Ray Ratto

Even with NFL trade deadline activity, 2017 is still 'The Year of the League Office'


Even with NFL trade deadline activity, 2017 is still 'The Year of the League Office'

The NFL trade deadline could not have come at a better time for commissioner Roger Goodell. Between Jimmy Garoppolo, Jay Ajayi, Jimmy Garoppolo, Duane Brown and Jimmy Garoppolo, the conversation about Goodell’s diminishing viability with Jerry Jones and the rapacious hardliners (as opposed to the rapacious moderates or the rapacious doves) diminished.

But the tempête de merde is never that far away for Goodell. After the Garoppolo trade turned football on its ear, Ezekiel Elliott’s six-game suspension was upheld by district court judge Katherine Polk Failla (who did so by rejecting an NFL Players Association appeal of the suspension that had already been vacated once, or something like that). This reminded Jones that Goodell must die – metaphorically, I mean. It's a Halloween thing, not an actual idea.

Then Colin Kaepernick’s lawyer for his pending collusion suit against the league, Mark Geragos, declared on the Adam Carolla Show that his client would be signed by an nfl team within 10 days based on . . . ohh, I don’t know, werewolf entrails?

This further reminded the 32 wallets that the league is in chaos, and the business of making obscene amounts of money is never not in jeopardy, and that means Jones gets to use that as the stalking horse to continue his principal pastime of hunting gingers in suits.

And therein lies the consistent beauty of the NFL in 2017. While our attention is easy to divert – hell, the Garoppolo trade is the most delightful player move in years if you measure such things by the vats of speculative drooling it inspires – the core business is still Topic A this year, and the core business remains wobblier than at any time since the All-American Football Conference rose up in 1946.

And by wobblier, we mean the future of that core business, which is generating money for people who already have it. The NFL will not die easily, and probably not in our lifetimes, but the league is being surrounded by cultural forces beyond its control and is dealing with them all with the surgical dexterity of a drunken bear in a giant sack.

So Jimmy Garoppolo did his best. He turned the offseason on its ear, may have begun the Great Resuscitation of the corpse impersonation in Santa Clara, and may have forced Tom Brady to finally declare his mutant status as an immortal.

But in the end, 2017 is still The Year Of The League Office, and nothing says “I’m doing something else” to an audience quite like that.

Celtics are the rivals Warriors fans need

Celtics are the rivals Warriors fans need

You don’t think you needed this game to go this way, but you did, and you do.

The Golden State Warriors spat out a 17-point lead and lost, 92-88, in Boston Thursday night, in a game that was taut if not particularly elegant, and in a game that elevated the Celtics to a place that makes them the new heir apparent to the heir apparent.

The Celtics have been a difficult out for the Warriors during the Brad Stevens Era, losing six of nine but only being blown out twice, and Thursday was not one of those nights. The box score will tell you the shooting and rebounding problems, but the Warriors had that lead and didn’t hold it. Or, to be accurate, the Celtics had that deficit and refused to let it destroy them.

Which is exactly the kind of team you, the fully licensed Warrior fan, want to watch play your team in the NBA Finals. You want to see them genuinely challenged, forced to win outside their comfort zone, induced to show their greatness in the highest of high leverage situations.

At least we think that’s what you want. Maybe you prefer blowouts so you can drink and go to the bathroom without care or fear. After all, the Warriors have taught the area the true meaning of front-running by being in front so often.

But the Celtics play a level of defense typically reserved for the San Antonio Spurs, and yes, the Warriors. They have a spiky exoskeleton that the acquisition of Kyrie Irving has actually enhanced, and Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum give them a gifted precocity that fits well with veterans like Al Horford and Marcus Morris, and Boston’s overall youth (they are fifth youngest, while Golden State is third-oldest) ought to make them a more difficult conundrum than Cleveland or any other team in either conference.

They are not yet the superior team; that remains to be proven, and betting against the Warriors requires a level of irrational bravery left only for the truly self-destructive.

But they are, as we sit this evening, the team the Warriors will have to work hardest to finish, because on a night when they had the chance to do so, they didn’t. In other words, the fight for a third ring still goes through Oakland, but it looks more and more like a one-stop through Boston.

And as much as you may hate thinking about it, you’ll almost certainly remember, and savor, a Celtics-Warriors final more than another round of Cavs-on-the-half-shell.

Three reasons Draymond Green is the perfect college professor


Three reasons Draymond Green is the perfect college professor

Programming note: Warriors-Celtics coverage starts today at 4 p.m. on NBC Sports Bay Area and streaming live right here 

Draymond Green spoke to a group of students at Harvard Thursday on the subject of leadership, and if you find that incongruous, shame on you.
I mean, who else would you want as a college professor?
Green has led, and been led. He has learned, and he has taught. He has certainly lectured, as any teammate, official and media member will testify. He’d be a hell of a teacher, and the subject almost doesn’t matter.
For one, homework would be different, as in I’d bet there would be no written work. I don’t see Prof. Day-Day poring over essays about the Industrial Revolution, M-theory or pre-Raphaelite art. Not even the history of Basketball-Reference.com.

For two, having tenured faculty audit his classes may find his choice of rhetoric a little strident, as in “What the ---- were you thinking, dude?” is not typically approved instructional methodology.
And three, nobody would get a grade. Green would mark every exam with a “35,” as in his draft position, and besides, the exams would be students arguing with each other over whether that was a foul or a no-call, and who pulled the better face when the call was made. He’d give either an approving nod or give the loser a second technical foul and kick him or her out of class.
But it would be a hell of a class. Not at Harvard, of course, because Green probably would want to teach a school that could better use his brand of wisdom, and Harvard kids already have a healthy lead off third base. He’d want his students to make Harvard students cry, you can just tell.
But wouldn’t he look perfectly Draymond in a cap and gown on graduation day, pulling a bottle out of his sleeve to make the valedictory speeches less painful. “Damn, dude,” you could hear him yell. “Peaking?”