Sports Beat “Steelers Expose Jets”

      The Jets entered last Sunday’s game with the then 0-4 Pittsburgh Steelers with a surprising 3-2 record although in fairness all three of the wins weren’t decided until the final minutes of the game and the results could easily have swung against Gang Green.

Rookie quarterback Geno Smith, who was pressed into the starting role when Mark Sanchez was lost for the season after injuring his shoulder when the Jets third-string offensive line could not protect him in the fourth quarter of a meaningless preseason game with the Giants and was forced to have surgery on it, is not ready for a high profile NFL starting job but the Jets have no choice but to hope that he can learn quickly on the job. He has shown flashes of brilliance but on Sunday he reminded Jets fans of his predecessor when he threw a pair of interceptions when the Jets appeared to be driving for touchdowns in the Jets’ 19-6 loss Sunday.

Even though Jets head coach Rex Ryan disagreed with my assessment in his post-game press conference, the tone for the Jets’ dismal performance was set early in the first quarter.

Jets defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson appeared to have Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger sacked in his own end zone for a safety. Instead, Roethlisberger slipped away and the Steelers escaped trouble.

The turning point for the game probably came a few minutes later when the Jets had a third down and one on the Steelers’ two-yard line. Geno Smith called for a handoff to running back Bilal Powell. All he had to do was gain one yard for a first down or two yards for a touchdown. Instead Powell was stopped at the line of scrimmage and the Jets had to settle for three points on a Nick Folk field goal.

The New York media got a bit too gaga over the Jets early in the season because the Giants have been so awful being winless in their first six games. The G-men did show a pulse in a tough defeat last Thursday night to the Chicago Bears.  QB Eli Manning however had the misfortune of having a pass tip off the outstretched hands of his tight end Brandon Myers deep in Bears territory and into the arms of Bears cornerback Tim Jennings. As the late Jerry Reed once sang, “When you’re hot, you’re hot and when you’re not.”

I normally don’t make predictions in this column but I am picking Big Blue to easily beat the even worse Minnesota Vikings Monday night at MetLife Stadium. The Vikings have been plagued with quarterback issues and wished that Eli Manning was wearing a purple uniform.


Jets tight end Konrad Reuland claims that he never cares about how teams’ all-time won-loss records against each other stack up when I spoke to him following the Jets’ loss to the Steelers on Sunday although he understands why fans and the media view things from an historical perspective. The Jets have a pathetic 4 and 19 record against the NFL team from western Pennsylvania. “There are some quarterbacks who can do magic and win games despite sometimes having inferior personnel. Ben Roethlisberger is one and Tom Brady is another,” Reuland conceded as a reason why some teams dominate others. The Jets face Brady and the Patriots this Sunday at 1 PM at MetLife Stadium.

       I am not sure that this is a golden age of television but it seems to be one for sports documentaries  based on what I’ve seen this fall. HBO started things off with “Glickman,” a terrific retrospective on the life of the legendary sportscaster Marty Glickman. The film, directed by Martin Scorcese, spent an equal amount of time on the injustice of Glickman being unable to compete in the 1936 Berlin Olympics because anti-Semitic USA Olympics czar Avery Brundage who did not want to offend his hero, Adolf Hitler, as it did on Glickman’s lengthy career calling games in New York on nearly every sport.

ESPN, which started doing documentaries in earnest in 2009 as a way of marking its 30th anniversary, has thankfully not stopped its “30 for 30″ documentary series. Two weeks ago the Worldwide Leader in Sports debuted “Free Spirits” which looked at the old American Basketball Association and the bizarre personalities of one of its teams, The Spirits of St. Louis, whose broadcaster was Astoria native Bob Costas.

PBS, which has never been known for showing a lot of interest in sports, broke custom much to the NFL’s chagrin, as it presented “League of Denial,” as part of its long-running “Frontline” documentary series. The program outlined how the NFL turned a blind eye to concussions and how too many of the NFL’s best players suffered from dementia and a variety of other mental and physical disorders at rather young ages.

Epix is a premium entertainment network that distributes its content for a subscription fee, via online, mobile, and through cable providers although only Verizon Fios is the only one doing so locally. It is best known for showing live concerts and recent theatrical films from Paramount, Lionsgate, and MGM, but it is now delving into the world of the NCAA and its repressive practices when it comes to caring for its athletes, when its new documentary “Schooled: The Price of College Sports” that is narrated by actor Sam Rockwell.

The basic premise is that the NCAA has successfully clung to the myth of the amateur athlete as it makes sure that colleges do not overtly compensate their athletes. In the past colleges did not have to even provide medical assistance to injured athletes because of this amateur status nonsense but thankfully that has changed as exemplified by the way Rutgers has taken care of Eric LeGrand after he was paralyzed three years ago in a Rutgers-Army game.

Houston Texans running back Arion Foster went on camera to talk about how many young college athletes don’t have any money to eat and that strange NCAA regulations prevent schools and coaches from being able to buy meals for their players.

The tide may be turning as former Nets and UCLA basketball star Ed O’Bannon is suing the NCAA for using his likeness in an EA college sports video game without his consent. If O’Bannon wins, it could change the way that this cartel has conducted its business and exploited athletes since 1956.

The NBA held a press conference in Manhattan earlier this month and announced that the 2015 All-Star Game would be played at Madison Square Garden while the Sprite Slam Dunk and other All-Star related events would be held at the Barclays Center. Outgoing NBA Commissioner David Stern and his successor, Adam Silver, chaired the press conference. On one side of them was the Barclays/Nets team of Bruce Ratner and Irina Pavlova, who is Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov’s eyes and ears in the US, while on the other was Cablevision/Madison Square Garden Entertainment CEO, as well as loyal Good Times reader, James Dolan and MSG president  Hank Ratner.

Stern and Silver may deserve Nobel Prize consideration for being able to bring the Nets and Knicks brass together for the common good. Keep in mind that both sides competed for the rights to redevelop the Nassau Coliseum and in a bit of an upset, given the fact that Cablevision owns Newsday and makes its headquarters in his county, Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano awarded the rights to  Forest City Ratner Corporation.

While everyone tried to put on a smiley face you could feel the tension in the room. When James Dolan was asked about what he got out of a recent meeting with Mikhail Prokhorov, he quickly deadpanned, “A free lunch!” Bruce Ratner talked about his friendship with Hank Ratner (no relation) and made a joke about Ratner’s, an old kosher Lower East Side dairy restaurant that is now out of business. “He (Hank) makes the blintzes while I make the potato pancakes!” he said with a smile. It is a shame that the reference want over the heads of most of the press corps.

After the press conference was over, the difference in corporate culture became very palpable as the MSG crew immediately left the building while the Barclays tandem of Ratner and Pavlova stuck around to talk to anyone who wanted to chat with them.

Unlike a lot of sportswriters, I like James Dolan. He is extremely charitable as exemplified by his 9/11 and 12/12/12 concerts and certainly doesn’t chintz when it comes to his sports teams. He has a quick wit and is an excellent guitarist as well. He is a fun guy to talk to in a one-on-one situation. I just wish that he did not have the aversion to the press that he does.

I don’t know why the media created so much drama about whether Joe Girardi would re-up as manager of the Yankees. Yes, he is from Chicago but he has established firm roots in New York. He also has a relationship with Brian Cashman and Hal Steinbrenner while he really does not know the Cubs GM Theo Epstein and owner Tom Ricketts. Girardi ended the “suspense” last week when he signed a four-year, $16 million contract to continue as Yankees manager.

Americans still know how to build a better mousetrap. Dr. Jack Gruber, a Great Neck periodontist who grew up in Forest Hills, has started a new toothbrush company, Periclean. Dr. Gruber believes that traditional nylon bristles cause tooth enamel erosion and hurt gums. His Periclean brushes use rubber brush heads that are easier on both the gums and enamel while removing plaque easier.

We all know about hand sanitizer but there is no argument that soap is better at removing harmful bacteria. Megan Cummins, a San Francisco graphic arts designer started a humorously named company, You Smell Soap that makes, get this, paper soap. These are tiny slips of paper that you can carry in your wallet that turn into little bars of fragrant soap with just a drop of moisture. The company was featured last winter on ABC’s “Shark Tank” that is hosted by Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban.

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