Why Did Mike Priefer Keep His Job?

Things are getting ugly between Chris Kluwe and the Vikings. I won’t rehash the details here, but a Google search will show you that over the past 72 hours or so, there have been a lot of juicy developments in this story, and it looks like things are going to get worse for both sides before they get better.

This led me to wonder: given the major distraction and potential for public embarrassment that this is sure to cause, why didn’t the Vikings simply fire Mike Priefer when the new coaching staff came in last January? It’s the norm for a new head coach to bring in his own people, and it’s unusual for a coach to retain any coordinators from a previous staff. It seems like special teams is probably an especially easy position to replace. So why didn’t the Vikings just let go of Priefer at a point when no one would have batted an eye or assumed that his firing would have lent any credibility to Kluwe’s claims?

Mike Florio of PFT, who has some experience in these matters as a former employment attorney, has some interesting ideas.

In most employment disputes, the manager accused of wrongdoing doesn’t get fired unless the preliminary investigation points unmistakably to conduct so heinous that it’s impossible to keep the manager employed. Far more often, the company embraces the accused because the company needs the accused to cooperate — and to not be disgruntled.

If the Vikings had fired Priefer, who knows what he would have said to investigators? By talking to him in early January, Priefer’s initial interview was even more likely to reflect favorably on the team because the head coach had been fired but Priefer’s fate had not yet been determined. If the Vikings had decided to move on from Priefer and if Priefer had been interviewed after the fact, maybe Priefer would have shared details about discussions leading to Kluwe’s release without the kind of care and precision that would keep those comments from being regarded as proof that he was cut because of his support of gay rights.

It’s possible, then, that Kluwe may have done Priefer a huge favor, keeping Priefer employed for as long as Kluwe’s anticipated lawsuit lasts.

Yes, that’s a very cynical view of how business gets done, especially in an industry so driven by results. Still, litigation and the threat of it creates a distinct bunker mentality in any organization, with folks who otherwise would be left unprotected getting one of the best seats in the house for as long as the threat lasts.

The idea that Kluwe’s allegations might have helped Priefer keep his job is richly ironic indeed. Had Kluwe waited another month before publishing his accusations, Priefer might have been fired anyway.

Great Quote from Bernardo Kastrup on Idealism and Materialism

Our culture, somehow, has come to completely invert the situation: when we say that all reality is in consciousness, most people believe it to mean that reality is inside our heads. In fact, it is materialism that says that the reality we experience is entirely inside our skulls, since experience is supposedly generated by our brains. If, instead, reality is in consciousness, then our heads are in consciousness – not the other way around – and the world we experience around us is, indeed, outside our heads. Idealism, in other words, grants reality to be exactly what it seems to be. But our culture, somehow, has come to attribute to materialism the intuitiveness of Idealism, while attributing to Idealism the absurd implications of materialism.

- From this entry on his blog

Locks for the HoF Currently Playing in the NFL

Today, I decided to use the Keltner List, which baseball statistician Bill James used to help determine if a baseball player is worth of a spot in the Hall of Fame, and applied it to the current NFL in order to see how many locks for the HoF are currently still playing. Of course, I had to modify it slightly since it’s much more difficult to evaluate between positions in football than it is in baseball or basketball, but the list was still pretty helpful. I decided that since I’m only considering current players rather than as of yet ineligible retirees, I’ll be basing my analysis on whether or not the players listed below would be Hall worthy if they retired today. This generally means that most of these players won’t even be the best at their positions right now, since I’m taking their whole career into account.

Here are the current players who I think are HoF locks, categorized by division:

NFC North: Adrian Peterson, Julius Peppers, Jared Allen, Aaron Rodgers, Calvin Johnson

AFC North: Troy Polamalu, Ben Roethlisberger

AFC West: Peyton Manning, DeMarcus Ware, Antonio Gates, Charles Woodson, Dwight Freeney

NFC West: Justin Smith, Patrick Willis, Larry Fitzgerald, John Abraham, Kevin Williams

AFC South:  Andre Johnson, Robert Mathis, Reggie Wayne

NFC South: Drew Brees, Champ Bailey

NFC East: Eli Manning

AFC East: Tom Brady, Ed Reed

That’s 24 players out of a league featuring just under 1,700 players on any given week. There are a number of players on this list who are certainly past their primes — Reed, Bailey, Polamalu, Woodson, Williams, and Freeney all come to mind. I want to stress here that we’re not considering the status of these players today, but the status of their careers as a whole. Heck, the fact that they are all good enough to play past their prime counts for extra points on the Keltner list.

I’ll note a couple of interesting players left off the list below.

Philip Rivers: Rivers is statistically an excellent quarterback. In fact, he’s easily best quarterback statistically from the 2004 draft class. Yet he’s the only one without multiple Superbowl wins. Heck, Rivers doesn’t even have an appearance to his credit yet, and he played on some loaded teams early in his career. If he retired right now, he’d be in Ken Anderson territory as a statically great quarterback who didn’t win the big one (although Anderson did lead his team to a Superbowl!) Give Rivers another few years and he might make it in on statistics alone, but as of right now I don’t think he’s a lock.

Steven Jackson: Statistically, Steven Jackson should be a lock, especially considering the fact that put up excellent production on a whole lot of awful Rams teams. Hey, the Keltner list asks us to consider if a there’s any reason to believe that a player was better than his stats indicate, and since Jackson’s teams were so bad for so long the answer is a definite yes. Yet for some reason, I just don’t think that Jackson is a lock.

Steve Smith: I’m only 5’9″, so the diminutive ex-Panther has always been a favorite of mine. In the prime of his career, he played with a mediocre quarterback in Jake Delhomme and managed to put up frequently fantastic numbers, especially the season when he won the receiving triple crown (receptions, yards, and TDs). Still, I don’t think his numbers are quite HoF worthy, especially considering how they stack up against his peers.

James Harrison: There’s no doubt in my mind that James Harrison would be a lock if he had been a starter earlier in his career. Unfortunately, from a HoF consideration perspective, he simply didn’t start soon enough to have a serious shot. Harrison was extremely productive for the Steelers from 2007-2011, during which he won a Superbowl as a starter (and should have won MVP of that Superbowl) and notched a DPoY award, but four stellar years just isn’t long enough to get into the Hall, unless your name is Gale Sayers.

Wes Welker: I think there’s a plausible argument to be made the Wes Welker is the best receiver in football today. The crafty little route runner has led the league in catches an astounding three times and posted four 100+ catch seasons. He also has a special place in my heart as a fellow 5’9″er. But he hasn’t caught all that many touchdowns (48 as of 2014) and he’s 0-3 in Superbowls. He also gets hurt by the fact that he did it playing with the two greatest quarterbacks of his generation. Love ya Wes, but I don’t think you belong in the Hall just yet.

 

Buzzfeed: 38 Great Alt-Rock Songs You Haven’t Thought About in 38 Years

Wow, this list featured some very obscure cuts. I’m not old enough to remember the 90s distinctly, but I’ve always loved 90s music and I consider myself pretty plugged into that era, so I was surprised to discover that I hadn’t even heard of most of the bands in this list, much less the specific songs themselves.

The two songs that I recognized are stone-cold great: The Rentals’ “Friends of P.” which is a sugary Weezer tribute and the all-time classic banger “Hobo Humpin’ Slobo Babe” by Whale. I guess that probably bodes well for the rest of the list, which I’ll have to listen to soon.

Some Brief Thoughts on the NBA Championship

I don’t follow the NBA as closely as I follow the NFL, mostly because my hometown Timberwolves have been mediocre at best and much more frequently awful since Kevin Garnett left for Boston in 2007, but I do enjoy the finals and this year’s finals were no exception. 

I really admire the way the San Antonio Spurs conduct themselves. They’re truly a team-first organization where individual glory is set aside in favor of collective success. Their biggest superstar, Tim Duncan, is an anti-diva known better for his humility and sportsmanship. Since the 90s, the NBA has been a league defined by superstars rather than teams and egos rather than teamwork. But the San Antonio Spurs have bucked that trend with a dynasty that now spans three different decades. On top of that, the Spurs have done it in a small market and they haven’t lost any superstars to big markets like Chicago, Los Angeles, or New York. Hats off to the Spurs for showing the rest of the league how its done. 

I do want to say, however, that I don’t think that the Heat represent the exact opposite of the Spurs team-first philosophy. A lot of people may perceive it that way, but truth be told the Heat also represent the philosophy of sacrificing individual glory for team success. Of course, people remember how big “The Decision” was a few years back and how much public attention it commanded, along with their Big Three’s decision to hold their now-infamous pep rally at the United Airlines Center wherein they declared that South Beach was “going to be Hollywood” thanks to their presence. On closer examination, however, I think that the members of the Heat all gave plenty up in order to build the most formidable team in basketball history. Bosh, Wade, and Lebron all could have earned more money playing elsewhere. Granted, the money that each of them made based on endorsement deals might offset the sacrificed paychecks to some extent, but one has to remember that basketball is the main source of income for all three of them, and it is likely that each of them (especially Lebron) would have made plenty of money from endorsement deals anyway. In addition, Miami’s Big Three — who were all “they guy” on their previous teams — all knowingly sacrificed their own individual statistical success in order to build a winning team. Granted, James continues to receive all of the accolades as the best player in the NBA by a country mile, but at the time he made The Decision he had every reason to think that his individual production was going to take a hit. The Heat, while much flashier than the Spurs, also have plenty of team-first blood flowing through their veins. 

The Heat are a lot like the New York Yankees, dominating juggernauts loaded with big-name talent that no other team could ever hope to match who are the pre-season favorites to win it all every year. They’re fun for the rest of the country to hate. But truth be told, the Spurs and Heat are cut from more of the same cloth than people realize.