The Good Press — Issue #55: Reset

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As American football tries to find its future stars at the NFL Draft, English football fans made their voices heard loud and clear in a remarkable sports fan protest.

Hello and welcome to another edition of The Good Press, a newsletter of observations about life, sports, and/or anything else that comes to mind.

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Jets fans are hoping Zach Wilson can fly high (Photo: AP Images/Ringer illustration)

Reset

One of the most oddly mesmerizing events of the sports calendar to me is an event where no games are played and no scores are kept. That event is the National Football League draft, in which the 32 NFL football teams draft the professional football contract rights to hundreds of draft-eligible college football players, in what has become a major televised event over three days. The draft is an immensely popular event because it is fundamentally about hope. 32 NFL teams, 32 fanbases hoping that this year, this player will be the guy that takes them to the promised land and brings home a Super Bowl title.

Last year around this time, I wrote about how I loved bantering about the draft with my late uncle. It’s still hard to believe he’s not here to give me his draft thoughts this year. I think he’d be pretty excited about how things went this weekend for our New York Jets, who earned the second overall selection by virtue of finishing with the second-worst record in the NFL in 2020. They used that valuable draft pick on 21-year-old quarterback Zach Wilson, and they supplemented that top pick with other new draft selections including protection for Wilson on the offensive line and some playmakers at wide receiver and running back to help add some juice to their new-look offense.

The Jets’ decision to hand the keys to the cockpit over to Wilson also meant moving on from 23-year-old Sam Darnold, the QB that the Jets selected with the third overall selection of the 2018 NFL Draft. By investing a top-two pick in Wilson, the Jets became the first team to ever use top-three overall picks on quarterbacks twice in a four-year span. But to me, I think it was a shrewd decision to start fresh at quarterback for a variety of reasons, as much as I liked Darnold and was hopeful about his Jets career. Previous Jets coaching staffs failed to coach Darnold up to the best of his abilities. Good luck to him as he tries to reset his career with a clean slate after a trade to Carolina.

Due to the way rookie contracts are structured in the NFL, the Jets will have more financial flexibility to build a stronger core around Wilson over the next few seasons than they would’ve been able to around Darnold, and that’s a big factor in the decision the Jets made, I’m sure. With new coaches in place in New York this year, a rookie reset at quarterback always seemed in store.

Only time will tell if the Jets made the right decision. It’s one thing to press reset on a quarterback’s contract and start over with a rookie at the onset of their pro career, but with five quarterbacks selected within the first 15 picks this year, we may not know for a few years whether Wilson was the right guy.

In Other Words

After over a half-century without a Super Bowl appearance, young Zach Wilson will be the latest in a looooong line of signal-callers who the Jets hope can fill the lofty shoes once filled by Hall of Famer “Broadway” Joe Namath. It’s been 45 years since Namath played his last game in a Jets uniform, and he still remains the only quarterback who’s taken the Jets to the promised land.

So no pressure, kid! At least this time (unlike in the Sam Darnold era) the Jets have made it a point of emphasis to try to lift up their young quarterback, surround him with talent on offense, and ease the burden on his shoulders.

Jets fans will certainly have their fingers crossed. 🤞🏼

In a follow-up to last week’s coverage of the ill-fated soccer Super League that came and went in the blink of an eye across the pond, things escalated to an extraordinary degree this past week in the English football world. Fan protests escalated and caused a postponement of a Premier League match after hundreds of fans broke into the stadium and refused to yield the pitch.

The frustration from football fans throughout football-crazed England has been bubbling for quite some time, beyond just the Super League stupor. In this particular case, it was Manchester United supporters who forcefully made their voices heard, calling for a reset in the dynamic of club ownership.

Below are a handful of links that explain more, if you’re interested in digging deeper into soccer supporters storming the pitch in protest and what comes next, including a photo essay in the first link of the soccer protest in pictures:

In the first 23 minutes of this Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz podcast episode, the Le Batard Show crew discussed the state of English football with broadcaster Roger Bennett, host of popular soccer podcast, “Men In Blazers.”

To fans, these football clubs represent something bigger than big business, bigger than sports itself even; these clubs are truly community institutions that represent the people of these communities. One of the fundamental schisms at the heart of the issue is that, to many of the owners of these legacy clubs of the English Football League, these prestigious sports clubs are incredibly valuable assets (with a better return on investment than most). They don’t seem to care very much about how people feel about their investments.

The bottom line is that this story is far from over.

Manchester United fans are far from alone among fans of English clubs that are pushing for a reset in the club ownership dynamic, though hopefully, we’ve seen the last of any violent escalation of any kind by anybody involved.

I doubt we see any real resolution in the near term. This story is here to stay.

Parting Thoughts

One last notable reset in New York sports this week was the decision by the New York Mets late Monday night to hit the reset button with their hitting coaches, relieving their lead and assistant hitting coaches of their duties after a disappointing start from their offense over the first 20 games of the season.

Whether that shakeup is enough to wake up the slumbering bats of several of their most important hitters, or whether this is a scapegoat situation for those who favor “making a change just to make a change” remains to be seen. It was a bold move, though a fairly unusual one at this juncture of the season. Similar to the Jets’ case, it may have been a case of a new decision-making team coming in and wanting changes to help streamline the information flow.

In an unofficial new segment about the most impressive performance of the week in baseball, I have to highlight the efforts of Washington Nationals pitcher Max Scherzer, the ace right-hander who really delivered on Sunday.

Scherzer spun nine innings of one-run, five-hit ball, completing the win in a brisk 2 hours, 37 minutes on Sunday afternoon before hustling over to the local hospital to join his wife, Erica, who was in labor with their third child.

Max’s quick work on the mound meant that he was able to make it in time to be there for the birth of baby Derek, who was introduced to the world by Emily on Monday morning. (Max’s two-colored eyes did not get passed down.)

Max and Derek Scherzer get acquainted (Photo: Erica Scherzer @emaysway)

Congrats to the Scherzer family, and congrats to Max for pulling off one of the most memorable “double plays” of his career. The baseball scouts will surely keep an eye on young Derek once he’s big enough to throw a baseball.

In life, sometimes it’s useful and necessary to take a breath, evaluate a situation, and sometimes, to push the proverbial reset button. Our instincts are to want to do everything possible to push through and keep at it, but sometimes it’s wiser to cut your losses rather than stubbornly pushing forward trying to salvage a sunk cost. Working smarter rather than harder.

That goes for big business decisions in the world of sports, and that goes for everyday decisions in our own lives at times. Be smart. Ask yourself what the remedy is for a given situation when you’re stuck. Sometimes you find a way to keep at it, and sometimes, the best way forward is to start from scratch.

Know when to be persistent, know when to push reset.

It’s not easy to know what the right decision is sometimes, but the more we experience, the more we learn. Lean on that wisdom when you need to.

Perhaps the Jets’ reset and/or the Mets’ reset will be turning points that we look back on and say, “wow, it all started then and it changed things big time!” Perhaps the surreal scenes in the U.K. prove to be a momentous momentum mover in the push to reset the club/supporter dynamic in English football.

We’ll see in due time.

Thanks for reading.

Till next time,

-Jon

Previously in The Good Press

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