About Winnipeg Blue Bombers Coach D’oh!…an odd final round at Royal Birkdale…gay female athletes dating…pretty on the tennis court…and why don’t some guys just shut up?

I cannot survive in a 140-character world, so here are more tweets that grew up to be too big for Twitter…

I’m not sure what happens to Mike O’Shea when he gets to B.C. Place Stadium.

Coach D’oh

Maybe it’s the drinking water. Ya, that’s it. Someone is spiking his H2O with mind-altering drugs, because it’s become evident that the Winnipeg Blue Bombers head coach is seeing things that aren’t there. I mean, the rest of us see an impossible 61-yard field goal attempt, but O’Shea sees a ho-hum chip shot. We see Justin Medlock as a punter/place-kicker, but O’Shea sees him as Dieter Brock or Kenny Ploen.

He’s delusional like the Nevada Parole Board.

Mind you, nobody can accuse the Bombers sideline steward of being a one-trick pony.

He did, after all, give us two displays of hocus-pocus for the price of one on Friday night in Vancouver. Trouble is, an argument can be made that O’Shea’s smoke and mirrors is the main reason the Bombers were found wanting in their Canadian Football League skirmish with the B.C. Lions.

Yes, I’m aware that a fake field goal was executed to perfection and resulted in seven points. Kudos for venturesome and creative football. Alas, we were also reminded that there’s a time and place for sleight of hand, and midway through the fourth quarter—on third-and-15 with the ball nestled on your own 26-yard stripe!—is neither the time nor the place for Justin Medlock to be passing instead of punting.

Unless, of course, you’re Coach D’oh and you’re hallucinating.

O’Shea’s fourth-quarter brain cramp also resulted in points. Eight of them. For the Lions, who were less into gimmickry and more into gutting it out while turning a 15-point deficit into a 45-42 success.

Go ahead and give O’Shea full marks for his daring if you like. It can be get-out-of-your-seat exciting. But it’s folly for a head coach to double dog dare himself into making dumb decisions, which seems to now be the rule rather than the exception for the Bombers puppet master on the Wet Coast.

Justin Medlock

It’s all about picking your spots, and when O’Shea allowed Medlock to pass rather than punt while nursing an eight-point lead on Friday he picked the wrong spot.

We don’t think of them as trick plays,” he advised news snoops after the fact. “They’re well designed and well thought out and well executed by the players that buy into that.”

Well, okay. Except receiver Derek Jones must have missed the memo, because he had his back turned to Medlock’s wonky pass on the “called play.”

It was just dumb, dumb, dumb.

So, was the faux punt really a “called play” as O’Shea insists or was it a Medlock ad lib? “I’ll take the blame for it,” Medlock said post-gaffe. “Whatever comes if it, I’m not going to sit here and point fingers.” And I’ll take that to mean someone else screwed up. In either case, it still comes down to coaching. Football is very much a situational game, and an alert coach doesn’t permit his punter to fiddle fart around when it’s third-and-15 at the 26-yard stripe while nursing an eight-point lead with slightly more than eight minutes to play.

A few words about the final round of the Open golf championship Sunday at the Royal Birkdale in Southport, England: Brutal and brilliant. Ragged and remarkable. Seriously. Champion golfer of the year Jordan Spieth was all over the British Isles through the first four holes, carding three bogeys, and his tee shot on 13 hole was so far off the mark that the ball almost landed in Ireland. It took him half an hour to complete the hole. Then he goes birdie-eagle-birdie-birdie in less time than it takes to whip up a full English breakfast. Incredible. What I like most about Spieth, who now has a collection of three Grand Slam titles, is his manner: He seems like a lovely, young man.

Garbine Muguruza

Attention Politically Correct Police: If sports scribes choose to describe ascending tennis star Garbine Muguruza as pretty or sexy, spare us your squawking because they have her blessing. “I see a lot of criticism sometimes when a sportswoman wants to feel pretty on the court,” the reigning Wimbledon and 2016 French Open ladies’ champion says. “I want to feel pretty out there, I’m going to feel more comfortable and confident if I have a beautiful dress on. It doesn’t go against being an athlete.” So there. Don’t scream sexism when a jock journo writes about her appearance.

Seattle Storm guard Sue Bird, at 36 the oldest player in the Women’s National Basketball Association, tells ESPNW magazine that she’s a lesbian and, except for the fact she’s dating American soccer star Megan Rapinoe, it’s a ho-hum revelation. There’s a reason for that: Gay female athletes at the highest echelons are commonplace, whereas their male counterparts are about half a century behind when it comes to acceptance and inclusiveness. Both Bird and Rapinoe, by the way, are Olympic gold medallists, further evidence that having gays on a team roster is not an impediment to success.

The quote machine has gone into overdrive the past couple of weeks, and much of it has been painful to hear and read. For example…

  • Boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. said this about Conor McGregor, his opponent in an Aug. 26 bout: “He totally disrespected black women. He called black people monkeys. Then he spoke disrespectfully to my daughter’s mother and he spoke disrespectfully to my daughter.” Yo! Floyd! You’re a serial woman-beater. You’ve gone to jail for beating up women. Don’t talk to us about disrespecting women.

  • Former National Football League quarterback Michael Vick had these words of advice for blackballed QB Colin Kaepernick: “(The) first thing we got to get Colin to do is cut his hair. I’m not here trying to be politcially correct, but, even if he puts cornrows in there, I don’t think he should represent himself in that way. The most important thing he needs to do is just try and be presentable. He may need a life coach.” Yo! Mikey! You used to torture and kill dogs in a dog-fighting operation. You went to jail for torturing and killing dogs. Don’t talk to us about life coaches.

  • Unconvicted killer and convicted armed robber O.J. Simpson said this while sweet-talking four members of the Nevada Parole Board into granting him his freedom after almost nine years behind bars: “I basically spent a conflict-free life,” and “No one ever accused me of pulling a weapon on them.” Yo! Juice! You beat your ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson so severely one night that she was taken to hospital, you hacked her and friend Ron Goldman to death, you robbed people at gunpoint. Don’t talk to us about non-conflict and deadly weapons.

Frankly, while wooing the Nevada parole commissioners, I’m surprised the dreadful Simpson didn’t tell them that he absolutely had to get out of jail to resume his bogus search “for the real killers” of his ex-wife and friend. No doubt he’ll resume his search on the first tee of some swanky golf course in Florida. What a disingenuous, deplorable cad.

Patti Dawn Swansson has been scribbling mostly about Winnipeg sports for 47 years, which means she’s old and probably should think about getting a life.

Domestic violence: It’s the sports media’s new chew toy, but for how long?

Right now, the sports media are riding a horse named Morality and she’s been running with her ears pinned back and her nostrils flared for the past week. She is at full gallop. She’ll be reined in, though. Guaranteed. The media then will hop on another horse and take her for a ride.

Adrian Peterson is my father. I am his child. I have felt the bite of his tree branch on my back, my buttocks and my legs. I bruised. I bled.

And now I bleed for his four-year-old boy.

I don’t know if I’m a product of child abuse, or a survivor of child abuse. Perhaps I am an escapee. Whatever the case, I was raised in an environment of tyranny and the man who beat me with a belt buckle and the back of his hand was a flawed human being. As is Adrian Peterson.

And Peterson is among the reasons why placing professional athletes upon a pedestal is not among my weaknesses.

As much as I admire the skill of most play-for-pay jocks, I have, for the longest time, viewed them as human beings. They spit when brushing their teeth. Just like you and I. They wipe their kids’ runny noses. Just like you and I. So why wouldn’t they also rape and murder and steal and abuse and cheat and lie and get behind the wheel of a car after swilling a keg of beer?

I cannot recall the precise moment when I first stood in agreement with the reality that sports figures were mere mortals, albeit with a special talent, but I believe it wasn’t too many days removed from the Christmas morning when I discovered that Santa Claus was actually my Uncle Jim.

I mention this because of the “off with their heads” chorus that has raised its pitch in the wake of rather sordid and unlawful behaviour—not to dismiss the drama of a murder trial—that has placed athletes squarely on the human side of the playing surface in the past 10 days.

  • We have seen video evidence that shows us Ray Rice punching out his financee/now wife Janay and dragging her limp body from an elevator.
  • We know that Adrian Peterson took a branch from a tree and used it to administer a “whooping” on his four-year-old son, a misdeed that has drawn an indictment of child abuse in Texas.
  • Many of us watched Oscar Pistorius beat a murder one rap in a South Africa court.

Rice, a running back with the Baltimore Ravens when he wasn’t laying a licking on his lady, has been banished from the National Football League. Peterson is in football purgatory, not allowed to participate in any Minnesota Vikings team functions until the Pro Bowl ball carrier’s legal situation is resolved. Pistorius, meanwhile, awaits his fate on the much lesser guilty verdict of culpable homicide in the Valentine’s Day shooting death of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, and the possibility exists that the so-called Blade Runner might one day again be adorned in South African colors during athletic competition.

Domestic violence surely has provided the sports media with a new chew toy.

The pontifications have been harsh, also relentless. Voices have cried out in the manner of a righteous, traveling salvationist delivering hell-burning, Bible-thumping condemnation, not only of Rice, Peterson and others whose names have appeared on a police blotter or a court docket, but also of the NFL’s much-maligned puppet master, commissioner Roger Goodell. Scribes have dipped their pens into wells of poison ink.

Trouble is, I fear many of the people using commissioner Goodell for a pinata and tsk-tsking Rice and Peterson never gave more than five minutes of thought to domestic violence/child abuse until they viewed the evidence of Ray Rice going all Mike Tyson on his girlfriend.

I spent 30 years in mainstream media. How often was domestic violence/child abuse the topic du jour when scribes and broadcasters gathered for pints and eats? Zero. So am I to believe they actually now care, or are they merely pushing the hot-button issue?

And, please, spare me the sanctimonious spewings of Ray Lewis, the former Baltimore Ravens defender who quite possibly got away with the murder of two men 14 years ago. ESPN putting this lawbreaker in his usual spot with Boomer and the boys on Sunday NFL Countdown, and granting him voice to the trespasses of Rice and Peterson was the highest level of rancid. What next from the Worldwide Leader, Tiger Woods the marriage counselor?

Don’t misunderstand. I’m glad the issue is out there. It’s important that we talk about such matters so change can be affected. But, like I said, it’s a new chew toy and I worry about its shelf life.

Right now, the sports media are riding a horse named Morality and she’s been running with her ears pinned back and her nostrils flared for the past week. She is at full gallop. She’ll be reined in, though. Guaranteed. The media then will hop on another horse and take her for a ride.

Which leaves us where?

Well, at some point, Ray Rice will receive his public pardon. Ditto Adrian Peterson. This will happen because the public eventually sees itself in morality’s mirror. It has a tendency to pardon evil-doing athletes like Rice, Peterson and Michael Vick, whose lawless acts included the torture of dogs, because they themselves might have done something similar. Or perhaps their brother, sister or neighbor did.

That’s the significant reality that has been amiss in this discussion: Adrian Peterson and Ray Rice are not football players who happen to be human. They are human beings who happen to play football. Theirs, like those of all humans, are lives of imperfection, full of frailties and flaws that sometimes reach beyond any reasonable boundary of acceptance. In short, they’re going to screw up.

As much as sports can be a study in courage (not the type of courage it takes to rush into a burning building to save lives, but courage on an athletic level), it is also a study in human failings. Athletes are flawed human beings, just like your butcher, your baker and your corner grocer. The separation, of course, is that we don’t position the butcher as a role model, do we? We don’t put his picture on the front of a Wheaties box. Professional athletes, on the other hand, are role models by default, whether they like it or not. Our condemnation of their misdeeds is amplified due to the loft of their celebrity.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is also an imperfect human being. He has screwed up. But you tell me which is worse: a football commissioner who botches his ruling on domestic violence or a South African judge who lets a man get away with murder.

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, comfortable at a keyboard (although arthritic fingers sometimes make typing a bit of a chore) and she doesn’t know when to 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.