Dan Wetzel

  • Johnny Manziel's partying, lack of professionalism jeopardize his career

    Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports 1 day ago

    Mike Pettine wore the look of someone tired of being played the fool. Tired that his shot at being an NFL head coach had been cursed by the decision to gamble on Johnny Manziel when Teddy Bridgewater and Derek Carr were on the board.

    Tired of the endless circus of Johnny Drama – the unprepared games, the offseason rehab, the social media pictures of Johnny drinking on an inflatable swan, of Johnny drawing bubbles on a bottle, of Johnny being Johnny.

    Tired that after all of that he'd still gifted Manziel the opportunity of a lifetime: six games as the starter of the Cleveland Browns to prove to this franchise, or any franchise, that he was mature and professional enough to maximize some of that innate ability and be a player in this league.

    And then Johnny hit the clubs in College Station during an off weekend earlier this month due to a Thursday night game. Then he hit the clubs in Austin during the recent bye week. And then when pictures and video emerged he went with some lame excuse like they might be old … not that they were old, just that hey, who knows they might be?

    Make no mistake, Pettine announced the decision but Manziel made it with his actions.

  • Jeff Gordon did get his perfect ending

    Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports 3 days ago

    HOMESTEAD, Fla. — Jeff Gordon couldn't sleep. He thought he should, thought he should get as much rest as possible before he knew what was to come.

    Sunday promised a surreal combination, equal parts celebrating what had been done across a 24-year, 797th race career, while still pursuing what could still be won, a shot at a 94th victory and fifth Cup championship.

    On the track it wouldn't go Gordon's way; he finished sixth on the day and third for the title – Kyle Busch won both – but at that moment Sunday morning, the promise of the opportunity was too much to roll over and doze back off. The energy woke him; Gordon was 44 going on 14.

    So he got out of bed in his motor coach, pulled back a curtain and coincidentally saw his mother Carol walking by. He called to her and invited her in. Carol is usually hesitant to upset the race day routine – Gordon likes to be alone to focus – but now here they were, just the two of them, memories and emotions flowing over early coffee.



    Mario Andretti?

  • 'I hate Jeff Gordon'

    Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports 6 days ago

    Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson were driving around in a golf cart, whipping past some of the campsites fans had set up at Watkins Glen International in central New York. This was about a decade or so ago.

    That's when they spotted a giant plywood display that read, "I hate Jeff Gordon."

    By that point, Gordon had already won four Cup championships but was still dealing with long-held backlash from his entry into the sport as a supposed pretty boy sensation out of California. He was Dale Earnhardt Sr.'s chief rival for years and that didn't help his popularity.

    It did allow him to simultaneously bring new fans into the sport, and turn old ones against him.

    When they saw the sign at Watkins Glen, Johnson started laughing, and not just because that someone went through the trouble of making it, but that it was painted pink and was adorned with pictures of Gordon's face on ballerinas and Teletubbies and things like that.

    It was so absurd Gordon laughed too.

    "I'm going over there," Gordon told Johnson.

    To know Gordon is to like him, after all – even Dale Sr. said that.

    "Hey Gordon," the guy shouted, "you still [expletive]."


  • Bill Belichick's stiff-arm of camouflage campaign an unlikely coincidence

    Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports 7 days ago

    In November, fresh off having players wear pink to raise awareness of breast cancer, the NFL put its coaches in camouflage as part of its "Salute To Service" campaign.

    This is different than when teams were paid by the Department of Defense to stage patriotic/pro-military acts like bringing soldiers out on the field and asking fans to cheer. Sen. John McCain, among others, ripped that as "paid patriotism" and humbled the league and its teams into returning $6.8 million.

    This campaign, per the league press release, is not about profit (no government money is involved) but because "supporting the military is part of the fabric of the NFL."

    So coaches are wearing camo hats and camo sweatshirts and even camo headsets … all of which you can purchase. The USO, the Wounded Warrior Project and the Pat Tillman Foundation are beneficiaries.

    Well, not all the coaches are wearing camo.

    The New England Patriots' Bill Belichick has yet to put any on. He has worn a pin with camouflage on it, but not the full garb. A couple other coaches have worn only the camo headsets or the pin, but it's no surprise Belichick has gone low-key.


    How at odds?

  • Holly Holm is the superior fighter, but does that make Ronda Rousey a fraud?

    Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports 9 days ago

    In February, Ronda Rousey is set to begin filming a remake of the movie "Road House." She'll reprise Patrick Swayze's role of Dalton, the I-want-you-to-be-nice-until-it's-time-to-not-be-nice bouncer.

    It is precisely the kind of thing that her critics are howling about in the wake of her knockout defeat to Holly Holm Saturday for the UFC bantamweight title. Does she want to be an actress or a fighter? Is she real or an overhyped fraud?

    Is she just the real-life version of another cinematic classic character, the business-minded Apollo Creed walking straight into Holm's unknown underdog who didn't know it was a damn show? Or maybe she was a distracted Mike Tyson to Holm's Buster Douglas?

    Let's relax on all of that.

    It isn't fair to Rousey. It isn't fair to Holm. It isn't accurate enough (there may be elements of truth, but just elements), let alone placed properly in perspective.

    She might have even failed to take the fight as seriously as she should have – she certainly looked winded just seconds in.

  • Broncos' Peyton Manning dilemma validates Archie Manning's quip: 'It's why I hate football'

    Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports 10 days ago

    There is a unique depression that permeates the losing locker room after a season-ending defeat. It doesn't matter the sport. It doesn't matter whether it is preps or pros.

    The Super Bowl tends to be uniquely cruel, though, maybe because of the hype, maybe because of the all-encompassing sacrifice, maybe because of the violence that lingers across life.

    You arrive and unpack a childhood dream. You leave one and done, pulling a suitcase full of what-ifs.

    Peyton Manning had lost plenty of big games before, lost a Super Bowl even, which may have explained his mood after Seattle bludgeoned Denver, 43-8, two Februarys ago in MetLife Stadium. This wasn't just the normal despair or depression. There was an emotionless air of resignation and perhaps fear over the window that cruelly closes on all careers.

    "That's football," Archie Manning said dryly that day while waiting for Peyton. "It's why I hate football."

    Manning's boss in Denver, John Elway got the storybook, consecutive Super Bowls before walking away.

    Just about everyone else, even the great Peyton Manning, gets this – beaten up and doubted down until it ends, until it just ends.

  • Leonard Fournette, student-athletes should be encouraged to make money

    Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports 13 days ago

    The NCAA has asked LSU to investigate whether star running back Leonard Fournette and his family received discounted services in 2014 to set up a business and a website where they planned to sell Fournette merchandise, USA Today reported this week.

    The NCAA shut down the online business, which was going to sell hats and T-shirts with Fournette's "BUGA Nation" catchphrase, in a single day. It's believed no product was ever sold.

    Fournette may indeed have violated some NCAA rules by receiving a discount based on his fame as a player. We'll see. Fournette is expected to play Saturday against Arkansas.

    Who knows how serious the NCAA will take this long term.

    It certainly shouldn't take it far.

    A family-owned merchandise website isn't a problem. It's actually a common-sense future for college sports – which is under legal, political and, at least some believe, ethical pressure – to properly compensate its athletes, particularly high-profile ones such as Fournette.

    So why shouldn't Fournette get in on it? Colleges should be encouraging students to start their own businesses, not prohibiting it.

    And let that be the start.

    It's none of those things.

  • Missouri protest exposes NCAA's greatest fear

    Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports 17 days ago

    From way out in California, Sonny Vaccaro, the retired Nike and Adidas executive and longtime proponent of student-athlete rights, looked on as the University of Missouri football team organized a protest over the weekend, refusing to practice or play until school president Tim Wolfe was "out of office."

    In less than a day the movement grew from a single tweet from 32 black players to the support of perhaps the whole team, including head coach Gary Pinkel and the athletic department.

    By Monday morning, poof, Wolfe was gone, resigning his presidency that he held onto across months despite protests, complaints, a tent city on campus and even a hunger strike by a graduate student.

    It was the football team that supplied the momentum and media attention that nothing else could.

    And they can just be a lot of fun.



  • Missouri protest is a sign of players' involvement as students, and that's good

    Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports 17 days ago

    The University of Missouri canceled all football activities on Sunday, hours after coach Gary Pinkel tweeted out support of his players, who are refusing to practice or play until school president Tim Wolfe is "no longer in office."

    The issue centers on what some Missouri students believe is a slow and inconsequential response to some racially motivated incidents on the Columbia campus. One student is on a hunger strike. Others are camping out on Carnahan Quadrangle.

    Folks on all sides of the debate are taking additional action, including 32 black football players (now backed by what appears to be all of their teammates) who decided late Saturday to do what they can. The Tigers' game Saturday against BYU is in jeopardy.

    Pinkel, for one, supports his guys. He tweeted out a picture Sunday of black and white players, arms linked.

    This is a good thing.

  • Lions finally get Ford tough and offer glimmer of hope for NFL laughingstock

    Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports 21 days ago

    Ninety years old and apparently out of patience in the face of pitiful that has defined the NFL franchise she now owns, Martha Firestone Ford dropped the hammer Thursday on the Detroit Lions. 

    General manager Martin Mayhew is gone. Team president Tom Lewand is gone. More is expected to come. Scouts. Executives. Whomever. Coach Jim Caldwell is safe for now, although he'll likely be fired at season's end. The Lions are 1-7 and on their bye week.

    Martha assumed power when her husband William Clay Ford died last year. She is not interested in being a figurehead. This is an activist move. Moreover, daughter Shelia Ford Hamp is, according to the Detroit Free Press, now assuming a "prominent role" with the team. 

    "We are very disappointed with the results of the season thus far and believe a change in leadership was needed," Martha Firestone Ford said Thursday.

    So a woman's touch is proving to be an iron fist.

    It's not unusual for one-win teams to get a bloodletting. It's unusual, however, for a franchise to manage just a single playoff victory since 1957 – going on six decades of near complete futility.

    More on coaches on hot seat