One final kick in the pants

What was shaping up as a relatively straightforward finale to the NFL's regular season was turned on its ear. Also, I try to sell you on ... something.

I had my premise staked out for this newsletter: Sometimes more gives you less. It’s at least a little intriguing, vaguely philosophical and would lead in to an argument that the capitalist imperative to add more games to a sports schedule doesn’t always produce the desired effect. I think it’s true in college football, where the addition of a four-team playoff has actually sapped the larger appeal of that sport’s conclusion. And increased quantity reducing the quality seemed to be true in the NFL, too, because heading into Sunday’s games, an extra week of regular-season play seemed to have diluted the suspense of the final weekend before the playoffs.

And then Sunday happened, an 11-hour stretch that was as thrilling, as unexpected and as big of a cliffhanger as anything I can remember in the sport.

That’s ahead, at the risk of crossing a boundary, I wanted to see if anyone out there has interest or need for a professional writing service. If so, I’m seeking gigs, which really means that I’m looking for clients.

It feels weird to ask this. You signed up for a free newsletter because you knew me either from my work on the radio, my presence on Twitter or even have come across me in real life. Now, I’m asking you about work. I thought about making a joke, like “Will Write 4 Food,” but first of all, that’s not funny. It’s also not true because I’m not desperate for work so much as I’m interested in finding some new opportunities in a field where I don’t have that much experience.

I’m excited about the headway I’ve made as a freelance writer. I have a magazine story about the D.B. Cooper skyjacking case that will be published in Pacific NW on January 23. There’s a column I’ve begun writing for Barrett Sports Media. I’m taking writing classes, I’ve had a breakthrough in writing about my family, and I’m continuing to work on a book about Pete Carroll. I even have a potential title.

But every freelancer I’ve talked to has said that it’s advisable — neccesary even — to have a base of business clients who provide regular work whether it’s writing content for a Web site, writing product descriptions or even ghost-writing. This is essentially a revenue stream independent of the ability to sell non-fiction writing. I have some experience writing ad copy from my work at the radio station. I’ve written what is called native content as well. But for the most part, I’m building this part from the ground up so in addition to reaching out to people I know in the marketing industry and friends I have in other businesses, I thought it was worth posting here. You know me. At least you know me well enough to sign up for this newsletter, which means you have some familiarity with who I am. If you have something that you’d like written, heck if you’d like help writing something, please reach out to me: danny at dannyoneil.com.

Maybe it’s copy for your company’s Web site, an improved “About Us” page or part of a marketing campaign for your business. Maybe you’d like to write an article about an area of your own expertise and aren’t sure where to start. I’m seeking experience and opportunity more than a specific rate. I’m excited to see how my writing skills might work in different applications whether it’s product descriptions or business-to-business communication, and am looking for opportunities to try that out. You can find more on my web site.

OK. (Deep breath)

Let’s get back to this weekend, which started with a pair of Saturday duds on the NFL schedule. Nothing surprising happened. No one was in danger of losing a playoff berth. No one even clinched a specific playoff seeding, and when Sunday started, there were only three playoff berths that were up for grabs. Had the Colts beaten the Jaguars as everyone expected, it would have come down to a question of whether it was the Chargers or the Raiders who made the field in the AFC and the 49ers or the Saints in the NFC.

Except the Colts didn’t beat the Jags. The Colts got the brakes beaten off them by the Jags, and what had been a fairly straightforward scenario turned into a wild free-for-all in which three different teams reached the playoffs because of overtime victories, and the final field wasn’t determined until the final play of the final game of the regular season.

For the record, I was rooting for the tie in Las Vegas, which would have eliminated the Pittsburgh Steelers. That’s right. I wanted the end of Ben, to Stop the Steel and all sorts of bad to happen. Alas, Daniel Carlson made the kick, the Chargers were ousted and we’ve got a surprisingly likable Raiders team in the field along with Pittsburgh.

You couldn’t even complain about the Seahawks on this Sunday. They played their best game of the year, with an offense that scored well enough to offset the fact that two turnovers by Russell Wilson led to 14 Arizona points and a defense that was nothing short of impressive in winning the regular-season finale. Now don’t win isn’t going to completely mask the funk of a 10-loss season, but it was better than the alternative.

So I’m not going to complain about the fact that there were more regular-season games in the NFL season after a Sunday that was chock full of suspense. As for the college football playoffs? Well, it has been clear for a while that the biggest concern in that sport is the size of the television contracts, and it doesn’t matter how many people are in the crowd or even how many are watching given the underwhelming size of the ratings for the New Year’s Eve playoff games. The institution of the playoffs has resulted in two more days of signature properties to be sold, in this case to ESPN, and that’s all that sport is really concerned with.

In the meantime, I thought I’d run through a list of the things I found most interesting over the past week:

“Imagine a bunch of very smart art school people who have been very stoned for about 40 years who are now trying to argue over business.”

— James Fitzsimmons, executive director of Coney Island USA

That quote was in the 12th paragraph of a New York Times story about the financial dispute that has broken out between a man often referred to as the mayor of Coney Island and the non-profit group he founded. Credit to Fitzsimmons, he said he was among the group of people who have been stoned for the past 40 years. The dispute is actually fairly understandable. Dick Zigun is 60 years old, and after years of spearheading the development of the area and especially developing the mermaid parade, he wants to retire. He asked for a stipend, which the non-profit group said it can’t afford. Finding quotes like that are absolute catnip to the reporter in me.

Coach potato

By Kevin Clark, TheRinger.com | Jan. 6, 2022

I find instances of institutional stupidity absolutely fascinating in professional sports. There is such a clear incentive to be as efficient as possible and yet there are repeated examples of these teams who claim that winning is the single most important thing who continue to do things that prevent them from having the best chance at doing that. It’s especially interesting to me when an entire industry seems to do it as if there is some gentleman’s agreement to avoid any improvement of what is clearly a sub-optimal strategy.

Yet whether it was the inability of baseball teams to recognize that players who walked a lot were undervalued until Billy Beane came along or the fact it took so long for NBA teams to increase the number of 3-point attempts in their daily diet, pro sports franchise aren’t the quickest to adopt best practices.

With that in mind, Kevin Clark of TheRinger took a look at the hard-headed insistence that NFL teams have on hiring practices, refusing to change in spite of recent history that shows almost everyone is doing it wrong. I’d encourage you to read the whole thing, but the gist of Clark’s story is that NFL teams are so focused on finding a coach who will be the single guiding light taking the franchise to a title that they fail to consider hiring a guy who will be part of a management group would be a much better way to go.

The Streisand effect

RoofClaim.com is suing the Jacksonville Jaguars because the franchise wouldn’t let the company out of being the presenting sponsor of Sunday’s regular-season finale in which disgruntled Jaguars fans were proposing to dress up as clowns. I have to admit, I would have never known RoofClaim.com was the presenting sponsor of the clown game had RoofClaim.com not made a ruckus about how unhappy it was to be sponsoring the clown game. As understandable as RoofClaim.com's concerns may be, they become a little harder to take at face value when it was revealed that RoofClaim.com had negotiated a clause that it could end its four-year sponsorship deal after the third season were Urban Meyer no longer head coach. Apparently, Meyer was a really big deal to RoofClaim.com because the company moved to discontinue the agreement the day after Meyer was fired. Now, I have no personal experience with RoofClaim.com, however, I would not be inclined to trust my roof to a company that was covering for Meyer. But maybe that’s just me.

The mental game

By … uhhhh … me | Barrett Media 

I mentioned this above, but this is first of what will be a weekly column for Barrett Sports Media. Jason Barrett is a former sports-radio program director who now works as a consultant, and I got to know him when he was brought in by 710 ESPN Seattle. After more than 20 years covering sports, both as a newspaper reporter and later on the radio, I have a fair number of fairly strong opinions about best practices within the industry, which I’m hoping to apply here.

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