JOHN GRANATO

The ever changing world of sports

Odell Beckham Jr. is giving his team a headache. Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

The world is changing at a pace that even kids can’t keep up with. The phone you just bought last week is obsolete. A robot is two months away from taking your job. I just saw an ad for a flying car.

Sports may be one of the last frontiers that remains unchanged. If you hit a grounder to short with a man on first it’s probably a double play, a hundred yards rushing is still the standard for a good game and no one has ever come back from a 1-0 deficit in soccer.

But there are some alarming trends that are changing sports. Let’s start with fashion. The guys are dressing differently these days. Seen Russell Westbrook lately? How about Chandler Parsons? Cam Newton? James Harden had an interesting layout in GQ. You can see that here.

Very colorful. Not something I would try to pull off but no one wants to see me in yellow leather pants, myself included.

They’re certainly not hurting anyone with their style. That’s not the case though with today’s NFL wide receiver. For some reason that position has drawn sport’s biggest divas and nut jobs. From T.O. to Dez to Odell these guys are revolutionizing the game with their antics. If they aren’t catching enough passes somebody’s going to pay and it’s usually their quarterback, but not always.

Dez Bryant called Cowboys owner Jerry Jones clueless and LB Sean Lee a snake. He turned down nice money in Baltimore and wouldn’t sign with Cleveland but says he still wants to play. Oooookay.

Terrell Owens set the standard for not only burning bridges but blowing them to smithereens. In a 2004 article for Playboy Magazine T.O. was asked if his former 49er quarterback Jeff Garcia was gay. T.O. answered “Like my boy tells me: If it looks like a rat and smells like a rat, by golly, it’s a rat.”

On Donovan McNabb: “He’s a funny guy, not funny ‘ha ha.’ Me, personally, I don’t do well with two-faced people.”

At least with Dez and T.O. they went after their QB’s after they had left the team. Saying those things while in the locker room could create some serious problems. Case in point, Odell Beckham Jr.

Last month Odell made headlines with his interview on ESPN with Josina Anderson. When asked what was holding him back in the Giants offense he said “everything.” When asked if Eli Manning was the problem he said “I don’t know.” When asked if he was happy with the organization that just gave him a $95 million contract he said “It’s a tough question.”

This week Giants owner John Mara wished Beckham would get back to making headlines on the field instead of off it. “I think he needs to do a little more playing and a little less talking.”

No chance John. Odell is the same guy who lost a fight with the kicking net, got fined for peeing like a dog in his touchdown celebration and has conversations with sideline air conditioners.

The Giants are a complete mess (other than when they play the Texans) and the Raiders notwithstanding, the worst team in the league.

Maybe I’m old fashioned but you’d never hear a guy criticizing his coaches, quarterback and organization while he was still playing there but thanks to guaranteed money it might be something we’ll see plenty of in the future.

What can the Giants do? Fine him? They did. And? Anything more than a slap on the wrist would draw the ire of the players’ association. They can’t cut him. The salary cap wouldn’t allow it.

What can the Steelers do with Leveon Bell? His teammates broke the unwritten rules by calling him out for holding out. Is a man’s money no longer sacred? Apparently not.

James Harrison is telling him to fake a headache or hamstring all year and cash paychecks. Earl Thomas decided not to practice a few days then flipped off his sideline as he was being carted off the field. His own sideline? I don’t remember that ever being done before. What happened to the good old days when you flipped off the other team when you were hurt?

The line of what you do and don’t do has been moving for a while now. Authority had never been questioned before Latrell Sprewell choked his coach P.J. Carlisimo. We haven’t had that extreme in some time but it’s nothing now to criticize the coach if things are going badly.

In recent years we’ve seen high school football players taking out the referee with intentional hits and catchers ducking on a fastball that catches the ump in the chest. I wouldn’t mind if that happened to Joe West but it wasn’t him so I feel like you shouldn’t do that.

I’ve ceased to be amazed by anything that happens on or off the field anymore.

What’s next? A player retiring at halftime of a game? Wait...



 

This article originally appeared on CultureMap.


The headline induced heart palpations in drive-thru burger fans across Texas and neighboring states … "Texas-based Whataburger sells to new owner amid expansion plans." While that sounds unsettling, the real concern is:

What does this mean to Whataburger's everyday (sometimes twice-a-day) customer in Texas?

In the immediate future — like tomorrow, next week, next year — probably very little. But in the long run, all bets are off. Most likely, there will be significant changes at your local Whataburger over the next three to five years.

Whataburger is now owned by a private equity company (Chicago's BDT Capital Partners), which may not know a Chop House Cheddar Burger from a Whatacatch Sandwich — and doesn't understand that when you're stuck in morning traffic on I-45, nothing beats a Honey Butter Chicken Biscuit.

That investment company bought Whataburger for only one reason: to make money. Shocking, that's what investment companies do. They are not fast food philanthropists. They're financial killers who want to see a return on their investment.

What's next?

So don't be surprised if they take Whataburger national. That's my big takeaway. It may mean Whataburger may have less Texas on its menu in the future.

The new owners are buying a very successful or stagnant company, depending on how you crunch the numbers. According to QSR Magazine, the bible of the fast food industry, Whataburger is only the No. 22 fast food chain in the U.S. — with total sales of $2.2 billion for its 821 restaurants across 10 states.

But, more important, Whataburger has the second highest sales per store, $2.7 million. That beats the average McDonald's, Taco Bell, Burger King, Wendy's, etc. — the whole bunch of national biggies. Only Chick-fil-A has higher sales per store, a printing press $4 million.

What a deal?

If Whataburger is so successful on a per-store basis, why did the owners sell? Two factors, one probably, one definitely. In Godfather terms, the investment company probably made them an offer they couldn't refuse. While Whataburger has phenomenal sales per unit, it was growing at a very slow rate — only 15 new restaurants in 2017. That same year, Chick-fil-A opened 140 new restaurants. Taco Bell opened 168 new units. Domino's expanded by 216 locations. Popeyes popped the lid on 147 places.

Continue reading on CultureMap to learn about how the rising price of beef could impact burger chains.

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