Friday, October 9, 2015

4 comments Gregg Easterbrook Warns of The Dangers of Gambling

Gregg Easterbrook talked about, stop me if you have heard this one before, how NFL coaches are too conservative and should go for it on fourth down in last week's TMQ. He also continued to write "N.F.L." because I know that he knows it annoys me. This week Gregg takes on fantasy football and alerts his readers to the fact these gambling sites are, and pleased don't be too shocked, not not-for-profit and they are probably going to end up taking your money. Apparently these Internet sites that feature fantasy football are actually businesses and it's set up to where suckers spend money on the sites, but don't end up winning money. I know, I was shocked after seeing the commercials that promised me I could make from $300 to $100 billion (okay, not that much) betting on fantasy sports. I thought these sites like DraftKings and FanDuel were only set up to make me rich. Thank God that Gregg is here to set the record straight.

A decade ago, I worked in a big building in downtown Washington. Every Thursday during N.F.L. season, a smiling guy would come around to distribute sheets for the office football pool. You’d make your picks, hand the guy $5 and not win. Neither would anyone else you knew.

Based on having read TMQ for a better part of a decade, I think a good guess as to why neither Gregg nor his co-workers won is because they are terrible at gambling and generally don't understand football. Also, if you know you are going to lose then why are you gambling? Don't complain if you kept handing the guy your money.

The next Thursday the guy would be back with another sheet. At the bottom was an entry for who, supposedly, won the previous week — but names at the bottom were always smudged and illegible.

Fool Gregg once, shame on you. Fool Gregg repeatedly over a several week span, just keep doing it since he's probably not going to catch on. But rest assured, when does catch on he will lecture his TMQ readers about the dangers of gambling as if they are as naive and gullible as he was.

After a while it dawned on me that I never met anyone in the building who received the pool money.

It took you a while to figure it out? This must have been a really big building with a lot of employees participating in this pool. Maybe I'm a control freak, but I don't tend to give money to "the guy" and I generally like to know the person who won the pool of money. This is especially true if I work in a huge building where I don't know very many of the other people who work in the building.

We all see where this story is going of course. Because Gregg, a person who considers himself to be very intelligent, got scammed by people pretending he can win money then that means people who are not as smart as Gregg are even more susceptible to the dangers of gambling. Gregg is SO SMART and everyone else is SO DUMB. They stand no chance.

I thought of the smiling guy Monday, when FanDuel and DraftKings defended their integrity after accusations of what amounts to insider trading. I always wondered if that office pool could be trusted. Perhaps now we should wonder the same about DraftKings and FanDuel.

No, it can't totally be trusted. It's not a charity. It's an opportunity to separate you from your money and put your money in the pocket of someone else. It's gambling where the company accepting the money is making money. Hence, more people will lose than win. It's like any other gambling venture. There's no mystery behind it. They want to lure you in with the prospect of making money when most people don't make money.

NFL Network’s highlights channel is now “N.F.L. RedZone Presented by DraftKings.” ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” now has a “FanDuel Chalk Talk” segment.

This season, fans can sip cocktails and place wagers at FanDuel or DraftKings lounges in pro football stadiums.

It's shocking that the NFL has partnered with two companies willing to give them money in order to advertise their product, which is a product based on the performance of NFL players. How dare the NFL promote gambling for money. I'm shocked they would do this. Usually the NFL is so sure to stay on the morally correct side of social issues. 

As of Sunday, Aaron Rodgers, Andrew Luck and Peyton Manning were, in a sense, endorsing Internet gambling: DraftKings just signed a deal with the N.F.L. Players Association, giving the union a fee in return for use of pro football players’ images in the company’s ads. Washington-area Metro buses now bear DraftKings side banners.

These players are not endorsing gambling. The NFLPA is endorsing gambling and these three players are simply members of the NFLPA. I guess Rodgers, Luck and Manning could choose not to be a member of the NFLPA as a result, but I'm sure their image has been used for reasons much more nefarious than Internet gambling. These three quarterbacks are, in a sense, endorsing Internet gambling in the same way that Gregg Easterbrook is, in a sense, endorsing plagiarism because he works at the same newspaper that Jayson Blair worked for. These three quarterbacks are, in a sense, endorsing Internet gambling in the same way that Gregg Easterbrook supports women bringing spousal abuse on themselves because he used to work at ESPN with Stephen A. Smith. 

Both ventures have extensive Fortune 500 support: back to that in a moment. First, the glitz. FanDuel: “$75 million paid out every week!” DraftKings: “$1 billion in prizes in 2015!” FanDuel vows to distribute $2 billion in winnings during the N.F.L. season; DraftKings vows a weekly $1 million grand prize.

Promises of big winnings made in order to draw more people in to get more people to get involved with weekly fantasy sports. DraftKings and FanDuel aren't charities, so any reasonable person knows they are making money in the same way a casino makes money. Somebody has to lose. 

In a FanDuel television ad, a man — viewers have no idea whether he’s an actor — says to the camera, “Every single week I can win money on Fan Duel!” Can is quite a fudge word: Statements of this nature would not pass scrutiny in breakfast-cereal advertising.

But the use of the word "can" would pass scrutiny in TMQ, because Peter uses some form of this word all the time in order to fudge the truth just a little bit. How many times has Gregg written something like, "Continued use of punting on fourth down could result in the Football Gods being angered and Team X not making the playoffs."

Of all the people to criticize the use of words like "can" or "could" it's Gregg Easterbrook who chooses to do so. He very well could be a bit of a hypocrite, given how many qualifying statements he has made in his TMQ in the past, present and could be future.

I asked both companies for the names of big winners. Sabrina Macias, head of corporate communications for DraftKings, suggested David Gomes, a 2014 big winner; it’s him celebrating in the DraftKings ad. When I asked for more names, Macias said, “We have had 20 winners of $1 million prizes.” She promised to get back to me with a list of those names, and never did.

Emily Bass, public relations manager for FanDuel, suggested Scott Hanson, “Scott H.,” a 2014 big winner. When I asked for more names, Bass said her company has “a huge number” of big winners. She promised to get back to me with a list of names, and never did.

There is also a sense of privacy in whose information FanDuel and DraftKings can just hand out to whoever asks for it. Gregg knows this of course, but doesn't seem to really give a shit. The fact these two companies won't just hand out a person's information is seen as another strike against their transparency and not as an example of how they are committed to keeping the information of those who participate confidential. It can be both of course. Both companies can lack transparency and still protect the identity of those who play online fantasy sports. 

Naturally, many who win lawfully at gambling would prefer their identities not be disseminated.

Naturally, many people who win or lose at gambling would prefer their identities not be disseminated. Naturally, people don't want some half-assed football journalist finding out how much they have won or lost on gambling. 

Thus neither company offers anything, beyond its say-so, backing up the advertising. What about the experiences of David Gomes and Scott Hanson?

I mean, this is pretty much how gambling works. I don't know if I could find out everyone who won money in the North Carolina State Lottery or go to a casino in Las Vegas and get a list of people who won $1 million or more over the last 12 months. Maybe I could, but my expectation would be that I could not. 

Gomes, 25, grew up in Boston, is studying to be a physician assistant, and reports that he wisely saved the after-tax portion of his $1 million prize. His big payday came last season, from selecting New England’s Jonas Gray for a fantasy team days before the undrafted free agent ran for a surprising 201 yards and four touchdowns against Indianapolis.

Then he ran for 210 yards and 1 touchdown over the rest of the season. But Gomes will insist this was NOT luck. Not at all. It's his discerning eye that helped him win $1 million. 

“Sure there was luck involved, but this wasn’t just a wild guess,” Gomes said. “Gray caught my eye in training camp, and the Colts were weak against the rush in 2014. So it was a calculated risk.

Gray "caught his eye" in training camp and then I'm sure Gomes was more impressed by Gray's performance on the practice squad. It may not have been a wild guess, but Gray had a grand total of 32 carries prior to the Colts game. So there was more than "some" luck involved if we are being honest. 

With online fantasy sports, yes it’s gambling, but you watch the games and know for sure whether your choices were good or not. This is more honest to the public than lotteries based on random numbers.”

As much as I abhor the FanDuel and DraftKings advertising that is everywhere, I can agree with this to an extent. I see where a person could believe this to be true, because it feels like you have more control when you choose specific players to play each week. Compared to choosing numbers in a lottery, it feels like you choose players who you can then follow and grade yourself on how you did. The issue comes in when a person doesn't know what players the other competitors have chosen. So online fantasy sports is more honest in that it's more transparent on how your team is graded, but it's not transparent when it comes to the players the other competitors chose. It's gambling. The house always wins.

Hanson lives in Pasadena, Calif., was an elementary schoolteacher for a while, worked as a sports analyst for the analytics website ProFootballFocus, and this year is playing daily fantasy sports full-time. Hanson’s insight late in the 2014 season was to select little-known Cincinnati tailback Jeremy Hill when the Bengals were facing the Browns and the erratic rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel.

"Little known Cincinnati Jeremy Hill." Jeremy Hill was a second round pick by the Bengals and was considered to be a sleeper in 2014 fantasy sports or a great handcuff for Gio Bernard. He wasn't really "little known." He was known and drafted in any fantasy league deeper than 8 teams with 2 RB's and 3 FLEX spots. But whatever, Gregg. Whatever.

“FanDuel and DraftKings are more like stock investing than you’d probably expect, including the need to diversify,” Hanson said. “Don’t wager a lot unless you really know what you are doing. If you’re just in it for some fun, don’t spend more than $20.”

Hey, there is some fucking logic. If you don't want to lose a lot of money, don't gamble. Therein lies the moral to this story, except that won't cover enough column space, even in a much smaller TMQ. So Gregg has to go on and on about how online fantasy sports (which I don't play and won't be playing because I like my money) take money away from people while misleading them into believing they have a chance to win. A fool and his money soon go separate ways, so yes, they do take money from players, but those playing know the risks. Don't bet a lot of money if you don't want to lose a lot of money. 

Gomes and Hanson converted their smarts into winnings — though both say they are down so far this season.

The. House. Always. Wins. Always. 

FanDuel and DraftKings are run by plucky entrepreneurs, the type of people society rightly admires. On the flip side, both enterprises are using national television, and the imprimatur of the highly subsidized N.F.L., to make incredible promises while leaving the public no way of knowing whether the claims are true — and while tempting the unsophisticated to throw their money out the window.

Ah yes, "the unsophisticated." That's all Gregg is doing. He's looking out for those who can't look out for themselves. I understand in part. People look at those ads and think, "I can win money TOO! I can be a millionaire and all I have to do is play!" These people are either idiots or degenerate gamblers. If they are idiots, there is no helping them and they will most likely walk out into traffic or do something stupid to permanently end their stupidity. If they are degenerate gamblers then their loved ones need to find them some help. Why is it Gregg's business or concern these people spend their money gambling? 

These ads will always make it seem like more people win than actually do. I'm not a smart person, but I know there will always be 2-3 examples of winners in the commercials, as opposed to the 1000-2000 examples of the losers, because FanDuel and DraftKings want to make money. People participate if they think they are going to win. People who think they are going to win at gambling are most likely wrong. That is why I don't gamble. Even those who do gamble probably know they won't win every time. I know Gregg is deeply worried about society and "the unsophisticated" but even many of the unsophisticated know they aren't going to always win.

David Brooks contends that most gambling targets those who can’t afford to lose. Neil Irwin of The Upshot, in contrast, thinks that legalizing wagering on point spreads would improve the situation for small-money players.

The business model of FanDuel and DraftKings — and others entering the market — makes sense only if most players lose money.

This is logical because the money that needs to be handed out has to come from the losers. These winners are also "the unsophisticated," which further encourages other unsophisticated people to participate because Bill down the street doesn't know shit about fantasy sports and he won $1500 last week. It's been this way for years and there is probably no changing it. 

DraftKings and FanDuel seduce men and women into a dream of instant wealth. A handful do achieve instant wealth; for most, this dream only worsens inequality. And should the N.F.L., which draws about $1 billion annually in taxpayers’ money, be encouraging average people to gamble even more — that is, to lose even more?

They encourage average people to spend $100 on a uniform, have them spend $7 on a bottle water, $5 for nachos and as much as humanly possible in order to get a ticket to a football game for the privilege of spending $7 on a bottled water, so why wouldn't they encourage average people to gamble more? I'm sure that's their point of view. It's a good way to gain synergy between fantasy sports and the NFL. Fans bet on NFL players and have the chance to win money.

I'm not defending FanDuel and DraftKings, but many, many people go to Las Vegas or Atlantic City every year to gamble and end up losing money. If the NFL feels it is morally correct to be involved with online fantasy sports then that is the decision of the league. It's not less morally incorrect than for the NFL to have an official beer or for Joe Girardi to talk about C.C. Sabathia going to rehab in front of a Budweiser sign. Gregg is under the assumption that anyone who participates in online fantasy sports are stupid and have no idea what they are getting themselves into. I know people who do online fantasy sports and they aren't all stupid. They know they probably won't win, but do it for the fun they can have. Maybe they win money, maybe they won't.

Professional sports leagues like the N.B.A. and M.L.B., and individual N.F.L. teams including the Cowboys seem to see a chance to seize the vigorish now collected by bookies and Las Vegas.

It annoys the shit out of me how Gregg puts periods between "N" "F" and "L" and between "M" "L" and "B." I will try to re-focus though. 

“Just pick your game, pick your team and pick up your winnings,” a DraftKings ad declares. 

Anyone with a brain knows it's not that easy. Just in the same way anyone with a brain knows that delicious cheeseburger the model is biting into in the Hardees commercials doesn't come with the model and the burger will be flattened to the point it's almost impossible to tell all the ingredients apart. Just in the same way a child knows if they buy Frosted Flakes, Tony the Tiger isn't actually going to show up and start playing soccer with him/her. It's advertising that is being used to encourage the purchase of a product. Much in the same way Gregg doesn't understand advertising for a Christmas stage show in November isn't "creep," but is instead an attempt to sell tickets far advance in the hopes of selling out, he doesn't understand that many "unsophisticated" people understand how advertising works. Yet, they still participate in online fantasy sports because it is fun.

But set the phoniness aside: DraftKings and FanDuel wouldn’t make business sense to Comcast, Fox, Google, Time Warner and pro sports owners unless the websites allow participants quickly and conveniently to use their smartphones to lose money.

Right, nobody wants to play any online fantasy sport "for fun" and it should be a huge pain in the ass to play that online fantasy sport. Because these online fantasy sports are for fun, using the sites is made convenient so it's more fun and less frustrating. 

In other football news, what to make of the 4-0 contenders?

If only the NFL season didn't stop after Week 4 with no resolution as to which of these 4-0 contenders will stand the test of the season and which will not. Alas, Gregg is only left to speculate.

Cincinnati is playing really well, and on a 16-2-1 home streak in the regular season. But the Bengals are also on an 0-3 playoff home streak; Andy Dalton has never quarterbacked a playoff win; and Marvin Lewis is 0-6 in the postseason. The last time Cincinnati was victorious in the playoffs, Dan Quayle was vice president. Bengals, call back when you win a contest in January.

So what to make of the Bengals is that Gregg has absolutely no fucking clue what to make of the Bengals and he's going to need to see the rest of the NFL season before he can declare the Bengals as pretenders or contenders. Why even bring up the Bengals if Gregg isn't willing to give his opinion on what to make of them? Though, this is in-line with how Gregg pretty much evaluates anything. He waits until there is resolution and then declares something as being a good or bad idea. He'll make up lies about the reasons why it was good or bad at that point.

"I know I say teams should go for it on fourth down because it shows a commitment to winning, but here is why this fourth down attempt didn't end up helping Team X win the game."

Carolina, a losing team in 2014, is 4-0 so far in 2015. But the victories are over second-echelon teams that are a combined 4-12. Panthers, call back when you beat a winning team.

I can agree with this, but these teams would have been 8-8 if the Panthers had lost to them. There is such a small sample size that the Panthers beating these four teams skews the combined record of the teams they have beaten. 

Atlanta has a signature victory at Dallas, a much-improved offensive line and a much-improved defense. Falcons faithful should be guardedly optimistic.

The Falcons have beaten four teams who are a combined 6-10. So I guess those two extra victories are really, really impressive to Gregg to where the Falcons haven't played a second-echelon schedule. 

Denver began in plodding fashion; Peyton Manning now seems to be picking up the bootleg offense of Gary Kubiak. Below the radar: The Broncos’ secondary has allowed only two touchdown passes.


Stat That Must Mean Something. Only three of the N.F.L.’s top 10 rushing teams have winning records.

It could mean four of these teams have quarterbacks who are known for running with the football. It could mean only two of the NFL's worst 10 rushing teams have winning records, which is some research that Gregg is lazy to do. It could mean a balanced offense is a great way to win games. 

’Tis Better to Have Rushed and Lost Than Never to Have Rushed at All. Trailing Indianapolis, 3-0, the Jaguars faced third-and-goal on the Colts’ 2 and went incompletion, field goal. Jacksonville entered having lost five straight to Indianapolis — half-measures won’t change that! The Jaguars went on to lose in overtime.

And of course they went on to lose in overtime because of this one play where the Jaguars went for a field goal as opposed to a touchdown. There is an obvious correlation there. They averaged 5.1 yards per rush on the day, so the Jaguars would have run the ball in the end zone with 3.1 yards to spare from the two-yard line. So ignore the fact the Jaguars kicker missed two field goals in the game, that's irrelevant to whether they would have won the game, but focus instead on their decision to go for a field goal instead of a touchdown. THAT is why the Jaguars didn't beat the Colts. 

Stop Me Before I Blitz Again! Steelers leading, 20-17, with 29 seconds showing, Baltimore faced third-and-10 on its 48. Getting a sack is a nice outcome for Pittsburgh, but what matters more is two incomplete passes. Instead it’s a double defensive back blitz: 20-yard completion, Baltimore kicks a field goal to force overtime and wins in the fifth quarter. Good quarterbacks want to be blitzed on third-and-long, because it ensures single-coverage downfield.

And if the Steelers just rush four and give Joe Flacco time to throw the ball, there is no way he completes a pass to get them into field goal range. That's what Gregg wants his readers to believe. This is the assumption Gregg is working under. Also, I don't know if there is such a thing as a "double defensive back blitz." Maybe there is, it sounds like it was a corner and/or safety blitz. 
And no, blitzing on third-and-long doesn't ensure single-coverage downfield. The Steelers could blitz six defenders and then still have the receivers downfield doubled with a safety/linebacker and a cornerback. It's entirely possible. But of course Gregg makes these blanket statements and just expects his readers to believe them. Why wouldn't they? He only speaks the truth.

Stop Me Before I Blitz Again! (Team Edition). Last season the Bills employed a highly disciplined defense that almost never blitzed, and finished fourth over all on defense against points, first against touchdown passes. The analytical Jim Schwartz ran this successful defense. In comes the boastful Rex Ryan with a blitz-happy approach and no discipline. The Bills have dropped to 22nd over all on defense and 30th against touchdown passes.

Could this be as a result of the Bills having played the Patriots, Giants, Colts, and Dolphins? The Patriots are #1 in the NFL in passing yards right now. Also, Gregg is cherry-picking his data. The Bills' defense is 3rd in rushing yards against, 14th in points per game allowed and 9th in third down percentage against. 

Facing fourth-and-1, the Bills lined up to go for it. Tyrod Taylor tried a hard count to draw the Giants offside. The Bills jumped offside.

No Gregg, when the offense jumps like this it is called a "false start." The defense is who goes offsides, not the offense. 

Didn’t You Used to Be the 49ers? After the 2011, 2012 and 2013 seasons, the 49ers made the N.F.C. title game, once reaching the Super Bowl and goal-to-go for victory. In 2014 they tailed off, and in 2015 are awful. Santa Clara has been outscored by a league-worst 62 points.

I'm sure Gregg believes this is all because they moved to that new stadium in Santa Clara and not because they fired Jim Harbaugh. What would getting rid of the best coach the 49ers had in 20 years have anything to do with the 49ers current struggles? 

Dawn of the Notcronym. Last week I noted that KFC no longer stands for Kentucky Fried Chicken, and NPR no longer stands for National Public Radio: “Contemporary short-attention-span names like KFC are not acronyms, because the letters don’t stand for anything. We live in an age when not standing for anything is seen as a plus.” Then I asked readers what term should be used for constructions such as SAT or 3M, which appear to be acronyms but aren’t because they do not represent words.

One would think now that TMQ has been shortened then Gregg could cut any content that doesn't have to do with football or the NFL. Instead, TMQ can still be found to have the same filler. 

Jeff Wilson of Front Royal, Va., proposed noncronym. Ross Stinemetz of Kansas City, Mo., suggested slackronym. Morris Bird of San Gabriel, Calif., came up with noniker. Jeff Williams of Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., suggested jargonon.

I suggest these people get a life and stop emailing their ideas to Gregg Easterbrook. 

Jim Kelly of Ann Arbor, Mich., wrote: “Perhaps we can call them Trumans in honor of our 33rd president, whose middle name, S, was simply a letter, signifying nothing.”

Or you could just not talk about these acronyms that don't mean anything at all and focus on writing about football so I can make fun of the fact you think you are know what you are talking when you really don't.

Chip Kelly Skedaddle Watch. Chip Kelly lived a dreamlike existence in Eugene, Ore., a glorious place where he was revered by students, alumni and local media, and won game after game by huge margins. In the N.F.L., Kelly’s Eagles (1-3) are struggling, and the media knives soon will be pointed at his back.

"Soon" be pointed at Chip Kelly's back? Where the fuck has Gregg Easterbrook been over the past two weeks? The knives have been sharpened and pointed already. The media is just waiting to pounce. It sounds like Gregg lives his own dreamlike existence if he doesn't know that the media is already all over Chip Kelly for the Eagles' failings.

When Kelly came to the N.F.L., he was one step ahead of the posse that imposed a show-cause penalty on him for recruiting violations. But that punishment has expired. How long till Kelly skedaddles back to the comfort of a football-factory situation?

Kelly coaches for football-factories until it is convenient for Gregg to point out that offensive innovations don't occur at football-factories, while citing Chip Kelly's innovations at the non-football-factory University of New Hampshire as evidence of this. Kelly coaches at football-factories until Gregg has a different point to prove. 
And Kelly probably will go back to college football if he fails in the NFL, just in the same way TMQ went back to another non-sports website after Gregg didn't have his contract renewed by ESPN. It's okay for Gregg to fall back on what he knows when he fails, but when Chip Kelly does that then it means he is open to derision from Gregg.

Steelers and Ravens Combine to Go 1 for 6 on Fourth Down. 

So based on the knowledge Gregg has previously passed on, this means that both teams won the game because both coaches showed their team that they were super-serious about winning the game? Right, that's how it works? 

Baltimore at Pittsburgh was Armageddon for the go-for-it crowd, which includes this column: In overtime Pittsburgh went for it twice on fourth-and-short, was stopped both times, and lost.

But I'm sure Gregg has a bullshit explanation for why Mike Tomlin was aggressive and told his team he was playing to win the game and the Steelers still lost. Even when Gregg's assertions are proven to be incorrect, it's never that his assertion is incorrect, there is always a bullshit reason given as to why his assertion is correct all the time but just not this time. 

Then again Baltimore went for it twice on fourth-and-short, was stopped both times, and won. On a windy night at Heinz Field, the toughest N.F.L. stadium for place-kickers, both defenses expected fourth-and-short tries and were primed to stop them.

Oh, okay. So the defenses were primed to stop the running game on fourth down and THAT is why these conversions didn't work? I figured there was a bullshit reason, but now I know that reason. The Ravens averaged 4.9 yards per carry and Steelers averaged 5.1 yards per carry on the night. So why weren't the defenses primed to stop the run for the rest of the game and primed up only on short down situations where the wind wouldn't be as much of a factor due to the increased odds of the Ravens throwing a short pass? I only ask because if the reason these conversions didn't work is because both teams were primed to stop the run, it certainly doesn't show in the box score. A short passing play on fourth-and-short is more likely than a long passing play, due to the small amount of yardage needed, and a short passing play wouldn't be affected by the wind. So neither defense was primed to stop the run on the night, except in situations when a short passing play to get the first down was more likely? That's your bullshit reasoning?

Or maybe Pittsburgh’s problem is that it did not go for it enough! Here is the 4th Down Bot’s live analysis of why the Steelers should have gone for it on fourth-and-2 in the first quarter, rather than settling for a field-goal attempt.

Oh good, more bullshit. It turns out there are a specific number of fourth down attempts required for a team to be sufficiently inspired to win the game. I never knew this, mostly because Gregg has not mentioned it until now. 

Buffalo opened with three of four at home, badly needing to finish the first month at least 3-1. Come November, the Bills face a grueling five of six on the road. By Thanksgiving, Rex Ryan may have moved on to boasting about the 2016 season.

Gregg is fixated with coaches who have confidence and I'm not sure why. Rex Ryan likes to boast, but it's just part of how he runs his team. He likes building confidence. 

Red Planet Note. The hit movie “The Martian” is causing commentators to wonder why there are no Mars missions in the planning stage. The NASA administrator Charles Bolden maintains people will stand on Mars in around 20 years. That’s like saying “By the 2030s, Congress will enact the annual budget bills on time.”

The spacecraft would weigh 4,000 tons at departure from low-Earth orbit. The cost of placing 4,000 tons into orbit would be about $1 trillion. That’s just delivery cost: spacecraft extra. Until such time as there may be the propulsion breakthrough, Mars-mission talk is political blather.

It was speculated last week in the comments that the "Times" insisted Gregg leave out political and non-football-related topics. Well, I guess not. That's very unfortunate. It's sad that Gregg still has to include filler in TMQ when it's already been shortened. 

Would Thomas Jefferson Have Played FanDuel? A bit of context for this week’s column is that casting lots has always been part of human nature. In Greek mythology, the gods threw dice to determine jurisdiction over Earth. Ancient pottery depicts wagering on animal fights and other forms of betting.

(Gregg Easterbrook earlier in this column) "It is morally wrong for the N.F.L. to be encouraging unsophisticated people to gamble their money away with the illusion of winning more money. How could the N.F.L. take part in such debauchery and tempt people to throw their money out the window? Shame on them!" 

(Gregg Easterbrook now) "Humans have been gambling since the beginning, even in mythology. In fact, even one of the United States Presidents liked to gamble a lot. He didn't run up any debts or anything like that so let's ignore this as any type of evidence that the N.F.L. isn't doing anything morally incorrect by encouraging gambling when Thomas Jefferson liked to gamble."

In his terrific 2007 book “Twilight at Monticello,” Alan Pell Crawford writes that during Thomas Jefferson’s youth, the future author of the Declaration of Independence struggled against the urge to wager. Jefferson found that in Williamsburg, then the decadent city of Virginia, men “entertained themselves in raucous fashion, playing cards, dice and billiards, often for high stakes.” Rest assured, Jefferson kept his mind focused on higher matters: He “did not run up gambling debts, and there are no reports of drunkenness or debauchery.”

Gregg is hoping his "unsophisticated" readers don't notice that "not running up debts" doesn't necessarily mean that Thomas Jefferson won every time he played. Like those who participate in FanDuel, Jefferson lost, but would always pay what he owed. So Jefferson gambled on high stakes, but always paid his debts. You know, sort of like participants in weekly online fantasy sports do when they lose and the money comes out of their checking account. 

Buck-Buck-Brawkkkkkk. Florida led heavily favored and third-ranked Ole Miss, 25-0, in the third quarter when Ole Miss reached fourth-and-goal on the Florida 5 — and kicked. Options for University of Mississippi Coach Hugh Freeze at that juncture: try for the touchdown or concede the game. Kicking proved the latter, Florida winning, 38-10. Doing the “safe” thing by kicking is so deeply ingrained in coaches’ heads that even a four-score deficit in the second half did not seem to Freeze reason to go for it.

I can't really defend this, but sometimes coaches like to give their players confidence by putting points on the board. This may not have been about making the "safe" play, but ensuring his team wasn't shut out for the sake of the team's confidence. 

The Football Gods Chortled. Since firing Lovie Smith after a 10-6 season, the Bears are 14-22. 

Gregg Easterbrook is a master at misleading his readers and selectively providing information to his readers. Ever since firing Lovie Smith the Bears are 14-22? Well, ever since he was fired by the Bears, Lovie Smith's record is 3-17. I don't play online fantasy sports and Gregg may consider me to be "unsophisticated" but that's a winning percentage below that of the Bears since they fired Smith. Of course Gregg leaves Smith's record with the Buccaneers since being fired by the Bears out of the discussion. It doesn't prove his point. Gregg wants to only include information that proves the point he wants to prove and doesn't give a shit if he's trying to mislead his readers in the process of trying to prove his point. It seems like the Football Gods are chortling at Lovie Smith too. I wish the Football Gods would smite Gregg Easterbrook. 


Frank said...

Incredible. How much of an idiot can one man be?

"In a FanDuel television ad, a man — viewers have no idea whether he’s an actor — says to the camera, “Every single week I can win money on Fan Duel!” Can is quite a fudge word: Statements of this nature would not pass scrutiny in breakfast-cereal advertising."

Where to begin...

"Help! I can't handle the fact that the people on the glowing magical box are ACTORS and that all of this isn't real! If that's not real, what else isn't real?? Am I real?? Are we just plugged into the matrix???"

"Please don't use big words like 'can', it's a fudge word and it confuses me...the word 'can' opens up so many possibilities that my mind just can't handle it."


As a matter of fact Gregggggggggg, courts have consistently defended companies' use of fluff in advertisements. How many local radio commercials have you heard that claim "we have the lowest prices in three states, GUARANTEED!" How could they possibly guarantee such a thing? "Best pizza in town". According to whom? Claiming that a cereal is "part of this balanced breakfast" and they show you all the healthy stuff you *should* be eating instead of the cereal? Consumers are idiots if they believe Cocoa Puffs are good for you, after reading the FDA-mandated nutrition label.

Get a clue, Greggggggg.

Ericb said...

Whatever happened to the Crabtree curse? Shouldn't the 49ers be prospering now that he's gone?

Thomas Jefferson may have not had any gambling debts but he had pretty much every other kind of debt. To keep up the appearance of "gentlemen" many Virginia planters lived way beyond there means.

Eric C said...

To follow up on the other Eric's comment, maybe the problem is they brought in highly paid Torrey Smith and now there is a Smith curse. When Greggg needs a curse he will invent one.

Bengoodfella said...

Frank, I think Gregg thinks unsophisticated people won't understand the pictures on the magical glowing box, so he has to be the one to enlighten them. Of course Gregg is enlightened already. He's very smart. It's the stupid people he assumes are out there watching television who he feels the need to look out for.

Ericb, the 49ers should be prospering, but remember Gregg moved the Crabtree Curse over the Singletary Curse when the 49ers did well with Crabtree on the roster. He slowly moved the entire curse over to Singletary once the 49ers played well with Crabtree on the roster. Sure, it changed the entire supposed point of the curse, but Gregg didn't have to admit he's full of shit. That's what is important.

He'll probably blame Kaepernick and say now that he's a highly-paid glory boy he's not trying as hard as he once was. I'm sure Torrey Smith and probably Carlos Hyde will be blamed for something too.