of the Ray Rice situation reflects the complicated nature of this specific case. 


Was the league's two game suspension of Rice without pay to lenient? Not according to Roger Goodell, or the courts, or the prosecuting attorney. 


I'd ask Goodell's critic's, what suspension would have been appropriate for Ray Rice? 4 games? 8? Life?


To answer the unfair question that will inevitably be asked: No, I do not condone violence against women. Only a monster would and I am not a monster. 


I also don't condone group think. "You're either with us or against us." It's not that easy, especially in a case like this.


From the sound of things this week this was the choice: "Either you agree with all of us that the NFL's two game suspension of Ray Rice was too lenient, or you hate women."


I have to believe there has to be some middle ground. It sure didn't sound that way.

The Skull and Crossbones Flies on Fourth

Jul 03, 2014 -- 8:19am



Well, they aren't boring.


New majority owners Wes Edens and Marc Lasry have created a buzz since taking over the Bucks. "Buzz" isn't a word the folks on Fourth Street have been associated with since Sidney Moncrief and The Dobber inhabited the facility now known as Milwaukee Panthers Arena. (cool, huh?)


Edens and Lasry drew comparisons ranging from Cowboys owner Jerry Jones to Captain Jack Sparrow with their aggressive acquisition of Brooklyn head coach Jason Kidd. Depending on your perspective, they're either bold, forward thinkers or ham-handed newbies who entered the NBA like the Hell's Angels at a church picnic.


What will Bucks' fans think?


Like everything in sports, it all comes down to winning. 


The drafting of Duke's Jabari Parker was the first step in enfusing talent into a lifeless roster. Now Edens and Lasry believe that Jason Kidd is the right man to lead the Bucks out of the NBA wilderness. Kidd brings one 44-38 season in Brooklyn as a head coach and some seriously mixed reviews from fans, media, and former co-workers.


If the Bucks win, none of the questions will matter. If they win, Kidd won't be shady, he'll be a genius. If they win, Edens and Lasry won't be unscrupulous, they'll be firebrands.


If they win, attendance at the Bradley Center will skyrocket.


If they win, will it be enough to convince the good people of Southeastern Wisconsin (likely only Milwaukee and maybe Waukesha and/or Osaukee counties) to pony up for the rest of the money for a new Bucks facility?


I am still EXTREMELY skeptical that ANY public funding will ever be approved for a new Bucks facility. The only way, THE ONLY WAY, will be by hook or by crook.


The Bucks might finally have the right guys in place to get it done that way.


Yo ho, mateys!!! A green and growing pirates life for me!!!

No, I'm Not Dead...

Jun 16, 2014 -- 1:24pm

Sorry it's been so long. No excuses, but don't fret!!! Some good old fashioned hokum with a biased bitter tinge is in the pipeline. Until then, please get cranked up for the NFL season by looking at one of my favorite box scores of all time.

Both Namath and Old High Tops were on the downside of their careers in Week 2 of the 1972 season, but this was one of the great barnburners of all time. Check out the passing yards, especially Namath's yard per completion. Sick.

Don't Be Mad. You Don't. Just Face It

Apr 22, 2014 -- 2:51pm





When Rod Tidwell made Jerry McGuire scream this line over and over it had a different meaning, but there couldn't be a more perfect line to describe how I feel about the Bucks new facility.




This will seem incredibly ungrateful of me, but the $200 million donated by Herb Kohl and the Bucks new owners may as well be $2. As generous as those donations are, anything short of the full price is a waste of time.




A new facility for the Bucks, Marquette, the Admirals and events will cost at least $400 million. That's the bare minimum at today's prices. By the time all of the local blowhards are heard, we will be approaching the 2017 deadline. I have to believe that will inflate the price of the facility by at least $100-$200 million. Where's that money coming from? They don't want to build another facility that will be obsolete in five years. Anything other than the best, most visionary project is a waste. We'll be back in the same spot in 10 years, likely with an empty White Elephant in Downtown Milwaukee if the new arena is anything less than a vacation spot.




Someone please tell me where the private funding will come from for this project, because they can't sell seat licenses and it's NOT coming from the tax payers. There isn't a politician stupid enough to propose a referendum on this issue, and as much as everyone admires George Petak, the bloodletting at the State House would be much more thorough this time around. No politician in his/her right mind will voluntarily fall on his/her sword for the Bucks, especially in the suburbs.


LET'S GET SOMETHING STRAIGHT. I WANT THE BUCKS TO STAY. I WOULD WILLINGLY PAY A SALES TAX, BOOZE TAX, WEED TAX, BRAT TAX….whatever it takes. (sorry for the all caps, didn't want anyone to miss that part.)


The problem is that I'm severely in the minority. The Bucks problem is the NBA's problem in many places. The league seems to lose a lot of male fans once they turn 30. I can't explain it, but I've seen it happen. My own interest in the Association isn't what it once was. More sinister objection to the NBA often lies with demographic differences, objections never heard about the NFL ironically enough.


Maybe a referendum is the answer. The NBA and the Bucks could finally see how truly unwelcome they are in Southeastern Wisconsin. They could go somewhere like Kansas City, where the community built a brand new facility without any concrete promise of a team. They could go to Seattle, a great NBA town that has hungered for their team ever since they took their Durant and went to OKC. The league would love to get a team back in Seattle.






Unfortunately, this comes down to two inescapable facts.







Have a nice day.


How Do You Say Ogie Ogelthorpe in Spanish?

Apr 21, 2014 -- 11:47am



Carlos Gomez forgot one important detail on Sunday in Pittsburgh.


If you are the pest, the instigator, you don't start throwing punches. If you're the guy that rubs it in when you hit a home run, you do what Garrett Cole did. You enflame the situation with your mouth, then you walk away.


Sunday's fight in Pittsburgh was an IQ test. Garrett Cole passed. Carlos Gomez failed, along with Martin Maldanado, Russell Martin, Travis Snyder, even Brewers bench coach Jerry Narron (a guy that should know a lot better.)


I can't figure out why Gomez would be so pissed? He's having another good season for the most surprising team in baseball. Was he mad at himself for jaking it out of the box because he could've had an inside the park home run? Maybe. I just don't get why he would snap the way he did.


Because no matter what anyone else did, Gomez' snapage is what changed the nature of the altercation. His dumb move triggered a series of dumb moves, and I believe that his larger suspension will reflect that (and it should.)


Gomez has to realize that his role on this team has changed. When he first came to Milwaukee, he was a platoon player, a great fielder with an unreliable bat that played against lefties. Now, Gomez is one of the leaders, if only because of his production. His five tools appear to be at their peak. To be successful, the Brewers need him leading off and patrolling center field every day. He can't afford those old mental lapses that we all brushed off as quaint. He isn't a pleasant surprise anymore. He's a key component that is crucial to the success of a team that looks like it can make some noise.



To quote Red Forman, "Fun time is over." Carlos Gomez needs to have more fun winning and less fun showboating.


The Future is Now!!!!

Apr 14, 2014 -- 1:19pm



I love the NFL Draft. I liked it better when it was on a Saturday and Sunday, but I still love it. I love speculating on who will go where. There are tons of mock drafts, but truth be told do we really care who the Jags, Bills, Browns or anyone else takes? For this draft, I will endeavor to predict who the Packers will take. While they may trade around, I've made these picks based on the 9 picks they currently own.


Round 1, #21 overall- LB C.J. Mosely- Alabama

- Having watched rivals San Francisco and Seattle win with velociraptors at inside linebacker, the Packers finally pick up the pace and pick a playmaker. This may or may not require the release of Brad Jones, depending on whether they believe that Jones can fill in on the outside.

Round 2, #53- TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins- Washington

- Potential character issues (a DUI conviction) will drop Seferian-Jenkins into the second round, and the Packers won't be able to pass at 53. 6'6" and 265 pounds, Seferian-Jenkins will need to be more physical at the next level. He runs good routes and will create big match-up problems for opposing defenses. Would be a nice new weapon for 12.

Round 3, #85- SS Deone Bucannon- Washington State

- An effective compliment to Morgan Burnett, Bucannon will be a physical presence against the run and a deterrent to receivers across the middle. Stout and tough, his coverage skills will need some honing.

Round 3, #98 (compensatory selection)- WR Jared Abbrederis- Wisconsin

- Badger Nation will rejoice toward the end of Day 2 as Ted Thompson has a value receiver fall into his lap. They love old QB's and will overlook the injury history. He'll be a nice surprise in 2014.

Round 4, #121- CB Chris Davis- Auburn

- Sound familiar? Yep, he's the guy that ran back the missed FG to beat 'Bama in the Iron Bowl. Obviously, he's not afraid of the big play, but this is a physical corner with some potential. He drops because he doesn't possess preferred height (5'10".) Smarts and athleticism will make up for lack of stature. 

Round 5, #161- C Brian Stork- Florida State

-A badass who was one of the leaders of the National Champion Seminoles. A true believer. Attitude coming out of his ears, along with a healthy dose of football savvy. Could challenge to start, but he'll need to strengthen his lower body starting immediately.

Round 5, #176 (compensatory selection)- QB Aaron Murray -Georgia

- Murray will fall because of his late knee injury in 2013 and his lack of ideal height (6'1"), but the Packers will see him as a Matt Flynn type with a better arm and more potential as a starter. Will challenge to back up 12 in 2014.

Round 6, #197- OLB Ronald Powell- Florida

- An injury risk the Packers will be willing to take late in the 6th round. Missed all of 2012 after tearing his ACL twice. Strong work ethic brought him back to be a speed threat off the edge for the Gators in 2013.

Round 7, #236- OT Cornelius Lucas- Kansas State


- Huge and aggressive, Lucas fits the suit, but he'll be a project. Motivation was a question as a freshman and sophomore, but an All Big 12 first teamer as a junior. Worth a flyer in the seventh.

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