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Local Suggestions That Beat the $65 “Bubble” Lunch

By Lenn Robbins

As more sports prepare to begin play, there appears to be some discrepancy as to whether or not the alleged $65 sandwiches purchased by some MLS players and posted on Twitter were made inside the league’s Walt Disney World ‘bubble.”

TMZ reported that the culinary catastrophes might have been purchased in Toronto, not Orlando, or in the quarantine zone, where players must remain for 12 hours before being admitted to the bubble. The actual price of the sandwiches also is in dispute.

Regardless, the Great COVID-19 Sandwich Caper has caught our attention like the shark seen swimming off Far Rockaway or anything vice president Mike Pence says because it’s often so bizarre, like smoking doesn’t kill. Right.

MLS players, once inside the bubble have access to several high-end eateries or an eclectic menu which offers $45 for breakfast, $65 for lunch and $75 for dinner, making dinner the bargain of meals. TMZ also reports players do not pay for their meals. No need for milk money.

It got us thinking: What are some of the best dining options in the metropolitan area during the time of coronavirus?

We apologize up front to any and all establishments we don’t mention and welcome their input. A man can only eat so many meals per day, unless the goal is an appearance on my 600-pound life. Because of quarantining, we’re getting dangerously close to, uh, making the weight.

These are some establishments that have prevented me from doing more damage in the kitchen:

The Smith: We use the East Village location. Their dinner special is fantastic. It’s a 2-for-$48 deal: Two entrees (five choices), a choice of salad (three choices), pasta or rice (six choices), two sides (seven choices) and two of the better chocolate chip cookies we’ve had. Yep, all that for $17 less than the “bubble” lunch. Delivered. Hot. Goooooaaaaal!

KazuNori: Those lucky enough to know about this original hand roll bar are more than willing to endure the 30-45-minute wait for a seat at the bar. I consider this the Lays potato chip of hand rolls – you can’t eat just one. What some might not know is that KazuNori has continued to deliver during the pandemic. If I have let the cat out of the bag, well, I’ve done an important service.

A 16-piece combo box includes four pieces of Toro, bay scallop, cucumber and crab for $18. No substitutes. But! You can order, say, three boxes and trade favorites with friends. There are four options topping out at the 16-piece plus salmon sashimi for $27. Comes delivered in efficient cardboard boxes with soy sauce, ginger and wasabi and a mixing tin. Three boxes run you $54, $11 less than bubble food.

Mekleburg’s. Not only do they have the best iced lattes in the city – period, end of debate -, but the sandwiches at the two Brooklyn locations (Williamsburg and Clinton Hill) are unbeatable. We use the Williamsburg location on Kent St. where you can eat your takeout right on the water at Domino Park.

The whitefish tartine ($10), B.L.A.S.T ($17, bacon, lettuce, avocado, soft shell crab, tomato and spicy mayo), and our personal favorite, Nana’s meatloaf ($17) have made weekends bearable. Share the Mek and Cheese ($14), the Salt Baked Potatoes ($12, raclette, sour cream, scallions), a tartine (four choices) and the meatloaf. It will cost you $53, 50-percent off a cardiologist appointment, and still brings you in less than house roasted prime steak loin or the bourbon glazed smoked Virginia ham in the bubble.

In fairness, none of our recommendations offer the Miss Vickie’s potato chips (we prefer Cape Cod) or the seasonal whole fresh fruit that comes with the $65 bubble lunch. We hope the food in Orlando is to die for.

This was merely a public service until restaurants can serve indoors. If there’s a neighborhood spot that you’d recommend, we love to know. Stay safe.

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Where is the Owner of America’s Team During America’s Time by Lenn Robbins The New York Extra/The NYExtra.com

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By Lenn Robbins

The magnificent treatise known as The Constitution of the United States gives us the right to free speech. Which means we also have the right not to speak. For some, this has been a better course of action. For others, worse.

There are those that subscribe to the theory that it’s best to let others assume you’re an idiot, rather than open one’s mouth and prove it. There are those that have opened their mouths and spent a lifetime trying to remove the lodged foot.

credit Twitter

Which brings us to Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. In full disclosure, I am a diehard Cowboys fan. I know I have doomed myself in the eyes of many. For whatever it’s worth, it happened by happenstance:

As a nine-year-old Jets fan in 1969, Joe Namath was the coolest star athlete to walk the planet. And he did it in high white tops and a fur coat. He guaranteed a Super Bowl and delivered by upsetting the 18-point favored Colts.

My animosity for the Colts almost equaled my passion for the Jets. When the Colts edged the Cowboys two years later, my allegiance shifted Southwest, just as the first Dallas dynasty was taking shape. Ascending Dallas, led by straight-laced, Hail Mary-throwing Roger Staubach usurped nightlife loving, bad knees-Namath and the declining Jets.

There is no other team I truly root for, which is why I’ve never covered a Dallas Cowboys game and won’t until I’m out of the business. So that’s my dark secret. I have a scarlet star over my heart.

The question is, does Jones have a dark secret?

As owner of the most valuable sports franchise in the world (the Cowboys are worth $5 billion according to Forbes), Jones has tremendous platform and power. He also has two of the young faces of the NFL – Dak Prescott and Zeke Elliott – both of whom are black.

Jones has players on this team – veterans that are well respected throughout the league – who have come forward and voiced their support for the Black Lives Matter movement. Jones has remained mum.

As a football team owner, Jones, 77, has spent the better part of his adult life surrounded by people of color. But not in his formative years. Jerry’s World was white.

He played on an all-white Arkansas football team that won the national championship in 1964.  Arkansas didn’t have a black player until 1966. Jones doesn’t have the experience of lining up next to a player of color, or dressing in the same locker room, or trading high school memories.

Outside of football, Jerry’s World remains white. He is a member of Brook Hollow Golf Club, according to D Magazine. It is one of the most prestigious private clubs in the country. Haute Living says the income bracket of Brook Hollow members is “firmly in the 1 percent.”

 As recently as 2007, Brook Hollow had admitted zero black members, according to the Dallas Morning News. An employee in the membership office said the club does not give out membership information.

So, Jones doesn’t play much, if any, golf with people of color. He likely doesn’t enjoy drinks in the club room with people of color. He probably doesn’t have dinner at the club with people of color.

According to the 2010 Census, the Highland Park, Tex. neighborhood where Jones keeps his primary residence is 94.4-percent white and 0.5-percent black. It’s probable Jones doesn’t bump into many black people around town.

None of this, of course, means Jerral Wayne Jones doesn’t support Black Lives Matter. And he certainly can exercise his right not to speak easier than his right to speak. One could even say it’s unfair to press him to comment. He is one citizen, one vote, one man.

Except some of Jones’s employees are questioning why their boss hasn’t voiced his support for the movement that is sweeping the nation – a movement that started creeping into the American consciousness when Colin Kaepernick knelt during the playing of the national anthem of an NFL game.

“It would be great to hear a statement from the Cowboys, great to hear a statement from Jerry Jones in support of everything that’s going on,” McCoy recently told ESPN. “Will that get me in trouble saying that? I don’t know, but the truth is it needs to be said. The problem is people are afraid to have the conversations.”

That’s a very real concern. Every time I write a column about race, I find my fingers tense because I know there is so much I don’t know about the black experience. I’m fraught with concern that I’ll unintentionally write something hurtful.

One thing that’s become painfully clear to me in these months is that white people aren’t comfortable speaking about matters of race. The last time I felt this awkward was disco dancing with white man’s overbite.

Maybe that’s why Jones has remained silent. Why risk being met with scorn? Because this is the other thing I’ve learned these months. People of color would much rather engage in sincere dialogue than continue the insidious silence that breeds doubt and suspicion.

This is America’s Time and Jones owns America’s Team. He may never have a better time to step up.

Cam Newton Should Finally Find QB Protection in NE

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By Lenn Robbins

If Cam Newton had not become a quarterback, what position could he play?

At 6-foot-5, 248 pounds, he might make for a Gronk-like tight end. Or perhaps he’d be a Danielle Hunteresque defensive end. Man, a man that big, with Newton’s strength and speed (4.59 in the 40) could have quite an impact on the game.

If he’s not too busy getting impacted that is.

Cameron Jerrell Newton has always been a polarizing figure – from being an oversized prep quarterback, to getting kicked out of Florida after the theft of a computer, to winning the Heisman Trophy and national championship at Auburn, to becoming one of the few black quarterbacks in the NFL, to his marvelously dapper wardrobe – Cam always found the cameras or vice versa.

As did defensive players.

They found Cam’s ribs, back, foot, shoulder and head. Especially his head.

Newton has only been diagnosed with one concussion, that coming in October of 2016. He absorbed at least three other helmet-to-helmet hits that season that drew no flag. After a 30-20 win over the Arizona Cardinals in 2016, Newton let his frustration be known.

“It’s really taken the fun out of the game for me, honestly, because, at times, I don’t even feel safe.”

Anyone who saw the Mack truck-like hit he took from the Saints’ David Onyemata in Jan. 7, 2018 playoff game knows Newton wasn’t on Canal Street, he was a on Queer Street. Onyemata’s hit was clean but Newton has taken more questionable hits to the head, and questionable late hits than any quarterback in the concussion era.

Newton, who agreed to a one-year deal with the Patriots on Sunday, now has a chance to go from being the least protected starting quarterback in the NFL, to the signal caller of the franchise that has had the most protected starting quarterback in league history – Tom Brady.

Remember when Brady suffered his season-ending knee injury in 2008? The NFL quickly enacted a rule that forbids defenders on the ground from lunging at a quarterback’s legs. The Brady Rule as it’s known.

The Newton Rule? Thou Shalt Be Pummeled.

Newton was on the receiving end of a “Brady Hit,” in 2016. No penalty flag was thrown although Arizona’s Calais Campbell subsequently was fined $18,231.

“Enough is enough,’’ said Newton. “I don’t think there’s a person that can go through what I go through and still keep their head, you know what I’m saying? Hits to the head, that’s one thing, but when you’re not protected in the pocket, that’s another thing. The story of my life ever since I came in [to the league] is just, ‘Oh, oh, well, we missed that one, I’m sorry.’ That’s bull crap.”

And remember the time in 2015 when he was hit late on the sideline after throwing a pass. He accused ref Ed Hochuli of saying, “Cam, you’re not old enough to get that call.”

Brady would have gotten that call. Drew Brees would have. Aaron Rodgers. Russell Wilson. Patrick Mahomes. Flag. Flag. Flag. Flag. Flag.

It makes one wonder why Newton hasn’t been afforded the recipient of protection given to players of the NFL’s marquee position. Is it that Newton is so much bigger and stronger than most quarterbacks that he can take it?

Or is it that he is a big, strong, handsome black man as opposed to a big strong handsome white man, such as Brady? Is that microaggression on the part of the suddenly woke NFL or is it macroaggression considering the injuries Newton has sustained? Broken rib. Broken vertebra. Foot surgery. Shoulder surgery. Concussion.

No matter now. Soon after news broke that the Patriots had signed Newton to a financially low-risk, one-year deal to compete for Brady’s job, it was hailed as perfect fit. And it is. Although New England says it has faith in Jarrett Stidham, the Patriots have a win-now roster and a 68-year-old coach-in-chief.

Newton was the 2015 NFL MVP. Stidham was the 2018 Music City Bowl MVP.

It’s Newton’s job to lose. And this time, he should feel safe.

Not only do the 2020 Patriots have a better line than any of the ones Newton played for in Carolina, but he is now part of the Bill Belichick Death Star Dynasty. He will don the protective cloak known as the New England Patriots jersey and immediately become the recipient of questionable calls.

It’s part of the Patriot Way – Do Your Job; Get the Call.

In their 2018 Super Bowl run, the Patriots were the beneficiaries of overturned touchdown calls, not once, not twice, but three times! “It’s dumb,” former safety Rodney Harrison told reporters of the Pats’ perceived preferential officiating. “Everyone hates us.”

Well, true. The Pats are hated because they are the worst kind of cheaters – successful cheaters – Spygate, Deflategate, and now Filmgate. Six Super Bowls.

The NFL just wrist-slapped the Patriots by taking a 2021 third-round pick and $1.1 million in fine for Filmgate, but Belichick trades third-round picks like penny stocks and a $1.1 million fine might as well be Bitcoin currency for a franchise valued at $3.7 billion.

This is Cam’s new team. He will benefit from an excellent coach/GM in Belichick. His skill set will be optimized by offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. He doesn’t have a great receiving corps but Julian Edelman is better than anyone Newton had in Carolina – sorry Kelvin Benjamin.

Most of all, Newton will have the protection he never had. He’ll be a Patriot.

All MLB Needs is a Trip to the LLWS in 2021 The New York Extra/TheNYExtra.com

ROBBINS NEST

By Lenn Robbins

Some people feel reborn every morning when they hear the sound of birds chirping and doves cooing. Dave Belisle prefers the crack of the bat and thump of the ball as it hits the glove.

08/25/09 soth shore little league at world series williamsport pa south shore enjoys an after game pizza party at lemade stadium last nite Neil Miller The New York Extra/TheNYExtra.com copyright 2020

Belisle gets to hear that cacophony of baseball sound every spring, summer and fall. His property backs up to three diamonds in Cumberland, R.I. – Little League, softball and regulation.

You might remember Belisle. He was the head coach of the Cumberland American Little League team. After a heartbreaking 8-7 loss to Chicago’s Jackie Robinson West squad in a 2014 Little League World Series elimination game, Belisle gathered his distraught players in short right field and delivered as heartfelt and uplifting post-game talk you’ll ever hear.

08/25/09 soth shore little league at world series williamsport pa south shores gathers in the outfield with coach mike zaccarela Neil Miller The New York Extra/TheNYExtra.com copyright 2020

 “It’s been an incredible journey,” Belisle said. “We fought. Look at the score, 8-7, 12-10 in hits. It came to the last out.  We didn’t quit. That’s us! Boys, that’s us!”

There will be no Little League tournament this year, which means the single best American sporting event of the summer has been victimized by the coronavirus.

“It’s the kids I miss,” said Belisle. “All ballplayers feel same way. They get to play the game they played with their buddies forever. It’s the practice and preparation. It’s the unity. They take pride they have putting on that jersey and playing the game with buddies that will be lifelong friends. That’s what I miss.”

I won’t miss major league baseball, which will begin “Spring Training” Wednesday, barring another possible virus delay. I’ll watch MLB’s 60-game season, because there’s little else for a sports fan to do but it will be background noise.

How I would trade the Little League tournament for MLB. It’s amazing each summer to watch 12-year-olds play the game at such a high level, with such discipline and so much more.

Little League is running it out every time a bat hits a ball. It’s pitchers shaking hands with the batter they just hit. It’s players not arguing with umpires. It’s teams shaking hands after games, often with the players from the winning side consoling those from the losing team.

It’s fans sliding down hills on cardboard boxes. It’s communities from Cumberland, R.I., to River Ridge, La., and Curacao to Tokyo being galvanized by their children and their neighbor’s kids. That’s what I will miss this summer.

According to an ESPN poll, baseball fans overwhelmingly (77-percent) approve of the 60-game season, with the Yankees and Nationals playing as per the NY Post. The poll might need an asterisk, like the Astros 2017 World Series title, because the worldwide leader in sport televises its fair share of MLB.

Don’t be mistaken. We’re not comparing Little Leaguers to MLB pros. We’re asking, when does the game that little boys play with so much joy and passion, get so polluted by contracts and vesting and revenue sharing?

“The only thing that gets in the way of baseball is money,” said Belisle. “Not when you’re in Little League. There is no money. It’s just the game.”

Is it as sad and complicated as money – the scorching hot animosity that exists between owners and players? Is it knowing that MLB and the MLBPA will sue each other with allegations of bad faith negotiating? Is it knowing there likely will be another Texas death match negotiation when the collective bargaining agreement expires after the 2021 season?

So many MLB players made it through the Little League World Series – Michael Conforto, Todd Frazier, and Gary Sheffield. When did it stop being a game and start being a business?

As naïve is this is, for the owners, did it ever stop being a business and looked at as a game? A beautiful game.

Its pace allows fathers and daughters, mothers and sons, friends and relatives to add to the emotional quilt of their relationships while watching America’s pastime. Heck, just sharing a bag of peanuts and a cold beverage can get you a long way.

Here’s a thought, again albeit naïve: Next August, when the LLWS returns, a group of owners and MLBPA executives should sit together in Williamsport, Pa. and watch the 12-year-olds work their magic. If that doesn’t save MLB, maybe nothing will.

“It’s the best of times,” said Belisle. “I feel for the kids not getting to experience that. I feel for the communities that put so much into it – vacations, school, it’s all baseball, doing something together. You make memories on and off the field.

“The boys of summer. That’s real.”

Play Ball? No, Suffering From Stockholm Syndrome Lenn Robbins, TheNewYorkExtra/TheNYExtra.com

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By Lenn Robbins

I fear I’m suffering from Stockholm syndrome, the psychological affliction in which a person being held captive begins to identify with his captors. What makes this case so complicated is that I’m not sure which one of my abductors I identified with.

At first, I thought it was MLB owners, guardians of the game. All the sacrifices they claim to have made.

Take Boston Red Sox and Liverpool soccer owner John Henry. He had to sell his 164-foot yacht, “Iroquois,” some eight years ago because he didn’t have enough free time for boating. The choices we face, humph!

For example, I share an apartment with my gal and three teenagers. We have only one bathtub (separate shower). There just isn’t wasn’t enough opportunity for me to get prime tub time. I had to part with my rubber ducky, “Quack.”

Henry apparently found some free time in 2016 when he purchased another yacht, the $84-million “Ester III.” I donated “Quack” to Housing Works thrift shop with a declared value of $1.75.

So, I think I’m bonding with the sacrificing owners in their war against the ungrateful players.

But man, when I think of the penny pinching some MLB players have had to endure, it all but breaks me.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – OCTOBER 15: Gerrit Cole #45 of the Houston Astros celebrates retiring the side during the sixth inning against the New York Yankees in game three of the American League Championship Series at Yankee Stadium on October 15, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Take Houston Astros pitcher Justin Verlander. According to the Detroit Free Press, the car junky has owned a Lamborghini Aventador Roadster, a Ferrari 458 Italia, Ferrari California, Mercedes Benz SLS AMG Black Series, Mercedes Benz SL55, Mercedes Benz SLS AMG, Maserati Gran Turismo and Aston Martin DBS.

In 2014, Verlander was forced into a painful decision. He added a ninth exotic ride.  His house only had eight parking bays. The choices we face, humph!

Like a lot of New Yorkers, I can empathize. The Tuesday/Friday alternate side of the street parking bumper car game has pumped billions of dollars into the car insurance business and increased ulcers by an estimated 61-percent.

 How wonderful it was Tuesday when Mayor Bill de Blase’ announced alternate side would become a weekly affair. Now, only once a week do we need to bring our parking rage to a boil and unleash it on some driver who has Jersey plates and can’t parallel park.

So now I think I’m bonding with the deprived players in their war against the greedy owners.

The owners and players, taken together, have held me hostage for some three months. I wouldn’t call it torture, but they kept prorating me and prorating me. I lost track of day and night.

But while I lay in bed recovering from COVID-19, I felt some hope that, perhaps soon, there would be baseball to watch, instead of the 2008 Virginia Tech-North Carolina game. Basketball or football.

Instead, they kept me quarantined in a room while they exchanged nasty emails and proposals that were deemed DOA. The last time I heard DOA used this much was on Hill Street Blues. Only now I’m the vic.

I was released from my ordeal only to learn I was worth 60 games.

Sixty. That was the ransom. I thought I had a connection with the owners. I was sure there was simpatico with the players.

Turns out I was wrong. Neither of my captors ever gave one boat slip or parking spot about me. Or you.

College Football Faces a Question It Can’t Ignore

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By Lenn Robbins

 The New York Extra/TheNYExtra.com

What a rejuvenating day in the greatest city in the world. You could get your hair done, eat lunch outdoors, pray in the house of worship of your choice and frolic with your kids in a playground.

Just thinking about tossing the football on a gorgeous summer day and pretend to be Brees to Thomas evokes the feeling you experience when you enter The Big House or Memorial Stadium (Clemson, Nebraska, USC, et al) or the Rose Bowl and see the sun set on the San Gabriel mountains.

The first college football games are scheduled to kick off less than three months from Saturday. Georgia plays Virginia 11 weeks from today. A lot can happen in three months as we have painfully learned. Our world came to a terrifying, screeching halt three months ago when a disease of our nightmares became a reality.

Many of us have lost loved ones and jobs. Businesses have folded. Vacations cancelled. Schools redefined. No hugging. No handshakes. Masks.

How glorious will it be to walk through the parking lot of any college campus on a football Saturday or Thursday night. Alums from the Class of 1960, proudly wearing their varsity sweater, tailgating next to students in the Class of 2021, audaciously donning their university tank top.

Frisbees wheeling overhead as games of Cornhole draw laughter when a contestant flat out misses the 2×4 foot board. Cold beer. Barbecue. Eight-foot subs. Grandma’s collard greens. Hot Dogs. Burgers. Dad’s baked beans. Coleslaw. Peach cobbler.

Did we mention cold beer?

Cheerleaders and mascots leading teams out of the tunnel. Boomer Schooner not tipping over. “R! U!” “Go Canes!” “Hook ‘em Horns!”

Kickoff!

In some 35 years of covering sports, nothing has been more thrilling on a consistent basis than college football: LSU at night. Notre Dame on a crisp autumn afternoon. The view from Husky Stadium. The entire stadium swaying at Kyle Field when Aggie War Hymn is sung. Wisconsin’s Jump!

The “Iowa Wave,” the best new tradition in college football – by far.

Since March Madness was canceled, college football became my lighthouse for the return of live sports. Late-August/early-September was far enough away to be seen and hope games would be played.

It remains only a hope. Now a fading hope.

Some 30 players at defending champion LSU have tested positive for the novel coronavirus. Clemson has reported 23. Kanas State, 14 and Houston, 6. Oklahoma State, Iowa State and Marshall have reported positive tests.

At UCLA, which is scheduled to begin “voluntary” football practice today, 30 players signed a petition demanding a third-party health official oversee COVID-19 prevention protocols because they do not believe the university will act in their best interest. Minor point here – that’s really going to help in recruiting.

 College football, you might remember, is a multi-billion business. Forget the millions being paid to head coaches and the money spent on advertising and radio rights. There are businesses in every college town – from the stadium vendors, to the small motel owners, to the local apparel stores that depend on the college football season for their livelihood.

The decision whether to play college football this fall is a monumentally difficult, emotional and complex one. Some football players that have been training, practicing and playing since Pop Warner are counting on this season to enhance their chances of a profession career.

What if playing ends that career, ends a life?

Tampa Bay pitcher Blake Snell lost the narrative when he said he wouldn’t pitch, “unless I get mine.” But he made some legitimate points: What if he contracts COVID-19 and is never able to pitch again?

Snell has a union fighting for him, albeit one that has proven to be as inept and obstinate as MLB. College football players don’t have a union. And 18-to-22-year-old males need some checks because many believe they couldn’t die of COVID-19 if they ate a raw bat.

So, here’s what needs to happen: An elite polling agency needs to anonymously survey players and learn A. Do they want to play while COVID-19 remains an active threat and B. What health procedures and policies do they want in place in order to feel confident their well-being will always be the primary concern.

Then we can make a decision on whether the season can be played. The hope is that college football has a full uninterrupted season. The hope is that two schools outside of the perennial powers make the playoff – Oregon? Texas?

The hope is that colleges and universities from sea to shining season experience that bond known as college football.

But if there’s a legitimate risk that one parent’s son dies or is physically or cognitively compromised for the rest of his life because of decisions made for the wrong reasons – greed, passion, hubris – college football’s perennial luster will be tarnished forever.

How Joe Douglas Should Handle His First Crisis

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By Lenn Robbins

Same old Jets.

This is the narrative most Jets fans have heard their entire lives. Every time it seems as if professionalism and success has found directions to the franchise headquarters in Florham Park, the GPS has malfunctioned.

There have been so many blunders it’s become white noise, like Kardashian Drama or Trump Tweets. Consider this numbing Jets history:

Drafting Ken O’Brien instead of Dan Marino. Marino’s fake spike. Bill Belichick – coach for a cup of coffee. Mark Sanchez’s butt fumble. The Dolphins, Bills and Patriots enjoying success while the Jets floundered. Belichick building a dynasty.

April’s NFL Draft gave Jets’ fans reason to believe there might be new, refreshing narrative. New GM Joe Douglas put the finishing touches on a logical, efficient offseason. He bolstered the offensive line, gave quarterback Sam Darnold a potential No.1 wideout in Denzel Mims and made a strength stronger by loading up on defensive backs.

#14 Sam Darnold throws in the 2019 season Neil Miller/The New York Extra/TheNYExtra.com copyright 2020

The last move might prove to be Douglas’s most prescient as he faces his first full blown crisis.

 Safety Jamal Adams, arguably the best player on the roster, has requested a trade according to published reports. Adams has been barking for a new deal almost as soon as the ink dried on his rookie contract.

 He went ballistic in the fall of 2019 when it was reported that Douglas had answered the phone when teams called to ask about Adams’ availability. In other words, Douglas actually did what a GM is supposed to do.

Jamal Adams runs for a TD in the 2019 season Neil Miller/The New York Extra/ TheNYExtra.com copyright 2020

GM1: “Hey Joe! Stephen Jones here in Dallas. We hear Jamal Adams wants a new contract. Any interest in moving him?”

Douglass: “Hey Stephen. Well, we really like the kid and we’ve got him under club control. What are you offering?”

GM1: “How’s about a No.1 and a future third-round pick.”

Douglass: “Send my regards to your father.”

Imagine if then Minnesota Vikings GM Mike Lynn hadn’t answered the phone when Jimmy Johnson called in 1989, offering a player named Herschel Walker? The Vikings might have won a Super Bowl by now and the Cowboys might not have become a dynasty.

Douglass has been consistent when it comes to Adams’ future with the Jets. He wants the marvelously gifted safety to wear green and white for a life, which is a better sound bite than likelihood in today’s NFL.

 Some guy named Brady was just pictured in a Buccaneers jersey. That was the most bizarre image of June until we saw Kellyanne Conway on Fox looking like Megyn Kelly.

Adams, 24, has done things on the field we’ve never seen from an NFL safety. His 12 sacks are the most by any DB in his first three seasons since the stat became official in 1982. He’s been on the field for a staggering 2,999 snaps, third most among DBs. He was named one of NFL.com’s Top 25 players under the age of 25.

And he has a signed contract to play for the Jets.

The Jets own his rights this season, next season and can franchise tag him the following season. It’s never a good idea to alienate a star player but Douglas and the Jets have done nothing of the sort.

Douglas has yet to respond to Adams’s request and, really, there’s nothing to say. If a team comes along with a deal that makes sense – say a first-round pick, a second-round pick and a quality starter for openers – then Douglas has a decision to make.

Until then, he should sit stoically at the poker table like Matt Damon eyeing John Malkovich in “Rounders.” If Douglas likes Oreo cookies (who doesn’t?), he can dunk a couple in cold milk and enjoy an evening snack.

He should not take this public. He should not make this personal. He absolutely, positively, should not hit the panic button and pull a page out of the Bill O’Brien trade playbook.

That’s how the Same Old Jets would have reacted. Douglas has a chance to continue to lay a solid foundation in Florham Park. He should stay the course by building through the draft and handing out financially prudent free agent deals.

It would be great if Adams remained a Jet for life. But it has to be with Douglas in charge. If not, well, Jets fans have seen this movie so often they can repeat the dialogue word for word. The ending never changes.

The Kaepernick Story is More Than Football

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credit twitter

By Lenn Robbins The New York Extra/TheNYExtra.com

Let’s get this out of the way: Colin Kaepernick endured a terrible injustice, pure and simple.

Having led the San Francisco 49ers to the 2013 NFC Championship game, Kaepernick was out of football following the 2016 season because he had the temerity to protest the systematic oppression of people of color.

He would be a hero in today’s NFL. By the end of the 2016 season, he was a pariah.

Now, from all corners comes statements supporting Kaepernick’s return to the NFL.

Commissioner Roger Goodell, who would make for an excellent wind sock, said, “I welcome that, support a club making that decision, and encourage them to do that.”

The publicity hound, wayward accountant and civil rights activist (correct order) known as Al Sharpton said, “Give Colin Kaepernick a job back.”

As if preparing for an NFL season in the age of coronavirus isn’t enough to make a GM batty, now the 32 team architects have to consider bringing in a 32-year-old quarterback who hasn’t thrown a pass in an NFL game since Jan. 1, 2017.

They have to evaluate the impact of adding Kaepernick, and the horde of media that will follow. Does Kaepernick get his own interview tent? Where and how do they manage protesters? Extra security, anyone?

A GM has one goal, and only one goal: Put together a roster that has the best chance of winning. Period.

If a punter from Australia can drop a  ball inside the 10 on a consistent basis, “G’Day Mate!” If a nose tackle from American Samoa is a run stopper supreme, “Talofa!” If a quarterback can flummox a defense with his arm and legs, “Sign Him!”

A GM’s role is not to assuage a league’s conscience or put up points on the PR scoreboard. This is best understood in the locker room where players put their trust in each other to compete against the elite in their sport.

If Kaepernick can help an NFL team succeed in 2020, by all means, get a jersey on his back. It could be thrilling to watch one of just six players in league history to have thrown three touchdown passes and rushed for 100 yards in a game.

But Kaepernick has a lot of questions to answers. He had surgery on his thumb, knee and shoulder after the 2016 season. David Fales has completed more passes in the last three seasons than Kaepernick.

Here’s where Kaepernick might have a wonderful role in and out of football. CNN recently hired Saints defensive back and Players Coalition cofounder Malcolm Jenkins as a paid contributor to help better educate the nation on the horrifically fractured relationship between people of color and people in authority.

 Few have the credentials and insight that Jenkins possesses on this topic. Kaepernick could be one.

He co-founded the “Know Your Rights Camp,” and has been honored with Sports Illustrated’s Muhammad Ali Legacy Award and Harvard’s W.E.B. De Bois Medal. His kneeling helped the “Black Lives Matter,” movement gain traction.

This is not to offer Kaepernick a consolation prize, nor is it band aid for the injustice he has endured. Kaepernick has been living the struggle his entire life. He was born to an African-American father and a white mother but raised by the white parents who adopted him.  Talk about the road less traveled.

Kaepernick may or might not be able to help an NFL team on the field. He might be able to do a whole lot more off it.

Chuba Hubbard Makes a Heisman Statement

ROBBINS NEST

By Lenn Robbins

The NYExtra.com

If you’re an athlete, of any color, currently being recruited by Oklahoma State University, in any sport, don’t rush to sign that letter of intent.

The football coach – Mike Gundy – is, at best, tone deaf.

The university president – Burns Hargis – is, at best toneless.

Gundy was photographed on a recent fishing excursion wearing a T-shirt with the letters OAN on the front. OAN stands for One America News, a right-wing television network .

credit Twitter

Given that, we know where OAN stands on the gamut of socially progressive issues, such as Black Lives Matter.

Gundy last made a stink in 2007 when he berated a female columnist, by challenging her to criticize him and not one of his players, who is black. It sounded good at the time but that athlete was humiliated by Gundy’s actions.

“I’m a man!” Gundy bellowed at columnist Jenni Carlson. “I’m 40!”

Hard to imagine Gundy going after a male columnist with the same bravado, but that would be questioning Gundy’s manhood. Hell, I’m 60. I can take it.

Anyway, in the midst of what is hopefully the greatest reckoning of institutional racism that exists in this country, Gundy, who has limitless Oklahoma State gear, donned an OAN shirt on his June 10th fishing trip.

Let’s give Gundy the benefit of the doubt.

Maybe he got the T-shirt in the mail, like hundreds of packages he must receive, and tossed it in his drawer without ever looking at it.

 Maybe the morning of said fishing trip, he arose early and in his pre-morning coffee sleepiness, grabbed the first T-shirt he got his hands on.

 Maybe, even if he read the OAN, Gundy had never heard of One American News and thought the OAN stood for, oh, a bank – Oklahoma America National.

That’s a lot of benefit.

His star playing isn’t buying it.

Running back Chuba Hubbard, who led the nation in rushing last season and could become the university’s second Heisman Trophy winner, blasted his tone-deaf coach on Twitter.

“I will not stand for this,” Hubbard Tweeted on Monday. “This is completely insensitive to everything going on in society, and it’s unacceptable. I will not be doing anything with Oklahoma State until things CHANGE.”

What could that change look like? It’s doubtful Gundy is going anywhere.

He’s as close to a Teflon college football coach as there is in the nation. He played quarterback for the Cowboys. He’s paid $5 million a year, making him the second highest paid public employee in Oklahoma behind Sooners’ coach Lincoln Riley. And Gundy has an impressive record of 129-64.

The hometown boy from Midwest City, Okla., made good, probably won’t get fired and maybe, just maybe, he shouldn’t. Maybe this will be an awakening for Gundy. Maybe he’ll become the next White Listener.

President Hargis certainly didn’t sound like a man ready to part with his beloved football coach.

“I hear and respect the concerns expressed by our Black student-athletes,” Hargis said in a statement Monday in response to Hubbard’s tweet. “This is a time for unity of purpose to confront racial inequities and injustice. We will not tolerate insensitive behavior by anyone at Oklahoma State.”

Which means what? At worst, Gundy is guilty of insensitivity. Everyone should be cognizant of what they are wearing, of the car bumper sticker, of their social media sites. Not because they don’t want to get exposed, rather because they’ve realized that words matter.

Of course, actions matter more.

Gundy posted a video saying he had met with several players and vowed, “we’ve got good days ahead.”

Hubbard said he had gone about it wrong by taking to Twitter. He then Tweeted:

“Change is coming, I promise you that.”

Sounds promising. But if you’re thinking about representing Oklahoma State University, a Top 100 public university, this a great time to be patient before signing. You’re worth seeing if that change occurs.

MLB’s Owners Put Their Finger on the Nuclear Button

ROBBINS NEST

By Lenn Robbins

TheNYExtra.com

06/09/08 mets charity event at richards greenwhich ct fred wilpon left and jeff wilpon right Neil Miller/The New York Extra/TheNYExtra.com copyright 2020

Bob Manfred, reportedly in the voice of God, said there shall be baseball this year!

If the owners and players, who look more greedy and stubborn with every reported case of Covid-19, can’t agree on a deal to restart the season, Manfred has the power to enact a 48-50 game, uh, season.

And you thought there was bad blood between Leah Remini and the Church of Scientology.

Just wait until after the 2020-21 season when baseball’s collective bargaining agreement is up for renewal. I wouldn’t set foot in that negotiating room without Jimmy McGill and Dirty Harry’s law firm of Smith & Wesson.

The owners latest offer, delivered Friday afternoon according to published reports, calls for a 72-game season with 70-percent of prorated salaries. Players would max out at 80-percent of their prorated salaries if the postseason is completed.

“Just so y’all know, 70% of prorated salaries at 72 games is the exact same as … wait for it … full prorated at 48 games,’’ Cincinnati pitcher Trevor Bauer Tweeted. “Nothing to see here. Same exact offer in different clothing. Just a reallocation of risk.”

The players had offered an 89-game season with full prorated salaries earlier this week.  Manfred had said on ESPN that the owner’s next offer will be a “significant move in the players’ direction” but “if we have to we’ll exercise that right” to set a 48-game season. Sounds like threatening divorce before the marriage.

The owners offer includes a Sunday night deadline. Then they can use their nuclear option –  the 48-50 game season.

Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Trevor Williams said on Twitter the button had been pushed

“It expired as soon as they hit send.”

What’s so enraging about this is that both sides seem to be operating as if they’re in a bubble, that could burst Sunday night.

It seems pretty clear that whatever decision is reached in the next few days will raw wounds that will barely have even begun to heal when next negotiation begins. Worst case:

We could be looking at one 48-game season, one full season and no season in 2021.

Here’s what makes this so disheartening. So many sports fans would be willing to part with their lucky jersey to watch a live sporting event that doesn’t take place in an octagon. You know one played on grass and leaves pristine white pants looking as if they got dragged through a monster pull.

I’m itching to see an upper deck home run, a pitching gem, a manager being ejected, a 10-year-old fan snagging a foul ball. I can’t wait for the day I can jump the No.7 train to Citi Field. Or the No.4 to Yankee Stadium, which could be sponsored by the pharmaceutical company that discovers the vaccine for the coronavirus and returns us to some semblance of normalcy.

It could take years before the virus of 2020 is completely under control. But it could take forever for baseball to convince fans the virus of greed and stubbornness doesn’t beat in the heart of the sport.

JUST VOTE — Kudos to Hofstra University for its announcement that all varsity teams will not have any mandatory team activities on Tuesday, Nov. 3rd, aka Election Day, so athletes can vote. “We think it is incredibly important for our student-athletes to have their voices heard and their votes count,’’ athletic director Rick Cole, Jr. said in a statement.