Panthers asking for it with wild new statue of owner


Panthers asking for it with wild new statue of owner

For reasons that evade, well, reason, the Jerry Richardson statue outside the Carolina Panthers’ stadium has become a matter of much discussion about narcissism, bottom-kissing, legacies and the vanity of powerful people who worry about them.

And all I can think of is all the statues of Joseph Stalin that were eagerly commissioned while he was alive and destroyed with extraordinary zeal within months of his death.

We will not discuss whether having Richardson standing between two panthers (allegedly representing offense and defense, as well as North and South Carolina) is an eyesore. That’s for art majors and the lesser of our nation’s hot-take dealers.

But Richardson’s right to have his pals build him a statue is not in dispute here. You can argue about what he’s done to earn it, and how many hundreds of millions of public dollars contributed both voluntarily and compulsorily made him statue-worthy, but someone wanted him to have this, so he has it.

[NEWS: Panthers owner Richardson receives statue outside stadium]

What is at issue is the more visceral matter of why he would want it at all, knowing what we do with statues and plaques and honoraria, which is “melt them down and do it again as soon as it’s safe to forget the original awardee.”

After all, Stalin shaped global politics for a century with a level of savagery almost unmatched on this planet, scaring those under his thrall to the point where he may have had the most statues commissioned of him in human history.

And as soon as he died, they came down, were melted, and got turned into decorative wrought-iron fencing and smaller statues of less offensive people. His legacy as a mass-murdering bastard kicked the ass right off the statuary, as it should be.

Statues are yesterday’s business, anyway. In a disposable age in which everything can be saved on cellphones (the ultimate diminution of the human experience), a statue is a needless redundancy that serves largely as a shiny bombsight for flocks of geese.

Sports owners think in terms of statues a lot, though, and just a tour around most modern stadiums and arenas will tell you that. Most of them honor players because people are far more attracted to a bronze rendition of Willie Mays hitting a home run whole in a near-genuflect -- it’s the human form at its best -- but a ring of statues is now considered as important to stadium construction as number of bathrooms.

But a metallurgic representation of an owner, even one standing behind animals who in real life would shred the human into delicious bite-sized bits just for amusement is merely a testimonial to the assumption that the owner is as important to the customer as the player, and that is demonstrably false based on this old truth: At no time in human history has anyone ever bought a ticket to a sporting event and asked to be seated as close to the turnstile as possible.

The games and their practitioners are what matter to the people who will admire the statue on a day-to-day basis, not the guy who handled the financing or blackjacked the local government to help get that done.

More to the point, the owner gets paid off in other ways, starting with the pay. The owner gets to name the stadium after himself (or herself, in those cases where a woman owns a team), even though most owners have sought out more money by selling said rights. In fact, Richardson has the stadium at North Carolina-Charlotte named after him, but that wasn’t done at his behest.

Moreover, a statue is a mythical representation of what is being sold inside, and sports are myth. Business is anything but myth, and owners like Richardson who believe they are part of the mythmaking machinery essentially forget or ignore what their assigned role in sports actually is.

Specifically, they get our money, not our hearts.

Richardson is an unusual case here, since he is one of the rare owners who played the sport at the highest level (he was a flanker for two years with the Baltimore Colts of the Johnny Unitas Era), and maybe thinks of himself as a player in his soul.

But he’s not that unusual because all the other players with statues didn’t have the statues put up themselves. He is wearing a suit. He looks like he’s going to a competition committee meeting, and the panthers look like they are there to keep reporters away. Mythologizing that aspect of the endeavor conflates the owner on an equal plane with the players in the hearts and minds of the customers, and that is plainly nonsense.

In short, all the honorifics Jerry Richardson is and has been may well be worthy of can be debated, but a statue is, well, just asking for it.

At some point, owners pass, and Richardson has said that upon his death he wants the team sold outside his family to anyone with the money who will pledge to keep the team in Charlotte.

The solution? Put the statue in Richardson’s office at the stadium, so that the one person most interested in it can admire it all day long, and after he passes, his family can take it with them. Otherwise, the public (and the occasional bird) will make its own determination of the value of the statue, and that can’t be guaranteed.

Just ask Joseph Stalin.

Greg Cosell singles out 49ers player he believes is poised for a breakout season


Greg Cosell singles out 49ers player he believes is poised for a breakout season

With the 146th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the San Francisco 49ers selected...

George Kittle.

The tight end from Iowa had a solid rookie season -- racking up 43 catches for 515 yards and two touchdowns.

On the latest episode of the 49ers Insider Podcast with Matt Maiocco, Greg Cosell of NFL Films was talking about Kyle Shanahan and Rams head coach Sean McVay. And then unsolicited, pivoted the conversation to Kittle.

"You know, I think one player we should mention who I really liked coming out of college -- and I know he fought some injuries last year but I think that he has a chance to be a really meaningul part of this offense -- and that's George Kittle," Cosell said. "I think George Kittle is a really good tight end who can do a lot of things.

"He can line up and be a really good blocking tight end -- and obviously we know that Kyle's offense does start with the run game. I think he's more athletic than people probably give him credit for.

"I remember studying him coming out of Iowa and looking at some of his Combine measureables -- some were superior to those of OJ Howard from Alabama, and I think people would be surprised by that.

"In this offense he might not catch 80 balls, but he might average 14-15 yards a catch, and for a tight end that's pretty darn good."

Kittle had his best game in the season finale -- four catches for 100 yards at the Rams.

Why Greg Cosell believes Jimmy Garoppolo needs work on his 'quarterback feet'


Why Greg Cosell believes Jimmy Garoppolo needs work on his 'quarterback feet'

Greg Cosell, a senior producer at NFL Films, believes 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo “has a chance to be a top-level quarterback.” But there remains room for improvement from the player the 49ers awarded a franchise-record contract in the offseason.

Garoppolo has a quick release and can throw at a number of different arm angles to avoid oncoming pass-rushers. And while his accuracy underneath was unquestioned during his 5-0 run as the 49ers’ starter last season, most of the time, his deep throws did not reach the target.

Garoppolo completed just 4 of 16 attempts to targets 20 yards or more down the field last season for 134 yards and no touchdowns with no interceptions, according to Pro Football Focus.

[RELATED: Greg Cosell: Kyle Shanahan does one thing 'better than any coach in the NFL']

During the offseason program, Garoppolo appeared to struggle on his deep throws, too. Cosell, a guest on the 49ers Insider Podcast, spoke about Garoppolo’s mechanics.

“Because he has very quick feet, I think people just assume he has great feet all the time when he delivers the ball,” Cosell said. “There’s a difference between having quick, athletic feet and having really good quarterback feet. And I think he needs to work on the quarterback feet part.

“I think guys who have that kind of snap delivery, sometimes they don’t step exactly to their throw and they throw a little bit off-balance, and that could really impact your accuracy to a significant degree. So my guess is those are the kinds of things they’ve worked on. Those are tweaks. I don’t think it will prevent him from being a really good player.”

Garoppolo appeared in six games with five starts last season after the 49ers acquired him for a second-round draft pick in a trade with the New England Patriots. Garoppolo completed 120 of 178 pass attempts (67.4 percent) for 1,580 yards and seven touchdowns with five interceptions.

Cosell said it is important for all quarterbacks to use consistent mechanics when making throws from a clean pocket.

“Think of a major league pitcher,” Cosell said. “They theoretically should throw the ball the same way every time. So should a quarterback unless the defense dictates otherwise. If the defense doesn’t dictate otherwise, the throws should look the same.”