Why We Love Football: BY @ProfessorCorria

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Ah yes, it’s that time of year again where we separate the men from the mice and the Pit’s from the poodles. Yes ladies and gentleman, football season is upon us after what seems like such an agonizing, prolonged wait. The NFL is back, and with it comes our favorite pastime as we gather every Sunday and Monday night with family, friends or sometimes complete strangers to watch our favorite gladiators go to war over a finite amount of space to truly find out who is the better man. Yes, football is the modern day gladiator sport, as we stream into to modern day coliseums to watch the controlled carnage. The finest athletic specimens of our time hurdling toward each other at the speed of light, trying to take each other’s heads off. The NFL and college football, to some extent, have become “quarterback driven”, but the essence of football is can a grown man move another grown man a few feet in order to open up holes and create time for their quarterback. The NFL likes to market the royal elegance of the regal Tom Brady, the machine like precision of Peyton Manning, and the athletic grace of Calvin Johnson or Adrian Peterson, but if you take in an episode of “Hard Knocks” you can still see that the game is won and lost in the trenches. Football is a man’s game, its physical, it’s nasty, it’s carnal, and most players have to go to a deep dark place in order to summon up the necessary rage in order to compete against some of the world’s best athletes in such a physically demanding arena.

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Football on Sunday is just as American as apple pie and has become engrained as part of our culture, with regular season game posting higher television ratings than a World Series game and NBA Finals game combined. Why has this sea change occurred? It seems like football has become an event every weekend and the Super Bowl has become almost a national holiday. Is it the carnage taking place on the field? Is it the gambling and fantasy football, which has become a cottage industry? Is it the fact that the sport is mostly played on one day, save for Monday night football and the occasional Thursday telecast? Maybe it’s a confluence of all those things, but whatever the reason, it seems as though we cannot get enough football, nothing seems to be able to placate our appetite for the sport. Football is the “Soap Opera” for the male species, we want every single snap is dissected, coaches decisions are constantly being second and triple guessed, and we tune in to sports talk radio, NFL Network and the seemingly endless amount of NFL shows on ESPN. We are all under the NFL’s spell like swooning teenagers ogling the pretty girl in our chemistry class. Our love affair with the NFL has even made college football the number 2 watched sport in America, as we watch pseudo professional kids compete every Thursday and Saturday.

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The pads clashing, the smell of freshly manicured grass, the fans tailgating in the parking lot, prognosticators prognosticating, millions of fans in front of their flat screens with a beer in their hand and their mobile device in their other hand checking their fantasy stats. Ah yes, football is here, God is so good. Hope springs eternal in 32 different cities for 32 different fan bases as they dream of their team making it to the Super Bowl, this is what dreams are made of. There are too many storylines to even delve into, but even with the NFL and former players battling it out in court and the court of public opinion over head injuries, we the public still can’t get enough of this vicious blood sport. We thirst for football, we hunger for it, we wish the season would last 12 months instead of 5, we even watch that God awful shit show the NFL calls the Pro Bowl. I can’t wait for the bone rattling hits, the spectacular plays, and yes even the soap opera’ish daily coverage on several sports networks. Everyone fighting, from players on the field, coaches on the sideline, to fans in the stands. I’m ready for some football, are you?

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The Business, Man.

Shawn Carter is not only the greatest rapper alive (not debatable) but in recent years, the Brooklyn born rapper has immensely raised the bar for musicians and artists who look to venture outside of music in order to gain recognition and ultimately, increase the cash flow. We’ve seen The Jigga Man, make numerous power moves within the rap game, CEO of Def Jam Recordings, co founder of Roc-A-Fella Records, founder of Roc Nation, and so on. He’s ventured outside of music and struck gold with his Rocawear clothing line (that sold for $204 million dollars, in 2007), he’s opened multiple 40/40 Club’s, his lavish chain of sports bar’s, and he was also a pivotal part of the Nets move to Brooklyn this past season, as a minority owner.

“Would’ve brought the Nets to Brooklyn for free, except I made millions off of you fucking dweebs. I still own the building, I’m still keeping my seats…” This line appeared in a recent track released by Jay entitled, “Open Letter” and stirred up some discussion amongst rap fans, and basketball fans alike. Had Jay sold his shares of the Nets? The organization he almost single-handedly re-branded, and brought to his hometown of Brooklyn. If so, why would he do such a thing? The Nets seemed to be his first born (sorry Blue Ivy). Days later it would go public that Jay-Z had indeed sold his 1/15 of a single percent share of the Nets, for $350,000 and shifted his focus to another aspect of sports, representation.

On April 2, Jay-z launched Roc Nation Sports, and in true Hov fashion, he has teamed with Creative Artists Agency (CAA), one of the industries most prominent sports and entertainment agencies. His first client? None other than Major League Baseball’s best second baseman, and New York Yankees slugger, Robinson Cano. Cano, not only signed with the agency headed by a rapper, but also left the top agent in the game of baseball, Scott Boras. Since the launch, Roc Nation Sports has also signed the WNBA’s 2013 #1 pick, and new face (a beautiful one) of the league Skylar Diggins, and according to multiple media outlets he has also signed NY Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz, although the official Roc Nation site does not confirm a Cruz signing, as it does Cano and Diggins, (CAA does claim Cruz, and credits Jay-Z for bringing him aboard). This is a testament to the legend Jay-Z has created, not only in the music industry but far beyond that. It has been said, many, many times that sports and music are synonymous. Athletes often get hype for games listening to music. Music, that often features lyrics driven by comparisons or homages to those same athletes. This move though, this  is on a whole different level.

The launch of this agency was greeted and digested by many as another business move in which Jay-Z would use his fame and wide reach to line his pockets and the pockets of his associates. Many felt Jay-Z would simply be the face of Roc Nation Sports and use his friendship with numerous superstars to convince them to sign with Roc Nation. An easy conclusion to come too, and one that seemed likely. That is until the NFL and MLB stepped in, and promptly put an end to that notion. As I stated above, Jay-Z has already signed Cano, and has also seemingly signed Cruz, much to the chagrin of their respective leagues. Both of whom suspected tampering on Mr Carter’s behalf while he was courting these two stars. There is no issue with the friendship between these men, but when that friendship is deemed responsible for the defection of an athlete from one agency to another, that’s when the lawyers get involved.

Rivals agencies and league officials alike raised concerns with Jay-Z’s new role in sports management, and they were not going to take this lying down. CAA was somewhat able to come to the rescue of their new partner, and tie up any loose ends regarding their clients, but Jay-Z wasn’t in the clear. He would be able to represent MLB and NFL athletes, but if he wanted to handle NBA stars he needed to relinquish his shares of the Brooklyn Nets. Being that basketball is his first love, and he’s often seen court side in numerous NBA arenas, the ability to handle NBA athletes must’ve been a priority when starting his agency. Almost immediately, Hov began selling of his shares of the Nets, proceeded to complete, and then filed the necessary paperwork to become a certified sports agent. Jay-Z or rather, Shawn Carter’s applications with the MLB and NFL have already been approved, and he is expected to be approved by the NBA just in time for June’s NBA Draft. Making him the most recognizable, and influential sports agent across the countries three most predominant sports.

So what, or rather who is next for Hov and CAA? The rumors has already started with Kentucky freshman PF and projected #1 overall pick Nerlens Noel. As we all know, Jay-Z has a solid relationship with Kentucky and Coach Cal, not to mention his relationship with high school and college “handler” World Wide Wes. I expect Jay to make a run at a few more MLB stars, predominantly African Americans. There has been an infusion of young, talented African Americans in the big leagues recently, and I would expect Jay-Z to capitalize on that. Roc Nation Sports will surely venture more into the NFL, and I am certain that Cruz will not be their only client come opening day in September. Jay-Z seems extremely serious about this venture, and in due time I wouldn’t be surprised to see him become a certified agent in other, more worldly sports, helping to grow his brand on a global scale.

Could the NBA’s best player team up with his good friend, who doubles as one of his biggest fans? Lebron James and Jay can often be seen together, whether it’s courtside after a game, or out on the town, because of this and CAA’s reputation as one of the best agencies in the game. A jump to Roc Nation Sports wouldn’t surprise me in the least. Shoot, maybe Jigga will even sign former KC Chief running back Larry Johnson. I know you all remember him being down with the ROC during his playing days. Ok, so maybe he won’t, but whether or not you like Jay-Z the rapper, you have to respect Mr. Carter the mogul, as he hasn’t taken many losses in the board room. This agency is a big time power move for Jay and his brand, and only solidifies that fact that he is indeed not a businessman, but rather a business…man.