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Old 06-07-2005, 05:20 PM   #1
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Default [Sports Central Newsletter] #125 - Man U and the Myth

The Sports Central Newsletter
June 2005 - Issue #125

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|-- IN THIS ISSUE... --|

- Words From the Editor
- Hot Topics From the SCMB
- The O-Files: "Man U and the Myth"
- Editor's Pick: "Baseball of a Different Color"
- Shots From the Lip: "The Healing Power of Sport"



Hello folks,

We're back with a full, jam-packed issue this month. Mike's "Shots From the Lip" column returns and you'll find out why he was absent last month (turns out, he understandably had more important issues to deal with). In the O-Files, Brad looks at the rage Manchester United soccer fans are feeling over new owner Malcolm Glazer, also the owner of the NFL's Buccaneers. Are British soccer fans justified in calling Glazer a greedy, money-grubbing man, or is he a ruthless owner with a successful track record?

You'll notice a new feature in this issue, Hot Topics From the SCMB. Each issue, I'll highlight some of the interesting threads from the message boards (http://www.SportsCentralBoards.com), which have over 170,000 posts now. We'd love for you to join us!


-- Marc James
Sports Central Founder/Publisher
mailto:[email protected]



[MLB] All-Star Voting

[NBA] Bogut takes shots at Kobe

[NBA] If you were Phil...............

[NFL] Classiest Franchise Ever

[NFL] The On-Going Saga of Sticky Icky Ricky

[TENNIS] Roland Garros 2005

[LOUNGE] Movie Reviews

[LOUNGE] Star Wars - Episode III


|-- THE O-FILES --|

By Brad Oremland

Malcolm Glazer, the owner of the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers, is also the new owner of Manchester United, perhaps the most storied soccer team in the world. Apologies, by the way, to my international readers, but it's going to be "soccer" throughout this column. Referring to both of Glazer's sports as "football" would cause a much bigger headache than I can handle.

Glazer's purchase of Man U has drawn the ire of many fans. Frankly, I don't blame them. Ownership practices in North American sports are artless and devoid of morality. I hate seeing them applied here, and it's equally appalling to imagine them applied to an overseas team with a proud tradition.

Glazer went deep into debt to secure the purchase and has publicly stated his intention to triple the team's profits. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that step one in that plan involves selling the naming rights to Old Trafford. Step two is raising ticket prices. Incidentally, those are also steps one and two in "How to Utterly Alienate Fans Already Inclined to Dislike You." Step three and this is the really tricky, very "American" twist is to cut player salaries. Maybe now fans on both sides of the Atlantic can enjoy being fans of a team whose ticket prices go up while salaries go down.

There are arguments being made in Glazer's defense, to be fair. But also to be fair all of them are ridiculous.

Let's tackle the big one, the myth that's supposed to justify everything else for skeptical MU fans:

"Glazer is a winner."

Let's begin by pointing out that Manchester United is already a successful team. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, when Glazer bought the team, were in need of a rescue that MU doesn't require. Glazer's purchase of his NFL team coincided closely with the league's loosely socialist salary cap and revenue-sharing plan, which has brought relative prosperity to every franchise in the league.

Glazer a winner? It's true on paper, but only on paper. Glazer has a Super Bowl ring, and no one can take that away from him, but it wasn't Glazer that turned the Bucs around and orchestrated the success that won that ring.

The man behind Tampa's turnaround was GM Rich McKay, the son of original Tampa Bay coach John McKay, and more importantly, the godson of longtime Bucs owner Hugh Culverhouse. Glazer retained Rich McKay when he acquired the franchise, and he was richly rewarded. McKay hired Tony Dungy, the third African-American head coach in the NFL's modern era, and Dungy quickly built a winner. The younger McKay also balanced the salary cap while improving the roster: Warren Sapp, Derrick Brooks, Mike Alstott, Ronde Barber, Warrick Dunn, Simeon Rice, Brad Johnson all those players were McKay's guys.

After the 2001 season, the Glazer family fired Dungy. McKay examined several replacement candidates before deciding on Marvin Lewis, but he was overruled by Glazer's sons. The GM was so frustrated that he received permission to interview with other teams and nearly quit. The team eventually concluded its embarrassing search for a new coach by trading two first-round draft picks and two second-round draft picks to the Oakland Raiders in exchange for Jon Gruden.

Where are all these people now? Dungy was immediately hired by the Indianapolis Colts and now has the longest active playoff streak in the NFL. Lewis, now the head coach of the Cincinnati Bengals, has guided that usually feeble team to its first back-to-back .500 seasons since 1990. McKay left Tampa Bay and now works for the Atlanta Falcons, last year's NFC runner-up. The Buccaneers won the Super Bowl in 2002, but have gone 12-20 since and have few promising young players because of the draft picks they gave away in the Gruden trade.

Is the difference between Gruden and Lewis or Dungy really worth four high draft picks? I think Dungy and Lewis are probably better coaches, straight up, and the sentiment that Gruden simply "won with Dungy's team" is a common one. The 2002 Super Bowl Bucs had the best defense in the NFL, but every defensive coach on the team was a Dungy man, and 10 of the team's 11 defensive starters were brought in by Dungy.

So Gruden left the defense alone. That's just good sense, right? And he must have improved the offense. Gruden was an offensive coordinator before he became a head coach, so that makes sense. In 2001, Dungy's final season with the club, Tampa ranked 25th (out of 31) in yards gained and 15th in points scored. In 2002, under Gruden, the team was 24th (out of 32) in yards and 18th in points. That's almost identical. Brad Johnson was slightly more efficient at quarterback, but that makes sense in his second year working with his receivers.

But I'm dwelling on the past. Let's look at the team's present. McKay is gone, working for a division rival. Dungy is gone, in charge of a team oddsmakers think is one of the NFL's best bets to win next year's Super Bowl. Sapp, Dunn, and Johnson are gone. Alstott, Barber, Brooks, and Rice are all on the wrong side of 30. Last year's Bucs went 5-11, the team's worst record since 1993. Glazer has raised ticket prices six times in the last seven years.

The Glazer clan has made one good decision during its time in charge of the Buccaneers: leaving McKay alone from 1995 to 2001, including giving him the go-ahead to hire Dungy. Manchester United fans should expect even less from their new owner.


Brad welcomes your feedback: mailto:[email protected]?subject=O-Files
(Copy and paste the address if it isn't clickable.)


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There have been 15 new articles posted on Sports Central in the last week. Check them all out at: https://www.sports-central.org. The Editor's Pick is:

Baseball of a Different Color
By Eric Poole

Were it not for Latin American players, Major League Baseball in 2005 would look a lot like it did in 1945. After years of decline in black participation, baseball is finally doing something about bringing African-Americans back to the sport they once fought to play.




By Mike Round

It's fashionable nowadays to denigrate sports as a great irrelevance, especially post-9/11. I've done it myself. Even as a committed sports nut, I realize that in the great scheme of things sport has a low priority. You feel a momentary buzz when your team wins a game or a title, but for most well-adjusted people that's where it ends.

I traveled back to England recently. My brother was admitted to hospital with a mystery ailment. He'd slowly lost the use of his legs over the preceding few weeks and was so weak he could barely summon enough energy to raise his body from the prone position.

In the great tradition of the British health service, he was left to his own devices until finally a bed in a hospital became vacant. Presumably some poor sap had succumbed to the many viruses that populate UK hospitals, waiting to finish off patients weakened by inedible hospital food.

After a week or so, they diagnosed my brother with multiple sclerosis. At 42-years-old, his life was completely shattered. No more work, driving, walking unaided all the things we take for granted.

Needless to say, he was devastated. Our mother was beyond devastation, immediately taking the blame for "passing on my bad genes." Only another mother can relate to the grief of seeing their child so ill or worse. He was sedated for a day or so in order to get him to relax and come to terms with his predicament.

After a few days he was allowed home, with ongoing tests and treatment to be carried out. Luckily, being back with his family settled him and allowed him time to reflect.

Before I returned to the States, my wife and I visited him numerous times. The change in him in comparison to before the illness was remarkable. Previously, he had what Susan calls "presentation issues." Suffice to say, dress wasn't a priority around the house. "Trailer-park chic" was her description. As if in defiance of his illness, a complete makeover had occurred. New shirt, including sleeves, trousers (ironed) rather than sweat pants, and a shave.

My brother has always, like me, been a sports fan. Unlike me, he was never a competitor, merely an onlooker. But he took his on-looking seriously, having encyclopedic knowledge on numerous sports, especially cricket. Since I moved to the States, I've persuaded him of the merits of American sports and he has become a devotee of football and basketball, in particular.

I'd heard from my mother that he was, understandably, in low spirits. The new appearance was a good sign to the contrary. But what really animated him and gave him his spirit back was sport. The climax to the English Premier League soccer season was happening. The soccer F.A. Cup Final was approaching. The World Snooker Championship, a hugely popular event in the UK, was in full flow and on BBC TV for 12 hours a day. The baseball season was heating up and the NBA season almost at it's culmination. The impending warmer weather meant cricket was back.

All of this we take for granted when we are fit and healthy and leading busy lives that leave precious little time for lazing around in front of the TV. To a man who can barely move, these events are a godsend.

He was more animated on the sporting issues of the day than ever that afternoon, like Woody Paige without the chalkboard over his shoulder. I'd expected a long and painful time trying to coax him out of an understandable slump and was delighted to see such enthusiasm.

It was then I realized that sports have a more important role in life than we realize. To a person who can't live a normal life, sports are a portal to the world as a whole. As a person living with a serious incapacity, sports offers a way to become engrossed in challenges you can never partake in. You can't pit yourself against the world or others, whether it be through work, on the field of play, or in many other spheres of life that require health and strength. But you can by proxy become involved in supreme challenges undertaken by others.

It's fashionable to knock today's sports stars as greedy, selfish, self-important, and despicable individuals. But it's important to remember that for every Terrell Owens and Kobe Bryant, there are dozens of Miguel Tejada's and Brett Favre's. Sports stars merely reflect society. I doubt whether a greater proportion of athletes than lawyers, doctors, accountants, or janitors are objectionable individuals they are just more high-profile. Maybe it's time we looked at our athletes with more dispassion and refrained from the "hero or zero," all-or-nothing approach to people that are, after all, just human beings.

As we drove away from his house my wife, a total and utter sports sceptic, said to me, "Next time we come over, we'll take him to a soccer game." I took the "we" as a minor victory.


Mike welcomes your feedback: mailto:[email protected]?subject=SFTL
(Copy and paste the address if it isn't clickable.)


(Thanks for reading! Next issue is set to come out on 07/03/05.)

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