Links: a Dash of McDaniels; a True Coach; a Continental Difference; as Many Concussions as You Can Spare; and One Lemon

Prepare yourself: this will be a sports-heavy edition.  Go!


Adam Schefter, the only writer on ESPN worth your time (and it's not even close), points out that Broncos fans elated with the recent successes of Tim Tebow should thank the man responsible for putting him in a Broncos uniform: Josh McDaniels.  I briefly discussed this here; for those too lazy to click, what I said:

Everyone derided McDaniels’ “personnel skills” in the most egregious of ways: by judging them before the decisions had time to mature, i.e. judging a draft a year later, and players before they've had a chance to learn the playbook. But now, those questionable decisions are maturing, and going against the opinions held about them.
When he was fired, the common idea was that he was a good coach, but just bad with personnel. Now that those previously-derided decisions are working out, does everyone change tack and agree that he knows personnel but is a bad coach? Or do we admit that he, Zeus forbid, actually knows what he’s doing?
It’s a sad irony that Fox is winning with the players McDaniels gave him. When he was fired, everyone said Denver was going to feel his influence for years. No one thought it would be positive.
And that's all I'll say on the matter.

In "Monday Night Lights", the New Yorker's Kelefa Sanneh followed ex-NFL head coach Jon Gruden as he prepared to cover a game between the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs.  A fascinating point made in this article how Jon views the game:
To see football from a coach’s perspective is to see almost nothing but failure: a grim parade of misaligned bodies, incorrect decisions, missed signals, and bad ideas, occasionally interrupted by a heads-up play or a feat of physical genius. Football is entertainment, but the players dissected on Gruden’s screens seem less like performers in the spotlight than workers under surveillance.
What I'm reminded of here is a complaint Jake Plummer always had regarding former Broncos head coach Mike Shanahan: Shanahan's view that Plummer was never good enough.  Said Plummer in a Yahoo! Sports piece, "It just seemed like every game I could have completed these four more passes or these five more shots here and it would have been perfect. And that just wasn't my personality... But Shanahan wanted perfection [...]"  From what I've seen, this trait isn't reserved for Gruden and Shanahan - many players appear to feel they're never good enough for their coaches.

In essence, Kelefa's illuminating story is more than a profile of a single coach.  It's a profile of every coach.

The suspected link between football head injuries and brain problems has been the subject of great debate, and it played out again at the hearing. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, under direct questioning, wouldn't acknowledge a link. None of the members of the NFL's medical committee on concussions, which has famously discounted independent studies showing a link, was there to testify.
Instead of taking a more active role in improving safety, the league chose a defensive, blame-shifting strategy that, frankly, was ill-advised.  The NHL is in the same spot right now, and it is preferring to wait instead of taking either route.  This is certainly better than denying responsibility, but, as Dryden says, "We look back on those people 50 years ago who defended tobacco and asbestos and think, How could they be so stupid? Bettman and the NHL cannot wait for this generation of players to get old just so they can know for sure."

This viewpoint is much like Greg Craven's on climate change; that preparing for the worst and having nothing come out of it isn't as bad as hoping for the best and doing nothing in case something goes wrong.  And, really, that's how view on both subjects, too: the Earth doesn't need to be getting warmer for you to know dumping trash in the ocean isn't a sustainable practice, and you don't need to listen to the stories players tell you after retiring to know that every injury is one injury too many.

It's worth noting that the NFL is currently being sued by former players because of brain injuries sustained during their playing careers. 

Okay, enough sports.  Bradley Manning has finally been charged, and it's with "aiding terrorists".  What's frightening about this development is that Manning is accused of helping the enemy because...
An Al Qaeda propaganda video was shown. The video, with subtitles, featured a figurehead of the organization discussing the released information, like the State Department cables. The figurehead said the cables revealed “foreign dependencies.” He said something about relying on Allah for actions against the United States and then said before taking actions jihadists should rely on the “wide range of resources on the Internet” now.
(Emphasis is mine.)  So, get this: "Al Qaeda" says jihadists should use the internet resources available to them, and what Manning allegedly leaked is found on the internet.  Therefore, Manning “knowingly gave intelligence through WikiLeaks to the enemy.”

Seriously.  Think about that.  Releasing information the government publicly (but not privately) considers hugely important to national security, on the internet, means you're aiding the enemy.  Because "the enemy" goes online.  Who says "the enemy" doesn't read the New York Times?  And at what point does a journalist get charged with aiding the enemy for writing an article with information the government doesn't want you to have?  When does routine journalism become a crime?

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