published Monday, February 10th, 2014

5-at-10: Sam comes out, Smart's poor choice, where do the Beatles rank

Hope you enjoyed the weekend and are braced for the next round of snow. Snow officially stinks.

From the "Talks too much" studios, yesterday does seem so far away.

  • photo
    North outside linebacker Michael Sam (55) of Missouri runs on to the field before the Senior Bowl NCAA game in Mobile, Ala. in this Jan. 25, 2014, file photo.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Sam he is

Michael Sam told the world he is gay Sunday. He told his teammates in August.

Sam was a breakthrough surprise for the Missouri Tigers, who made a surprising breakthrough in the SEC East. His announcement is a testament to the Tigers ability to bond and keep his secret.

We have long believed that sports in general is the last remaining avenue in our society that is close to a true meritocracy. Get what you earn. Earn what you get. Can you make plays, whether you are black or brown or white or polka dotted? Can you win games whether you date the entire cheerleading squad or none of them or the a guy in the band?

By that logic, Sam's public announcement should matter little. But the warmth provided by the blanket of meritocracy is two-sided. Will Sam's sexuality be a distraction to teammates or to the mission of winning in the NFL? If so, it matters, not unlike any other characteristic or persona, especially for a player who is projected as a mid-round pick. Will an NFL team be willing to accept the expected media interest and the possible backlash — not from protesters per se as much as the potential for heightened interest and focus about whether Sam makes the team or the starting line-up or whatever — that will come from Sam's presence?

To say no one should care is fine. Sam said he wanted to own his truth, a commendable and understandable notion that was proven true and clear by Sam's openness to his Missouri teammates.

But to expect a shrug of the shoulders and a nod and then off to the next drill as if Sam announced he's left-handed or has a speech-impediment is obtuse. In fact, Sam and his representatives told the folks at about the planning and preparation that went into the how and when about making the announcement.

This will be interesting to follow for sure.


Not a Smart move

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    Oklahoma State's Markel Brown(22) and Phil Forte(13) hold Marcus Smart(33) after Smart shoved a fan during their NCAA college basketball game in Lubbock, Texas, Saturday, Feb, 8, 2014.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

By now you have heard that Oklahoma State point guard Marcus Smart made the unwise decision to push a dumb, heckling fan Saturday night. It made some of the news shows and everything, and our ace columnist Mark Wiedmer wrote on it here.

Weeds accurately and acutely points out that there is plenty of blame to be shared between Smart and Dummy. They are the Ying and the Yang — or maybe the ding and the dong — of this affair, and the scenario allows for some quick discussion.

Players should never go into the stands. Fans should never go onto the court. This is a boundary that divides and each has to be able to trust it.

That said, the level of fan civility is at an all-time low. Does that clear Smart? Of course not. But it does make us sad at the state of the game when a we all feel a small bit relieved that a 50-year-old man only called a 20-year-old a piece of crap.

UT players arrested

  • photo
    This image released by the Knox County Sheriff's office shows Tennessee defensive lineman Danny O'Brien in his booking photo.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

A handful of Tennessee Vols including All-SEC middle linebacker A.J. Johnson were arrested over the weekend.

They had a shindig and there were minors there drinking alcohol. It's college. It happens.

That this is the first off-the-field incident of note under Butch Jones is both good and interesting.

It's good that the Vols have been incident free for the last 14 months. It will be interesting to see how Butch handles this.

Hey, maybe he can suspend A.J. for the UTC game next fall.

This and that

  • photo
    United States basketball player Kevin Durant arrives to watch a women's beach volleyball match between USA and Austria.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

— Detroit fired Maurice Cheeks, who was 21-29 in his first season with the team. Fired 50 games into your first season? Has to be more to this story.

— Kevin Durant continues his assault on the NBA. The man recently dubbed the Slim Reaper dropped 41 on the Knicks on Sunday and added 10 rebounds and nine assists. But the evolution of his game is greater than that great stat line. Durant held fellow scoring machine Carmelo Anthony to 15 points on 5-of-19 shooting.

— Man, how about that winter Olympics, huh? Where's the remote?

— Jimmy Walker is slap dy-NO-mite. Dude won for the third time on the PGA Tour this season. And sadly, there were limited camera ops for Kid Rock and John Daly this week at the pro-am.

— Vols beat a very bad South Carolina team. Mocs lost at Samford and surrendered the SoCon lead for the first time all year. And Jim Foster's XY Mocs continue to drub people.

— Side note: We asked UTC coach Will Wade on Press Row on Friday about the throwback game the XY Mocs did over the weekend and if his Mocs could try something like that. He said he was open to it and would love to try it against one of UTC's old-school rivals — Paschall said Marshall; we suggested the SoCon revival with ETSU — but he would not commit to his team wearing the old-school, John Stockton-type shorts.


Today's questions

We are flushed with questions and requests for feedback today.

Should Michael Sam's sexual preferences matter? More importantly, will they matter? Thoughts on the Marcus Smart situation? Discuss.

If you need something less heavy, try this on for size. We spent a quiet Sunday night watching the tribute to the Beatles to celebrate their 50th anniversary of playing on the Ed Sullivan Show.

The tribute, which included a cavalcade of stars, included several performances of Beatles classics that could be hits today. It also made us wonder, who's on your Rushmore of rock bands all-time? Discuss.

about Jay Greeson...

Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...

Comments do not represent the opinions of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, nor does it review every comment. Profanities, slurs and libelous remarks are prohibited. For more information you can view our Terms & Conditions and/or Ethics policy.
MocTastic said...

I could not care less about Michael Sams, hope this is old news and out of the news by tomorrow. It will matter though for a short period, it will come with a media circus, but by the end of preseason it should be over. Teams might pass on drafting him, not because he is gay, but because of the media circus he will bring.

Smart got lucky, he will get three games and a lesson which hopefully he will learn from. He could be charged with assault. If a fan charges the floor and goes after the player the player has the right to defend, but in this case, Smart was the one in the stands. Sticks and stones....

The Beatles are on the Rushmore, first ones to be carved. They went way behond music and became the poster children for a new generation and changed society as we know it. My personal Rushmore would be heavy on a certain genre adding the bands Yes, Genesis, ELP, and Pink Floyd. I realize that public's Rushmore would have to have the Beatles, Rolling Stones, and others not on mine. Personal tastes.

Throwback game in Big Mac? If they do it, do it against one of the Div II teams that will most likely be on the schedule, not ETSU or Marshall. If you got Marshal in town, and ETSU returning to the SoCon, Big Mac wouldn't hold everybody wanting to be there. Its official capacity was 4177 in the old days. Since then the bleachers at both ends of the floor have been removed and the bleachers on at least one side have been condemed for useage. The capacity would be way less than 4,000 now.

If they play in Big Mac, my seats MUST be section J, row 9, seats 33 and 34. I had those two seats for 99% of the games from the fall of 1975 until Big Mac closed.

February 10, 2014 at 10:11 a.m.
ordinaryguy said...

Michael Sams...who cares, dude can play...were it not for the local connection (Owen Seaton) with speed skating, would have never watched 10 seconds of is another in the "who cares" category

Very simple on the Rushmore of bands... The Beatles...Stones (distant second)...Eagles...Led Zepplin

although some of the younger writers at ye olde TFP might list Kajagoogoo as the best...serious when you are #1 on the list of albums sold (The Beatles)and your closest competition (Elvis)is 40 million behind it does not take much to figure out who is the best...

Be watching for the pro rasslin debut of Gunner Miller next month.

February 10, 2014 at 10:11 a.m.
chas9 said...

As long as Sam doesn't do it in the street and scare the horses, who cares? But Jay covered it well. Thumbs up.

Also well said on the dumb/Smart story. I'd add that I like a good apology, and Smarts' was one.

Is 55-year-old Olympian Hubertus von Hohenlohe the most famous German-Mexican prince in the world?

After the KY-LSU game last week I said The Tigers were a good team, and Stuckey pointed out I'd said they weren't very good after UT beat them. I defended myself saying The Bengal Bunch had gotten better. But the red stick rowdies lost to Gawga Thursday proving I was wrong. What LS&U is, is schizophrenic, probably even more up and down than Tennessee. Hard to get a read on them.

We know the best and second best SEC teams. After that, there are eight teams bunched together. The surprise is that Georgia and Vandy are among them.

On Saturday Downtown Patrick's golf scorecard for UT basketball was well played. In the accompanying article he quoted The Cuonz saying:

"It's tough. But again, it's the leadership with your veteran guys to get locked in to do what we need to do to be successful. The game plan is in place. Follow the scouting report and stick to the script, like we say all the time. Normally it falls in line, but it's part of it.

Huh? The coach speaks the way his team plays, kinda vague and disjointed, falling apart before finishing.

February 10, 2014 at 10:18 a.m.
JonathanMCook said...

In regards to Michael Sam, him coming out is a moot point to be honest. He could have stayed silent his entire career and still no one would care. Unless he did something scandelous like "Sam Does Dallas" and showcases it at the you-know-what convention the media LOVES to clammer over every January in Las Vegas,(that's as clean as I'm putting it), again, a moot point.

Regrding the throwback game concept, I liked it with one exception: the girls were wearing modern uniforms. So I pulled up a random picture off the Internet of women's basketball uniforms from the 1940s (aka the sailor shirts and baggy shorts tied below the knees). Now THAT I would be a throwback game!

And yes, I wrote to the Athletic Department via Facebook and showed them the pic. Have yet to receive a response. I wonder why.

The "other", and more do-able concept, is to have both teams decked out in modern uniforms but with a "vomit-inducing" color sceme (I'm looking at YOU Pittsburg "Bumblebees").

I actually did watch some of the Olympics this weekend thank you very much (mostly the sking and X-games type events; fudge figure skating).

February 10, 2014 at 11:02 a.m.
chas9 said...

MT--Would you stay up all night to get lucky?

Ye lode Times sports editor Chris Dortch and Chris, Junior, also had a good Beatles tribute Sunday evening. And did anybody ever make more hay on less talent (in himself, not his acts) than Ed Sullivan?

Fair and balanced Jay mentioned the alcohol trouble of the UT footballers, but not Auburn's pot troubles.

Last week, Jay enjoyed video of former Kentucky QB Jared "Hefty Lefty" Lorenzen playing minor league football. So I know he'll love seeing another 300-pound quarterback in the SEC. Ole Miss has signed JC star Jeremy Liggins (6'4, 303).

Says Hugh Freeze, "He can throw the ball 75 yards and has the smoothest release. In the last year and half he did get himself out of shape, but he's here working and fighting to get his weight down."

Look forward to the large-and-in-charge Rebel player colliding with UT's new LB Jakob (pronounced Yah-kub) Johnson, who Butch Jones says is the "Alpha Male of this class."

Or with UK's signee DT Matt Elam, 6'5, 370.

Did you know Mack Brown never signed more than four out-of-state recruits in any class?

Apparently T-Gon said Ryan is "excellent, but not elite". He added that Matty Ice is the best QB he's played with. Faint praise since the others are Elvis Grbac, Trent Green, and Damon Huard.

February 10, 2014 at 11:26 a.m.
WilliamRscott said...

If I want to see events in Maclellan Gym, I go to volleyball + wrestling. All UTC basketball should be played in McKenzie.

If you want to see a throw-back basketball game, go to the 50-year-old gym at Brainerd HS on N. Moore Rd. No shot clock, no media timeouts. Might be the 2nd oldest gym in Hamilton County still in use, behind CSAS (?)


February 10, 2014 at 11:30 a.m.
MocTastic said...

Actually, the men and women's team, XX and XY as JG likes to call them. should do an old style Blue Gold game and play them in Big Mac back to back. Legitimate 40 minute games with split rosters. Big Mac would hold the crowd for that and it would be fun to see them hooping again in there.

Chas9 - huh? Think I saw that Jared Lorenzen broke his leg over the weekend.

February 10, 2014 at 11:36 a.m.
BIspy4 said...

What does it say about the weekend in sports when the two biggest stories had nothing to do with the outcome of any game?

About Mr. Sam, I hope someone doesn't put the burden on him of being the standard bearer for a movement of athletes wishing to declare their preference. He's going to have enough to deal with just learning the NFL and some defensive coordinator's intricate playbook, on top of watching endless hours of videos on another team's third-down plays. If he's comfortable with that, more power to him. If not .... Either way, I hope somebody doesn't use this kid for their own agendas.

Slim Reaper is a great nickname.

Rushmore - The Beatles. Yeah, that's about it. After that, it would be The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin and the Jimi Hendrix Experience. I had the Beatles tribute on in the office last night while I caught up with some work. Some interesting combinations for the songs - Pharrell Williams and Brad Paisley for one - but I was a little disappointed that, although Gary Clark Jr. and Joe Walsh are fine musicians - the guy who did play the original solo and lead guitar on "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" is still alive and touring, one Mr. Eric Clapton.

Jimmy Walker is off to a fine start but he held on for dear life yesterday to finish with the win.

I missed one of my favorite and one of the best events in the Winter Games, the downhill. That's a signature event and NBC really could stand to show that one at a better time, even if tape-delayed. Can't wait for the men's hockey tournament to start. This one will be good.

February 10, 2014 at 12:03 p.m.
fechancellor said...

10 Ring, I doubt Sam will receive an initiation different from the other rooks. If the man keeps his off field life off the field and out of the locker room, I see a case for team harmony sooner not later.

The chancellor makes the gym at least three times a week. Sometimes, unwanted attention is takes the form whistling as I walk by. The next level of "awkward" was a "chance" encounter after turning around. I frequent the same row of lockers. Imagine running smack dab into an older man standing right behind you singing, "You ought to be pictures, you're wonderful to see." I let him down easy by telling him I didn't know the next verse.

I doubt they're be any "singing" up by the players or coaches. If there is the Team, the media, the PA and the league will see it through they're own stove pipes.

February 10, 2014 at 1:11 p.m.
chas9 said...

If you haven't been following the Olympics, you may not understand the question. The Russian police choir, dressed in those stiff Soviet style uniforms, gets loose and sings Daft Punk's Get Lucky. Surprisingly entertaining tension.

It reportedly took four teammates to carry Lorenzen off the field. And speaking of minor league, sorta-pro sports, who's gonna go see the Chattanooga Steamers, our hometown's new entry in the Central Basketball Association?

February 10, 2014 at 1:18 p.m.
fechancellor said...


Don't think I can make that scene, Daddyo. I clutch my sporting dollars tightly, so when not fishing, I support the Chattanooga Roller Girls, and their CRG Workout commercials.

February 10, 2014 at 1:34 p.m.
MocTastic said...

chas9, think they, the Steamers will 1) actually play a game and 2) make it through the whole season? There has been several of these leagues make announcements and say there will be a Chattanooga team and they never played a game. I am skeptical.

This says they are the Railrunners, not Steamers:

February 10, 2014 at 1:40 p.m.
Stewwie said...

I have never been to a basketball game at Big Mac so I think a throwback men's game would be pretty cool. Agreed that it would probably be best logistically if the game were against a much lesser foe. Or the Blue-Gold game could work too.

No doubt that Sam's announcement has already caused him to slide on several teams' Big Boards. Let's face it, some teams aren't going to want an openly gay guy in their locker room due to the distractions and uncomfortability with other players. And no team is going to draft him any higher than they otherwise would have simply because he's come out. If they do, then they're stupid.

I have no problem with a team drafting a gay player simply because it's their team and being gay isn't a crime. But I do have a problem with Roger Gaydell and the liberal media trying to silence those who oppose homosexual behavior. And not only that, but they are fully buckled in to the gay agenda bandwagon by trying to somehow normalize this lifestyle and force others to tolerate (i.e. "accept") it as normal too. It's a sad day in our society when defending the most natural and healthy lifestyle (one man and one woman for marriage) is seen as nothing more than hate speech.

February 10, 2014 at 1:50 p.m.
chas9 said...

MT--If they keep changing their name, not a good sign. I'm skepticable, too.

Did anybody besides me hear the Dionne Warwick concert in Big Mac? Better than the Russian police choir, but not quite the show Tina Turner put on in the Roundhouse.

February 10, 2014 at 2:07 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

Best news of the day so far?

Springsteen. Lakewood. April 26. Be there. Aloha.

February 10, 2014 at 2:11 p.m.
fechancellor said...

Sorry, 10 Ring, I was caught up plumbing past experiences.

A) The Rolling Stones B) Jimi Hendrix C) The Doors D) Eric Clapton

February 10, 2014 at 2:15 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Wow. Great discourse gang.

Keep moving, and beyond news of the day, yes, the big smiles come from the Boss coming to the ATL and Nash-Vegas (one of the few shows we have yet to cross off our list) and the open discussion of the Rail-Runners.

Seen our fair share of semi-pro leagues and that's long on the semi and short on the pro.

February 10, 2014 at 2:29 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

Long on the semi and short on the pro. Still one of the best lines ever.

And 5, if you haven't seen Springsteen yet, do so. The man puts on an incredible show, especially for a dude who is well past AARP eligibility age.

February 10, 2014 at 2:34 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

Is Corliss Williamson still looking for the guy who got on his case one night while he was toiling for Arkansas? Maybe somebody was giving him 40 minutes of heck.

February 10, 2014 at 3:36 p.m.
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