Last year, Le’Veon Bell made the decision to sit out the entire 2018 football season over a contract and salary dispute. This year, the L.A. Chargers’ Melvin Gordon appears ready to pull the same stunt.
Gordon is currently holding out from reporting to training camp because he is not happy with his projected 2019 salary of $5.6 million that represents his fifth year of the contract he signed as a rookie just four years ago. Instead, the embattled running back says he wants to be paid along the lines of Bell and Todd Gurley, the top two earners in the National Football League among running backs.
It remains to be seen if the Chargers’ front office will hold the line as the Steelers did last year even though Pittsburgh tried to offer Le’Veon Bell a very rich and healthy contract that he rejected because it simply “did not meet his standards.” I’ve said this before but really, how much money does one man need? I’ll accept that most NFL careers are not very long and that they need to make as much money as possible to secure their futures, but for players that are making these millions of dollars, what happened to investing your money wisely and saving for the future?
If Gordon stays on his current contract and gets out on the field and produces, he will in fact make more money in the seasons ahead. But given that he only played in 12 games last season, rushed for just 885 yards and scored only 10 times, that does not put him in a top five category of best backs in the league. In his four seasons, he has run for over 1,000 yards in a season just once that coming in 2017 when he finished with 1,105 and only eight touchdowns and that was in a full 16 games.
Additionally, in his sophomore season, he came up short in 13 games with 997 yards rushing but his per-carry average was over a full yard short of his mark last year which was 5.1. In 2017 he repeated his average-per-carry mark of the year prior. My belief is you produce and you get paid. If Gordon wants to be a top five running back among salaries, he will have to have the kind of season that calls for such a contract and he has yet to do that.
Gordon says his teammates have his back and that sounds familiar because most of the Steelers locker room in 2018 said they were ready to have Le’Veon Bell return and there would be no repercussions. However, Le-Bell never made it back. For the record, Bell’s 2019 salary will be $13.13 million and Gurley’s $14.38.
Another familiarity with Le’Veon Bell’s 2018 issues from Melvin Gordon is what he said about playing in Los Angeles:
“Just because we're going through contract issues right now doesn't mean I want to get traded. I love being a Charger. I don't want them to feel like I don't want to be there.”
Yea right. It’s only about the money and the many millions more that you want that you really don’t need. This like any other contract dispute is about ego.
Yesterday I mentioned tomorrow night’s UFC card “UFC on ESPN dos Anjos vs. Edwards” and that my predictions would come today. So without further ado, I give you my picks on the biggest fights of the card.
Main event: Rafael dos Anjos vs. Leon Edwards (welterweight)
When dos Anjos defeated Anthony Pettis by unanimous decision on March 14, 2015 and followed it up with a TKO of Donald Cerrone he appeared to be at the top of the UFC among its champions. At that time he had a 25-7 record and looked like a difficult fighter to beat. But since that time he lost his title to Eddie Alvarez in 2016 and then lost a second fight in a row to Tony Ferguson. Dos Anjos would reel off three straight victories over Tarec Saffiedine, Neil Magny, and Robbie Lawlor and seemed to be back on tract. But two straight losses to Colby Covington for the interim welterweight title and then to the now champion Kamaru Usman seemed to put the former champ back in a tailspin.
Dos Anjos got back in the win column this past May with an impressive submission win over Kevin Lee and now comes this battle with Leon Edwards who has lost just three times in 20 bouts. Edwards is on a seven fight win streak five of which were decision victories. But Edwards has taken down some big name fighters namely Donald Cerrone and Gunner Nelson in his last two.
Edwards is also the guy who in the back hallways of the O2 Arena in England after his last fight, he took a shot from Jorge Masvidal that resulted in a cut on Edwards face as the two exchanged barbs. Given how good Edwards has look during his current streak and that dos Anjos is aging and vulnerable, my pick here is Edwards by decision.
Greg Hardy vs. Juan Adams (heavyweight)
A few weeks ago, Jorge Masvidal did many MMA fans a favor of easily and rapidly disposing of Ben Askren. I say favor because Askren has been obnoxious and annoying since coming into the UFC and additionally, despite his “gift” victory over Robbie Lawlor, he truly isn’t a talented MMA fighter. Wrestler? I’ll give him that. UFC qualified? NOT. So as he is one of many “big mouths” in MMA, along comes former NFL player Greg Hardy.
Another big mouth, another fighter who is completely unlikeable, another fighter who is being handed tomato cans to fight and along the way he is knocking out these cupcakes and building his record. With just three amateur fights, UFC President Dana White handed the former Carolina Panther and Dallas Cowboys linebacker an MMA contract. Thus far after five fights, he has lost just one and that was a disqualification to Allen Crowder when Hardy landed an illegal knee. But he has yet to fight a really well schooled MMA fighter and tomorrow night he gets Juan Adams who also has had just a handful of bouts (six).
With a 5-1 record, Adams lost his last fight out on the night Al Iaquinta fought Donald Cerrone. It was a decision loss that Adams disputes. But in his five victories, they call came by TKO on punches and all in the first round except his third round TKO of Chris de la Rocha. For Adams, he has no bragging rights either because when he defeated Chris Rose, that fighter came win without an MMA victory and had lost his first two fights and is still without a win at 0-4. Adams’ TKO of de la Rocha handed that combatant his third loss in eight fights.
Juan Adams also defeated Shawn Teed last July and Teed is just 5-2 for his career. Worse is that Adams defeated Dwight Gipson who has lost his last two and has an ugly record of 7-9. More insult to injury? Adams owns a win over Brice Ritani-Coe who has lost five of nine. So neither Juan Adams or Greg Hardy can claim much heading into Saturday. What Adams does have going for him is size. He is 6’5” and will weigh in around 265. Those measurements equal Greg Hardy so there is no advantage for either man.
My gut says that Hardy will probably score another KO or TKO as he will bum rush Adams and start winging. But part of me says Adams may pull a “Masvidal gem” and do us all a favor and dump this loser. To give you a sampling of how cocky and arrogant Hardy has become, just read this quote from the former football player when asked if he’d like to fight Jon Jones:
“For sure. Like I said, he’s a great dude, a great competitor, but I’m here to clean out the whole division and anyone who wants to join it. I’m here to be the greatest combat sports heavyweight of all-time, and if that includes taking out Jon Jones to do that, then that’s what I’ve got to do. And I’ll do it with all due respect like I would Stipe, like I would Daniel. I think a lot of times my comments get misconstrued as disrespectful and it’s not. If I’m sitting here saying I can’t beat somebody, then do I even belong here?”
Get real man. Daniel Cormier would beat Greg Hardy EASY. So would Stipe. Francis Ngannou? That’s a scary thought of he and Hardy sharing the Octagon. Ngannou would probably decapitate Greg Hardy given the style of Hardy. Junior dos Santos would annihilate Greg Hardy. Derrick Lewis on his best night would easily dispatch of this idiot.
This guy thinks he can challenge for the championship? There are other top 10 heavyweights that would also beat him. That’s because they are well rounded MMA fighters. I’d put these guys as a winner over Greg Hardy: Curtis Blaydes, Alexander Volkov, and the former champion Cain Velasquez if he is in good fighting form. Others that would give him all he can handle would be the 10-1 Tai Tuivasa, Blagoy Ivanov who has 12 knockouts or submissions in his 17-2 record, and are you going to try to convince me the inexperienced Hardy would defeat Aleksei Oleinik?
Oleinik has fought 70 times in the MMA and has won 57 fights 45 by submission and eight by KO or TKO. Hardy needs to get real and fight someone who has proven themselves with a solid record in MMA. Until that happens he can yap all he wants but is not believable.
Andrei Arlovski vs. Ben Rothwell (heavyweights)
The “old man” fight of the night puts the 40 year old Arlovski in the Octagon with the 37 year old Rothwell. Between the two of them they have fought 94 times, each having 47 professional bouts. Arlovski has won 27 of his, Rothwell 36. Rothwell has 20 KOs and 13 submissions whereas Arlovski has scored 17 knockouts and 3 submissions. Looking at their current track record, Arlovski has lost eight of his last 11 with one no contest but what should have been nine losses because facing Walt Harris, Harris tested positive for a PED and his split decision win over Arlovski was changed to a NC.
At one point, Arlovski lost five straight to Stipe Miocic, Alistair Overeem, Josh Barnett, Francis Ngannou, and Francis Ngannou before getting of the snide with two straight wins against Junior Albini and Stefan Struve. But then came the losses to Tai Tuivasa, Shamil Abdurakhimov, Walt Harris, and Augusto Sakai last April.
As for Rothwell, he has faired a tad better than his opponent over the last several years. In Rothwell’s last 11 he has lost five of the 11 to drop his record to the current 36-11. The first loss in his last 11 was to Cain Velasquez 10 years ago and at that time Ben Rothwell has won 30 fights and lost just six before Cain dropped him in the second round.
This fight is actually a rematch that has waited 11 years to make happen. Rothwell fought Arlovski on July 19, 2008 but it was not in the UFC but in the promotion “Afflication.” In that fight, Arlovski was the winner by KO in the third round. Prior to that loss, Rothwell had won 13 in a row.
Both fighters are former champions, Rothwell having won the USMMA Heavyweight title in 2002, and Arlovski a former WAMMA title holder as well as having won the UFC top division title from Tim Sylvia on February 5, 2005. He would lose his belt in a rematch and then again to Sylvia just three months later in July 2006. I believe in this one given how they have performed as of late, I like a Rothwell victory by decision.
Some other notable fights on the preliminary card are:
Alex Caceres vs. Steven Peterson (featherweight)
“Bruce Leroy” Caceres was once thought to be a promising talent but has been a disappointment instead. He gets a relatively unknown opponent in Peterson and so here it can go either way, but my gut says Caceres as he has been in the spotlight more often.
Raquel Pennington vs. Irene Aldana (bantamweight)
Pennington has a known name in UFC circles but her record is awful at 9-7. After four straight wins including a decision victory over former champion Miesha Tate, she has lost her last two to a couple of champions in Amanda Nunes and Germaine de Randamie. Aldana is 10-4 and last disposed of Bethe by submission. She’s on a three fight win streak and I like her to win this one by submission.
Sam Alvey vs. Klidson Abreu (light heavyweight)
“Smiling” Sam Alvey is a fan favorite who has been fighting like forever (debuted in 2008). Alvey is a tough customer but has never fought for a UFC title and probably will never get there. Still, you have to like the guy for his fortitude. He is coming off two straight losses and faces Klidson Abreu in only the fighter’s second bout in the UFC. Abreu brings with him a 14-3 record with his last fight on the Blachowicz/Santos card that saw him lose to Magomed Ankalaev by decision. I’ll go with Alvey by decision.
Roxanne Modafferi vs. Jennifer Maia (flyweight)
Modafferi and Maia will be staging another rematch on this card as the two women fought on September 23, 2016 in Invicata as that card’s main event. Maia won that first meeting by a close split decision so there they are again but now in the UFC. Modafferi has plenty of experience with 38 fights having won 23. As for Maia, she is coming off a big decision victory of Alexis Davis and has won 16 of her 22 fights. I’ll go with my gut and pick Maia for the decision win as any Brazilian born fighter is as tough as they come.
Ray Borg vs. Gabriel Silva (flyweight)
Ray Borg is a tough little fighter with seven stoppages in 11 victories (6 submissions, 1 KO). He lost to one of the greatest fighters in UFC history, the former champion Demetrious Johnson due to an armbar in 2017 then in his next fight this past March, he lost again to Casey Kenney by a decision. As for Silva, this will be his UFC debut and he brings to the Octagon a perfect 8-0 record. Silva is not a knockout fighter having won his bouts with four decisions, one submission, and three by knockout or TKO all of which came in the first round. He’s in with a very crafty and worthy fighter and I like Borg to win by submission and ruin Silva’s debut.
There is another major combat sport event taking place tomorrow and this is of the ageless Manny Pacquiao. Will this man ever quit boxing? Geez...he's had 70 fights! He began his ring career professionally 24 years ago at the age of 17 with a decision victory over Edmund Enting Ignacio. Ignacio had his last fight 18 years ago!
Truly one of the greatest boxers ever, Pacquiao has been one of the most accomplished fighters in and outside of the squared circle. He's won 87% of his fights, has won a title in eight different divisions and at the age of 40 defeated an outstanding fighter in Adrien Broner this past January to retain his welterweight title he took from Lucas Matthysse last July.
Tomorrow he moves up a division and attempts to wrest the WBA super welterweight championship belt from the waist of Keith Thurman who has just 30 fights but has won all but one of those. The one fight he didn't win was a no contest ruled as such because he and Francisco Garcia butted heads and both were unable to continue. He brings to the ring 22 knockouts in those 30 fights but forget a KO he will NOT get that against the champ. I fully expect Manny Pacquiao to add more hardware to his trophy case in this one.
Finally for today, a little history lesson one that I just learned today. It comes in the sport of Major League Baseball. As a sports historian, I know full well who Adrian “Cap” Anson was and is. Born Adrian Constantine Anson in Marshalltown, Iowa on April 17, 1852, Anson would make the Baseball Hall of Fame in it’s inaugural induction on June 12, 1939. He earned his nickname of Cap because he had become the captain of the team when he played for the Chicago White Sox. Anson would garner 3,435 hits in his 27 year career with a lifetime batting average of .394. What I did not know about Cap Anson was the was a downright racist.
His dislike of blacks became obvious on July 14, 1887. As the White Sox were scheduled to play the Newark Little Giants, the opposing team had on its roster a pitcher by the name of George Stovey who was black. Anson refused to play in the game because of his racial beliefs and a day later team owners in the league had verbally agreed to keep any black players from being on the roster of a Major League Baseball team. Incredibly this unwritten rule was practiced until Jackie Robinson finally became the first official black player to play in the Major Leagues again.
Given this true story, it has many questioning what criteria should actually be considered when electing players into the hallowed halls of Cooperstown, New York. This year Barry Bonds, the all-time home run king missed the cut again, now seven years running since he was first eligible. His dismissal from being elected is obviously related to his alleged steroid usage. Roger Clemens if facing the same issue.
Pete Rose received a lifetime ban from baseball for betting on games and he has been denied a return as well as not being permitted to be voted into the Hall of Fame. So I ask you, is the hall for players with stats or character? Cap Anson had the stats but certainly his racist opinions make him an unworthy character person to be represented with baseball’s highest honor.
If players are to be voted in based on what they did on the field and not the person they are or were, then men like Pete Rose, Bonds, and Clemens are getting the royal shaft. Those are three of the greatest players in history but they are being shunned for a bust in Cooperstown. If men are being considered based on character as well, then for sure Rose doesn’t belong. He’s an ass and a jerk and has proven so.
Barry Bonds is another jackass with a piss poor attitude but on the field, whether he took steroids or not, his numbers are worthy. Roger Clemens is accused of juicing and is getting shut out of an induction but he was one of the most dominating and powerful pitchers in history. My opinion is that a hall of fame regardless of the sport should be based SOLELY on numbers. If people want a “character” hall of fame, by all means let’s create one.
But any of the sports hall of fames should be about production. What players did on their field of play. So with that said, Pete Rose in my book is a hall of famer. As much as I dislike those who use steroids and the fact that it breaks rules, I think Bonds without any use of the substance as well as Clemens would still have put up some of the greatest numbers in history. So Bonds and Clemens belong. So does Alex Rodriguez who will probably also get shut out for years to come.
There are those in the hall who were of good character but based on numbers I don’t believe they should have been voted in. There are players who may not have produced eye opening offensive stats but were placed in the hall for defensive reasons. Ozzie Smith is the first to come to mind. When you peruse through the inducted men who are baseball’s Hall of Fame and then think about some of the greatest players ever, some names just don’t seem to fit.
We all know who Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams, Ty Cobb, Lou Gehrig, Walter Johnson, Mickey Mantle, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, and Roberto Clemente are just to name a few but should these inducted hall of famers be mentioned in the same breath with those mentioned above? Harold Baines? A .289 lifetime hitter with less than 3,000 hits and just 384 home runs? Some of the more questionable inductees have been placed in the last 10-20 years.
Edgar Martinez voted in this year…18 years in the bigs all with Seattle. All fine and good. But while he has a nice lifetime batting average of .312, he too fell short of reaching what most players want to accomplish, 3,000 hits. Martinez had just 2,247 and hit only 309 home runs for his career. Mike Piazza is another question mark. I question the induction of Andre Dawson. A lifetime .279 hitter with 438 home runs and under 3,000 hits does he deserve having a bust and his name mentioned next to Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, or any of the other historic greats? Maybe the hall needs to continue inducting on whatever criteria the Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWWA) uses then have an “Elite” wing in the hall as well preserved for the truly GREAT players like a Ruth, Aaron, Gehrig, Williams, or guys like Stan Musial.
With so much attention these days being paid to character of a person and the fact that favoritism plays a role, players will continue to get denied a hall of fame entrance based more on who they are and not what they accomplished. If Cap Anson was still alive and practiced his social beliefs do you think these writers would have put him in the Hall of Fame? I think not. Until a determination is made of what criteria is the actual foundation of being voted into a hall of fame, guys like Bonds and Clemens will continue to be bypassed year after year of being officially known as one of their sports’ all-time greats.