By Ken Reed

The last week hasn’t been a good one for pro sports, and the concepts of sportsmanship, integrity, honor, and ethics.

The NFL, which constantly preaches about protecting the integrity of the shield (the NFL’s logo), made Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston the top pick in its annual draft.

To say the least, Winston has a shaky off-the-field background. His list of indiscretions and problems is much too lengthy to go into detail here. However, Winston remains in the middle of a civil lawsuit that charges him with “sexual battery, assault, false imprisonment, and intentional infliction of emotional distress arising out of forcible rape.”

Moreover, Erica Kinsman, who filed the lawsuit, brings up an alleged second Winston sexual assault victim in the suit.

According to the lawsuit filing, “On October 25, 2013, Plaintiff’s victim advocate at FSU (Florida State University) informed her that a second woman had come forward and reported being sexually assaulted by Winston.”

In other news, the Wells Report was released yesterday in the investigation into “Deflategate,” which examined charges that the New England Patriots deflated balls below the league minimum so star quarterback Tom Brady could grip them better. The Wells Report called some of Brady’s claims of innocence “implausible,” and left little doubt that Brady had a role in having footballs deflated before last year’s AFC title game against Indianapolis.

Attorney Ted Wells, who authored the report, found Brady’s denials lacking in credibility.

“We found these claims not plausible and contradicted by other evidence,” wrote Wells in the report.

This is the Patriots second case of cheating in the last decade. The first being a videotaping scandal called “Spygate” in 2007. How will the NFL and its commissioner Roger Goodell, react to the Wells Report?

Elsewhere in pro sports, it’s now known that boxer Manny Pacquiao entered the ring with Floyd Mayweather with a shoulder injury that severely limited his ability to compete. Instead of reporting the injury, and postponing the latest “Fight of the Century,” Pacqiiao decided to keep the injury quiet, allow the fight to continue as scheduled, and collect millions of dollars in the process. Days after the fight, Pacquiao underwent shoulder surgery for a torn rotator cuff.

Meanwhile, In NBA/WNBA news, James Dolan, the owner of the NBA’s New York Knicks and the WNBA’s New York Liberty, hired former NBA star Isiah Thomas to be the Liberty’s president and part owner. This despite Thomas’ unsuccessful history as a basketball administrator and coach, and, more importantly, despite being the target of a sexual harassment lawsuit from his time as an executive with the Knicks.

In that case, a jury awarded former Knicks executive Anucha Browne Sanders $11.6 million, after finding that the team improperly fired Sanders for complaining about Thomas’ sexual harassment. Jurors heard the following: “Thomas, after arriving as team president in 2004, routinely addressed her as “bitch” and “ho” in outbursts over marketing commitments. He later did an abrupt about-face, declaring his love and suggesting an “off-site” liaison,” she said.

Despite all this, Dolan felt it made perfect sense to put Thomas in charge of a women’s professional basketball team.

To say the least, it was an ugly week in professional sports, an industry where win-at-all-costs and profit-at-all-costs mentalities are increasingly leading to ethical, if not legal, missteps.

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans


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