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Book Review of “Football for a Buck:

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The Crazy Rise and Crazier Demise of the USFL” Football for a Buck: The Crazy Rise and Crazier Demise of the USFL. Jeff Pearlman Youth Akiem Hicks Jerseys , veteran sports author, wrote a book about a defunct league more than 30 years after it imploded in on itself and it’s the most fascinating football book I’ve read in years. In the acknowledgements section, Pearlman says when shopping the book idea around he was told “no one wants a book about the f******* USFL.” I disagree.Not only is this book somehow topical, it serves as a retrospective a generation later that only the passage of time allows us to truly appreciate. The concept of the USFL was completely reasonable. The league would provide football fans with a counterpoint to the NFL by offering a more exciting game where excessive celebrations were encouraged rather than penalized and played in the spring where it wouldn’t compete directly with the behemoth. They would focus on a few under-served cities and a few big markets and provide a home for local collegiate heroes who didn’t have the skills to make it in the NFL. Start slow. Use creative marketing techniques to gain a fan base. Build up from there. The problem, of course, is that famous line from John Steinbeck / Robert Burns “the best laid plans of mice and men, often go awry.” Start with a group of egotistical millionaires or, in some cases, egotistical con-men that paraded around like millionaires. Place them in cities that may or may not be inclined to support a spring football team with no assurances of stadium rights. Hire a mixture of coaches from the legendary George Allen to, well, a guy who was famous for coaching games from the bleachers so he could get a better view. Populate the rosters with ex-NFL players on their last legs, ex-NFL players with drug problems or worse, and maybe one or two star players mixed into each roster with the former collegiate players of the region. Expand the league in year two, well before the league is viable. Force a move to the fall to challenge the NFL head-on in the most boneheaded of decisions. Mix in spring monsoons and blistering summer heat, bizarre uniform colors and logos, and you’ve got the basics of the setup. Oh, did I mention Donald Trump? Yes Akiem Hicks Jerseys Stitched , the 45th POTUS plays an integral role as owner of the New Jersey Generals. I won’t spoil all the good nuggets in this book but suffice to say that many of the tactics used by Trump will be very familiar to anyone who follows US politics (some may find the letter written to Trump by Tampa Bay Bandits owner John Bassett of specific interest). This is particularly true in the detailing of the USFL’s anti-trust lawsuit against the NFL. The result of that suit is the infamous settlement that inspired the title of the book and delivered a beautifully poetic coup de gr芒ce to the league after turning leadership over to Trump. The USFL is filled with characters that would be difficult to believe in a work of fiction. There are stories of rampant drug use, fights on commercial airline flights, races to the bank to cash paychecks before the money ran out, and more than one owner abandoning his team. An entire roster was traded for an entire roster because an owner didn’t want to travel to the home games. No, seriously, the Chicago Blitz roster was transferred to Arizona for the entire Arizona Wranglers roster. That doesn’t even happen in fantasy football. The NFL is closing in on 100 years as a league but I’d be willing to bet the crazy stories from 3 years of the USFL are greater in size and scope. For all that insanity, it’s amazing how many top flight players came through the USFL. Jim Kelly, Steve Young, Reggie White, and Sam Mills all started their careers in the USFL. NFL star Lawrence Taylor signed a futures contract at one point with the Generals. Walter Payton was offered a similar deal. That’s not to mention guys like Hershel Walker, Doug Flutie, Anthony Carter, Keith Millard and many more guys that had success in the NFL after the USFL folded. There was plenty of talent in that league. Maybe the most lasting impacts of the USFL were some of the elements the new league incorporated on a whim. Instant replay was first used in the USFL and later adopted by the NFL, as was the two-point conversion. In the modern day NFL, with salary caps increasing at a crazy rate and franchises worth billions of dollars, could a spring league work? I think it could – but it would almost certainly have to be led by or associated with the NFL. If the NFL treated a spring football league not as a competitor, but a developmental league White Marcus Cooper Jerseys , I think there’s a chance for success. No, the Jim Kelly’s and Steve Young’s of the football world aren’t going to play there, but think of the fringe players that get cut every year or the college heroes who will never make it to the league but want to keep playing. There’s almost certainly a bigger market for players now than there was back in the 1980s to keep the dream alive toearn an NFL contract. Small number of teams, under-served cities, start slow鈥?wait, I’m talking myself into the set up again. Pearlman is a gifted writer and his handling and pacing of a chaotic three year experiment is flawless. There are so many interesting stories that you could be tempted to lose track of the narrative thread, but the book is a page turner that weaves together interesting personalities, football history, and an anti-trust lawsuit. Not an easy task. This is one of those books that will appeal to all football fans, not just those that get the added bonus of a nostalgic trip down memory lane. The best thing I can say about this book is that, much like the USFL to some of the players and founders, this was a passion project for Pearlman. The prologue starts by detailing a writing assignment from Pearlman’s high school AP English class where he wrote about the league he loved that had at that point only recently gone under. After doubling the length requirements and pouring everything he had into the paper, the grade came back as a disheartening B+ with the note “Solid job. But I feel like there’s much more to this story.” There was, and Pearlman has now told it well. Buy this book. It’s an A+ product.If you’re on the Twitter machine, consider following me gridironborn The NFL wants Congress to enact a framework for legalized sports betting in the wake of a Supreme Court ruling that clears the way for more states to allow sports gambling.Supreme Court justices voted 6-3 on Monday to strike down a 1992 law that barred most state-authorized sports gambling. Before the Supreme Court ruling, Nevada was the only state that allowed people to bet on the results of a single game.“Congress has long-recognized the potential harms posed by sports betting to the integrity of sporting contests and the public confidence in these events,” the NFL said in a statement. “Given that history Marcus Cooper Jerseys 2019 , we intend to call on Congress again, this time to enact a core regulatory framework for legalized sports betting.”All the major leagues responded to a ruling that figures to have far-reaching implications throughout the sports world. The NHL noted that “today paves the way to an entirely different landscape – one in which we have not previously operated.”NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, a supporter of legalizing sports gambling, said his league would “remain active in ongoing discussions with state legislatures” about expanding wagering options.Silver also said the league would like to see a federal framework instead of a state-by-state system. The NBA once opposed expanded sports betting but has long said it supports robust regulation.The NBA and Major League Baseball have argued in recent months for a 1 percent cut of proceeds if legalized sports betting expands across the country, saying part of that money would be needed for additional compliance and enforcement efforts within the game.“As each state considers whether to allow sports betting, we will continue to seek the proper protections for our sport, in partnership with other professional sports,” Major League Baseball said in a statement.Keith Whyte, the National Council on Problem Gambling’s executive director, believes any governmental body and sports league that receives a direct percentage or portion of sports betting revenue must also dedicate funds to prevent and treat gambling problems.“Some of that 1 percent of betting fees is going to come from people with uncontrollable gambling problems,” Whyte said. “We believe by taking a cut of this money, (the leagues would be) put themselves in the position of having to do something to reduce those costs. Great profits come with great responsibility.”MLB said it would “continue to support legislation that creates air-tight coordination and partnerships between the state, the casino operators and the governing bodies in sports” toward protecting the integrity of the game.Plenty of leagues already have taken steps to make sure its players are educated on the issue.For example, last year the PGA Tour hired Genesis Sports to help with its new “Integrity Program” that began at the start of the year. The program requires players on all six circuits the PGA Tour manages to take part in an online tutorial that, among other things, illustrates some of the far-reaching effects of gambling.“We believe that regulation is the most effective way of ensuring integrity in competition, protecting consumers White Prince Amukamara Jerseys , engaging fans and generating revenue for government, operators and leagues,” the PGA Tour said in a statement.The Supreme Court ruling will impact college sports as well as the pro leagues. Donald Remy, the NCAA’s chief legal officer, said the organization is reviewing the Supreme Court’s decision and that “we will adjust sports wagering and championship policies to align with the direction from the court.”The NCAA currently doesn’t hold NCAA Tournament games or any other NCAA-run events in Nevada because gambling’s legal in that state. Las Vegas is home to the annual Las Vegas Bowl as well as the Pac-12 men’s basketball tournament and other tournaments, which aren’t run by the NCAA itself.The NCAA said that 24 percent of NCAA male student-athletes and about 5 percent of female student-athletes in 2016 reported that they had wagered on sports for money within the previous year , which would violate NCAA bylaws. Just below 2 percent of the men participating in the 2016 survey met what the NCAA termed as standard diagnostic criteria for problem gambling.Reactions to the Supreme Court ruling across the sports world weren’t limited to the league offices. The athletes themselves also were wondering about the possible implications of increased legal sports gambling.NASCAR driver Brad Keselowki tweeted that he was “torn” on the Supreme Court’s decision. Keselowski said that it “should be great for our sport, but I’ve also seen gambling ruin lives.”“If you choose to gamble on me or anyone else, please be responsible, and if you need help, get help,” Keselowski added.——AP golf writer Doug Ferguson, AP basketball writer Tim Reynolds and AP college football writer Ralph D. Russo contributed to this report.
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