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To the Canadian sports writer who thinks Michael Sam is “faking it,” come out, come out whoever you are!

I have known, and I know, a lot of sports writers.

Some of them have galloping egos and, in general terms, their skin is thinner than the margin for error in a Gallup poll. But that’s really the worst I can say about them. In the grand scheme of things, they’re good people. Fun people. Good-time Charlies and Charlenes with quick wits and wry, also self-deprecating, senses of humor that sometimes serve to camouflage the stresses borne of the high demands of their craft.

That’s why it pains me to discover that one among them has completely lost the plot vis-a-vis Michael Sam, the first openly gay man to participate in a Canadian Football League match.

According to a weekend tweet from Patrick Burke, co-founder of the You Can Play Project that advocates inclusiveness in sports, he received an email from one of the “prominent” flowers of sports journalism in the True North suggesting Sam’s stated claim of walking out on the Montreal Alouettes due to mental health issues is a bogus bit of business.

“Media coverage of Michael Sam shows just how far society havs (sic) to go not only on LGBT issues but on mental health issues,” Burke tweeted.

“Received one email from a prominent Canadian sports reporter who accused Mike of faking it. Despicable. Pathetic. Revolting.”

Amen to that, brother.

And let’s add arrogant, ignorant, callous, contemptible and extremely mean-spirited to the roll call. It doesn’t even come close to passing the smell test of acceptability.

Unless the reporter in question is gay, he (I assume it’s a he since there are so few prominent sports scribes on the distaff side of press row) cannot even begin to know what manner of monsters prey on Sam’s mind. And if he is gay, he’s closeted, because I know of zero openly homosexual men writing sports in Canada.

To the best of my knowledge, there are no lesbians in significant roles at any of the major daily sports sheets in the country, either. Mainstream jock journalism, as I have written on more than one occasion, is white, straight and largely male. An old boys’ club, if you will.

I’m not certain of the blogosphere. I might be it. I know I’m the sole transgender girl scribbling sports in the Great White North and it’s possible that I’m flying solo as a lesbian, as well.

That, however, doesn’t unlock the door to Sam’s mind for me. Do I have an idea what he’s gone through and what he’s going through? You bet. I’ve been there and done that, not on as grand a scale as the now-departed Alouettes rush end, but for the longest time I was bleeding badly.

People have often asked me why I walked away from mainstream sports media after 30 years, at just 48 years of age. Simple. Same as Sam—mental health issues that I wasn’t prepared to share with anyone, not even my closest friends.

There were reasons why I seldom ran with the pack during road trips. The boys and (very few) girls would gather and have a howling good time at one watering hole or another (usually more than one, actually), but I really couldn’t handle the egos. I didn’t want to listen to more of their self-indulgent war stories and conquests, as humorous as many of them were. I didn’t feel as if I was part of the tribe. I was different. Thus, I would seek a quiet blues or jazz joint and deal with my demons in solitude.

It was such a lonely, confining place to be. At one point toward the end of my career, I experienced a massive meltdown in the Winnipeg Sun newsroom and departed in a flood of tears. I wasn’t seen, nor scarcely heard from, for three weeks. When I returned, I knew it was over. It was when, not if, I made my escape from the business.

And not a single person had a clue that I was crippled by gender identity conflict. Nobody.

So shame on the writer who says Michael Sam is faking it. He doesn’t know squat. He should out himself, but I doubt he has that kind of courage.

rooftop riting biz card back sidePatti Dawn Swansson has been writing about Winnipeg sports for more than 40 years, longer than any living being. Do not, however, assume that to mean she harbors a wealth of sports knowledge or that she’s a jock journalist of award-winning loft. It simply means she is old and comfortable at a keyboard (although arthritic fingers sometimes make typing a bit of a chore) and she apparently doesn’t know when to quit. Or she can’t quit.
She is most proud of her Q Award, presented to her in 2012 for her scribblings about the LGBT community in Victoria, B.C., and her induction into the Manitoba Sportswriters & Sportscasters Association Media Roll of Honour.

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When is a gay football player not a gay football player? When Steve Simmons says so

This just in: Michael Sam isn’t gay. He never happened.

No, really. That guy who played rush end for the Montreal Alouettes on Aug. 7? The guy with the name Sam stitched on the back of his No. 94 jersey? Not gay. Not real.

As much as we believed we were eye witnesses to an historic moment that hot August night in Ottawa, there’s never been an openly gay performer in the Canadian Football League. We know this because Little Stevie Blunder says so.

“In reality,” Steve Simmons scribbles in his weekly serving of three-dot alphabet soup for the Toronto Sun and its sister sheets in Sun Media, “pro football still awaits its first openly gay player.”

I see. We are to ignore the reality that Sam actually joined the fray for 12 plays against the homestanding RedBlacks this month. Expunge it from the official record, kids. According to the Steve-O-Meter, apparently it takes more than one game and one dozen snaps of a football to qualify you as a gay man playing professional football.

As for the reality that Sam was a seventh-round draft pick of the St. Louis Rams and participated in preseason play? Not gay, didn’t happen. And the reality that he was on the Dallas Cowboys practice roster? Not gay, didn’t happen. And the reality that an ESPN reporter, Josina Anderson, filed a live report about Sam’s showering habits while with the Rams? Not gay, didn’t happen. And the reality that he was engaged to be married to another man? Not gay, didn’t happen.

But wait.

In one sentence, Little Stevie tells us that “pro football still awaits its first openly gay player,” but in another he tells us “Michael Sam was openly gay.”

Now I’m confused.

How can a man be openly gay at home, at church, at the market, at the theatre, on Dancing With The Stars, in the locker room…but not when he’s in full (albeit futile) frolic on a football field?

I think this is what Little Stevie is actually trying to tell us in his awkward way: Your gayness only counts if you’re a good football player. If you show some staying power. If, on the other hand, you are some shmuck who plays a mere 12 downs and records zero quarterback sacks and zero tackles, your gayness scores a big, fat zero on the Steve-O-Meter. You don’t exist and neither does your gayness.

What a wheeze bag.

In reality, Michael Sam is the first, and only, openly gay man to compete in a CFL game. That’s how he shall be remembered, even if only as a footnote, although Little Stevie Blunder is having none of that, either.

Asked by Bryan Hayes on TSN’s The Reporters on Sunday morning how people will reflect upon the Sam saga now that he has walked out on the Alouettes, thus likely signaling the end to his football journey, Little Stevie had this to say:

“I don’t think it will be remembered.”

I think it might be wise of Simmons if he were to steer his scribblings and comments clear of social issues.

I mean, this is a man who staked claim to the moral high ground when he pooh-poohed Roger Goodell for the NFL commish’s horrid handling of the Ray Rice domestic violence case, yet his credibility in that area took a serious drubbing when he posted a happy birthday tweet to Floyd Mayweather, a convicted and serial hitter of women. Simmons repeatedly has referred to John Farrell as “Benedict” Farrell because the Red Sox skipper bolted the Toronto Blue Jays for Boston. Yet, in the 1980s, Little Stevie signed on with the Calgary Herald while still drawing pay from the Calgary Sun. Pot, meet kettle.

Now he’s reduced the arrival of Michael Sam, the first openly gay man to play professional football, to nothingness.

Stick to what you know best, Little Stevie—stalking Phil Kessel and his hot dog stands.

rooftop riting biz card back sidePatti Dawn Swansson has been writing about Winnipeg sports for more than 40 years, longer than any living being. Do not, however, assume that to mean she harbors a wealth of sports knowledge or that she’s a jock journalist of award-winning loft. It simply means she is old and comfortable at a keyboard (although arthritic fingers sometimes make typing a bit of a chore) and she apparently doesn’t know when to quit. Or she can’t quit.
She is most proud of her Q Award, presented to her in 2012 for her scribblings about the LGBT community in Victoria, B.C., and her induction into the Manitoba Sportswriters & Sportscasters Association Media Roll of Honour.


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Winnipeg Blue Bombers: O’Shea can you see the film at 11?

Film. It’s all about film for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

They can’t tell us what actually transpired at Football Follies Field in Fort Garry on Friday night until they’ve examined the video evidence.

Oh, sure, they know they took their fifth misstep in this 2015 Canadian Football League crusade, a 27-20 beatdown at the gnarly hands of the Toronto Argonauts. They know they had a greenhorn, Robert Marve, at quarterback. They know the punt coverage unit allowed A.J. Jefferson to skedaddle 70 yards with a Liram Hajrullahu hoof.

It’s the how and why that they don’t know. Not until they “see the film.” It’s always film at 11 for the Bombers.

Seriously.

Listen to Mike O’Shea, the head coach, explain the events early in the fourth quarter, when Jefferson romped to the house, a momentum-swaying play that tilted the field in favor of the Boatmen.

“Until I watch the film,” he advised curious news scavengers, “I can’t tell ya. I imagine…I imagine some of our guys got blocked. That’s what usually happens.”

So what you’re telling us, Mike, is that you don’t have a clue. Is that it?

“Until I see the actual punt return, it’s hard to say what exactly happened on that particular play,” he confirmed.

How comforting to know the coach didn’t see the game’s most influential play.

I can’t recall Cal Murphy or Mike Riley being such cop-outs, but, then, they were usually on the high end of the scoreboard and winning Grey Cups, so they seldom had to explain opposing players scampering through their defenders like a scalded dog.

Whatever, we now lend our ears to Marve, the first-time starter who was adequate with gusts up to very efficient as a substitute for the wounded Drew (Wonky) Willy.

Tell us, Robert, as far as baptism’s under fire go, how do you rate this experience?

“Gotta watch the film to see,” he said.

Fine. What about the game plan the coaching staff gave you? Kind of conservative, wasn’t it?

“I’ve gotta watch the film,” he said. “It’s so hard to tell. I gotta really watch the film. I don’t wanna say somethin’ then watch the film and have no idea, so I think I can give a better assessment of that tomorrow or the next day.”

Any thoughts about going into the shotgun formation on that third-and-one gamble in the final minute of the game?

“I gotta watch the film on it. I know I keep saying the same thing, but that’s the reality of it.”

This being just your first start, you’ve got plenty of time and room for career growth.

“I gotta keep playing. I gotta keep playing. I don’t wanna say I played great, I don’t wanna say I played bad…I don’t know. I gotta watch the film.”

OK, we’ll mark that down as another yes, no, maybe so. Now, the Bombers get the bye next week as the CFL season lurches toward the halfway mark, when the fun actually begins. Any plans while the club is on the down low?

“Keep watching film,” he said.

I swear, these guys watch more film than Martin Scorsese. Not that it helps much, because they’re 3-5 and riding a toboggan. When next we see the Bombers at Football Follies Field in Fort Garry (Aug. 29 when the Calgary Stampeders come calling), it’s likely that they’ll be looking up at every outfit in the West Division with the exception of their Prairie cousins from Saskatchewan, the Roughriders.

I believe we can safely assume that by then Marve will have rid himself of the pesky flu bug that pestered him vs. the Argos. Oh, yes, the poor guy played sick, even if his play wasn’t.

“Were you vomiting today? Sorry to be so personal…” one wit asked the Bombers QB.

“Ya, a little bit,” he confirmed. “What can you do? We scored some points while I was throwing up, so…”

Ugh. That’s one film none of us needs to see.

rooftop riting biz card back sidePatti Dawn Swansson has been writing about Winnipeg sports for more than 40 years, longer than any living being. Do not, however, assume that to mean she harbors a wealth of sports knowledge or that she’s a jock journalist of award-winning loft. It simply means she is old and comfortable at a keyboard (although arthritic fingers sometimes make typing a bit of a chore) and she apparently doesn’t know when to quit. Or she can’t quit.
She is most proud of her Q Award, presented to her in 2012 for her scribblings about the LGBT community in Victoria, B.C., and her induction into the Manitoba Sportswriters & Sportscasters Association Media Roll of Honour.


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Winnipeg Blue Bombers: Will head coach Mike O’Shea follow one bad move with another?

This is down to Mike O’Shea.

He never should have sent Drew Willy back into the fray to begin the second half of Sunday’s train wreck in Hamilton. It was 31-No Hope at the time. The Tiger-Cats were home and cooled. The Winnipeg Blue Bombers, meanwhile, were anxious just to get home.

Yet the Bombers’ still-greenhorn head coach dispatched Willy to take the snaps. And the lumps. Dumb, dumber and dumbest.

This isn’t hindsight speaking, simply because we’ve received word that Willy, the Bombers starting quarterback and offensive lifeblood, has a wonky right knee that renders him hors de combat for the next six weeks to two months. I said it when the large lads disappeared for recess at Timbits Park in the Hammer. With the tally 31-zip after 30 minutes, the Bombers were as likely to win that football game as Wade Miller is to sprout to 6-feet-5 inches tall over the summer. So, I figured, let’s see what kind of junk the understudy has.

No, I didn’t mean Brian Brohm. He never has been, nor will he ever be, a quality starting quarterback in the Canadian Football League. The jury long ago delivered that verdict on him.

Thus, like many others in Bombers Nation, I wanted to see the flavor of the month go in and stir the drink. That would be Robert Marve, third on the QB pecking order. Give him the reps. Let him experience an entire half’s worth of growing pains.

Alas, head coach No’Shea would have none of that. Damned if he wasn’t going to feed Willy back to the wolves, who had already taken a substantial chunk out of his hide with five first-half sacks. The end result was a 38-8 whupping and a right knee that suffered more damage than Donald Trump after he opens his mouth.

“I got a lot of faith in Drew and I still believe he gave us the best chance to win,” was No’Shea’s unreasoned response to news scavengers when asked, post-match, why he hadn’t pulled the plug on Willy when it was obvious to everyone from Ken Ploen to the ghost of Cal Murphy that the Bombers had #NoHope.

Oh, shut the front door, Mike!

And now, with Willy gone for perhaps the remainder of this 2015 crusade, the head coach is spewing similar spittle that flies in the face of reason.

So, who’s your starting QB when the Toronto Argonauts roll into River City on Friday, coach Mike?

“Well, I’m not gonna tell ya right now,” a tight-lipped No’Shea said at a Tuesday afternoon inquisition, very much playing the coy boy. “We’ll go through practice tomorrow and we’ll know then for sure. I don’t want to offer our opponent any competitive advantage, right, in terms of prep. My choice.”

Again, shut the front door, Mike. Your opponents already have a competitive advantage in terms of prep—you’re the Bombers and they’re not.

As much as it probably doesn’t matter whether it’s eeny or meeny behind centre vs. the Boatmen, it’s all about the best chance to win, as the coaching mantra goes. My guess is that No’Shea will determine that man to be Brohm and anoint him the starter, but it will be the wrong thing to do. Again.

Marve has skedaddle to his game. Plenty of it. Brohm has stand still. More’s the pity.

“Brian is a very efficient quarterback,” the coach told news scavengers hanging on his every evasive word Tuesday. “He’s more like Drew in terms of his pocket presence, his passing ability, how he goes through the process of reading a defence and using the tools he has in our offence.”

Which is exactly why you shouldn’t start him.

Going “through the process” doesn’t get it done for a Bombers QB. That gets you time in sick bay. What you need is some lickety-split. And some now-you-see-him, now-you-don’t Houdini.

That’s Marve. He might actually finish what he starts.

rooftop riting biz card back sidePatti Dawn Swansson has been writing about Winnipeg sports for more than 40 years, longer than any living being. Do not, however, assume that to mean she harbors a wealth of sports knowledge or that she’s a jock journalist of award-winning loft. It simply means she is old and comfortable at a keyboard (although arthritic fingers sometimes make typing a bit of a chore) and she apparently doesn’t know when to quit. Or she can’t quit.
She is most proud of her Q Award, presented to her in 2012 for her scribblings about the LGBT community in Victoria, B.C., and her induction into the Manitoba Sportswriters & Sportscasters Association Media Roll of Honour.


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Winnipeg Blue Bombers: From Brittle Buck to Wonky Willy, the beat(ing) goes on

Stop me if you’ve heard this before: Down goes Willy! Down goes Willy! Down goes Willy!

Drew Willy, of course, always gets up and dusts himself off because, as we are reminded ad nauseum, he’s one tough dude. Trouble is, he doesn’t always finish what he starts. That is, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers quarterback too often is seen staggering off to the infirmary while his understudies are left to pick up the broken pieces of another fine mess the offensive line has gotten them into.

Such was the case yet again on Sunday afternoon at Timbits Park in Hamilton, where the Tiger-Cats beat up Willy. Then they beat up Brian Brohm. Then they beat up Robert Marve.

Why, I haven’t seen QBs get beat up like this since…well, since the last quarterback to play behind the Blue and Gold O-line. Guy’s name was Pierce. Buck Pierce. Had more owies than the ER at the Health Sciences Centre. Buck was as brittle as a piece of burnt toast. He doesn’t play football anymore, though. He got out before medics had to put a tag on one of his big toes.

Why do you think the Bombers’ starting pivot gets paid such large coin? His wage isn’t based on merit. Willy’s base salary is $100,000. The other $300,000 is danger pay.

I swear, if I’m Willy, I’m marching into general manager Kyle Walters’ office this morning and demanding to renegotiate. I want to cut a better deal. Except Willy can’t march, can he? At best, he can limp after being chased from the fray in the third quarter of Sunday’s skirmish, a 38-8 paddywhacking by the Ticats, who look to be the finest outfit in the eastern precinct of the Canadian Football League.

How bad was the O-line? The Tabbies had seven sacks in all, five in a laughable first half. Cripes, man, Caitlyn Jenner gets better protection than that from her fleet of hangers-on.

That’s not to say this face plant is all on the hogs up front. The Bombers specialty teams did some toe-stubbing, as well. Like on a punt that was partially blocked, and on a botched kickoff return, both plays leading to Ticat TDs as the home side put the game out of reach with a 21-0 advantage seven minutes in.

It was a good, old fashioned mollywhomping. That, at least, is how Milt Stegal described it in the TSN studio once the damage had reached 31-nada. The Bombers were “getting mollywhomped,” he declared, and I didn’t bother to look up the word “mollywhomped” in the dictionary. But I’m sure there’s a pic of a big, ol’ can of whup-ass beside the definition.

I must say, though, I’ve seen worse. Honest. I have. Hey, when you’ve been watching large lads grab grass and growl for more than half a century, you’ve always seen worse.

There was a playoff game in 1996, for example. It was 31-1 at the half. It was 68-7 at the finish. For the other guys. And that was a playoff game. That shameful exercise on a slick, snow-covered patch of earth at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton cost Cal Murphy the one thing he cherished almost as much as his transplanted heart—his job as head coach of the Bombers.

A 55-10 loss in the Banjo Bowl half a dozen years back wasn’t exactly the Mona Lisa, either. Nor was a 52-0 licking in the 2012 Labor Day Classic.

So, sure, the goings-on of Sunday afternoon were ugly. This was Tiger Woods golf game ugly. It was Donald Trump hair ugly. It was Jeff Reinebold head coach ugly. But it was far from the ugliest of the ugly. And ugly won’t even begin to describe what the Bombers will look like if Wonky Willy is unable to start another game he won’t finish due to his gimpy right knee.

Mind you, it doesn’t really matter who takes the snaps, does it. He’s a lamb going to slaughter. Make room in the infirmary for Robert Marve or Brian Brohm.

rooftop riting biz card back sidePatti Dawn Swansson has been writing about Winnipeg sports for more than 40 years, longer than any living being. Do not, however, assume that to mean she harbors a wealth of sports knowledge or that she’s a jock journalist of award-winning loft. It simply means she is old and comfortable at a keyboard (although arthritic fingers sometimes make typing a bit of a chore) and she apparently doesn’t know when to quit. Or she can’t quit.
She is most proud of her Q Award, presented to her in 2012 for her scribblings about the LGBT community in Victoria, B.C., and her induction into the Manitoba Sportswriters & Sportscasters Association Media Roll of Honour.


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Michael Sam: Is he still a gay football player, or just a football player?

After all the hype, all the ballyhoo, all the drama, all the controversy over a coming-out and a guy-to-guy smooch in the manly, macho world of professional football, the Michael Sam debut had all the oomph and fanfare of an afternoon nap.

This was ho meeting hum.

I mean, an openly gay man performing in the Canadian Football League was supposed to be a resonating moment, complete with bells, whistles, Roman candles and a 21-gun salute. Instead…let’s just say it reminded me of the Miss Peggy Lee classic, Is That All There Is?.

Cripes, man, as of this writing, pro football’s gay lunar landing hadn’t even attracted the attention of the website Outsports, the self-proclaimed Galactic Leader in Gay Sports. Their headline story 14 hours after the fact was the impending nuptuals of U.S. lesbian soccer star Megan Rapinoe and singer/songwriter Sara Cahoone. Ya, that’s right. A same-sex engagement was given top billing over Sam’s baptism under fire.

Let the record show that the lunar landing occurred on Friday evening, with four minutes and 58 ticks remaining in the opening quarter of a joust between the Montreal Alouettes and the homestanding Ottawa RedBlacks. That’s when Sam, an openly gay man, entered the fray, trotting on to the playing pitch at TD Place Stadium during a commercial break.

He lined up at rush end for the Als, and the historic moment was witnessed by 24,427 sets of eyes in the pews. Plus, of course, the assortment of usual suspects roaming the sidelines and TSN’s national television audience.

The large lads in pads then resumed regularly scheduled hostilities. No muss, no fuss. And no quarterback sacks or tackles for the cause celebre, who, through the duration of the exercise, was inserted into the defensive dozen for 12 plays and whose contribution was, predictably, that of a non-impactful, non-influential participant.

Basically, Sam, the former Southeastern Conference defensive player-of-the-year with the Missouri Tigers and seventh-round choice of the St. Louis Rams in the 2014 National Football League draft, was all fizzle and no sizzle.

So where do we go from here?

Is Michael Sam now just a football player to be judged and treated strictly on the merits of his activity between the lines, or is he still the gay football player?

Surely, those in the LGBT collective see him as a gay football player, someone who gives rise to hope for their youth. As much as gay kids know they can become doctors and lawyers and teachers and politicians and singers and actors and serve in the military, they now know the doors to professional football have been kicked open. They can walk through.

Sam, along with Alouettes ownership/management and the CFL, have tilled the soil and planted the seeds of possibility and opportunity. Gays can play pro football.

There’s only one question to be answered now: Can Michael Sam play pro football?

rooftop riting biz card back sidePatti Dawn Swansson has been writing about Winnipeg sports for more than 40 years, longer than any living being. Do not, however, assume that to mean she harbors a wealth of sports knowledge or that she’s a jock journalist of award-winning loft. It simply means she is old and comfortable at a keyboard (although arthritic fingers sometimes make typing a bit of a chore) and she apparently doesn’t know when to quit. Or she can’t quit.
She is most proud of her Q Award, presented to her in 2012 for her scribblings about the LGBT community in Victoria, B.C., and her induction into the Manitoba Sportswriters & Sportscasters Association Media Roll of Honour.


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All about the Blue Jays trading binge, Jose Canseco in stilettos, Tom Brady’s balls and other items of interest…

News and views on the world of sports…

NEWS: Alex Anthopoulos, the man who generally manages the Toronto Blue Jays, goes on a trading binge and delivers Troy Tulowitzki, David Price, Ben Revere and Mark Lowe to skipper John Gibbons scant hours before the Major League Baseball trade deadline.

The GM’s tinkering has positioned the Jays to make a serious run at a wild-card playoff position, if not the American League East Division pennant.

VIEW: Is it too late for Brendan Shanahan to redo the Lou Lamoriello thing and hire Anthopoulos as GM of the Maple Leafs instead?

NEWS: Jose Canseco is going bowling with the boys. He’ll be playing poker with the boys. And he’ll be wearing a frock, lipstick and a wig while doing it. Oh yes he will.

Canseco, you see, has joined the Cult of Cait. Not only is he sipping the Cait Kool-Aid, but the former Major League Baseball juicer vows to go all Ru Paul on us by adorning himself in female garments in a declaration of support for Hollywood glam trans gal, Caitlyn Jenner.

And, don’t you know, the one-time Bash Brother is so thoughtful that he plans to share the charade with the rest of us.

“I can’t say exactly how it’s going to be done yet,” he told the New York Daily News. “It will be done for about a week—and it will be on my Internet show called Spend a Day with Jose.”

VIEW: Sigh.

NEWS: Toughest dudette on the planet, Ronda Rousey, wasted little time in ridding herself of a potty-mouth pest named Bethe Correia in their UFC women’s bantamweight championship bout. It was over, save for the post-fight trash talking, in 34 seconds.

VIEW: Hmmm, 34 seconds. About the same amount of time Jose Canseco will last walking in a pair of stilettos.

NEWS: The St. Louis Cardinals have hired a lady coach, Jen Welter.

Not surprisingly, her appointment as an intern coach of inside linebackers (she’ll work at training camp and pre-season matches) has been greeted with much skepticism because, well, the NFL is a man’s world where women are sometimes used as tackling dummies or punching bags (see: Rice, Ray; Hardy, Greg; McDonald, Ray; etc.). So, her hiring is seen by some as a public relations gimmick.

VIEW: If Jen Welter is a gimmick, give us more of her. I mean, her answer to a question about Tom Brady and Deflategate during her first day on the job was classic:

“I really am tired of hearing about Tom Brady’s balls,” she said. “I’d rather move on. It is kind of serendipitous, though, or funny or God’s irony that the same day we announce a woman coach in the NFL, we can’t get off Tom Brady’s balls.”

NEWS: National Football League outfits have commenced training exercises and soon shall be engaged in dress rehearsals, but we still don’t know if Tom Brady is persona non grata.

The New England Patriots quarterback is, of course, under suspension for allegedly letting the air seep out of game balls last season, yet he is in full frolic with his mates at training camp. That, however, is no guarantee he’ll be behind centre when the real fun begins next month. Brady must first do the chin-wag thing with a federal judge in mid-August, as will NFL lord and master Roger Goodell, and only after those Deflategate discussions will we know his status.

VIEW: What Jen Welter said.

NEWS: So, we soon shall discover if Michael Sam is a football player who happens to be gay or a gay man who happens to play football.

To date, it has been all about Sam’s sexual orientation, because the wannabe rush end has yet to grab grass and growl with the Montreal Alouettes. That is about to change, though. Tom Higgins, head coach of the Canadian Football League outfit, assures us that Sam will play a game sometime this month. Honest. He’s good to go.

VIEW: Unless, of course, Sam has a more-pressing engagement, like Dancing with the Stars or sitting on Oprah’s couch. Or perhaps he’ll just want to go home for two weeks again.

NEWS: There were reported, and confirmed, sightings of the “Tiger Woods of old” at the Quicken Loans National golf tournament in Gainesville, Va., where he carded three rounds in the 60s, including a 68 and a 66 on the first two days.

VIEW: Trouble is, the rest of the field doesn’t see the “Tiger Woods of old.” They see an old Tiger Woods.

rooftop riting biz card back sidePatti Dawn Swansson has been writing about Winnipeg sports for more than 40 years, longer than any living being. Do not, however, assume that to mean she harbors a wealth of sports knowledge or that she’s a jock journalist of award-winning loft. It simply means she is old and comfortable at a keyboard (although arthritic fingers sometimes make typing a bit of a chore) and she apparently doesn’t know when to quit. Or she can’t quit.
She is most proud of her Q Award, presented to her in 2012 for her scribblings about the LGBT community in Victoria, B.C., and her induction into the Manitoba Sportswriters & Sportscasters Association Media Roll of Honour.