Each week, The Reporters put their thumbs out to the good and the bad in the world of sports. This week they discuss the National Football League, the great Ichiro Suzuki and a fan's complaint about the Rogers Centre.
Bruce Arthur, National Post: My thumb is down to ESPN for pulling out of a partnership with PBS on a deeply researched documentary on the NFL's questionable handling of concussions after - wait, this can't be right - a lunch meeting in midtown Manhattan with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. Both sides denied NFL pressure was the cause, which means they must believe the public has collectively suffered serious head trauma. The league is looking more and more like a cigarette company every day, facing litigation from a third of its living former players, and everybody knows it. But ESPN - which airs Monday Night Football - has so many great journalists, on this issue and others, and it did them a deep disservice in succumbing to business interests over journalism. The only positive? At least they decided where they stand.
Steve Simmons, Sun Media: My thumb is down to the National Football League for its rather weak suspension of Houston defensive end Antonio Smith. Smith has been suspended for two pre-season games and one regular season game for one of the most dangerous acts on a football field I've ever seen. Smith somehow manipulated the helmet off Miami's often dirty Richie Incognito and violently swung the helmet in the direction of Incognito's head. Had it connected we might be talking about something other than suspension today. And at a time when the NFL is doing almost everything to protect its players, especially the head, this time it didn't do enough.
Michael Farber, Sports Illustrated: My thumb is up to Ichiro Suzuki, who passed the 4,000 hit mark this week against the Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium. Of course 1,278 of those hits came in the Japanese league to which I say … so? The Japanese League isn't exactly single A. And suppose Ichiro simply had materialized in Seattle at age 27 and began a career that produced a rookie of the year, an MVP, 10 Gold Gloves, more than 2,700 hits, 10 straight 200-plus hit season and a record 262 hits. Hall of Famer? Yeah. Anyway, that little museum in Cooperstown is the national baseball hall of fame, not the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame.
Dave Hodge, TSN: On a list of complaints by fans of the Blue Jays, this wouldn't rank near the top, but I'm with the fan who said "thumbs down" to this bit of nonsense encountered at the Rogers Centre beer concession. Fan wanted to buy one beer and he wanted to share it with his wife, so he asked for an empty cup to go with the overpriced can of beer. Sorry, that's not allowed. You can have beer in a can, minus a cup, or you can have beer in a cup, minus the can. But you can't walk away with half a can and half a cup of beer. Not even that way can the Jays and their fans enjoy a .500 season.