Jim Vallet and Robert Perea, The Fernley Reporter
Forgetting pieces of athletic equipment is (next to parents) the bane of every youth sports coach’s life. Even though I, as a coach, was very hard on players that forgot mitts, skates, spikes, or helmets, when I was a player I forgot equipment many times. I forgot my hockey pants during a national hockey tournament, and my brother, 14 at the time and without a driver’s license, drove back to my house to get them. I have forgotten mitts, helmets, hockey sticks, mouthguards, spikes and socks. But never, ever, did I forget my protective cup for a hockey or football game.
Back in the days when everything was in black and white, you could carry all the gas money you would ever need for a tankful in your pocket at one time, and Donald Trump was avoiding becoming a “…loser and sucker…” by claiming flat feet, we used to have a very uncomfortable procedure called a “cup check”. For those who don’t know, a cup check is where a coach or his representative would check that all the players on his team were wearing a protective cup. How this was done depended on the coach, and I saw cup checks carried out by many different methods, ranging from asking the players (and I can’t make this up) to checking with a baseball bat (I pitied those who failed).
Except for the days when I forgot a piece of my equipment, a cup check was never necessary for me. My protective cup protected a part of my body I valued a great deal, and I could not imagine risking it for the mild inconvenience of wearing a cup.
I have a few cup stories. The first involved me, and luckily, I was wearing a cup. We were playing in the National Midget Hockey Tournament, and I was drilled by a puck right where my cup, happily, was. It still hurt a great deal, so I leaned forward in the agony that every male knows and continued to glide towards the other team’s goal. After the puck hit me, it bounced around for a second until it somehow bounced right to our best player. He had a breakaway, but sadly his linemate (me) had drifted ahead of him, and, still in agony, was offside. He still reminds me of this.
The second involved my son. I was the coach of my son’s varsity baseball team. By then, cup checks were done by the umpires asking the coach to verify all players were properly equipped. Because I could not bring myself to use the baseball bat method and did not want to use any sort of tactile method, I relied on asking my players about equipment I could not see in the pregame group meeting. On that day, all my players alleged they were properly attired.
But they weren’t. My son attempted to be the catcher without a protective cup. After about 7 or 8 passed balls that my son would have normally blocked, I went out and asked him what was wrong. He told me and since he would not borrow one, I immediately removed him from the game. We laugh about that one now. He claims that he was afraid of my reaction and embarrassed as reasons for not telling me before the game.
The point of all this is that, back in the day, not wearing a protective cup was not something that any player voluntarily did. Those who risked it were not happy about it.
Apparently, this is not the case any more, and like Congress, I have launched a personal investigation into this weighty matter.
It all started for me when Mike Garafolo, on the NFL Network’s show “The Insiders” claimed that 77% of NFL players do not wear protective cups. Garafolo said that players have told him that they believe cups slow them down.
What??!! I never thought a cup slowed me down, not that there was that much slowing to do. And to me, the risks FAR exceeded whatever gains there might have been. Garafolo made his claim with a smirk, so I knew I had to investigate further to minimize the possibility of becoming a victim of gaslighting.
So, acting against everything I have ever done by first looking and second by admitting it, I did my best to do tv visual cup checks during last weekend’s games. I admit, I kept looking over my shoulder to see if anyone was watching what I was doing, because what I was doing would disqualify me for any job except politics.
And you know what? Either cups are not the same shape as when I last wore one or at least some of the players definitely were not wearing a protective cup. I could tell some players were wearing cups, and others were not, and some were either wearing cups or very, shall I say, unfortunate. I could not make myself, much as I love data, to keep totals or ID players who either were, were not, or unfortunate. I will just say that I accept Garafolo’s numbers, however he got them. I will not follow up.
So, let’s hope there are no NFL coaches who use the baseball bat method of doing cup checks.
One more thing. When I Googled “cup checks” I got a status report on Cooper Kupp. I promise I will not do a Cooper Kupp cup check.
Another bad week, last week. I have no excuses except that I was distracted by the Ryder Cup (cup?) the upcoming NHL season and the last week of the regular baseball season. Also my allergies bugged me, my daughter says she’s moving to North Carolina along with two of my grandchildren, and my wife says she is only cooking vegetarian from now on. On top of that, the bar on the corner closed.
Here are this week’s picks against the point spread. Lines are from sportsline.com on Tuesday, Oct. 3.
Baltimore Ravens (-3 ½) at Pittsburgh Steelers: The Steelers can’t run and they can’t pass. They play good defense, which is good for them because they’re going to have to play a lot of it.
Miami Dolphins (-11) vs NY Giants: I see no hope for the Giants and the Dolphins are coming off a loss.
Kansas City Chiefs (-5) at Minnesota Vikings: The Vikings struggle on defense, and the cure is not Patrick Mahomes.
NY Jets (-2) at Denver Broncos: The Broncos will struggle to score, and the Jets will not be in a mood to help. Which Zach Wilson will show up this week? I don’t think it will matter, because a 3-0 Jets’ win is a win and a cover.
SF 49ers (-3 ½) vs Dallas Cowboys: The 49ers are for real. The Cowboys either beat the other team up, or lose. There is no way they’ll beat the 49ers up.
Green Bay Packers (-2) at LV Raiders: The Packers will run the ball. The Raiders are not very good on defense. If Jimmy Garoppolo plays the Raiders normally would have a better chance, but QBs coming back from concussions frequently struggle.
Last week: 1-4-1
Navy (-6 ½) over North Texas: I missed the early week number of -5, which is a nuisance, but not a nullifier. I’d be willing to lay up to 7 here, against the worst defense in the country, with a relentless offense that won’t give the Mean Green a chance to catch their breath. The military academies also tend to play well in Texas, because all three academies get a lot of cadets from Texas, and those guys like to show up for the home folks.
Purdue (+2 ½) at Iowa: Sad To see Damonte Ranch’s Cade McNamara suffer a season-ending leg injury last week, but he’d been playing with a lingering injury all season in large part because the Hawkeye backups are pretty undistinguished. Purdue has been getting good work from Texas transfer QB Hudson Card and even though Iowa is better defensively, Purdue is improving on that side of the ball and the Iowa offense is containable even by terrible defenses.
Colorado St. (-3) at Utah St.: Since switching quarterbacks, the Rams did everything but beat Colorado, then won two in a row after that. Now they open league play with a realistic chance to make a bowl, and since nobody in the Mountain West except maybe Fresno St. has distinguished itself, the Rams are actually an attractive longshot to become the latest unsung team to make a run to the conference title game.
Alabama (-2) at Texas A&M: The whole college football world is down on Alabama, but the rest of the SEC is full of teams, aside from Georgia and LSU, that hope they can beat Alabama. The Aggies lost quarterback Connor Weigman a couple weeks ago, and while Max Johnson is a capable backup who’s had productive games in the past, there’s a reason Weigman was the starter. I’ll buy low on the Tide.
Colorado and Arizona St. over 59: I’m convinced Colorado can score on anyone. I’m also convinced they can’t stop anyone.
Falcons (-1 ½) over Texans: Maybe I’m dead wrong and the Texans are actually good, but after romping past the Jaguars and Steelers the past two weeks, they run into a Falcons team that is looking to get back to living up to its own identity after laying an egg in London last week. This is not a good scheduling spot for the Texans.
Jets (+3) at Broncos: I didn’t get the column written in time for Thursday’s game, but my two best bets this week were the Bears Thursday and the Jets here. That immediately caused me to wonder what did I do wrong in my research. But I expect the Jets defense to win this game as long as Zach Wilson doesn’t lose it all by himself.
Cardinals (+3) over Bengals: The Bengals aren’t going to get right until Joe Burrow is healthy, but if they keep running him out there every week, that isn’t going to happen this season.