Go North Young Man

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

Michael Sam is going to get his shot at professional football alright but it will be north of the border. Sam signed a two year deal with the Canadian Football League’s (CFL) Montreal Alouettes. It’s not only the right move but a smart one.

Michael Sam

Sam is a pass rusher plain and simple. He may not be the prototypical NFL pass rusher but he is a pass rusher none the less. Well that’s what you do in the CFL. With only three downs, a wider field and unlimited motion, the game is tailored for someone with Sam’s skill set.  He can pretty much pin his ears back and get after the quarterback all day long. People seem to forget that Sam was a consensus first team All-American, SEC Defensive Player of the Year and pretty much a bad ass on a very good Missouri team in 2013.

On paper Sam doesn’t fit the NFL mold for an outside rusher. So be it. A lot of players weren’t good enough ‘on paper’ and went on to have tremendous careers in the NFL while cutting their teeth in the CFL (Warren Moon for example). Now Sam has an opportunity to prove to the NFL that paper doesn’t matter, it’s what you do on the field that matters. Sam can follow in the footsteps of current NFL standout Cameron Wake who has gone on to be one of the better pass rushers in the league. If Sam can put up some decent numbers and show improvement when it comes to setting the edge then he will get another shot in the NFL.

Sam is in the right place. He has a chance to not just be a solid pass rusher for the Al’s but he has a chance to be one of the more dominant pass rushers the CFL has seen in a long time. Throw in a great city like Montreal and Sam may just decide that Canada suits him just fine.

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Wisdom From The Top

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

Mike Matheny is not going to be in the baseball Hall of Fame for his play on the field. He may get there one day because of his managerial skills. While he is busy leading the St Louis Cardinals on the diamond, he has been taking time out to talk about coaching little league.

Matheny wrote a book called ‘The Matheny Manifesto’ which talks about rules for parents in youth sports. He dives into the book during an interview on NPR’s ‘Fresh Air’.  While some may consider Matheny’s methods tough it is worth noting that he is a tough guy by nature. In fact he once took a fastball to the face and then played the next day.

Sometimes tough is good. Oh, he can manage adults too. In his first three seasons as the Cardinals manager, he has taken them to the post season all three years.

 

 

The Fear Of The New

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

One thing that sports organizations don’t well is embrace new technology. Not many companies do for that matter. Most of the time companies have this knee jerk reaction to new technologies or methodologies and that reaction usually involves lawyers. This is the case with Periscope (and a similar service called Meerkat). Instead of freaking out they should be generating ideas on how to integrate this application as opposed to trying to shut it down.

Periscope at work

The Mayweather v Pacquiao fight has brought in close to $500 million. That’s half a billion dollars which is revenue than some publicly traded companies generate in a year. Yet the winner of the fight may have been Periscope. Not only was it it’s coming out party but the promoters of the fight are threatening legal action which always means you did something right.

While Periscope may seem like a threat on the surface it really isn’t much of one. So some people watched the fight through the app and didn’t pay for it. That number didn’t effect the overall number of buys (which was around 4.4 million) and those people were either at the fight or watching the fight where someone had already paid for it.

While Periscope is a very cool app, it still lacks the video and audio quality that an HD broadcast can deliver. Not to mention the fact that you are relying on someone on the other end to have a steady hand while shooting a TV screen or being at the event.

The PGA and NHL have already banned it’s use. The PGA went as far as pulling the credentials of prominent Golf blogger Stephanie Wei then later streamed content through their Periscope PGA account (read Stephanie’s blog post here). The NHL has banned the use in NHL arenas ‘before, during and after the game’. Oh, the NHL, several of their teams and the owner of their American broadcasting rights (NBC) all have their own Periscope accounts.

Really?

First, if you make a half billion dollars on a fight that went the distance and then it is revealed afterward that one of the fighters had an injured shoulder….you’re not going to find a whole lot of sympathy in the court of public opinion. Second, pulling the credentials of a popular blogger in a slowly dying sport, not the kind of promotion you’re looking for. Besides, she made a conscious effort not to show anything that may have been used in the national broadcast.

Is Periscope and Meerkat a threat? Not really. It’s a video version of Twitter which is why Twitter owns it. The fact is people will watch a sporting event on their iPhone however the quality has to be there and you are not going to get solid quality watching from someone shooting a TV screen on their iPhone.

Are their uses for this technology, yes! Most of them we haven’t even thought of yet so why take drastic steps now to limit the technology? Let it grow, support it and find out how it can help your business vs trying to play whack-a-mole. As far as the ‘piracy’ aspect is concerned, how about not charging a $100 for a pay-per-view? How bout charging half that and making up the difference in volume? It was, after all, the ‘Fight of the Century’.

Periscope and Meerkat are here to stay. How they evolve is the question. That evolution should not be left to entities that see it as a threat. If that were the case then we wouldn’t have airplanes or the internet. Give these technologies a chance to grow and see how they can help vs hurt sports.

‘Change is inevitable, growth is optional’

 

Draft Retro

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

‘Every year somebody comes out of this looking like a donkey’

That is what Kevin Costner’s character said in the movie ‘Draft Day’ and this year that donkey could be San Francisco 49ers GM Trent Baalke. His picks left many in the football world scratching their heads. While the 49ers were leaving their fans in limbo their division rivals walked away with the best story of the draft.

Baalke

Trent Baalke has held the title of GM for the 49ers since 2011. He has made some solid draft choices in the past but this years class doesn’t make a lot of sense. The 49ers had some glaring needs heading into the draft like a cornerback, offensive line and inside linebacker to name a few. So Baalke picked a punter in the fifth round and not one single cornerback.

The consensus seems to be that Baalke and the 49ers went with the best available’ player philosophy instead of trying to fill needs. Maybe it will work. Only time will tell. While the first pick, Arik Armstead, is a big time talent even the 49ers new head coach admitted that he needs a lot of work. 

Meanwhile the 49ers arch rival the Seattle Seahawks had what is the story of the draft and it happened after it. The Seahawks signed former Green Beret Nate Boyer. Boyer is trying to make an NFL roster at the age of 34 as a long snapper.

Nate Boyer

That’s right. A former Green Beret is going to be in camp with the Seahawks.

While it is going to be very difficult to make the roster we certainly know that this guy won’t quit. He walked on at Texas back when they were one of the powerhouses of college football and he ended up becoming their long snapper.

No one can predict the future. Boyer may make the Seahawks roster. Baalke’s pick may turn out to lead the 49ers to a Super Bowl. What we know for sure is that the NFL draft provides us with the great drama and a whole lot of fun. No wonder its in primetime.