Jim Ross: Part-Time Comedian, Full-Time Legend

Last Saturday, the day before WrestleMania 31 shocked viewers with a surprising ending, over 700 diehard WWE fans convened at a small bar in San Jose. There would be no wrestling and no storyline to dissect. But there would be stories.

All the reasons why Jim Ross was a legendary commentator were on display in his 2 and a half hour one-man show: honesty, comedy and a whole lot of Southern drawl.

The show was 21 and up, and it was clear why once Ross got talking. He told several stories of the Nature Boy, Ric Flair, and his affinity for bathrobes and erections (one time keeping Ross from scoring with a couple good-looking flight attendants). He wasn't shy about his multiple marriages, but made a point to say that he got very lucky in his current wife, a former gymnast and flight attendant who was, as he said multiple times, way out of his league. 

One of his most graphic stories came from when he was first trying to make it in the business. His boss told him to take care of the McGuire twins and do anything needed to make them happy. As he walked into the locker room one night, and he made it clear that wrestlers had locker rooms not dressing rooms as they were athletes, he found the 600+ pound twins crying in the shower. They needed help washing their backs. Ross obliged, forever etching the scene in his memory and providing a laugh-inducing moment at his show.

Though Ross' show was full of funny stories, it was also full of wisdom. He shared secrets of how he was successful in the industry. Most importantly, he stressed the point of honesty. He made some tough decisions as a talent consultant but was always transparent with the wrestlers. Though they may not have always liked him, they sure as hell respected him, a sentiment that no doubt lead to his future success. 

Ross, an avid Sooner fan, also expressed his disdain in the recent racist actions of an Oklahoma fraternity. He stressed that race, gender, or sexual preference didn't matter to him, what mattered was the person underneath. Most importantly, what mattered in the wrestling world was passion and talent.

In a Q&A session, Ross was asked about the fateful night where Bret Hart lost his title in the most deceptive way, which would later be referred to as the Montreal Screwjob. In Hart's last match with WWF before moving to WCW, Vince McMahon flipped the script without Hart's knowledge, handing the championship title to Shawn Michaels, and causing uproar from not only Hart but fans as well. When questioned about the Survivor Series match, Jim Ross vehemently denied he had any idea about the betrayal despite speculation he might have been involved.

Ross also didn't disappoint with his special guests. ESPN's Michelle Beadle, a huge WWE fan, and UFC fighter Daniel Cormier were in the crowd. As the show wound down, he also brought out ROH wrestler Samoa Joe, who has been amidst speculation of a move to WWE, to the delight of the crowd.

Samoa Joe's story was relatable. He spoke about how he was never wanted at the beginning of his career. When he got opportunities, he proved himself and forced the naysayers to realize that they needed him. Even Ross himself said he didn't believe Samoa Joe had the right stuff to make it and that he was proven wrong. Samoa Joe also spoke about his potential move to WWE, saying he'd be happy with any opportunity, whether it was with NXT or on the main roster.

One of the biggest takeaways was when Samoa Joe touched on the fans' disappointment with WWE's direction and choices. He said that instead of always complaining about what the company is doing wrong, fans should talk about what they are doing right. Not only was this a great lesson about WWE, but about life. It quickly became clear why Ross wanted him as his guest. His candor, optimism, and attitude fit everything Ross has stood for in his career.

The performance had it all and was a perfect kickoff to WrestleMania weekend. Ross further proved why he's a legend in the wrestling world with his unbridled honestly, humor, knowledge, and undeniable passion: making his show a must-see for WWE fans.

Love and Baseball

This is a bit of a departure from my typical posts on this site, but sometimes our inspiration stems from something other than the love of the game: the love of the people we share it with.

Our relationship started in the midst of winter. Football was winding down as the anticipation of America's Pastime grew. Our first vacation together was to the land of year-round baseball where dreamers, players and fans meet every March as the hope for the new season begins. We spent several days at games: scorekeeping, drinking beer, and soaking up the Arizona sunshine. My fascination with you deepened as the promise of many nights in the crisp San Francisco Bay air swirled around us.

It was those nights cheering for a Panda and hollering for a Mad Bum where I fell for you. Our love grew with the baseball field as our backdrop. I never imagined I could feel the way I do about the game about a person until I met you. Instead of my usual focus on the scorebook and stats, I found myself reveling in the feel of your hand in mine as the crack of the bat filled the silence between us. Our mutual passion for the game inspired playful bickering, deep conversations, and plenty a ballpark hot dog.

It was you who taught me that love is more than just the smell of fresh grass and the sound of a ball slapping a glove: it's sharing it with people you care about most.

And here we are nearly a year later, sitting by the window together and just waiting until Spring.

The Ray Rice Issue

Footage emerged today from Ray Rice's domestic assault case. It's just as graphic, if not more, than everyone expected. You can watch it here.

Obviously there has been an outpour of outrage coming from fans and other players around the NFL since the video was released. The Ravens did the right thing by terminating his contract. The NFL followed suit by suspending him indefinitely. Many say he shouldn't play in the league again. In my opinion, the league and team should have made these calls as soon as the original footage emerged, but I also see another issue with the whole situation: the way his fiancee has handled it.

Through the press conference and coverage, she stayed by Rice's side. She admitted that she taunted him and it was partially her fault, which the new footage seems to negate. In the end, she actually married the guy. Had she taken a stand and left him, maybe the NFL would have taken the punishment more seriously in the first place. I can't speculate why she stayed (money, fear, etc), but she had the opportunity to make a difference. She had the opportunity to become a voice for domestic violence. Her public actions basically told women fans and young girls that it's okay to stay regardless of being beaten and abused. What is she teaching her children? What is she going to tell them when they are old enough to find out what happened? Oh daddy lost his job because he beat mommy, but I stuck around? I'm not saying she's not a victim. I'm not saying what happened to her was okay. I just wish she had used the horrible situation she went through to make a difference, not become another statistic. 

It is never okay for a man to lay his hands on a woman. Just as it is never okay for a woman to hit a man. Domestic abuse is a serious issue that shouldn't be taken lightly. Football is a violent sport, but that should stay on the field.

If you are in a situation where you are being abused, ask for help and try and do everything you can to remove yourself from the situation. Staying only gives the man more power and will likely lead to it happening again.

 

How to Draft a Killer Fantasy Team

More than ever, women are stepping away from being cheerleaders for their boyfriends and husbands and joining their own fantasy football leagues. Like Jenny from The League, not only are they getting in on the fun, but some are actually winning. Shiva trophy aside, women are proving more and more that the draw to football isn't just the tight pants, but also the game itself.

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I myself won my fantasy league last year, which is a pretty impressive feat because I work at a sports website with all boys. Here are some of my tips to drafting a winning team, regardless of if you know about football or not.

1. Do a Mock Draft

A lot of sites have mock drafts you can participate in before the season. Even though you may not know what you are doing, most of the people participating do. Make a note of who they go after and when. Peyton Manning was the top pick? Make a note. Rob Gronkowski didn't go until the 3rd round? Maybe he's someone to stay away from in the first few rounds. Just make a list of players that go early on and voila you will look like a genius in your draft.

2. Research

Similar to doing your own mock drafts, a lot of websites produce their own. Google a couple of these and make some notes on who the NFL gurus recommend you draft. Even better, some do articles on players to stay away from. You'll look like a genius for passing over Chris Johnson for Giovani Bernard. I promise.

3. Know What Kind of Draft You Are Doing

There are two kinds of drafts: auction and regular. Auction is when you get a set amount of money, usually around $200, to spend on your draft picks. If you are doing an auction draft, you'll have different strategies than if you are doing a regular one. For instance, it may not be worth it to spend 1/4 of your budget on Peyton Manning in an auction setting, because then you won't have a well-rounded team. I succeeded in my league last year because I had a group of very good players, but no huge 'superstars'. Yes having Jamaal Charles is great, but if he gets hurt or struggles and you spent most of your money on him, you may be out of luck. For regular drafts, where there is a draft order that typically snakes around each round, it's all about when you draft. Having a list of good players you want up front make this easier. A lot of these leagues already have a list of players by fantasy potential within the draft, so you can visibly see who's available and the best pick. In all doubt you can follow that list and do pretty well.

4. Know Your Draft's Rules

If you are in a PPR (points per reception) league, drafting a few solid wide receivers is a good move. Good running backs tend to go pretty quickly so looking to draft one in the first or second round is probably smart as well. The top quarterbacks will go semi-high, but most of the others are all pretty similar in the middle, so if you don't get a 'top' QB, then you can probably wait and snag one in the 3rd or 4th round and still put up decent numbers. Kickers and defense usually get you the least points, so you can hold off on those until the rest of your team is set.

5. If All Else Fails, Ask Your Man

Unless your man is in your league. Then ask your dad or your brother. They'll love that you actually seem to care about the game for once and be more than willing to help you. Or watch them do a draft and ask questions. There are also a lot of fantasy gurus online who will be more than willing to answer your burning questions.

The best part of drafting is the trash talk. So don't be afraid to rub it in when you make a sweet pick. Oh and a killer team name always looks good, regardless of how good your team is.