Yet Another Push for MMA Legalization in New York

With the downfall of Sheldon Silver, New York’s powerful Speaker of the State Assembly, MMA enthusiasts and organizations are confident that this will, finally, be the year that New York lifts its ban on professional MMA events in the state. Silver, an outspoken opponent of lifting the ban, was credited with single-handedly stifling multiple bills in favor of ending the ban – bills that have repeatedly passed the State Senate and probably would have passed the Assembly had Silver allowed an up-and-down vote. The logjam has been such that the UFC and several fighters have even tried to challenge the ban in court on freedom of speech grounds.

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Here We Go Again…

Perpetual Manchester United target Wesley Sneijder finally looks set to fulfill his destiny by securing a lucrative move… to Juventus.

Based on various media sources, Wesley Sneijder has been on the verge of joining Manchester United in nearly every transfer window over the last four-plus years. The media continue to link Sneijder to United even though the team has no need for him as he doesn’t play center-back and there are already too many creative midfield types at the club. Sure, there have been other names continuously linked with the club, like Cesc Fabregas, Gareth Bale or Arturo Vidal. But none of those players have generated as many stories or produced as many twists-and-turns over the years as Sneijder. He’s been on the way to Old Trafford for so long that United might as well give him a testimonial when he retires.

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Super Dave

“Is that skinny kid with the bad alpaca-like facial hair the guy we just bought from Atlético for £18 million?”

I got to see one of David de Gea’s first starts for Manchester United. I went to watch United play Barcelona in Washington, D.C. during United’s pre-season tour of the United States in 2011. The match took place several months after Messi, Villa, Xavi and Iniesta dismantled Sir Alex Ferguson’s last great United team in London during the Champions League Final. The 20 year-old, rail-thin de Gea had just signed for the club to replace United legend Edwin van der Sar, and he looked like an overgrown tuft of grass standing in his green kit on the Fed Ex Field turf.

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Goal of the Year?

I don’t know if RVP’s diving header against Spain in the World Cup was the best goal of 2014. In fact, I don’t even know if it was the best goal of the World Cup (the James Rodriguez goal made my jaw hit the floor as if I were a Looney Toons character). That being said, it might have been the most impactful goal of the year. The goal seemed to break Spain’s spirit (Spain was headed towards halftime with the lead until Daley Blind passed it to Van Persie) and signaled the end of La Roja’s dynasty which saw them win an unprecedented two Euros and a World Cup from 2008 to 2012.

Anyway, I couldn’t get enough of this goal. Be it as a coin, flipbook or Internet meme.

Wither the Manchester United Youth Academy?

A lot has been made of Manchester United’s decision to sell home-grown player Danny Welbeck to Arsenal while bringing in Colombian hitman Radamel Falcao from AS Monaco for a (potentially) astronomical fee. Predictably, many United alums are up in arms that the move is a betrayal of the club’s history of putting youth development first and giving prized academy graduates an opportunity to succeed with the first team. Former assistant manager Mike Phelan sounded the warning bell immediately after the transfer window shut, saying that the club was “losing its identity.” Eric Harrison, the famed youth team coach that won the FA Youth Cup in 1992 with the likes of Ryan Giggs, David Beckham, Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt and the Neville Brothers said he was worried the club would “lose its soul” by importing foreign stars and failing to give opportunities to academy graduates.

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Talent Isn’t Everything

If you type “Nani work ethic” into Google, the top result is a 2010 story on an inactive Manchester United blog with the headline: “Nani’s trickery and Berbatov’s work ethic inspires United to crucial win.” That’s right. Dimitar Berbatov, who has never done anything at full speed, is the one whose work ethic is praised. The next two results are social media posts complaining about Nani’s lack of work ethic. The next two are about two people named Nani who don’t play soccer. Likewise, if you type in “Nani hard work” the top result is 2011 story from the Daily Mail about Nani, who was in the midst of a career year, talking about the hard work he put into learning how to shoot with both feet.

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Shaq’s Rap Career: A Retrospective

Call it “The Day The ‘Music’ Died.” Tuesday brought sad news for the dozens of fans who loved Shaq as a rapper (more than few people bought his debut album, which went platinum and cracked the top 40 on the Billboard 200). TMZ reports that Shaq has called time on his rap career. “Would I ever go back [to rapping?]” asked O’Neal. “No man. I’m 45 years old.”

Looks like we’ll just have our memories of MC Shaq. He can rest assured that, compared to other NBA athletes that tried to rap (Allen Iverson, Gary Payton, Ron Artest, Chris Webber, and yes, Kobe Bryant), he has had the most success.

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Oh Canada!

Canada has a lot to prove as it prepares for the 2015 Pan Am Games to be held in Toronto.

My Canadian feature for the November issue of “The American Lawyer” and the January edition of “Corporate Counsel”:

If You Build It, They Will Come. A look at how Ontario used public-private partnerships (P3) to build the necessary facilities and infrastructure for the 2015 Pan American Games, and the law firms advising the province and companies involved.

It Takes a Village. The Pan Am Athletes’ Village, which holds the key to the long-planned revitalization of the Toronto waterfront, wasn’t a typical P3 project.

Preparing for the Pan Am Games is Keeping Canadian Lawyers Busy. Q&A with Infrastructure Ontario’s Eric Tilley, one of the in-house attorneys involved in the Pan Am P3 process. (subscription required)

Judge Narrows Challenge on Ban on Ultimate Fighting

U.S. district judge Kimba Wood trimmed a lawsuit brought by mixed martial artists in New York arguing that the state ban on MMA events is unconstitutional.

See also: Battleground State: The Battle to Legalize Mixed Martial Arts in New York.

Some fighting to legalize mixed martial arts in NY.

Suit Fights State Ban of Mixed Martial Arts.

Suit Fights State Ban of Mixed Martial Arts

You usually don’t associate sports with the First Amendment. The UFC hopes the courts will do what the NY legislature has failed to do, thus far. On a personal note, this was the first time I’ve written about MMA since my J-School days.

Related posts:

Battleground State: The Battle to Legalize Mixed Martial Arts in New York.

Some fighting to legalize mixed martial arts in NY.

Pirates Impressed with Crystal, Sign Comedian to Multi-Year Contract

From the Archives: I wrote this satirical piece in March 2008 after the Yankees signed Billy Crystal and played him in a spring training game against the Pirates. I remembered thinking that Crystal could have made Pittsburgh’s active roster. Considering some of the stiffs they’ve had in the last few years (Jeromy Burnitz, Matt Morris, Derek “Operation Shutdown” Bell), Crystal couldn’t have been any worse.

Bradenton, FL. — The Yankees thought they were giving superfan Billy Crystal a nice gift for his 60th birthday. A one-day contract. A uniform with the number “60″ on it. A spot in the lineup as a Designated Hitter against the Pittsburgh Pirates. However what started out as a one-shot publicity stunt has turned into something much more.

Billy Crystal showed that he belonged in the majors. Unfortunately for him, he showed that he belonged with the Pirates, not the Yankees. Pirates officials were so impressed with Crystal’s performance (0-for-2, 1 walk, 1 strikeout, 1 reached base on error, 2 runs scored) that they signed him to a 5 year deal worth $25 million. The Pirates’ first-year manager, John Russell, raved about Crystal. “His plate discipline was extraordinary. I was impressed with the way he grinded out that walk. It was like he knew that our pitchers weren’t going to able to hit the strike zone at all. His bat never even left his shoulder. Clearly, he has a great eye.”

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Tom Jackson Shoots Chris Berman

From the Archives: I wrote this satirical piece in December 2007, back when I was writing for a website that was kind of like Onion Sports Network – only we had tens of fans and visitors. I think it still holds up well, even today. Watch this week’s “NFL Blitz” and tell me Berman doesn’t do the same schtick he’s done for decades.

Bristol, CT — ESPN Headquarters is reeling over a stunning tragedy that occurred today. Longtime commentator and ESPN personality, Chris Berman, was gunned down in a bizarre and senseless act of violence. The culprit was his broadcast partner and on-air sidekick, Tom Jackson. Former NFL linebacker Jackson, better known as “TJ,” opened fire at approximately 1:00 this morning, right after doing a live NFL-recap segment known as the “NFL Blitz.”

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TOP SECRET! The Lebron Announcement Script

The biggest soap-opera of the NBA offseason will be resolved on Thursday night as Lebron James plans on announcing his decision during a one-hour infomercial on ESPN.  There are many questions that should be answered, not the least of which is how the hell is Lebron going to fill an hour of time?  Well, luckily for us, I’ve gotten my hands on a top secret advance script for Lebron’s big special.

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