Duante Culpepper had all the charges against him arising from the 'Lake Minnetonka Love Boat Incident' dismissed. The judge in the case said there
wasn't even probable cause to believe that Culpepper committed a crime. To my mind, that goes beyond a jury saying that they don't believe the
evidence supports a conviction; here, the judge says that the evidence is so flimsy that it isn't worth the time and energy it would take to present
it to a jury. (Apologies to any lawyers reading out there; I realize this is not the way this concept might be presented in law school.) And Duante
Culpepper has been traded away from the Vikings in part because of the way he and the team interacted in the time that has intervened between 'the
cruise' and the dismissal of charges.
Culpepper's teammate, Moe Williams, also asked the same judge to drop the charges against him. The judge did not do so; by implication, his ruling
was that there is sufficient reason to believe that a jury should make the decision as to Williams' guilt or innocence. To me, that means there is
more evidence against Williams but he remains innocent for the time being. Williams remains with the Vikings.
Two other Vikes are charged and the charges remain on the books for now; they were not in court yesterday seeking a dismissal of the charges; they may
do so at a later date if their lawyers think that's a good idea. They too remain with the team. So for the moment, the new leadership for the
Vikings - new coach, new owner, new whatever - found a way to alienate and trade away for the equivalent of a sack of donuts the only player against
whom the evidence wasn't even worthy of hearing in court. Fans in Minnesota better hope this is not a harbinger of things to come as this crew makes
more decisions on the direction of the franchise.
There are reports that the Dolphins are interested in signing Joey Harrington to be their back-up QB in case Culpepper is not fully ready to play at
the start of the season. I am not a Joey Harrington hater; I do not believe that the lack of success of the Detroit Lions over the past several years
has been his fault alone. Hell, I don't even think he is the main culprit. Having said that, there is little in his NFL resume to date that would
indicate he is much of a quarterback. Yet, the Dolphins, Chiefs, Raiders, Bengals, Cowboys, Seahawks and Broncos have all been rumored to be talking
to his agent. I'm not sure that makes a whole lot of sense to me.
Every time there is a lull in the news cycle regarding the NFL, someone can trot out a story about what the league is doing or not doing to get a
franchise in LA. Might they move a team? Might they expand? Who might move? Where will they play? You've read enough stories about this business
to fill in most of those blanks. But in the background, the Oakland Raiders are still pursuing there claim of territorial rights to the LA area. The
Raiders claim the NFL forced the Raiders out of the LA market in 1994 and filed a billion dollar suit against the NFL as compensation for that
'forcing out'. The Raiders lost in trial court but have an appeal in process. I have no idea if there is any reason for the appeal to be heard or if
the Raiders might prevail in future proceedings; but evidently, this situation is still 'fluid'. Stay tuned...
ESPN.com has a small corner of its website called Soccernet. I check that out about once or twice a month because every once in a while there is
something outrageously silly there; the 'governance' of soccer ranks right up there with the 'governance' of ice-skating in terms of efficiency and
effectiveness. On a recent visit, I was pleased to read the following words from Fanny Amun who is the Acting Secretary-General of the Nigerian
'We know match officials are offered money or anything to influence matches and they can accept it. Referees should only pretend to fall for the bait
but make sure the result does not favor those offering the bribe.'
Read that again. Referees can take the money; that part is clear. But does the next part mean that they should call the game down the middle or does
it mean they should 'make sure the result does not favor those offering the bribe' i.e. make sure their side loses the game? Assuming that it means
only that the referees should call the game fairly as if no bribe had been offered and accepted, doesn't this ask the referees to put themselves in a
dangerous situation? Soccer referees are subject to assaults and attacks under ordinary circumstances; here you have a bribe offered and accepted and
then the result doesn't come out the way the person paying the bribe wants it to come out. If the person handing out the money is the Nigerian
counterpart of Tony Soprano, this might not be a great strategy for Nigerian soccer officials.
Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Nigerian Football League, Oyuiki Obaseki chided the Nigerian soccer referees for 'poor match reports' and blamed the
bribes paid to referees for that poor quality. He went on to say that the poor quality of the match reports had done the league no good and that he
wanted the officials to 'please desist from corrupt practices'.
Talk about mixed messages. One official tells the referees it's fine and dandy to take the money and run - so to speak - while the other tells them
to desist from corrupt practices. And one corrupt practice might be to take the money and then not deliver on what the money was paid to produce.
I'd be tempted to say that only in the governance of soccer could this kind of silliness occur but then my mind wanders to the world of ice-skating
and the NCAA and the IOC and any of the 'alphabet soup' boxing associations and...
There has been some hullabaloo recently about Chris Evert and Martina Navritolova criticizing the Williams sisters for lack of attention to tennis.
My first reaction to this was to stifle a yawn, but the story seems to have legs. So, let me observe that clearly in the case of Serena Williams,
there is an obvious lack of attention to tennis. That is her business; it is not mine - nor is it Evert's/Navritolova's; but there is no denying it
is true. Serena Williams was recently ranked 57th in the world; two years ago she could have played left handed and carried a teddy bear under her
right arm and still been the 57th best player in the world. Recently, she seems to have been far more involved in designing fashions than in
maintaining her backhand passing shot; she seems to aspire to an acting career even though it would be wise of one of her advisors to warn her that
the role of Lady Macbeth is not in the cards; she is clearly enamored of being a celebrity and attending 'celebrity events' - such as the Oscars -
where the only prerequisite for getting attention is being recognized and wearing outrageous and/or skimpy clothing. And based on photos from recent
'celebrity events', I would suspect that Serena Williams may be training for a new career in competitive eating events. She doesn't look as if she is
playing tennis much anymore ' not on the pro circuit and not for any recreational purposes.
Finally, here's a comment from syndicated columnist, Norman Chad, about listening to John McEnroe do tennis commentary on TV:
'I'd rather be stuck in a grain elevator with a gaggle of chanting Hare Krishna and an aluminum-siding salesman.'
But don't get me wrong, I love sports... ... ...