COLUMN: The NFL goes NASCAR, and vice-versa
A surprising couple of days
It’s been a fascinating couple of days. On Tuesday, NASCAR officials didn’t get their way, and the Denver Broncos signed Peyton Manning. On Wednesday, the NFL suspended a Super Bowl-winning coach for a year. And the Broncos traded Tim Tebow to the New York Jets.
Tebow fans must have sounded like cowboys in those old Pace salsa ads. “New York City?”
All of this I found vexing. It would’ve made a little sense had it been 11 days later, at which time I could’ve popped myself in the forehead and said, “Ah, hah! April Fool’s Day!”
Manning, of course, is the only NFL player who could replace Tebow in Denver without fostering insurrection. John Fox is one of few NFL coaches who can handle the notion that the new quarterback is smarter than he is. Manning has the sense to realize that he and, say, Mike Shanahan, could never get along.
(By the way, isn’t it coincidental that, when the Indianapolis Colts hosted a Super Bowl, Manning’s availability set off a collapse, and the next Super Bowl is to be hosted by the Sean Payton-less Saints. So much for home cooking, huh?)
When I heard Tebow was going to be playing for Rex Ryan, was I alone in muttering to myself, “No way.” I didn’t think so. My first thought was that Jeff Gordon has a better chance of ending hunger. The closing line of a Tom T. Hall song also came to mind: “I’ve often sat and wondered who it was converted whom.”
Payton, who led a team that paid its defensive players for knocking players on the other team out of games, is gone for a year. A year! Other suspensions are sure to follow from the NFL commissioner, Roger Goodell, who seems to fancy himself the present-day Judge Kennesaw Mountain Landis, the baseball commissioner who banned Shoeless Joe Jackson and seven other Chicago White Sox for life. (Hence the term “Black Sox Scandal.”)
That was in 1919.
Meanwhile NASCAR, the sport everyone expects to be governed by 1919 standards of jurisprudence, got itself slapped down by its own Chief Appellate Officer. John Middlebrook erased six-race suspensions of Jimmie Johnson’s guru (crew chief Chad Knaus) and right-hand man (car chief Ron Malec). He passed 25 points back out. , Knaus got off with a $100,000 fine, and as they say in all major sports these days, “Money, schmoney. What’s a 100 grand?”
By the previous standards of NASCAR’s draconian law, John Middlebrook is Earl Warren. By NASCAR’s standards, John Roberts is Earl Warren. (See Court, Supreme.)
Maybe NASCAR didn’t have enough money invested. Middlebrook’s salary is $1 a year.
Monte Dutton; 704-869-1841; twitter.com/montedutton