The Ballad of the Outlaw

The Ballad of the Outlaw

Slayings not forgotten, Ray Lewis not forgiven (Brent Schrotenboer, USA Today, 2013)

“My nephew was brutally beaten and murdered and nobody is paying for it,” Baker’s uncle, Greg Wilson, told USA TODAY Sports. “Everything is so fresh in our mind, it’s just like it happened yesterday. We’ll never forget this.”

Only Lewis pleaded guilty in relation to the case: for obstruction of justice, a misdemeanor. He originally was charged with two counts of murder but struck a deal with prosecutors in exchange for his testimony against two of his companions that night, Reginald Oakley and Joseph Sweeting.

Lewis never directly linked his two friends to the killings, and they were acquitted. Lewis had testified that Oakley, Sweeting and another man had gone to a sporting goods store the previous day to buy knives. Baker’s blood later was found in Lewis’ limo. Having fled the crime scene, Lewis told the limo’s passengers to “keep their mouths shut.” The white suit Lewis was wearing that night — on Super Bowl Sunday — never was found.

“I’m not trying to end my career like this,” Lewis said in his hotel that night, according to the testimony of a female passenger in the limo.

He didn’t. For his punishment, Lewis received one year of probation and a $250,000 fine by the NFL.


Johnny Manziel reaches agreement to dismiss domestic violence charge (ESPN, 2016)

The allegations stem from a night out on Jan. 30. Crowley said Manziel accosted her at a Dallas hotel, a confrontation that continued downstairs to the valet station. She said he forced her into a car and that a valet disregarded her pleas for help.

The two eventually drove to where her car was parked in front of a Dallas bar, she said in an affidavit. She said Manziel got into the driver’s seat and began to drive. Crowley said Manziel stopped when she tried to jump out of the car, but then he dragged her back inside and hit her. {…}

On Monday, an employee of an Austin bar filed a lawsuit against Manziel, seeking up to $1 million in damages. The plaintiff says his nose was broken when Manziel punched him.


NFL Execs: Johnny Manziel’s ‘Potential Is off the Charts’ Amid Comeback Attempt (Timothy Rapp, Bleacher Report, Four Days Ago)

NFL executives reportedly think Johnny Manziel’s potential is “off the charts,” according to B/R’s Mike Freeman, as the quarterback attempts to make an NFL comeback. {…}

“My bottom line is that there is no doubt in my mind that someone should sign him,” he noted. “I’ve seen enough of the quarterback skill. His endurance has not been an issue. I’ve never been around Johnny Manziel until this moment in time, but I see a very quick arm. I see very active eyes. He sees things and particularly when he’s on the move, those classic Johnny Manziel plays, I’ve seen those come up here.” {…}

It’s unclear if Manziel will catch on with an NFL team, but if he doesn’t, he’ll likely continue his career with the CFL’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats, who Seifert reported “covet” Manziel. Regardless, it appears Johnny Football will be on the field next season.


49ers release statement on charges filed against Reuben Foster (Brad Almquist, KNBR, Today)

More than an hour after the Santa Clara District Attorney Office charged 49ers linebacker Reuben Foster with felony domestic violence, the 49ers released a statement regarding the case.

“The 49ers organization is aware of today’s disturbing charges regarding Reuben Foster,” the 49ers said in a release. “We will continue to follow this serious matter. Reuben is aware that his place in our organization is under great scrutiny and will depend on what is learned through the legal process.”

It remains to be seen how CEO Jed York and general manager John Lynch will proceed with the Foster case, but the organization has not released the 24-year-old linebacker, yet. Last year, the 49ers released Tramaine Brock one day after he was arrested for felony domestic violence.

Foster faces charges of domestic violence with an allegation that he inflicted great bodily injury, forcefully attempting to prevent a victim from reporting a crime, and possession of an assault weapon – all felonies, according to the DA’s report. Foster will be arraigned at 1:30 p.m. in San Jose Thursday.


Seahawks postpone Colin Kaepernick visit after QB refuses to commit to stop kneeling: report (Evan Grossman, New York Daily News, Today)

The Seattle Seahawks postponed a meeting with Colin Kaepernick when he refused to stop kneeling during the national anthem, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

The Seahawks are in the market for a backup QB. Kaepernick has said he would stop protesting against police brutality and racial injustice during “The Star-Spangled Banner,” but apparently he is not willing to guarantee he won’t ever take a knee again. That, according to Schefter, may have scared the Seahawks, who have already parted ways with outspoken activists Michael Bennett and Richard Sherman this offseason.

“The question of how he will handle the anthem this year came up and caused that visit, at the very least, to be postponed, and possibly canceled, depending on how you look at it,” Schefter said on “NFL Live” Thursday afternoon.


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Will Truman is a former professional gearhead who is presently a stay-at-home father in the Mountain East. He has moved around frequently, having lived in six places since 2003, ranging from rural outposts to major metropolitan areas. He also writes fiction, when he finds the time. ...more →

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24 thoughts on “The Ballad of the Outlaw

  1. This does nothing to improve my view of professional sports and whom professional sports (especially the NFL) sees as their audience and their role. A former NFL cheerleader filed a complaint with the EEOC over sex discrimination because cheerleaders have a different and much more stringent set of rules than the players. Kareem Abdul Jabar noted that the NFL likes to fancy itself as the defender of American traditionality. This includes looking at women in revealing outfits while also tightly controlling what they do.

    The NFL sees itself as a bastion of traditionalism and white, conservatism. This is toxic masculinity defined.

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  2. I don’t get where this story comes from. If Kaep was any good and truly interested in playing, or so talented it outweighed the headache, someone would take him. I say that as someone with no problem with the kneeling.

    The guy lost his starting job to Blaine fing Gabbert. He’s also the one who opted out of his own contract with SF, despite Kyle Shanahan being made HC. You know, the guy who made RG3 work and, along with Pete Carroll/Russell Wilson showed the NFL that the option heavy offense stuff can work at the pro level even without a QB like Cam Newton.

    I would not want him on the Redskins (who I root for) and not at all for political reasons. He’s a marginal starter and I don’t think his head is really in it. If he wants to become an activist he should and I would wish him well.

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      • Yeah. I mean, you can convince me that he’s not good enough to make a squad and that it’s legit that he hasn’t, but you can’t convince me that he’s not good enough to give a tryout.

        I mean, InMD is right that they’re balancing his talent against the publicity, but the fact that the publicity is as heavy a thumb as it is remains significant. We can say “it’s the market at work” or that they’re overly cautious or that they’re being petty dumb.

        But whether we’re blaming the market and the fans or the owners, something is off-balance here.

        Any belief that Manziel is a better prospect is almost entirely speculative, based on what… some Spring league play? It’s just that what he’s accused of doing doesn’t register in the same way that what Kaepernick does.

        And that’s really screwed up.

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        • But even saying it’s the market is saying that the negatives of the protest outweigh the positives of his play. Which may be true and may not be but is ultimately pretty subjective. But it is a strange leap for those folks who go from there to then somehow arguing that it has nothing to do with the protests. Gah?

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          • Yes, the “market” argument embraces the role of the protests and the backlash. It’s basically flipping the roles on some of the advertiser boycotts. “We spoke up, were heard, and won.”

            I asked today if we were past the point where we were pretending there was ambiguity behind Kaep’s blacklisting. No one said there was. One person said as far as he knows nobody never even made that claim. He’s wrong, but it seems instructive that he can convince himself of that. Not sure he would have been able to a year ago.

            To be clear, that’s not quite what InMD is saying. He is arguing that it was a combination of the two. He wasn’t talented enough to overcome the baggage of the protests. So he would have been in if he’d either been a better athlete or hadn’t protested. Which I think is right, but the issue for me is that the protests carried too much baggage, regardless of who we’re pointing at (NFL, media, fans) as having a chip on their shoulder.

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        • @kazzy

          It’s not that he couldn’t make a squad, but based on 2016 and 2015 stats he’s a bottom 10 starter. The big issue for him is a below 60% passing accuracy (his QBR in 2016 was 90 I think which also isn’t good). There’s basically one guy who can get away with that and he plays in Carolina. He has other qualities that can make him a workable option but it drastically limits his market.

          By my count there are 6 teams that run offenses Kaep could succeed in. Those are SEA, CAR, BUF, HOU, TEN, and maybe DAL. SF can do it with Shanahan as HC but they won’t with Garrapollo starting. So you’ve got a situation where his style of play limits his market already, and his last 2 seasons put him in the bottom tier of start-able QBs. If I’m one of those teams trotting out a bottom 10 QB every week chances are I’m not very good. The question I’m asking myself is, if my press conferences already are going to suck, and my fan base is already pissed at me for other reasons, do I need to add this? The answer is we’re fucked anyway so we might as well sign someone like Blaine Gabbert.

          I also don’t see the Manziel talk as nearly as telling. He got a chance to toss around the ball with amateurs in front of some scouts but still has no contract and I don’t think he’ll get one. He gets some ‘what if’ attention because his time in CLE was brief enough that some people convince themselves he isn’t a known quantity in the NFL. Everyone knows what Kaep’s abilities are. It’s why RG3 (a different kind of potential headache) is on the Ravens as a backup after a year out of the game on a million dollar no risk for the team deal.

          I think the RG3 deal is about what Kaep’s value is in the eyes of an NFL GM, but would he take that? Remember, he walked away from a contract which with incentives and options was a $126 million deal. Now maybe he thought he was going to be cut but SF had a new regime and the competition was Matt Barkley and Brian Hoyer. To me this raises legitimate questions about whether and how badly he actually wants to play.

          My point is that you’re really looking at a critical mass of reasons not to sign. Maybe Will is right in his comment above that the level of consideration the protest baggage gets is disproportionate or otherwise unfair. I don’t think there’s any objective way to answer that. But plenty of other players last season took a knee and are still playing. The idea that we’ve got this star QB who has been blacklisted because of a political protest is an interesting click-bait narrative but that conclusion requires us to leave out a lot of facts and context.

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          • A bottom 10 starter is a top 30 QB in a league where 60-90 QBs are employed. As you note, scheme matters.

            I agree there is no way to say that the protest is being weigh disporportionately. But it’s absolutely *a* factor… one among many. I mean, the Seahawks situation makes that pretty undeniable.

            That bothers me. But lots of what the NFL bothers me. I’d only call this risable if it was a concerted and collaborated effort on the part of the League itself or the owners en masse to blackball him as opposed to individual teams making individual decisions.

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            • The take away I see is if you’re going to do anything to court controversy you better be good, and probably elite level good. If you’re only ‘make a roster’ good you’re taking your career in your hands.

              And look as someone who sympathizes with the cause I almost wonder if it wouldnt be better for him to move from football to political activism. He’s already made tens of millions of dollars. He could put a national face to a movement thats struggled to find one.

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              • What stands out to me is that he largely retreated from the controversy and focused on the cause itself. For all the talk of him grandstanding or whatever, he actually did the opposite. He didn’t find a team so he shifted his attention.

                I do believe he explored or actually pursued/is pursuing some legal action against the league regarding collusion to blackball him. Which to me seems reasonable even given what you say above since the CBA does offer protections against that very thing.

                In short, he seemed more than willing to accept teams not wanting a part of him as a result of his politics. Where he stopped short was accepting the League violating the “rights” he was contractually entitled to. It remains to be seen whether that happened or happened in such a way that is provable. But that is what the court/arbitration system is for.
                Otherwise, he’s literally been out of the public eye doing actual work and its been everyone else making him a lightning rod. For some reason, there seems to be this perception that he is still kneeling during the anthem at games. He’s become a symbol for both sides. Which seems like a weird move by those who oppose him given how much power that bestows upon him and his ideas.

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                • In short, if individual teams want to stay away from him because of his politics, that is there right. I personally don’t think that makes good football sense but owners thing about much more than what happens on the field. That’s 100% their call. And Kaep himself seems to recognize and accept that.

                  I think it is undeniable that his political stance and protests are a factor in his unemployment. But, again, that is how the cookie crumbles.

                  What I find really problematic — and what I think Kaep does, too — is the possibility of a broader attempt to keep him out of the league that goes beyond individual teams/owners making individual decisions. Even if you think the league ought to be able to do that, my understanding of the CBA is that they are explicitly barred from doing so. Which really takes us into a contract issue more than anything. I can’t say for sure that that is happening and my general thoughts on conspiracies are that they are very hard to pull of because inevitably evidence comes out. So I’d say it is unlikely this is organized in any way beyond some behind-the-scenes whispering which probably doesn’t rise to the level of violating the CBA.

                  I’d rather see Kaep in the league than not, as both a player and a voice. If he can’t be a player, I give him mad props for putting his money where his mouth is and making real change in the world.

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                  • I don’t disagree with any of this. That’s what the CBA and the union are there for. If the league is violating the terms of the deal then Kaeperneck can and absolutely should take action against them.

                    I don’t have any personal criticism towards him or how he’s handling himself. But like you say above it’s not just him now. It’s him and a massive national sports media and probably the biggest single entertainment/sports entity in the country and millions of fans and all the money wrapped up in that.

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                    • I think we’re largely in agreement here and I might have been inferring some things from your original statement that are better ascribed to folks that might be adjacent to your position but not your actual position. My apologies for that.

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            • I also just want to add this because I think there’s a lot of looking at this situation in a vacuum. I’m a fan of a team that has become notorious for off the field issues. And I don’t just mean the name controversy. Since the team was bought by Dan Snyder its been one scandal, personnel issue, and PR disaster after another.

              It really sucks for the fans, and it sucks even worse when the team can’t win. Taking a knee isnt the same as run-ins with the law, but those controversies seem to fade pretty quickly. If Kaepernick is signed, the coach, teammates, everyone is going to be asked about it every week, because the national anthem is played every week. Local sports media is going to be dominated by people and fans taking sides over it. He’s a hero to fans on one side of town and a villain on the other. It’s not crazy to me that franchises are hesitant about walking into that when comparable talent is readily available. Like I said, above, I wouldn’t want it on my team.

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              • I hear you. As an Eagles fan (though not one living in Philly), I remember the Michael Vick situation all too well. I felt particularly caught because I am not an animal person by any means and struggled with what felt like all sorts of layers that were present in that situation beyond the specific acts he engaged in added to the fact that unlike many of these guys he copped to his crime and served his time BUT still did something that many people find really, truly, and utterly heinous. I also had a quasi-relationship with his lawyer so I got subtle insights into the man beyond what was portrayed in the media.

                There are still Eagles fans who take issues with the team even though he hasn’t been there in, what, 4 years now? And regardless of whether I agree or disagree with them on any of the particulars, I don’t feel positioned to tell them they shouldn’t have issues.

                All that to say, I recognize that this issue isn’t as cut and dry as it is being made out to be.

                Also as an Eagles fan, I love Malcolm Jenkins not only for his on-field awesomeness but also because he is another guy that is engaging with this issue and really seeking to make change in meaningful ways. He is also the product of a military family and rather smartly filmed a commercial noting his connection to his relatives who served.

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                  • Ha!

                    Curiously enough, one of my son’s favorite series of books feature dinosaurs playing all sorts of sports. The dinos are divided between carnivores and herbivores with team names that are puns on both their diet and real sports teams. So in the basketball book, they’re the GrassClippers and the Meat.

                    In the football book, the carnivore team (which is always red) are named the RedScales. And now I’m having a mini-crisis over whether this is offensive and, if so, to whom?!?!

                    Basically, it’s another reason to hate your team. Though, really, pity feels like the more apt feeling. :-p

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  3. Hypothetically, assume that membership in the NFL were competitive — a second tier of teams with promotion and relegation like the Premier League, say. In that situation, there is a subset of the top tier of teams (the current NFL) for whom improvement is very important. It seems to me that at least one of them would take the chance on Kaep, regardless of his politics. The same would presumably apply to those teams’ fan bases as well — they might not like Kaep kneeling during the national anthem, but it beats the heck out of being relegated.

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