Free your mind and think.

21 05 2013


Your state’s highest-paid public employee is probably a coach.

15 05 2013

… And your team probably still sucks. Money well spent.

– dEV


Sorry, Lance.

5 02 2013


I Enjoy Both.

4 01 2013


In all seriousness, I find that Fantasy Football is a lot more like a deck-building card game or CCG, or even more of a army-building miniatures game. And I think that all of these have untapped potential as educational tools!

None of this explains why I can’t convince my Fantasy Football friends to try tabletop gaming, or vice versa. Sigh.

– dEV

TIME: Nine Charged in Massive Pee Wee Football Gambling Ring

6 11 2012

By Associated Press Oct. 31, 2012

(DEERFIELD BEACH, Fla.) — Authorities said Tuesday they uncovered a massive gambling operation targeting youth football games in South Florida, leading them to arrest nine men, including several coaches with extensive criminal backgrounds who they say exploited kids to turn a profit.

The 18-month long investigation started when ESPN journalists brought Broward County Sheriff’s officials surveillance video showing parents openly exchanging money in the stands while watching their kids’ tackle football games. Authorities later uncovered the stakes on pee wee games were high, with more than $100,000 wagered on the youth football championship.

Coaches routinely met before games and set point spreads, investigators said, but they do not believe the games were thrown or that coaches encouraged players not to complete a touchdown in order to control the outcome. Authorities said they had no evidence that the players were aware of the bets.

“It’s about kids being exploited unfortunately by greedy parents and greedy grown-ups and coaches who were basically nothing more than criminals,” Sheriff Al Lamberti said.

After months of surveillance, digging through trash cans and raiding two gambling houses, authorities arrested alleged ringleader Brandon Bivins, known as ‘Coach B’ in the community, charging him with felony bookmaking and keeping a gambling house. Eight others were also charged Monday with bookmaking and some were charged with keeping a gambling house.

It’s unclear if Bivins has an attorney. A phone message and email sent to one of the other suspect’s attorneys was not immediately returned Tuesday.

Authorities said the suspects have direct ties to the South Florida Youth Football League and several have extensive criminal histories. Bivins has been convicted of cocaine possession, grand theft auto, and marijuana possession with intent to sell.

According to the league’s website, it has 22 clubs and 6,000 players, ranging from pee wee to teens, in three counties. Many of the children come from impoverished neighborhoods.

Emails and phone calls to several officers in the league were not immediately returned Tuesday.
The website says the sole purpose of the league “is to benefit children” and instill wholesome values.

Bold print on the league’s website warns that anyone taking bets on games will be asked to leave. “The SFYFL is taking a hard stand on gambling, recruiting, paying kids to play and big hits on players.”

Perhaps more disturbing than the gambling operation was the extensive criminal background of six coaches, authorities said.

An affidavit claims Bivins ran a fake barbershop, complete with barber stations and vending machines, as a front for a gambling house. But behind what appeared to be a closet door was a narrow hallway leading to a seedy gambling room where Bivins and others took bets on professional, college and youth games behind conspicuously dark tinted windows.

An informant placed numerous bets at Red Carpet Kutz Barbershop and another gambling front, Showtime Sports, during the investigation, according to the affidavit.

Authorities said they seized nearly $40,000 from a drop safe at one of the storefronts and took another $20,000 from Bivins’ home. They believe ‘Coach B’ was skimming off the top of the bets.

(Full Story)

PFT: Ex-NFL player Cedrick Wilson indicted for test-taking fraud

1 11 2012

I recall Cedrick Wilson’s tenure in the NFL playing for the Niners and Steelers. I remember it because he became somewhat of a running gag with myself and my roommates. He was always an interesting player to watch, as he had a knack for putting up pretty decent numbers until doing something stupid. He’d do stuff like catch three or four passes and make you think, “Cedrick’s having a pretty good game,” but then muff a punt and give the ball away, or get a penalty that would kill a drive.

As it turns out, Cedrick Wilson is every bit the moron I imagined him to be. Not only did he think that he’d have a shot at a teaching career after (allegedly) beating up his girlfriend and having his NFL career cut short as a result, but figured he could get away with paying someone to take his teaching certification test for him.

When I hear of stories like this, I can’t help but wonder when Cedrick’s problems really began. If I were to guess, he probably got away with a lot both in high school and in college. I’m sure he’s had sycophants and handlers all his life that have made sure that he’s made the grades, stayed out of trouble, and made sure that the regular rules don’t apply to him. Well, eventually life catches up with you and the real world sets in. And that’s all the more reason to teach our students that character is important, and they need learn how to be self-reliant and capable adults.

– dEV

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Ex-NFL player Cedrick Wilson indicted for test-taking fraud

Posted by Michael David Smith on October 30, 2012, 5:17 PM EDT

Former 49ers and Steelers receiver Cedrick Wilson has been indicted on fraud charges for paying someone to take a teacher-certification test for him.

The Memphis Commercial Appeal reports that Wilson wanted to become a high school teacher and coach in Memphis, but according to prosecutors, Wilson didn’t take the standardized test that teachers are required to take in Tennessee. Instead, Wilson hired someone to take the test for him.

Wilson has been charged with wire fraud and Social Security fraud. Prosecutors say Wilson gave the test-taker his Social Security number as part of the plan for the test-taker to pose as Wilson.

The person hired by Wilson to take the test was part of a large standardized test cheating ring. Four people have already pleaded guilty to involvement in the cheating ring, and Wilson is one of 14 others who have been indicted.

A sixth-round draft pick out of Tennessee in 2001, Wilson played for the 49ers for four years and then signed with the Steelers in 2005 and played three years in Pittsburgh. In his best season, 2004, Wilson had 47 catches for 641 yards and three touchdowns.

The Steelers cut Wilson in March of 2008, just hours after he was accused of assaulting his girlfriend in a Pittsburgh restaurant.

(Original Story) Manning jerseys banned by Colorado school district for gang ties

6 09 2012

It’s an unfortunate side effect of gang violence. Around here, all professional sports apparel has been banned, and clothing items by some college teams — the Fresno State University Bulldogs, for example — have been made off-limits as well. And it’s all because gangs have co-opted the colors, jersey numbers, and logos of popular teams and players.

I long for the day when I can wear a jersey to support my favorite team without having to worry about getting shot. But the sad reality is that gangs have taken the fun out of supporting your favorite teams and players.

The only good to come of this is that I can’t stand Peyton Manning, and that makes this a little bit funny to me.

– dEV

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Posted by Darin Gantt on September 6, 2012, 1:56 PM EDT

Peyton Manning’s popularity in Colorado has been immediate, and intense.

But if you want to support him, don’t wear his jersey to school in Greeley.

One family is upset because their 8-year-old son was forced to change out of his new Manning jersey because it doesn’t comply with the school district’s dress code designed to minimize gang activity.

The Greeley-Evans School District has banned the numbers 13, 14, 18 as well as their inverses (31, 41 and 81) because of the ties those numbers have to area gangs.

Pam Vanatta told CBS4 she was “speechless” that her son Konnor couldn’t wear the jersey his grandmother bought him as a gift.

“I knew that Greeley had a gang problem but I didn’t think in any event it should affect someone that’s in third grade,” she said.

School officials say no one objected to the policy — which also bans students from shaving notches in their eyebrows or displaying red or blue bandanas — until Manning signed with the Broncos.

Now, all of a sudden, it is a big deal,” district spokesman Roger Fiedler told theDenver Post. “Until yesterday there haven’t been any concerns raised about our dress code.

“It’s unfortunate that it has become a big deal. It is not a new policy. It has nothing against [the Broncos]. Mr. Manning is a great role model. We would hope people would understand it has nothing to do with him or the Broncos.”

The numbers 13 and 14 are linked with the Sureño and Norteño gangs, and the 18th Street gang is invoked in the policy as well. Fiedler said the policy has been on the books since the 2008-09 school year, and has been effective.

(Full Story)


Sporting News: Snoop Dogg’s son offered scholarship from UCLA Bruins

28 06 2012

As I stated when Puff Daddy’s kid won a scholarship to UCLA, he earned it on his own merits, so he deserves it. I understand people being up in arms about money going to somebody who obviously has the means, but that doesn’t change the fact that the kid got it because he was worthy.

That said, why is UCLA giving a scholarship to a kid who has yet to step on the field with the varsity squad yet? Shouldn’t they wait until Snoop Junior is at least a Junior before deciding whether or not he has the goods?

I went to a game at the Rose Bowl a couple seasons ago, and the venue could really use a makeover. Maybe Snoop and Puffy can kick down some funds for a remodel…

– dEV

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PUBLISHED Sunday, Jun 24, 2012 at 2:38 pm EDT

Already listed at 6-foot-2 and 185 pounds entering his sophomore season at Diamond Bar High School, Cordell Broadus has made a name for himself playing wide receiver and defensive back.

Of course, he was already well recognized as the son of rapper Snoop Dogg.

But now, he may start being noticed more for his on-field skills than his father as UCLA became the first school to offer him a scholarship, USA Today reported.

Broadus played for the freshman team last year.

“We’re expecting him to really lead us the next three years,” Diamond HS head coach Ryan Maine told ESPNLA. “Hopefully (our athletes) get bigger, stronger and keep leading this team.”

UCLA made news when it signed Justin Combs, the son of hip-hop superstar Sean “Diddy” Combs. UCLA came under fire by some for providing Combs with a $54,000 scholarship because he certainly could afford the tuition with scholarship assistance.

“Unlike need-based scholarships, athletic scholarships are awarded to students strictly on the basis of their athletic and academic ability, and not on a student’s financial need,” UCLA spokesperson Ricardo Vazquez said in a statement. “Athletic scholarships, such as those awarded to football or basketball players, do not rely on state funds.”

(Original Story)

Seattle Times: Jon Kitna’s greatest play: NFL QB to high-school math teacher

3 06 2012

ELLEN M. BANNER / THE SEATTLE TIMES: Former Seahawks quarterback Jon Kitna watches as a student gives him 10 push-ups at the end of class after losing a bet he could throw a piece of paper across the room and land it in the trash can.

A few months after retiring from the NFL, Tacoma’s Jon Kitna finally gets the job he wanted — teaching and coaching at his alma mater.

By Danny O’Neil – Seattle Times staff reporter

TACOMA — “We’re working,” Jon Kitna says. “We’re working.”

It’s his first-period math class at Lincoln High School, and yes, Kitna is working. Has been since 7 on this Thursday morning, which is when Kitna walked onto the campus of the high school he once attended, past the statue of Abraham Lincoln and into Room 102 carrying a bag full of McDonald’s breakfast sandwiches.

He will spend the next three hours in this classroom on Tacoma’s east side where the clock remains stuck at 1:44. The man who spent the past 16 years studying X’s and O’s as an NFL quarterback will spend three periods explaining x to the fifth power among other assorted math quandaries.

You might have heard Kitna retired. Well, that’s not true. He’s just not playing football anymore. The NFL career he never expected is over, and he’s now in his first year teaching math and coaching football, which is exactly what he hoped to do when he left college in 1996.

“The NFL wasn’t supposed to happen,” says Kitna, 39.

Quarterbacks from Central Washington University don’t usually move on to the NFL. Not even the really good ones, and as great as Kitna was, he graduated with a degree in math education and had every expectation his next gig would be in a classroom and not under center. He applied for his first teaching job before he signed with an NFL team.

How did a man who played 16 years of professional football and made millions of dollars wind up — voluntarily — in a classroom at the most impoverished high school in Pierce County? It’s a tough question. One that Kitna himself can’t really answer, not even with one of those equations he throws at his students.

He doesn’t know when he decided he was going to do this, because he can’t remember a time when this wasn’t part of his plan.

“I never knew I wasn’t going to do it,” Kitna said.

Which is why one of the most successful NFL quarterbacks to come out of this state shows up early in a collared golf shirt, his hair still buzzed so close you can see scalp, bringing a bag of breakfast for his students.

Applied education

Understanding Kitna’s conviction about this position requires you go back to when he first applied for the job.

Back in March. March 1996.

Bill Milus — who coached Kitna at Lincoln — had retired, and Kitna applied for the job the month before the Seahawks signed him as an undrafted free agent. He was an NAIA All-American on a national championship team and perhaps fortuitously was college teammates with the nephew of Dennis Erickson, the Seahawks’ coach at the time.

Kitna spent 1996 on Seattle’s scout team instead of in a Tacoma classroom. It was the starting point for a pro career as unlikely as it was impressive. He was World Bowl MVP while playing in Europe, a backup to Warren Moon and the first starting quarterback for Mike Holmgren in Seattle. He started 124 NFL games, playing for the Bengals, Lions and Cowboys after leaving Seattle in 2001. He passed for almost 30,000 yards.

Plenty of people say they won’t let the NFL change them, but Kitna demonstrated that. Football was a career; teaching was a calling.

“I didn’t marry an NFL quarterback,” says Jennifer, his wife of 18 years. “I married a teacher and a coach.”

Jon Kitna used to talk about taking some time off after he stopped playing. At least a year, maybe two. But then Jennifer began to notice that the longer her husband played, the shorter the amount of time he talked about taking off.

All of that explains how the Kitnas wound up at a coffee shop on South Ninth Street and Broadway in Tacoma last November, meeting with Pat Erwin, Lincoln’s principal. Kitna was the Dallas Cowboys’ backup at the time, his second year with the team. He suffered a back injury earlier that month in practice. A bulging disk that he’d had for years had become a herniated disk, and Kitna had decided that 2011 would be his last year in the NFL.

“We weren’t the only school that was interested in Jon,” Erwin said.

But there wasn’t going to be a better fit than Lincoln. Mike Merrill — Lincoln’s previous football coach — became the athletic director, and the school didn’t hire a coach so much as it staged a homecoming when it introduced Kitna.

“If it was going to be in the city, it would have been real hard for it to be anywhere besides here,” Kitna said.

Here at the school he once attended, as did his parents. Here at a school that hasn’t made the state playoffs since 2003 and had the same weight room that Kitna used when he attended.

His son, Jordan, will enroll at Lincoln as a freshman next year, becoming the third generation of Kitnas to attend the school.

So after he was introduced in January, Kitna came to Erwin and said he and his wife wanted to buy all new equipment for that weight room. Fantastic, said Erwin, but first they’d have to go to the school board to get approval since the project was going to exceed $50,000.

One problem, Kitna said: “I already bought it.”

On Feb. 24, they got permission to install the weight-room equipment that by then was already waiting in the trucks outside. And so the heavy lifting of building Kitna’s program started.

“Greatness in these halls”

“Charles, how much do you weigh?” Kitna asks.

He’s talking to a sophomore who stopped by his classroom before school starts. Charles wears socks that read, “I (heart) haters.” Charles weighs 135 pounds, and he’s been attending the weight-training sessions Kitna runs after school.

“You weigh 135 pounds and you front squatted 155 pounds?” Kitna exclaims. “My man. My man.”

Charles didn’t play football and had never lifted weights until Kitna arrived at Lincoln. Now, he takes his shirt off during the workouts, and if there’s an ounce of fat among those 135 pounds, it’s not evident. The kid is shredded.

Kitna has a rapport in the classroom. A natural ability to communicate with these kids, which is good, because the rest of this job is hard.

Start with the fact that Kitna is used to learning a playbook, not putting one together for the day’s lesson. Throw in the overhead projectors and the graphing calculators — which Kitna didn’t use in high school — and, well, there are times when staring down a blitz would feel more comfortable than standing in the pocket of his classroom.

“The technology is completely overwhelming,” Kitna says.

His classroom is open before the school day starts, and the teacher who was looking for open receivers last year is now looking for opportunities to assist. He thanks a student named Anthony who comes in for extra help.

It’s not hard to imagine a former NFL quarterback filling his afternoons with football. It’s tougher to imagine that same man — a guy who was making $3 million last year — arriving on campus at 7 a.m. and bringing breakfast for kids who need extra help, hosting a home room and then teaching two periods of algebra.

That’s what makes Kitna’s return so extraordinary.

(Full Story)

Y!: Puff Daddy’s Son Earns Full-Ride Scholarship to UCLA

30 05 2012

This is a bit controversial, but I really don’t think it should be. Sean “Puffy/Puff Daddy/P-Diddy/Diddy” Combs is worth about half a billion dollars. Puffy has the contacts and resources to grease the right palms and get his kid into any school he wants. His son, Justin, could’ve chose to coast through school — and life — and simply live off of his daddy’s money and name.

Justin didn’t do that. He earned a scholarship to UCLA on his own merits. It’s admirable, and speaks well of his character and upbringing. If Justin and his family decide that they don’t really need the money, that’s their decision. Diddy can donate a couple million to the school, and get his name put on a building (and have it renamed every few years) to make up for it if he feels guilty about it. But if there’s a plaque or a certificate or something that goes with the scholarship, Justin’s name deserves to be on it. It’s his scholarship, and he earned it.

– dEV

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Should rich kids be ineligible for college scholarships?

By The Week’s Editorial Staff | The Week

Hip-hop mogul Diddy is worth $500 million, and his son just landed a full-ride, merit-based scholarship to UCLA. Where’s the justice?

Among the graduating high school class of 2012 is one Justin Combs, who finished his senior year with an impressive 3.75 GPA and an equally impressive record on the football field. UCLA rewarded Justin’s accomplishments with a full, $54,000 merit-based scholarship and a spot in the school’s storied football program. The twist: Justin is the son of hip-hop mogul Sean “Diddy” Combs, recently named the wealthiest man in hip-hop by Forbes. With California’s state schools facing deep cuts, UCLA’s decision to offer Justin a chunk of its scarce resources is being widely criticized. Should the Combs clan give back the money? Or should the size of Justin’s dad’s bank account even matter?

Justin shouldn’t keep this money: Here’s the bottom line, says Dennis Romero in LA Weekly: “The son of a guy worth nearly half a billion dollars” doesn’t need a free ride to college, especially to “a school where student tuition and fees have nearly tripled in the last 10 years.” I mean, this is a kid who poses in front of “a $300,000-plus Maybach,” likely the car his dad got him on his 16th birthday. Now that’s “a free ride that could pay for half dozen full-ride scholarships to UCLA.”

The kids of millionaires deserve recognition, too: “I’ll cop to a little jealousy” about Diddy’s fortune,says Jeanne Sager in The Stir. But Justin earned this scholarship through hard work in the classroom and on the field, and if we take it away because of Diddy’s cash surplus, we’re sending a message to all kids: “There is no reason to have a work ethic.” That’s a failure of parenting.

It’s Justin’s decision: It does seem like, in a world of spoiled Kardashians and “Sweet Sixteen” reality TV brats, we should reward a hardworking scion, says Amber Doty at Babble. But I have to say, “my knee jerk reaction was that the Combs’ and families like them should absolutely refuse the scholarship.” It’s inarguable that some other kid could use the $54,000 scholarship more than Justin Combs. But in the end, it’s his scholarship to keep or give up, and I’m “not sure what the right or wrong answer is.”

(Original Story)