Everyone in the NFL is undefeated in the games that matter. This is still the part of the season where everyone is improved, everyone’s having a good training camp, and lots and lots of guys are in the best shape of their life.
By SAM MELLINGER
The Kansas City Star
I understand all that. I get how the game is played. But I don’t understand why there seems to be this consensus agreement that a defense that stunk last year can bring back most of the same players, add a defensive coordinator from a team that wasn’t all that good defensively, and we’re just supposed to automatically think they’re going to be great.
This historically unpredictable Royals season — no team has had a stretch as bad as 4-19 AND one as good as 17-3 in eight years — is back in the timeout corner. The hottest team in baseball as recently as last week, the Royals have now lost eight of 10, and I’m getting bunches of emails and Tweets saying things like, "now THIS is why you always talk about Royals fans coming by skepticism honestly."
The fine folks at the sports desk had the perfect headline in today’s Star: FADE TO WHITE.
But I do want to make a quick point: what were people expecting?
Since spring training, I’ve been saying this is an 83-win team. That seems to be close enough to what most were predicting. On Tuesday, I wrote why I didn’t see this season as playoffs-or-bust, about how there could be value in winning, say, 85 games, and most people I heard from thought that sounded reasonable enough.
So three games later, we’re supposed to be angry? Killing a team expected to be right around .500 for the sin of being right around .500?
I realize that "Royals fans" is a group big and diverse enough that there is no single accepted opinion. And I’m not here to tell anyone how to feel.
If you’re part of the playoffs-or-bust crowd, that’s fine, I understand where you’re coming from, and none of this is directed at you.
Just seems strange that they’re catching so much anger for, at least record-wise, dropping back to what most of us thought they’d be.
The NFL really is putting on a clinic on PR failure regarding its ongoing handling of concussions.
Maybe it just seems this way because the NFL is usually so good at PR, and at being ahead of the curve in so many ways. This is the league that started using instant replay in 1986. And the yellow line for first downs in 1998. This is the league of Monday Night Football and NFL Films and the first, as far as I know, to put microphones on coaches and players so we can hear what they say on our couches.
But, man. Virtually anything involving concussions, the league has screwed up. Their first three strategies — 1. Deny; 2. Deny; 3. Deny — didn’t work and neither has anything they’ve come up with since.
What they’ve done now, though, may be their most egregious and bizarre PR mistake yet — the league has, according to the New York Times, pressured ESPN into backing out of a joint project with PBS about the NFL’s handling of concussions.
You can see a trailer of the documentary here, or you can hear the name of the film — "League of Denial" — and get the idea of what it’s about.
The NFL has said that it cooperated with the project, and ESPN has cited a lack of editorial control for its backing out at such a late hour. But the NFL had to know this was all going to leak, and had to know how it would look.
The worst part of the mistake is that now that the public knows some of the backstory, the documentary is going to receive much more attention, and a much bigger audience.
To reach Sam Mellinger, call 816-234-4365, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org or follow twitter.com/mellinger. For previous columns, go to KansasCity.com.