Don't Kill The Mellinger

Five-minute break: Gifts, cuts and tragedy

Cliff Alexander didn’t give Oklahoma State’s Phil Forte room to shoot during a game earlier this year.
Cliff Alexander didn’t give Oklahoma State’s Phil Forte room to shoot during a game earlier this year. The Kansas City Star

Maybe you’re like me, and your first reaction to the news that Cliff Alexander’s eligibility concerns are tied to possible impermissible gifts to a family member is … I think I’ll have a sandwich for lunch today. Yes, a sandwich sounds good.

The NCAA has mismanaged itself into a position where virtually everything it does is justifiably questioned. Rules are fine and necessary but the NCAA has long lost the benefit of the doubt in situations like this.

I assume this stuff happens a lot, and at least in the abstract I don’t see a problem with more of a free market system where agents are allowed to give cash or gifts to college players. It doesn’t cost schools anything, lets players get in on the money they’re generating, and simplifies things for an already outmanned NCAA.

But, again, that’s in the abstract. We still don’t have a lot of information to go on here.

Besides, the way things are going, Alexander might want to seriously think about delaying his decision on an NBA agent for a year.

If you haven’t already, you should read Terez here about the cap ramifications of cutting Dwayne Bowe.

The Chiefs are in a really interesting spot here, because their receivers obviously stink, but Bowe is the best (most proven, at least) they have. A great offseason would mean he is, perhaps, the No. 3. But that offseason hasn’t really started yet.

The most sensible route, to me, is the one Joel Corry proposes in Terez’s piece: cut Bowe’s salary from $11 million to $6 million or so. Because of the contract structure, that’s the same salary savings you’d get from outright cutting him, and you could build in some incentives for him to earn his money back. Besides, Bowe’s track record suggests he’s much better with incentives to play for.

Aldon Smith, the former Raytown High and Mizzou star, restructured his contract in a way that gives the 49ers cap relief and himself responsibility to stay focused on football.

Here’s hoping it takes.

This is just absolutely heartbreaking news from Raymore-Peculiar High, where a senior named Ja’leel Freeman collapsed at track practice and died. Tragic and unfair. I can only imagine what his parents, family and friends are feeling.

“He just changed the light of the room when he walked into it,” says Tom Kruse, the school’s athletics director. “I’ll be honest — the kid did not have an enemy. Everybody that was around him was better for being around him.”

If you want more than a five-minute break, this story by Eli Saslow on a top pitching prospect who lives in a van is predictably awesome.

To reach Sam Mellinger, call 816-234-4365 or send email to Follow him on Twitter @mellinger. For previous columns, go to