Happy Tuesday, WFNY!
I hope everyone is still enjoying their summer vacation. When I was a kid in school, I remember wondering to myself how my mom and dad could go to work every single day, all year round, with no spring break, no Christmas break, and worst of all, no summer vacation. From day one of the school year, I was counting down to the next break from school. I hated school, even though I was actually pretty good at it. It was an obligation I could do without. I much preferred playing basketball all afternoon in the driveway with my brother (my brother is three years younger than me, so I pretty much was always able to beat him...I suspect my memory of those afternoons playing basketball is slightly rosier than his), spending countless hours figuring out the intricacies of Super Mario Bros. 3 on my Nintendo, and listening to as much music as I could possibly consume, pouring over the artwork and lyrics that came with the CDs. The thought of infinitely working with nothing more than a day off here and there and a week or two of vacation was suffocating.
Much to my surprise, though, as I became an adult and entered the workforce, I discovered that I was fortunate to love my job. Oh, sure, there are still times I’m not feeling it and would rather be off doing something else. But for the most part, when I wake up in the morning, I’m happy to go to work. I enjoy what I do, I enjoy the people I work with, and I find it all pretty satisfying. I know not everyone feels the same way, and not everyone is lucky enough to love the place they work and the people they work with. But for me, a summer vacation from work isn’t something I fixate on. Instead, I find myself taking a summer vacation from sports.
That doesn’t mean I completely ignore everything. I follow the headlines, I read about the Indians on this site and occasionally a few other places. I’m still excited about this Indians team. But I don’t consume sports in the summer the same way I do in the other seasons. Sports is the thing I find that I need to take a little break from.
My summer vacation is quickly coming to a close, though. And what a blur it has been. With the Cavaliers having as long a postseason as you could have with a seven-game series to win the Championship, and the resulting month-long hangover-induced haze that accompanied it, I almost missed that NFL players are starting to check in for training camp. College football conferences are going through their media weeks now. We are just twelve days from the Hall of Fame Game and 17 days from the Browns’ first preseason game. Summer is over, football is here. Well, ok, technically we still have like two whole months of summer if you want to be literal about it. But in my mind, training camp and preseason are the last legs of summer. Once football officially starts, it’s fall in my mind.
So with that in mind, what with this still being my summer vacation from sports, there’s not a lot I really want to talk about today. I guess we’ll just hit on a couple quick topics and call it a day, huh?
Don’t count on Josh Gordon
The news that the NFL is conditionally reinstating Josh Gordon is good news for Josh Gordon. It should be good news for the Cleveland Browns as well, but I’m not sure about that. I’m a big Josh Gordon fan. I love the way he plays and he’s been one of my all time favorite WRs….when he’s been on the field. But I’ve been burned by Gordon one too many times and so have the Browns.
If Gordon really, truly, has learned from his mistakes and taken the steps needed to turn his life around and keep himself on the field, then great. I will be thrilled and it will be like icing on the cake. I just can’t say I 100 percent trust Gordon to not slip up at some point along the way.
Judging players’ personal lives is easily my least favorite thing about sports. I personally don’t care what Josh Gordon does off the field. I shouldn’t care who he hangs out with and where he goes. It’s his life. All I really want is for him to give his best on the field for the Cleveland Browns. But the way the system is set up, it almost forces us to care about the personal lives of players. I have to feel uncomfortable about Gordon still hanging out with Johnny Manziel. I have to wonder what the conditions of his reinstatement are and whether he can live up to those standards.
None of this is a surprise. These are the rules the players and the league agreed to, and Gordon knew the rules when he chose to break them. There are consequences for everything in life. But just because the league cares about these things, it doesn’t mean I have to. Just as I think the whole deflate “scandal” with Tom Brady is a complete joke, I also think it’s ridiculous that Josh Gordon has lost so much of his career because he likes to have a good time off the field. It’s his life, not mine. I don’t care. But here we are.
I’m trying to hope for the best with Gordon and the Browns. There are a hundred different ways this could play out. One of those hundred different ways is for Gordon to keep himself clean and sober and have a long, fruitful career with the Cleveland Browns. If I were a betting man, I wouldn’t bet on this scenario, but I’m hoping for it.
Ty Lue got himself paid….again
After Cleveland Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue led the team to its first ever NBA Championship, I think everyone knew the Cavs and the free agent coach Lue would agree to a contract. I’m not sure anyone thought it would be quite this lucrative, though. After a few weeks of negotiations, the Cavaliers and Lue agreed to a four-year deal with a team option for a fifth year. The entire contract is worth $35 million. Not a bad deal, eh?
When the Cavaliers fired David Blatt halfway through the 2015-16 season and promoted Lue to head coach, it was reported at the time that Lue and the Cavs had agreed to a three-year deal worth $9.5 million. Toward the end of the season, though, we found out that Lue never actually agreed to that deal. Instead, he decided to bet on himself and let the season play out before negotiating a new deal at the end of the season. I think it’s safe to say Lue won that bet.
After winning the Championship, there was no doubt that the Cavaliers were going to bring Lue back. Now Lue is the theoretical long-term coach (in the Cavaliers organization, there’s really no such thing as a safe coach), which is going to be interesting watching as this plays out. Throughout much of the playoffs, Lue was pretty heavily criticized by many Cavs fans and some in the media as well. There were times the attitude toward Lue from fans was downright hostile. After the Cavaliers won the Championship, though, all of that seems to have been forgotten.
Much of the criticism was actually pretty warranted. Lue coached like a rookie head coach often. One could argue that in the Eastern Conference Playoffs the team won in spite of Lue more than because of him. Some of his rotations were downright head-scratching. Players' minutes on the court often got lost in the shuffle and certain players were sometimes overworked, despite the Cavaliers' short series. In the Finals, however, Lue really seemed to shine. Going head to head with Steve Kerr, I thought Lue genuinely out coached him. He forced Kerr into trying lineups he didn’t often use and every time Kerr made a change, Lue seemed ready to adapt to it. Lue understood that the style of play the Cavaliers used to steamroll the East wasn’t going to work against the Warriors, and he made a couple big changes, including benching Channing Frye in favor of Richard Jefferson, a move that set the tone for the change in style the Cavs needed to win.
I wouldn’t say the Cavaliers won the Championship because of Ty Lue, but I think Lue was a big part of that and deserves his equal share of the credit. Lue was the highest paid assistant coach in NBA history, and if the reported $7 million annual salary is accurate, he would be tied with Rick Carlisle and Stan Van Gundy behind only Gregg Popovich and Doc Rivers as the highest paid coaches in the NBA. It’s good to be on top.
That’s all I have for you guys today. It’s been a fairly slow couple of weeks in terms of Cleveland sports news, but with the Browns headed to camp, things are about to ramp up in a big way. We know you can’t wait, and neither can we. Have a great rest of your week, my friends!