Why UFC on ABC is Monumental for MMA


For the first time in history, the UFC will have an event on the most publicly accessible channel in the United States, ABC. After coming off of a year where the UFC was the first sport to return after the hiatus, Mixed Martial Arts was for the first time in the main spotlight of all of sports. And the UFC absolutely delivered. They continued on this path delivering massive event after massive event. Their deal with ESPN has been a lucrative one for both ends, even without fans in the arena. And with the UFC on the biggest stage of ABC looming, there is yet another opportunity for the sport to become that much bigger. But why is this so big for the UFC and the sport of MMA? 


In 1996, the Late John McCain wrote a letter to all 50 governors requesting them to not hold UFC events in their state calling the sport no more than “human cockfighting”. With this, the UFC had a hard time getting shows done and even getting on TV. But due to this, they were able to create sanctioned rules and thus allowing the UFC to have more longevity. Without the criticism of the early UFC events, the sport wouldn’t have developed the legitimacy and the set of unified rules that they have today.


The UFC’s problems did not end there. In the early 2000s, the UFC was losing money and not making a profit. The only thing that saved the UFC and maybe the future of MMA was the deal with SpikeTV. The reality show The Ultimate Fighter brought more eyes to the sport and created a new influx of fans. The show’s epic finale allowed for the relationship with SpikeTV to continue and allowed for the UFC to survive when they were on the path to bankruptcy. 


With the UFC set to have their debut show on ABC, it’s good to remember how far the sport has come and how far they have still to go. Going from a sport that was nearly outlawed to now being on public TV, MMA has become bigger than it ever has been breaking through multiple barriers. Dana White has clearly stated that he wants the UFC to become one of the biggest sports globally and with the diversity of fighters signed to the promotion and the platform that it’s on, it’s well on its way to doing that. The UFC on ABC is coming at a perfect time for the sport, now that it’s bigger than ever. With more and more superstars coming out of the sport, the UFC is more recognizable than ever. Having ABC’s platform on Saturday, look for the UFC and the sport of MMA to become one of the mainstays of global sports. 


You can follow Johnathan on Twitter @ThreePieceCombo

UFC FIGHT NIGHT: Covington vs. Woodley

Where to watch: Saturday, September 19, 2020, UFC APEX, Las Vegas, Nevada, Available on ESPN+.

The UFC has been nothing but “on fire” since their return from their “Covid19 Hiatus”, and the latest “UFC Fight Night” is yet another example. The main card on this night is packed with budding stars, legacy acts, and the main event is a true grudge match between two of the best welterweights in the world. The mere fact that these two fighters despise each other, is an added bonus. In reality, the loser of this main event is essentially eliminated from the championship picture.

In Colby Covington, you have a brash, MAGA Hat wearing maniac, cussing up a storm, who also happens to be a very skilled boxer, wrestler, not only famous for his legendary (and annoying) trash talk, but for his record setting activity outputs (Covington set the record for strikes in a UFC Bout with 541 vs.Robbie Lawler on August 3rd of 2019.) Truth be told, most of Colby’s trash talk has been revealed to be phony, (possibly right down to his love for all things Trump) but his profile in my own, and many others estimation grew with his loss against Kamaru Usman.


As for Tyron Woodley, the former welterweight champion, had a run of entertaining defenses (4 title defenses) after defeating Robbie Lawler via KO in July of 2016. Woodley’s subsequent two fights with Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson, began to break down the facade of his invincibility, that led him to losing his title to Kamaru Usman in March of 2019. A subsequent 14 month layoff led him to his defeat to new shooter/contender Gilbert Burn this past May. Tyron Woodley enters this fight a clear underdog (+255), and it’s not hard to see why considering his latest form is not the best of his career. The positive thinking on Woodley starts and begins with Tyron summoning the ghosts of his careers past, to find it within himself to fight at his past capability. That should be enough to win, is the optimist view.

How does Tyron Woodley win?

He has to crowd Colby and keep his jab off him. Blocking Covington’s jab, is not enough however, and only invites combinations, so he has to step inside Colby’s jab, and close the distance to “dirty up” the fight. Leg kicks can also break up Covington’s rhythm, and give Tyron opportunities to close the distance and employ his “dirty boxing” strategy. Woodley does not have a cardio or activity advantage, so he has to use these opportunities to rest in fight, as well as score punches, elbows, and knees on Colby. This should soften up Colby enough to land your combinations, and set up a knock out. Trying to outscore Colby Covington in a boxing match is not in the cards, and is a recipe for disaster. Woodley must go for a finish if he wants to win this fight.

How does Colby Covington win?
Fight tall, but keep your head moving. Covington has a 2 inch height advantage, that will help him guide his jab toward Woodley’s chest, to set up his combinations. Absorb no leg kicks, and try to check them all. Colby’s biggest advantage is his cardio, so why not preserve your legs to take advantage of it? Colby must step back and to his right to avoid Woodley’s lead right hands. Counter with softer combinations, punctuated with a power punch and make sure you score in the eye of the judges, as activity is usually a winning trait on score cards. Colby’s path to victory is 180 degrees different than Woodley’s, while Tyron’s path consists of trying to create a finish, Colby must resist the urge to expose himself in an exchange, and just keep plotting away with his boxing, and score the easy win.

Prediction: Colby Covington (-420) wins by Unanimous Decision over Tyron Woodley (+255).

The rest of the main card consists of:

Donald Cerrone 36-15-0 +120
Niko Price 14-4-0 -175


Khamzat Chimaev 8-0-0 -480
Gerald Meerschaert 31-13-0 +285


Johnny Walker 17-5-0 -135
Ryan Spann 18-5-0 -105

Mackenzie Dern 8-1-0 -190
Randa Markos 10-9-1 +130

Kevin Holland 18-5-0 -295
Darren Stewart 12-5-0 +195

All UFC Fight Night Odds cited are via SPREADS

Alfredo Arteaga (@Alf_Arteaga) is one-third of the trio on the Three Yards Per Carry (@3YardsPerCarry) podcast.

Let’s Talk About That Armando Salguero “Apology”

Armando Salguero, an amorphous globule of spurious right wing sanctimony, dropped a statement on Sunday on Twitter that was supposedly an apology for being an unrepentant insufferable racist-apologist after he got so angry at Ryan Tannehill saying America was founded on racist ideas, his asshole puckered up so tightly it swallowed itself into another dimension like a collapsing blackhole.

Let’s break it all down!

“As our nation grapples with racism and the legacy of slavery, I made some comments on Twitter Thursday night that I would like to address:”

The nation isn’t grappling with racism, Armando. The nation is racist. And it has been so since it was founded. And lots of people are marching in the streets yelling about how racist the nation has been and would like things to change because black people keep getting murdered by white cops for no other reason than being black. And a lot of other people are cheering on the racists who are shooting and murdering those protestors — people that live on the side of the political fence you have firmly planted your flag on. There’s no grappling going on here. You’re either a thing, or you’re not. I don’t grapple with whether or not I hate pineapple on pizza. I fucking LOATHE pineapple on pizza. It’s like some drunk asshole in a Hawaiian shirt jumped up onto the table and took a piss on my perfectly delicious cheese pizza. The fuck, drunk asshole?? Not cool!

See? There’s no grappling there. I don’t wrestle with my hatred of pineapple on pizza. I am a pineapple on pizza HATER. Pineapple on pizza should die of gonorrhea and rot in hell.

“Racism in all its forms is disgusting, wrong, and an anathema to every fiber of my being as both an American and a Christian.”

We’re two sentences into this statement and it’s already devolved into a word salad made up of Armando’s religious beliefs and patriotism, and how being those two things somehow disqualify him as a racist.

Also, how can being an American make racism an anathema to every fiber of your being when every fiber of America’s being IS FUCKING RACIST UP ITS GAPING RACIST ASSHOLE?

You could Google “which Founding Fathers owned slaves.” But it’s probably easier to answer the question, which Founding Fathers did not own slaves (hint: a handful of them did not own slaves while a SHITTON of them did).

The Founding Fathers bought, sold, and traded black people kidnapped from Africa. This is not in dispute. This is not in question. They tore children from their mothers, separated siblings, destroyed human lives, and treated human beings like chattel all so that they could grow crops and cotton and sugar and make lots of money so that they could own even more people. One or two of our Founding Fathers even raped some of the African women they owned multiple times. And then they wrote a document calling for all people to be free (people, in this case, being other whites).

And Americans LOVED that shit. They loved it so much, in fact, that it took them almost 90 years to realize that it was bad to own people and that they should change the laws about it (but not too much because Africans aren’t actually people, after all). And even then Americans had to go to war over this change and murdered the cool president with the beard and made heroes out of the people that founded the KKK because America loved the shit out of owning and subjecting black people.

And then, of course, there was the Jim Crow era and all its various laws and injustices, red lining, segregation, and the murder of Emmett Till and countless other incidents of lynchings, killings, and, of course, Tamir Rice, and Trayvon Martin, and Sandra Bland, and George Floyd, and so and so on and so on and…. But, anathema and fiber and being and whatnot.

“I believe every one of us is made in the image of God and we are all literally related, dating back to Eden.”

Armando’s connection to not being a racist starts with his religious belief that the human race was made in the image of God (weird) and that we as a species originated from the Garden of Eden (rather than, you know, humans migrating from Africa into other parts of the world after billions of years of evolving from a single-cell organism into early hominids like Afarensis into Homo Habilis all the way down to Homo Sapiens, and eventually, into Skip Bayless. BUT I DIGRESS). Which, okay. But what in the holy fuckmonkeys does any of that even mean? I can’t be racist because JESUS and AMERICA.

“I do not deny that the truth about on-going racism or that slavery has been a stain on the entire Earth.”

Holy shit rockets, Armando just pulled a whataboutism on the entire Earth!

“That would be historically illiterate and immoral.”

Yea we wouldn’t want to be historically illiterate, guy who just said that the human race originates from an invisible land where snakes talked.

“So if anyone who sincerely interpreted my comments to suggest otherwise I assure you that is not what I’m about and it was not my intent to cause anyone pain.”

Jesus, is that a sentence?

So, we have three paragraphs of a statement where Armando never actually addresses his original comments, fails to acknowledge his ignorance (or his purposefully ignoring of) historical facts about America, and never actually apologizes for anything. Cool.

Never mind the fact that this entire thing began because Armando was APOPLECTIC over an extremely accurate and correct comment made by former Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill about how America’s history is steeped in racism.

HELL YEA, ARMANDO. How could anyone possibly DARE accuse the great American Land of Patriotic Americans of America of being historically shitty towards black people that’s completely accurate and correct?! That’s an anathema!

The video that got Armando all hot and heavy shows the Tennessee Titans expressing their anger over the shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin last week.

“We want to show solidarity,” Titans safety Kevin Byard says in the video. “And be unified and to say that we’re tired. We’re sick and tired of seeing […] our black brothers and sisters murdered by police like it’s nothing. And I feel like it’s time for a change.”

This is followed by a visibly moved Tannehill saying, “These systematic oppressions have been going on for a long time. For hundreds of years this country was founded on racist ideas.”

Armando stopped there and reached for the nearest pearls to clutch because Tannehill said a thing that insults the Greatest Country In The History Of Historical Things so THERE MUST BE A RECKONING.

Armando logged on and commenced with the tweeting. And then he was justifiably met by the usual replies one gets when one tweets ignorant shit. But as the replies came down, Armando doubled down and began to justify and defend the three-fifths compromise, of all things.

And the source he used to defend it was an article from Prager University, a right wing non-profit organization that denies climate change, promotes fracking, posts videos of dudes saying that “racism, bigotry, xenophobia, homophobia, and Islamophobia are meaningless buzzwords,” and whose founder, Dennis Prager, once said, that the acceptance of homosexuality as the equal of heterosexual marital love signifies the decline of Western civilization. So, you know, more Jesus and America loving non-racists.

So, Armando got all mad at someone saying America is racist and then dug deeper by justifying the clause placed into the Constitution in 1878 that basically used slaves as political chips.

Let’s count the black people as people now so that we can have more representation in Congress!


But let’s not actually count them because, they’re not actually people.


I mean, black people are people… but not like white people are people.

Well that’s a good compromise all us white men in power can agree on!


While most of us sports fans down here are all too familiar with Armando’s bullshit, this time he went NATIONAL. His tweets went viral and he was called out by all manner of people, including some of his own colleagues at the Herald and, eventually, his weak-ass bosses. 

Many have called for his ousting from the Herald because, fuck racism. But the Miami Herald is a news outlet that endorsed the re-election of Katherine Rundle for Miami-Dade state attorney — a woman who has never gone after bad cops her entire 27-year career. So, we suppose we’re probably expecting a bit much when people ask the Herald to shit-can Armando so he can go away and spew his nonsense for Clay Travis and Uncle Tom Whittz.

So, after three days of getting his doughy ass kicked by Twitter (and several Dolphins camp tweets in between), Armando went and released his non apology apology and is now free to continue reporting on the Dolphins and hoping they sign Satan before they sign Colin Kaepernick. And referring to NFL owners as “masters” and the players as “dogs.” And he is free to keep insulting Vietnam veterans who actually fought for this country (incidentally, his apology for that fiasco sounds awfully familiar to his latest apology).

Because Armando says that racism is an anathema to his very fiber. Never mind the fact that he has a long history of spouting right wing horsecockery and never mind the fact that what caused him the most outrage in a video about the evils of racism was not the comments about the evils of racism but the comments about how America was founded on evil racist ideas.

Lost in all this is Ryan Tannehill’s comments. He didn’t just say that America was founded on racist ideas.

He also said this:

“We’re tired of dealing with systematic oppression, we’re tired of dealing with excessive force, we’re tired of seeing black men and women die in situations where they should be walking home and spending time with their families. I have two young kids that, because of the color of their skin, I never have to worry about if they get pulled over by a police officer are they going to make it out of that interaction alive.”

So, instead of hearing a white quarterback acknowledge his own white privilege with regret because black people live a daily terrified existence over losing their lives every single fucking time they get pulled over by a cop, and getting angry at the systemic racism that has allowed this to go on with impunity since the first white guy stepped onto this land and decided to take a shit on people that didn’t look like him, Armando Salguero decided he drew the line at “America was founded on racist ideas.”

If Armando Salguero wants to express his derision toward Ryan Tannehill speaking some hard truths, or about how Kaepernick is the devil incarnate  — as racist and misguided as that derision is — okay. I mean, people are free to tweet out that they believe that magical wish-granting bats will blow out of their assholes when they chant the chorus to Karma Chameleon three times in a row.

And he is free to issue statements about how he loves Jesus and America and the troops, so that automatically disqualifies him from being racist.

But that doesn’t make him any less of an asshole.

He’s not even three-fifths of an asshole.

He’s a whole asshole.


Chris Joseph (@ByChrisJoseph) is a host of the Five Reasons comedy podcast, Ballscast. He’s written about sports and movies for Deadspin, Miami New Times, CBS Sports, and several other outlets.

UFC 251: Short Notice Mega Fight

Where to watch: Saturday, July 11, 2020, FIGHT ISLAND, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Available on ESPN+ PPV.

On the face of it, Kamaru Usman defending his Welterweight title versus streaking (6 fight win streak) Brazilian Gilbert Burns was big enough. A positive Covid 19 test later, UFC chief Dana White was left with a defending champion and no main event. In comes fan favorite, Jorge Masvidal to save the day and keep the “mega fight” title on this most impressive of cards in the “Covid Era”.

You can be cynical, and say, this is too cute by half. Jorge Masvidal made a huge stink about fighter share (revenue), and caused a controversy by going on every show on the UFC’s main partner (ESPN) to complain about how the PPV revenue is divided up, while also threatening to ask for his release. Masvidal made a simple but very good case. Jorge Masvidal took issue with the PPV share because as he put it: “I could understand you don’t want to give me that much on the guaranteed (money). But on the pay-per-view, what I bring in, what people purchase, I want more money on that – and they weren’t budging, and that was that. So all this craziness had to happen for them to come to their senses.” (ESPN) So as it stands, he takes the dangerous but lucrative fight on short notice, so all must be well between Jorge and Dana, or as good as it can be.

Now, Jorge Masvidal gets short notice to fight Usman, and he gets it while reportedly 22 pounds “overweight”, and when in route from Dallas, Fort Worth to his home in Miami. A private plane trip later to “Fight Island”, a photo op with a pizza slice, while wearing a pink robe, and Masvidal has arrived. After testing negative for Covid 19 he is purportedly well on his way to making weight for this championship fight.

So can he actually…win? Short answer: YES.

First of all, short notice upsets are not new to the UFC. One of the biggest fights in UFC history (PPV Buys) featured a short notice Nate Diaz stepping in for Rafael Dos Anjos to defeat UFC golden boy Conor McGregor, and of course you had Michael Bisping defeating Luke Rockhold for the middleweight title after waiting for nearly a decade for a title shot. Bisping accomplished that feat after being defeated with relative ease merely 18 months earlier by the same Luke Rockhold.


So how does he win? Avoid takedowns. Jorge Masvidal’s takedown defense is as good as anybody’s in any division in the UFC. The very strong Usman can also be baited into trading, as was seen in his epic fight with Colby Covington where he did not even have a takedown attempt through the entire 5 rounds (He ended it by stoppage in the final minute of the fight). Trading punches with Masvidal has proven to be a poor strategy. As for the “hype”, these two have history. During Super Bowl week here in Miami, Usman and Masvidal engaged in a screaming match, near a bank of elevators, as they challenged each other to a fight.

As for how Kamaru Usman wins? Easier said than done, but it can be easy if he can accomplish one thing. Get takedowns on Masvidal. Usman is the superior wrestler/grappler and he can rain punishment on Masvidal if he can pull this off. So it’s the striker/grappler matchup once again, and it could be as easy as who gets to “their fight” first. One thing is a fact. Neither guy can win at the other’s game.

Prediction: Kamaru Usman (-260) wins by Decision over underdog Jorge Masvidal(+200).

As for the rest of the card, it’s a great one headlined by Alexander Volkanovski (-220) vs. Max Holloway (+180) (Part 2), for the UFC Featherweight Championship, and Petr Yan (-230) vs. Jose Aldo (+190) for the vacant UFC Bantamweight Championship.

All UFC 251 odds cited are via William Hill US.


Alfredo Arteaga (@Alf_Arteaga) is one-third of the trio that does the Three Yards Per Carry (@3YardsPerCarry) podcast.

Coronavirus and Sports: Becoming Numb

I was going to write about Inter Miami, I really was. Maybe it would have been an upbeat preview about the “MLS Is Back” schedule reveal (Breakfast with Inter Miami vs. Chicago Fire at 9 a.m. on July 14, can you dig it?) or a more serious, ominous look at the league and its protocols as we are only 2 weeks away from the start of the first tournament in the United States after the pandemic.

But then I thought “AFTER the pandemic? We are barely during the pandemic, much less past it” and I discovered I’m sort of…detached? Nah, that’s not the word. I still follow the American sports landscape and want sports to be back. Shocked? That’s not it either, nothing that has happened the past three months has surprised me even a little, and that’s saying something. Numb? Yes, that’s it. I’m numb to the developments in the sports world nowadays, and I’m pretty sure other fans, writers and even players feel similarly.

I’m numb because I saw the news about 16 NBA players (the equivalent of an entire team’s roster, plus one) testing positive for COVID-19 and my reaction isn’t “Oh my, what if they backtrack and the season is cancelled?” It’s more like “I’m fine with whatever happens, I’m just waiting to see everyone freak out when a true superstar tests positive and [insert team here] has to play an entire series without him.”

I’m numb because “43 Division I teams have been eliminated in the last 12 weeks, and more than 130 programs have been cut across all NCAA levels”, and those kids weren’t earning millions of dollars, even as some of their coaches were and certainly their athletic departments are.


New Zealand is past the pandemic with tens of thousands gathering with joy to watch a rugby match most of them probably don’t remember the final score of. Europe is crowning champions as its cases are mostly going down (hello, Sweden, we see you) and fans celebrate the end of droughts in Liverpool and Naples as the ball keeps rolling with no apparent setbacks week after week.

Liverpool fans celebrate outside Anfield.

Even South America has soccer, but that’s because they don’t really give a shit in Brazil and they are bent on living like there is literally no tomorrow and they had the most new daily cases in the world on Thursday, June 25. Seems healthy.

Meanwhile, the United States of America is looking at itself in the mirror and wonders how it all went so wrong, so quickly after three months of sacrifices that were supposed to pave the way for sports to come back swiftly and smoothly.

We are Rachel and the Coronavirus is Ross asking: “OVER you? When were you UNDER me?” while we beat ourselves up wondering what went wrong and the President compares a deadly virus to the sniffles.

I’m numb because baseball is about to be back for a lightning round of games that promise to be exciting. Why am I not excited? I should be, with every game being three times as important and the potential of a repeat of that frantic 2011 finish of the regular season that gave every baseball fan a collective heart attack.

My heart rate is nowhere near skyrocketing, though. Some experts don’t even think the season will be able to finish.

I should be pumped to witness the start of the Tua era in Miami, but then I see that the Hall of Fame game between the Cowboys and the Steelers was cancelled and I’m bracing for what August and September might bring.

I’m even numb to the added crowd noise and the “virtual fans” we see at European soccer games. It’s background noise.

Maybe you read this and thought I spent 700 words being dramatic, and that’s ok. Maybe you will feel numb or jaded until 2021, and that’s ok too. Maybe this is just temporary, and everything feels a little alien after 100+ days of uncertainty and I will be all pumped up again in a couple of weeks when sports feel “real” again.

I will be waiting for that moment to come.

Da 5 Bloods Is The Right Film For Our Times

Dropped on Netflix this weekend while Black Lives Matter protests still rage throughout major American cities every day, Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods is the right movie for our times. If his previous flick, BlacKkKlansman, was a pin-prick commentary on how American politics has shaped systemic racism in this country, Da 5 Bloods is a sledgehammer to the face. It’s a movie that is all at once a heist film, a war film, a drama about unbreakable bonds, about friendships, about fathers, sons, and daughters, racial strife, a history lesson, and an action flick all rolled into one. It pulls you right into the issue at hand and viciously reminds its viewers that America has always held black lives cheaply.

What Was Good About It?

The good begins and ends with Delroy Lindo, one of American cinema’s most underrated actors of the last thirty years. Lindo, who plays Vietnam vet Paul, is a force of nature in Da 5 Bloods — all rage and melancholy and turmoil bubbling beneath the surface. In the hands of a lesser actor, Paul becomes a cliché lost in a sea of overacting, but Lindo nails the part with just the right touch of sardonic wit and undaunted fury. Paul is the most complex of the four surviving men — he’s a character torn from the pages of William Shakespear’s more abstruse tragedies. Here’s an African American war veteran who got back home from three tours of duty in Vietnam only to deal with the very Americans he fought and bled for spitting at him and calling him a baby killer (among other things). Here’s a warrior that gets so lost in his own unrewarded righteousness, he goes full MAGA in his old age. He hates immigrants and pines for Trump’s border wall, he admits to his shocked buddies that he voted for Trump, and he proudly dons a red Make America Great Again hat. He’s volatile and short-tempered, he struggles to be a good father, he admits to often seeing the ghost of their fallen Blood, Norman (played by Chadwick Boseman in a series of flashbacks). Lindo’s performance of a veteran dealing with the nightmare that is PTSD is the stuff of Academy Awards lore and if he doesn’t win the Oscar for Best Actor, then the Academy can get fucked. Seriously.

The film’s plot is complex, but it ultimately delivers. Four vets reunite in modern day Vietnam for two reasons: to bring back a case of gold bars they stumbled upon and then buried during the war, and to bring back the remains of their fallen brother — the charismatic leader of their outfit, “Stormin’” Norman. The story then breaks into a series of subplots with the two central characters, Paul (Lindo), and Otis (Clarke Peters). Both men have their own issues and crosses to bear, yet both deal with them in very different ways.

Da Brotherhood. Chemistry is not an issue with the four men. Right away you feel the love they have for each other, even after living lives apart. They bicker like siblings and hold each other up like brothers. It takes great acting to pull off chemistry like this.

Marvin Gaye. If you watch this movie for one reason, it’s to hear Marvin Gaye’s isolated vocals on What’s Going On that plays during the last act of the film.

Spike Lee’s joint. Lee’s fingerprints are all over Da 5 Bloods from the very beginning. His direction, as always, is a mixture of controlled chaos mixed with a great score, and a penchant for throwing in nuggets of the untold versions of white-washed black history. The film opens with footage of Muhammad Ali giving his reasons for why he was a conscientious objector and refused to go fight in Vietnam, making it clear that the Vietnamese people never called him the N-word, or treated him as he’s treated at home in America — and closes with footage of Martin Luther King Jr. giving a speech a year to the day he was assassinated.

The first two minutes of the film is a montage of moments throughout history that echo current events. Yet this film was finished way before the latest protests and unrest spilled into our streets. This isn’t so much Spike Lee being ahead of the times. This is Spike Lee being Spike Lee. Since he hit the scene in 1989, Spike Lee has been shouting through a proverbial bullhorn at moviegoers that black people have been systematically mistreated since the birth of this nation, and it seems that people might finally get it with Da 5 Bloods being released in the midst of ongoing nationwide protests.

The film is peppered with all of Spike Lee’s touches: the overwhelming symphonic soundtrack, the nods to movies that inspired him (in this case, there’s a lot of Apocalypse Now and a little bit of The Wild Bunch, among others), the exaggerated zoom in on faces, the dramatic soliloquies, the historical references, the off-kilter staging of scenes, the Spike Lee Segway (one of his weirdest signature moves, yet one of my favorites).

As it goes with Spike’s movies, Da 5 Bloods’ plot is riddled with questions of morality, mixed with outright criticism of American racism. Here is a group of African American war veterans who found and buried a cache of gold the American government had originally promised to the Vietnam people as payment for their suffering. Yet both African Americans soldiers and South Vietnamese were mistreated by white American soldiers during the war. As Paul reminds the men, they were called the N-word, while the South Vietnamese were called Yellow N-Words by American GIs. Both are in the same racist stew, both deserve reparations. What to do?

What Was Not So Good About It?

Da 5 Bloods is probably a good 45 minutes too long, and so the third act suffers from too much unravelling. While the first 90 minutes of the movie is filled with great set-up and drama, the final parts of it seem uneven and a tad all over the place. Paul’s story, in particular, is so riveting and painful, the way his character arc closes is a little frustrating.

CGI Blood. Da 5 Bloods is a war film with a lot of shooting and a lot of people getting shot. It’s a bloody mess, as a war film should be. But, the blood that spurts from every victim is clearly CGI’d, giving the battle scene a weird video game feel. It takes away from the otherwise authentic war scenes. It’s super distracting and unnecessary. Are blood packets and squibs really that expensive?

Non-CGI War scenes. While the blood spurts should have been more organic and less computerized, the flashback scenes with Da 5 in combat in the 60s could have benefitted from a little The Irishman-esque CGI on the older actors playing their younger selves. Instead, Spike chose to shoot these scenes with the older actors as they are today, rather than as young men fighting alongside a clearly much younger and spry Chadwick Boseman. At the very least, maybe they should have cast young actors to play those parts?

Not Enough Chadwick. Chadwick Boseman is such a dynamic actor and charismatic screen presence, that you’re left wanting when it comes to his character, Stormin’ Norman. Boseman was perfectly cast to play the part of a man who left such an impression in his brothers, they basically deify the man. Norman’s myth looms so large in the four men’s minds over the years, he dominates their lives and conversations. This is partly because Norman was a badass on the field of combat, and partly because he was a charismatic leader who taught them about the Imperialism of America. He’s a towering figure in every aspect of their lives even after so many years of having been killed in combat. The film needed more scenes of Norman showing why the men revered him so much.

Death Scenes. Without giving too much away, there are death scenes in this movie (it’s a war film), but some of the decisions felt, let’s say gratuitous.

All in all, Da 5 Bloods is an impactful and important film, filled with amazing performances, drama, and strange plot twists, all while delivering stark commentary on the plight of the American black man.

It’s the right movie for our times. And it’s time that Spike Lee gets fully recognized as the most brutally honest story-teller and filmmaker of our day.

Chris Joseph (@ByChrisJoseph) is a host of the Five Reasons comedy podcast, Ballscast. He’s written about sports and movies for Deadspin, Miami New Times, CBS Sports, and several other outlets.

Five Reasons

Dear Sports,

Dear Sports,

Let me start this off by saying that I never thought I’d be typing this. But here we are.

We miss you.

Life has took an unexpected turn, a turn that took you away from us. At this time, you had to take a back seat. You aren’t important right now. We are in a crisis with a virus. Stopping the spread of this thing is the most important thing for many us right now. 

But damn we miss you.

And we realized how deeply we under-appreciated you.

We are five days in from you being taken from us and it looks like we have a lot more to go.

We are now confused because when we needed you most, you were taken away. You are the one we usually ran to in times of crisis, when we needed to get our minds off the harsh realities of the world, you were there. You cheered us up. You occupied our minds just enough for the world to feel fine. You kept our sanity in check. 

When you got taken from us, It opened my eyes because I’ve never experienced something like this. The world has stopped, literally. We are trying to pickup the pieces and figure a way to get through it. People are confused.

You being gone made me realize a couple things.

It made me realize how unimportant you were in the grand scheme of things but at the same time, it made me realize you are one of the most important things there are.

I know that sounds confusing, so let me explain.

You are unimportant because you can be stopped when the world is going through a pandemic. Getting home to watch the game is the least of our priorities.

But you are so important because so many people relied on you to get through their days. A medicine to anxiety. Myself included. At this time, i need you more than ever. This thing has me and many other people nervous. I wish i could turn on the TV and watch the Miami Heat give us a heart attack, or make a joke about how the Panthers have games in hand. You kept us normal. You kept us sane. You kept us entertained.

Now the world isn’t normal and you’re gone, we don’t know when you’ll be back but when you are, I think we will appreciate you differently.

So let me end this by saying it again, we miss you.

Love, Sports fans around the world.

Legal analysis: Could Antonio Brown just sign a waiver?

On Monday, August 12, 2019,  a neutral, independent arbitrator held that Antonio Brown will be unable to use his Schutt AiR Advantage helmet. Brown – who has been donning the same type of helmet since he was in Pee Wee football – would be unable to play or receive a paycheck unless he wears an otherwise approved helmet. After Brown believed he found a suitable replacement, the NFL informed him that the helmet did not meet additional testing.

From a legal standpoint, the issue of whether Brown can sign an injury waiver to effectively circumvent the arbitrator’s ruling has come to the forefront. However, the validity of such waivers has historically been strictly scrutinized.

Former players have successfully settled cases against the NFL based on the theory that the league was negligent and breached its duty to take reasonable precautions for players’ safety. These claims are founded on the idea that the league either knew or should have known about these risks and should have done more to ensure players made an informed choice.

On the other hand, a waiver is an agreement altering the rights and responsibilities of the parties. While negligence is a legal cause of action, a waiver is a defense to negligence claims and is based on the plaintiff’s express assumption of risk. Waivers must meet two requirements to be enforceable: (1) the scope of the waiver must be clear; and, (2) the waiver must be consistent with public policy. Waivers are generally held to be against public policy if one party has unequal bargaining rights.

The bargaining power between the players and the NFL is beyond extreme. Most players don’t hold any leverage in contract negotiations with teams, and even less regarding league rules and conditions of play. Therefore, once a player signs a contract, the league is the party that sets and enforces rules.

In Antonio Brown’s case, there is no issue of unequal bargaining power or any concerns over public policy. The most likely reason the NFL has not entered into a waiver with Brown is because it simply doesn’t have to.  The league has been scarred by the recent concussion litigation and does not want to be left exposed to any potential liability in allowing Brown to use his Schutt AiR Advantage helmet.  In fact, ninety-nine percent of studied retired NFL players’ brains show signs of CTE.

Most importantly, the league does not owe Brown anything. While Brown may allege that his helmet preference is safety related, the league is in a better position to determine player safety and is the ultimate decision maker. The likeliest, fairest outcome is that the league gives Brown the same one-year grace period that was given last year to players like Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.