Wiesenthal Center urges Germany to stop funding Palestinian sports

The Simon Wiesenthal Center anti-Semitism watchdog called on the German government to end its funding of Palestinian sports agencies over their practice of naming teams and tournaments after Palestinian terrorists, saying that Germany should not support the “blatant sanctification of Jew-killers.”

A statement Tuesday from the organization’s director for international relations Shimon Samuels came in response to an agreement signed last week between the head of Germany’s representative office in Ramallah, Peter Beerwerth, and Palestinian Football Association chief Jibril Rajoub. Under the agreement, Germany agreed to pay “all expenses and fees” for a German soccer expert to help the association improve the quality of Palestinian soccer, according to the Palestinian Media Watch monitoring group.

Rajoub has previously said that he “won’t allow and won’t agree to any joint game between Arabs and Israel,” and has called on soccer’s main governing body, FIFA, to suspend Israel’s membership.

In its statement, the Simon Wiesenthal Center provided a list of teams and tournaments sponsored by the Palestinian Football Association named after Palestinians who killed Jews and Israelis, such as a team named after Salah Khalaf, who helped plan the massacre at the 1972 Munich Olympics in which 11 Israeli athletes were taken hostage and murdered by the Palestinian terrorist organization Black September.

Samuels said that by funding an organization that glorifies terrorists such as Khalaf, Germany was associating itself “with the blatant sanctification of Jew-killers” and “thereby evoking the shadows of the 1936 Nazi Olympics and the 1972 Munich Olympics atrocity.”

Palestinian Football Association (PFA) head Jibril Rajoub holds a press conference on October 12, 2016 in the West Bank city of Ramallah. (Abbas Momani/AFP)

Palestinian Football Association (PFA) head Jibril Rajoub holds a press conference on October 12, 2016 in the West Bank city of Ramallah. (Abbas Momani/AFP)

Samuels called on German Chancellor Angela Merkel “to suspend this unthinkable agreement until the Palestinian Authority removes all names of terrorists from all sectors of Palestinian sport and their acts of terror be publicly condemned by Ramallah.”

He added that “if Berlin wishes to reignite the spirit of peace, it should perhaps invite Israeli and Palestinian football teams for a ‘friendly’ match, despite Sports Minister Rajoub’s definition of sports encounters of young Palestinians with their Israeli peers as a ‘crime against humanity.’”

Other examples of Palestinian sports teams and tournaments named after terrorists, according to PMW, include a soccer tournament named after Khalid al-Wazir, also known as Abu Jihad, who masterminded a number of Palestinian terrorist attacks against Israelis for the Palestinian Liberation Organization prior to being killed in Tunisia 1988 by Israeli commandos; and a soccer team named after “the engineer” Yahya Ayyash, who was Hamas’s chief bomb-maker and was responsible for the deaths of dozens of Israelis before Israel assassinated him in 1996 with an explosives-rigged phone.

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Baylor strength coach arrested in prostitution sting

A member of the Baylor University coaching staff was arrested Saturday morning as part of a prostitution sting, according to a report from The Waco Tribune.

Brandon Washington, an assistant with the football program, was arrested at a local hotel on a solicitation of prostitution charge, McLennan County Sheriff Parnell McNamara told the Tribune.

Authorities identified Washington as strength coach at Baylor. The school later confirmed that Washington was part of the football program when the incident occurred, but was immediately terminated when the school learned of the arrest.

https://art19.com/shows/the-audible/episodes/ccf13cd8-34c4-45d0-bc82-f811223ca900/embed?theme=dark-blue

Washington came to Baylor shortly after new head coach Matt Rhule was hired. In 2016, Washington worked on the strength training staff at Temple University, where Rhule was head coach until he was hired away by Baylor in December.

“When we arrived at Baylor we made a commitment to character and integrity in our program,” Rhule said in a statement. “Brandon’s actions are completely unacceptable. We will not tolerate conduct that is contradictory to these values.”

The news is the latest stain on a Baylor program that has been trying to restore its image since the revelations of multiple sexual assault allegations during former head coach Art Briles’ tenure. Just three days ago, documents were released showing text messages purportedly sent by Briles that seemed to encourage assistants to keep some of those matters quiet.

Baylor coach Matt Rhule lands nearly 30 recruits amid scandal-scarred times

Report: Emails Show Atlanta Falcons Were Giving Players Incredible Amounts Of Painkillers

Emails first published by the Associated Press show that members of the Atlanta Falcons’ front office were worried about the team’s excessive use of painkillers when treating injured players.

The emails were sent in 2010, and the discussion was started by Marty Lauzon, who was the team’s head athletic trainer at the time and is currently the organization’s director of sports medicine.

In May of 2010, shortly after he was hired, Lauzon sent an email to GM Tom Dimitroff and strength coach Jeff Fish in which he detailed the findings of a review conducted by a firm called SportPharm, which the NFL contracted to examine how teams were purchasing, dispensing, and tracking medications. Lauzon’s email read:

Within the first two days on the job, I was informed that we barely missed a DEA investigation because of improper billing issues.

SportPharm informed us after their visit, of their major concerns with the Falcons in-house pharmacy:

1. High inventory of medication on-site which can lead to high return of unused medication, poor control, excessive dispensation, unnecessary increase in budget.

2. High dispensation of narcotics and regular medication compared to other clubs; this creates culture of dependency and goes against healthy lifestyles and care, even for an NFL player. My concern is also with these players at the end of their careers going through medical issues, and also with the ease of access to media outlets that can provide them the opportunity to say they abused or are now addicted to a number of medications.

3. After Mary Anne Fleming [Director of Player Benefits at League Office] reviewed our issues with SportPharm, her recommendations were to start clean on all levels including new team physician, new head trainer, and new pharmacy account number.

4. Overspending in regards to medication. We were informed on average an NFL team spends about 30k per year on player prescriptions. We spent 81k in 2009 between two pharmacies. In comparing our new medication process to 2009, we spent $700 on players prescriptions in April in 2010, compared to $8,700 in 2009 while improving our quality of care for the players.

Please review, as with all of our meetings so far, another productive one. Our goal is to strive to provide the highest standard of care to our players. Please let me know if you need further information.

After receiving Lauzon’s email, Dimitroff forwarded it to team owner Arthur Blank. “I thought it important for you to be aware of a rather sensitive subject and one we need to discuss before include others on this topic matter,” he wrote. “In my mind and I’m sure yours, this is very important and needs to be handled in a correct and expeditious manner.”

Blank responded, and suggested that team president Rich McKay be looped in on the discussion. After being looped in on the email thread, McKay reached out to notorious league concussion quack Elliot Pellman and expressed concern over Fleming’s recommendation that the Falcons replace their team doctors. McKay’s email read:

Here is an exchange that I am not happy about—this is Jeff Fish trying to get after Scott G. My question is Mary Anne Fleming recommending the replacement of our Drs. I need to know—is this really true and does she realize the on-site trainer is really in control??? I need to keep this confidential…

Pellman replied to the email by offering to call McKay on the phone.

These emails were entered into court record last week as part of a proposed class-action lawsuit brought by 1,800 former NFL players who claim they were encouraged to abuse painkillers by team doctors. A similar suit was filed by eight former NFL players in 2014, but that case was dismissed by a federal judge who ruled that the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement offered better avenues for settling their grievances. That ruling is currently being appealed, and this new suit attempts to skirt it by suing individual NFL teams rather than the league as a whole.

According to the Associated Press, the emails sent by Lauzon and Dimitroff are just a small sample of the thousands of pages of evidence that the players’ attorneys have gathered in discovery.

You can read the full emails here.

Dutch public broadcaster apologizes for poor coverage of soccer anti-Semitism

AMSTERDAM (JTA) — The Dutch main public broadcaster apologized to supporters of a local soccer team for omitting context from reports on the singing of anti-Semitic chants by some fans of the team.

The unusual apology earlier this month by NOS was over its coverage of the Jan. 14 match game in Utrecht between the FC Utrecht team and the Ajax club from Amsterdam that included chants of “The Jews are going to the slaughter” and “whoever doesn’t jump is a Jew.”

In reporting about the chants by Utrecht fans, the broadcasters failed to mention that fans from other teams often chant similarly – some claim the chants are not anti-Semitic, NOS spokeswoman Anja van Ginhoven told the Algemeen Dagblad daily following complaints.

“It was selective outrage on our part, a blunder,” she said.

Anti-Jewish chants are common in the Netherlands in matches involving Ajax, which is associated with Jews because of the Dutch capital’s rich Jewish heritage. Some Ajax fans self-identify as Jews and wave Israeli flags, though the team’s bosses discourage such behavior. Fans of rival teams, in turn, adopt anti-Jewish slogans and chants – including about gas chambers and SS murdering Jews – to taunt them.

“We didn’t handle it well,” van Ginhoven said about the NOS coverage of the Jan. 14 match. “We exaggerated and we failed to set it in context. We should not have cut that text and presented it verbatim. If you cover this topic, you have to say that Utrecht supporters used the same chants that Ajax fans proudly use.”

Ajax fans, including ones who self-identify as “Jews,” do not chant about killing Jews.

Other European teams associated with Jews include London’s Tottenham Hotspur. Last week, a video of Manchester City fans headed to their team’s match with Tottenham showed them singing anti-Semitic chants – including “you’re getting gassed in the morning” – on a stadium-bound tram.

The apology by NOS, which pro-Israel activists often accuse of anti-Israel bias and journalistic omissions of context in reporting about the Jewish state, is unusual.

In 2015, NOS defended its editing of a 52-second video depicting an Arab woman being shot by Israeli troops after brandishing a knife at a soldier. NOS trimmed the video to 13 seconds, dispensing with footage that showed the knife. The full video also showed the woman alive despite being shot, whereas the NOS clip ended beforehand. NOS did not indicate its clip was edited.

Amid complaints, Marcel Gelauff, the chief editor at NOS News, defended his network’s coverage of the incident, telling JTA that it was not aiming to provide “a clear and detailed picture” of what transpired, but rather “an impression of a few events.”

On Jan. 20, Christians for Israel, a Zionist international group based in the Netherlands, wrote an open letter to the management of Utrecht FC urging “greater sensitivity” in light of “the bloody history” of Jews in the Netherlands.

“You needn’t explain these chants are not intended as personal insults. We get it,” wrote the organization’s director, Roger van Oordt, and its chairman, Dick Schutte.

The Brock Osweiler Signing was a Complete Failure

Are we facing another season of questions about Brock Osweiler?

Are we facing another season of questions about Brock Osweiler?
Eric Sauseda

Between post-practice, post-game and the day after games, NFL head coaches conduct a couple of hundred press sessions each year. That frequency of contact breeds a familiarity in which media members become poker players who are able to deftly sniff out all of a head coach’s “tells” when he’s being coy or evasive.

When Texans head coach Bill O’Brien really likes something or someone, he tells you, clearly and directly. For example, the Monday after the Texans’ season-ending loss to the New England Patriots, O’Brien was asked about bringing back defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel, the architect of the league’s top-rated defense (even — gasp! — without J.J. Watt), whose contract expired this week.

“Romeo has done a great job. I know that we would love to have him back. I know that,” O’Brien gushed. “But I haven’t even sat down with any of the coaches yet or anything like that. But I can tell you Romeo is a great football coach and just means a lot to me personally. We would love to have Romeo back here.”

So Bill O’Brien really likes, borderline loves, Romeo Crennel, and is a huge fan of his work. That’s obvious.

On the other hand, when O’Brien is asked about someone with whom he’s disenchanted or ready to move on from, his answers are indirect, overly general and not really at all about that person. For example, just moments after endorsing Crennel, O’Brien was asked about the job security of offensive coordinator George Godsey, the co-architect (along with O’Brien himself) of an offense that has run like a ’78 Chevy with a banana in the tailpipe the past three seasons.

“We’re looking at everything,” O’Brien deferred. “Look, George does a lot of good stuff for me — every coach does. I haven’t even met with Bob (McNair) yet. I haven’t met with Rick (Smith) yet. We look at everything. Every coach is evaluated. I’m evaluated. I haven’t even heard about my evaluation from the owner. Look, I expect to be here next year, but we will begin the evaluation process here in a minute.”

Somehow, a question about Godsey elicited a bowl of word soup that awkwardly meandered around to O’Brien saying he himself would be back next season. That’s a tell that O’Brien was hiding something. That something would be revealed just three hours later when O’Brien and Godsey agreed to “part ways” (a gentle way of saying Godsey was fired). Apparently, Godsey didn’t do enough “good stuff” for O’Brien.

Truth be told, Godsey was more a sacrificial lamb than a core issue in the 2016 Texans’ offensive ineptitude, just one of numerous victims plundered by the undertow of Brock Osweiler’s complete and utter failure as the team’s franchise quarterback. When Osweiler decided in March to sign a four-year, $72 million ($37 million guaranteed) contract with the Texans, his arrival was supposed to signal the end of the team’s revolving door at quarterback, a depressing parade of six different starters under center in 2014 and 2015.

Osweiler’s 5-2 record as a starter for the 2015 Denver Broncos, and presumably the film that came along with it, gave O’Brien and general manager Rick Smith the confidence to hand the keys to the fifth-year signal caller, hoping he would be the missing link between the two 9-7 records of O’Brien’s first two Houston seasons and a Super Bowl in 2016 or beyond.

Instead, Osweiler’s grasp of O’Brien’s playbook never progressed past the first few pages, and the look on the quarterback’s face after about half of his throws suggested a disturbing combination of frustration and confusion. With all of its checks, audibles and excruciating detail, O’Brien’s offense essentially turned Osweiler’s pocket into the perplexing equivalent of the cockpit of a 747, a problem for a quarterback who compiled that 5-2 record in Denver operating a simple tandem bike with Gary Kubiak.

As the season unfolded, the gravitational pull of Osweiler’s incompetence did not discriminate; practically everyone was sucked into its vortex. It dragged down DeAndre Hopkins, who went from more than 1,500 yards receiving in 2015 with four different quarterbacks to less than 1,000 yards with Osweiler. It dragged down the entire offense’s ability in the red zone, as the Texans scored the fewest touchdowns (25) for a playoff team in the modern era. It dragged down O’Brien and Smith, whose relationship reportedly became strained during the season and whose collective evaluation skills were completely undermined by the Osweiler debacle. O’Brien, for his part, even after wins, looked as if he were functioning on no sleep and no patience, because generally the wins came in spite of the team’s abysmal quarterback play.

The only consistency born of the Osweiler experience was another 9-7 record and, for the third straight year, a fan base in lockstep that the starting quarterback could not be brought back. Too many turnovers, too many poor throws, not enough wins. Yes, Brock Osweiler, the $72 million man, is basically a taller, richer, dopier version of 2015 Brian Hoyer.

Unlike Hoyer, though, Osweiler comes with the albatross of a monster salary cap hit. The $37 million in guaranteed money still has more than half of its shelf life sitting there in future years. Indeed, this season’s trip around the Monopoly board of horrible Texans quarterbacking does end in jail — do not pass GO, please pay out another $16 million. So conventional wisdom says that, even if you don’t want Osweiler to start, the team should keep him around as a backup because, well, because they have to pay him, and if they’re paying him, he may as well stick around and do something, right?

Wrong.

The Texans shouldn’t just move Osweiler down the depth chart; they need to move him off the roster and out of Houston altogether. Designating him a June 1 cut would allow the team to spread his remaining $25 million cap hit ($16 million in 2017 salary, $9 million in dead cap money) over 2017 and 2018, basically the same math as if they kept him one more season and cut him after 2017. But salary cap or no salary cap, Osweiler needs to be gone, largely because there is no chance of fixing him. He throws inaccurately with poor mechanics, and attempting to repair him is a waste of everybody’s time. In the NFL, windows close quickly, time is a precious commodity and inaccuracy is unfixable.

The Texans for once need to treat the quarterback position the way nearly every other NFL franchise does, and draft a young quarterback — DeShone Kizer of Notre Dame and Pat Mahomes of Texas Tech are my personal favorites — in the late first or second round this coming April. A Texans QB depth chart of a drafted rookie to go with Tom Savage and Brandon Weeden is a much better swing at generating hope than any depth chart that contains the name “Osweiler.”

An Osweiler return brings with it not only the practical waste of his usurping practice reps from a better quarterback, but also the daily reminder of this franchise’s worst personnel move in team history. The depressing thought of O’Brien’s answering another season’s worth of questions about Osweiler is superseded only by the equally depressing thought of listening to Osweiler’s inane press conference answers in which he explains football as if he is speaking to an auditorium of third graders.

If you’re searching for clues, maybe O’Brien gave us another “tell” at that Monday press conference. Just minutes after his evasive non-answer about Godsey, O’Brien was equally cryptic in addressing whether Brock Osweiler would be his starting quarterback next season.

“Again, like I was saying, I know you guys are doing your job and I respect that, but before I talk about those types of things, I have to evaluate it myself,” O’Brien rambled. “I have to talk to our coaching staff and get their input. Our personnel people and get their input. I wouldn’t be a good head coach if I stood up here and told you, ‘Hey, this is what we are planning to do.’ The game was less than 48 hours ago. We are going to evaluate everything. We are going to do the best we can to field a good, competitive team, a better team, a more consistent team than we did this year.”

Indeed, Osweiler’s name isn’t even mentioned anywhere in that answer, a response to a direct question about him. One hopes it doesn’t need to be. Nobody wanted it to come to this, but reality is hard sometimes. The Brock Osweiler signing was a complete failure.

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 to 6 p.m. weekdays. Also follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/SeanCablinasian or email him at sean.pendergast@cbsradio.com.

Super Bowl to feature two teams with Jewish owners for first time in 5 years

(JTA) — Both Super Bowl teams have Jewish owners, as they last did in 2012.

Robert Kraft will see his New England Patriots, the American Football Conference champions, in the big game for the seventh time since 2000. He bought the club, which will be making its record ninth Super Bowl appearance, in 1994.

Arthur Blank will watch his National Football Conference-winning Atlanta Falcons playing in their second Super Bowl — but the first since the Home Depot founder bought the team 15 years ago.

In the most recent faceoff between Jewish owners, in 2012, the unbeaten Patriots were upset by the New York Giants, who are co-owned by the Tisch family.

The Patriots and Falcons advanced to the 51st Super Bowl, which will be played Feb. 6 at NRG Stadium in Houston, with routs in the conference championship games Sunday.

Blank, 74, the chairman of the Arthur Blank Family Foundation, has pledged to take all of the Falcons employees, about 270, to the Super Bowl. He is a signatory of The Giving Pledge, committing himself to give away at least 50 percent of his wealth to charitable causes. Blank reportedly has a net worth of about $3 billion.

The Kraft family over recent decades has donated more than $100 million to an array of causes, including health care, education, the Jewish community, Christian organizations and local needs.

Kraft, 75, is a prominent supporter of American football in Israel, including the Kraft Family Stadium in Jerusalem and the Kraft Family Israel Football League.

Why the Houston Texans should cut Brock Osweiler, despite the hefty cost

http://www.foxsports.com/nfl/story/brock-osweiler-contract-how-much-nfl-playoffs-houston-texans-new-england-patriots-tom-brady-worst-signings-011517

 

The Houston Texans could have beaten the New England Patriots in their AFC Divisional Round playoff matchup Saturday.

The Texans played just as well — if not better — than the host Pats in nearly every aspect of the game.

The Texans’ defense, arguably the best in the NFL, made Tom Brady look mortal. The Houston defensive line laid a beating on the 39-year-old quarterback, and the Patriots handed the Texans opportunity after opportunity to claim the game.

And if Houston had a different quarterback, it might have.

In the immediate aftermath of Houston’s 34-16 loss, it’s hard to put into proper perspective just how bad Texans quarterback Brock Osweiler was Saturday.

Which stat do you highlight to point out the utter futility of his performance?

Is it that he passed the ball 40 times and averaged fewer than 5 yards per attempt? [He’s thrown 40-plus times for fewer than 200 yards four times this year — no player since 1950 (at least) has posted two such games in a campaign.]

Perhaps it’s the fact that he didn’t complete a pass longer than 20 yards.

The three interceptions, each pick somehow worse than the one that preceded it, might be a good place to go to as well.

Osweiler wasn’t just of zero value to the Texans on Saturday — he was of negative value. He significantly hurt his team’s chances to win a playoff game.

And that’s why the Texans should cut him in the coming weeks.

 

Osweiler’s four-year, $72 million deal with the Texans, signed before the 2016 season started, now stands as the worst free-agent quarterback signing in the history of the NFL, and the Texans would be wise not to torpedo another year of possible Super Bowl contention (their defense is that good) with No. 17 at the helm.

The only reason why Osweiler might maintain his job in 2017 is that massive contract — the Texans are going to pay Osweiler $19 million next year no matter if he plays for them or not.

That’s the minimum he’ll count against the team’s salary cap.

If Houston cuts him before the start of next season, the $6 million Osweiler is owed from his signing bonus in 2018 and 2019 will be added to that $19 million cap hit, bringing the total cost of Osweiler to $25 million in 2017.

 

The Texans will have quarterback Tom Savage — who took over the Houston offense when Osweiler was flat-out benched in Week 15 and assumed the starting role in Week 16 (only to sustain a concussion in Week 17) — under contract for the next two seasons at cap hits of $675,146 and $765,146.

Seeing as how, had he not been concussed, Savage likely would have been the Texans’ starting quarterback in the postseason, Houston has to feel good from an on-field and front-office perspective about Osweiler’s “replacement” should the team move on from the former Bronco this offseason.

Why keep Osweiler around if he’s just going to be Savage’s backup, after all? His roster spot has value and he, again, provides only negative value to the Texans on the field — the team has a better chance to win with him as far away from the ball as possible, as Bill O’Brien (who deserves some similar criticism) finally discovered when he pulled the QB in Week 15.

Wouldn’t Osweiler’s roster spot as the backup quarterback be better used on a rookie (or two) that the team believes will help it win in the future?

Why give Osweiler reps when you can give them to some kid who might be able to use them to progress and develop?

Who knows, maybe the kid, whether he be a first-round selection like DeShone Kizer or Deshaun Watson or a later-round value play like Davis Webb or Brad Kaaya, could give the Texans a slight chance to win a game next year, should he have to see action.

Even a neutral effect on the game is something that Osweiler cannot guarantee, even though his contract is guaranteed.

It’ll cost the Texans $6 million more against the salary cap to move on from the biggest mistake in franchise history. That’s $6 million to start fresh, even though they’d have to really crunch numbers for a year. They can consider it a head start on a more promising future.

Who knows, maybe another team will sign Osweiler to a deal and cut into that extra $6 million.

But the crux is that Osweiler is 26 years old and has started 21 games — he’s not going to become even an average quarterback before the 2017 season starts, much less one worthy of nearly $20 million of the team’s cap space.

Savage gives the Texans a better chance to win next season, and opening up Osweiler’s roster spot for a rookie quarterback gives the Texans a better chance to win in the future.

Ignore the cost, if you can — if Osweiler doesn’t help the Texans’ chances to win next year or in the future, why would they even consider keeping him around?

In Israel, NBA star Amar’e Stoudemire (Nigger Kike) says he’s ‘never felt more at home’

(JTA) — Six-time NBA All-Star Amar’e Stoudemire made an unlikely move in August, when he retired from the NBA and signed a two-year deal with the Israeli basketball team Hapoel Jerusalem.

But it seems the choice was the right one for the 34-year old basketball player, who raves about his “adopted homeland” in a recent interview with Sports Illustrated.

“I’ve never felt more at home, more tied to a place where I’m playing,” Stoudemire told the reporter over a Shabbat meal during Hanukkah in his Jerusalem home, featuring chicken, lamb, fish — and dreidel spinning.

Stoudemire isn’t Jewish but identifies with the Hebrew Israelites, African-Americans who believe they are connected to the biblical Israelites. He doesn’t eat pork or shellfish — he has even searched Jerusalem for a kosher butcher selling turkey bacon — but the Sports Illustrated writer also noted that Stoudemire thanked Jesus in a blessing said before the meal.

The 6-foot-10-inch athlete, who lives in a four-story house just blocks away from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s residence, is helping to break down stereotypes about Israel.

“People say ‘Is it a war zone?’ and I tell them that couldn’t be further from the truth,” Stoudemire said in the article. “Beautiful country. Beaches. Desert. Great restaurants. Great people. On the Sabbath it’s so quiet. Everything shuts down for rest, for family time. How nice is that?”

One thing Stoudemire was a little less enthusiastic about? The skills of his Hapoel Jerusalem teammates. The team’s record is just above .500 in the Israeli Basketball Premier League, although it had a good start in the Eurocup tournament with a win Wednesday over the Russian Niznhy Novgorod squad.

“Let’s put it this way,” he said, “it’s more of a teaching situation. Like, here’s where you go on a pick-and-roll.”

Chip Kelly’s Second Act

https://theringer.com/chip-kelly-san-francisco-49ers-offense-f332f053870e#.v24qswgw8

Thanksgiving Day 2014, it looked like the NFL had found its coach of the future. Armed with a diabolically clever spread offense and fueled by a sports science program that had somehow made smoothies a topic of national conversation, Chip Kelly’s Philadelphia Eagles smashed the Dallas Cowboys 33–10, all but sealing the 9–3 Eagles’ second straight NFC East title under Kelly. But now, in 2016, the idea that Kelly — whose team made the playoffs just once in three years and who ultimately was fired with a game left in the 2015 season — could personally usher in a football revolution seems almost quaint.

Bill Parcells once said football “is not a game for well-adjusted people,” but Kelly, now the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers, is unusual even by the standards of football coaches. From his puzzling power plays and bizarre roster moves to his odd backstory (it took Kelly 10 years to get his undergraduate degree and most — including Kelly’s biographer — thought he was a lifelong bachelor until The Washington Post discovered last year that Kelly had been married for seven years in the ’90s), Kelly is one of the most enigmatic figures in football. But analysis of Chip Kelly the person and Chip Kelly the general manager has obscured a more straightforward question: What happened to Chip Kelly the offensive guru?

Kelly’s vaunted spread offense incinerated his opponents when he coached at Oregon — including college defenses coached by NFL-pedigreed luminaries like Pete Carroll (613 yards and 47 points), Monte Kiffin (730 yards and 62 points; 599 yards and 53 points), and current Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio (626 yards and 52 points) — and it dazzled the NFL as his 2013 Eagles team finished first in rushing yards, rushing yards per attempt, and yards per play, third in offensive efficiency (per Football Outsiders), and fourth in scoring. But in the two years since Kelly’s offense has gotten progressively worse, bottoming out in 2015 as the Eagles ranked a putrid 26th in efficiency, 23rd in yards per play, and 28th in adjusted yards per pass attempt.

And now Kelly — stripped of any oversight over personnel — is in charge of a 49ers offense that boasts arguably the worst skill-position talent in the NFLand will be led at quarterback by Blaine Gabbert, whose 71.9 career passer rating puts him behind such exalted figures as Geno Smith and Brandon Weeden. While Kelly’s Oregon and early Eagles offenses broke records by weaving together multiple formations, adaptable running schemes, and multifaceted read-options, all powered by an ingenious spread offense philosophy and a frenetic, up-tempo pace, in the past two years those elements have been undermined or simply fallen away, and Kelly’s offense has become, in Evan Mathis’s words, the most “never-evolving, vanilla offense” in the NFL. How did that happen?

The fast-paced no-huddle is fundamental not only to Chip Kelly’s offense, but to Chip Kelly the person. Jon Gruden once remarkedthat Kelly’s Oregon teams were “as fast as any team that plays football.” Kelly’s Ducks practiced fast, played fast, and were fast. Everything about Kelly was so rapid-fire that he managed to encapsulate his entire coaching philosophy in a single 30-second commercial for UPS, complete with jump cuts and a drum beat.

Chip Kelly and Marcus Mariota (Getty Images)

At least for a season, the story was much the same in the NFL, and Kelly’s methods quickly garnered the NFL’s attention. “They go really fast and try to wear the defense down or force [a] communication issue on defense so … even if you’re aligned right, if you’re not able to get your assignments done quickly [and if] there’s space in there, somebody gets free,” New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick said of Kelly’s offense in December. “The speed that they go at, it’s hard to get much communication in. It forces you to kind of simplify things defensively.”

But defenses adjust, and by the end of 2015, Kelly’s opponents barely seemed affected by his tempo. As Belichick pointed out, the biggest benefit of fast tempo is that it takes play-calling away from defensive coordinators, putting the onus on defensive players to communicate and adjust on the fly. But, as other NFL offenses have increasingly used the no-huddle, defenses have gotten comfortable playing fast themselves, and can now communicate their complex schemes and adjustments with just a word or two. The defenses Kelly’s team faced in 2015 were exponentially more sophisticated than what Kelly faced in 2013, a direct result of defensive coaches and players being better at communicating.

But another element is that while the no-huddle works in the NFL — and Kelly’s 2013 opponents were largely unprepared for Kelly’s pace — it’s not as effective as it is in college football for a very simple reason: The NFL doesn’t permit teams to ever reach the warp speeds Kelly’s Oregon teams typically operated at. While NFL coaches aren’t permitted to openly critique officials or league policy, it’s well understood in coaching circles.

“In the NFL, what they did is the officials stand over the ball until the officials are ready to call the game,” Alabama head coach (and Kelly friend) Nick Saban explained in 2014. “The coach at Philadelphia ran 83 plays a game at Oregon, and runs 65 a game in Philadelphia. … When they went to Philadelphia in the NFL and they were going so fast, the officials said, ‘We control the pace of the game.’ The league said, ‘The officials control the pace of the game, not a coach.’”

So while defenses had to adjust to Kelly’s tempo, they never had to adjust to the tempo Kelly wanted, only what the NFL allowed. But it’s not like the NFL has singled out Kelly, as it applies just as much to Bill Belichick and Tom Brady when they go no-huddle. Good coaching is about adapting. Kelly has failed to adjust.

While Kelly’s Oregon quarterbacks didn’t run as often as people think — Oregon QB Darron Thomas averaged a mere 346 rushing yards per season from 2010 to 2011 — everyone understands that the threat of the QB run is integral to Kelly’s offense. “We run a ton of zone reads,” Kelly said at a coaching clinic in 2011. “[The quarterback] has to read one of the defenders, in effect blocking him. We can block five defenders and read the sixth one.”

Indeed, a major reason Kelly’s offense was so difficult to defend at Oregon was because he would combine a small handful of basic, sound blocking schemes — inside zone, outside zone, and his patented sweep — with a flurry of QB reads of everyone from defensive tackles to linebackers and even safeties. As used by Kelly, the read-option provides an offense with a multitude of advantages: It’s easier to read a defender than it is to block him, the reads become built-in misdirection as the defense doesn’t know who has the ball, and, as Kelly pointed out, a QB who is a threat to run alters the fundamental arithmetic of football.

But in the NFL, the calculus is different. It’s not that different on the field, but it’s the off-field numbers that become more salient, namely the shockingly small number of qualified starting QBs and the exorbitant cap hits the good (and some not-so-good) ones command. In the NFL, repeatedly running your QB may be good X’s and O’s, but it’s bad economics, as losing your franchise QB to injury in exchange for an extra first down is one of the surest ways to lose your coaching job.

Kelly seems to have sensed this. At Oregon he said he wanted “a quarterback who can run and not a running back who can throw”; in the NFL, Kelly seems to have gone out of his way to start immobile QBs, drafting Matt Barkley, signing Mark Sanchez (twice!), and trading for Sam Bradford. Kelly even reportedly refused to offer a tryout to then-free agent (and current Buffalo Bills starter) Tyrod Taylor, who ran for over 2,100 yards at Virginia Tech. And in San Francisco, Colin Kaepernick — at one point the most dangerous dual-threat QB the NFL had ever seen — has been limited this offseason by a variety of injuries. The QB competition between him and Blaine Gabbert never blossomed, with Kelly naming Gabbert his starter after the preseason finale. This isn’t to say Kelly should ask his NFL QBs to tote the ball 15 times a game — the read-option is best used in the NFL to complement a team’s base offense like draws and screen passes — but if Kelly wants to de-emphasize the read-option, then his offense must evolve to counterbalance the loss of a potent tactic.

Instead, Kelly’s answer has been to simply run plays that look like read-options, but without any reads or options. This has not gone well. Defenders who used to stand and watch the QB as the running back ran free now immediately collapse toward the runner to stuff the play.

Kelly once said that the shotgun inside zone “is not a great play if the quarterback hands off to the running back and everyone in the stadium knows who has the ball.” He was right, and his NFL offense is now proof.

The predictability of Kelly’s offense has gone beyond the defense knowing who would get the ball, as defenders frequently now know which play is coming. Kelly, who has long relied on his tempo and the threat of the QB run to keep defenses honest, has done little to hide his offense’s tendencies. Watch Philadelphia’s remarkable 70-yard, four-play (all runs), touchdown drive from 2014, which took a grand total of one minute and 20 seconds off the clock.

A great drive, but the alignment of the tight end and running back gives away the play: If the tight end and running back lined up on opposite sides of the line, Kelly’s team ran a sweep toward the tight end; if they lined up on the same side, it was an inside zone away from the tight end. This giveaway hasn’t always been in Kelly’s offense, but as he phased out read-options he increasingly kept the tight end backside to block the defensive end on inside zone plays. Defensive coaches with experience against spread offenses will tell you that the tight end often gives away the play, and that has certainly become true for Kelly’s offense.

Sam Bradford and Chip Kelly (Getty Images)

The tide truly turned on Kelly’s offense in the Eagles’s 24–14 loss to the Seattle Seahawks in 2014, just one week after Philadelphia’s Thanksgiving Day win over the Cowboys. Seattle stuffed the Eagles offense, holding them to 139 total yards, and after the game Seahawks players were not shy about telling the media they knew what to expect.

“We knew what plays were coming,” Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner said after the game. “Their offense is kind of predictable. They have a lot of plays where they can only run one way.”

This wasn’t an isolated incident. After losing to the Cowboys early in the 2015 season — a game in which the Eagles managed only 7 rushing yards — Eagles receiver Josh Huff said Dallas’s players were calling out Kelly’s plays before the snap. Another example came in Week 1 of 2015, as the Atlanta Falcons repeatedly checked into defenses designed to stop whichever play Kelly called. Whenever he called an inside zone — again, with the running back and tight end aligned to the same side — the Falcons, in turn, checked to a defensive stunt designed to blow up that specific play.

Philadelphia’s opponents seemed to know what was coming throughout 2015, even when he tried to mix in other plays. For example, as long as he’s been in the NFL, whenever Kelly’s opponents have geared up to stop his inside zone play, he has typically gone to his counterpunch, a sweep play in which the guard and center both pull to lead the way. But, tipped off by the alignment of the running back and the tight end, defenses were ready for that, too.

It’s one thing for a team to miss a block or for the play caller to guess wrong, but these are abysmal, totally hopeless plays rarely seen in the NFL. Yet Kelly repeatedly deflected criticism that his offense had become predictable by saying that the issue came down to only one thing: “We need to execute.”

Execution was certainly also an issue for Kelly’s offense — what wasn’t? — but it didn’t arise in a vacuum. Kelly’s 2015 opponents were unafraid of his QBs as run threats and could accurately guess his play calls; it’s no surprise they were also able to exploit errors in his team’s execution. “You cannot just fool defenses with tempo,” University of Kentucky offensive line coach John Schlarman said at a coaching clinic, summing up the experience of middling up-tempo spread offenses at every level of football. “There is a difference in a fast playing team playing crisp and a fast playing team playing sloppy.”

Strangely, the predictability and unoriginality of Kelly’s offense is a recent phenomenon. Kelly routinely introduced new wrinkles at Oregon, and, most impressively, he dramatically shifted his offense midway through his first season in Philadelphia. After a 15–7 loss to the Giants in 2013 — a game in which the Eagles mustered a mere 200 total yards and which dropped the Eagles to a disappointing 3–5 record — Kelly marched into the locker room and delivered a message:

“I’ll never forget this in all my years in the NFL,” former Eagles quarterback Michael Vick recalled last year. “He said, ‘We will never look that way on offense the way we looked today, ever again.’”

And, at least for the rest of that 2013 season, Chip was right. The very next week, Kelly’s team bombed the Raiders with 49 points, while QB Nick Foles tied an NFL record with seven touchdown passes. And the offense was off to the races, smashing team records and finishing at or near the top of every major offensive category en route to a 7–1 record to close the season. Kelly did it by adapting, as he increasingly folded in NFL passing concepts brought by his assistants, particularly Pat Shurmur, and found new ways to run the ball from under center. Kelly had created a blend of shotgun spread and pro-style offenses that looked like the future.

Then … nothing. Kelly’s 2015 Eagles offense was essentially unchanged from 2013 (and the 49ers offense this preseason looked identical as well), and what two or three years prior was fresh is now stale and easily defended. If anything, Kelly’s later offenses were more simplistic than his earlier ones, as the creative motions and formations that Kelly once used so well largely vanished.

And it’s not only the running game — Kelly’s pass game has been in stasis since 2013 as well. Though Kelly’s teams have always been run-first affairs — at Oregon he frequently admitted that “we run the ball better than we throw the ball” — to win in the NFL you must be able to throw when the other team gears up to stop the run. And, despite showing the flexibility to experiment in 2013, there has been zero evolution in Kelly’s passing offense since, and, like Kelly’s running game, most defensive coaches can identify what pass play is coming based on how his players align.

One of the most effective plays for Kelly’s offense in 2013 was his “mesh” concept, in which two receivers run quick crossing routes — designed to pick off defenders chasing them — while another receiver curls over the middle and the running back runs a “wheel” route up the sideline. It’s a great play … except when the defense knows it’s coming, something that happened far too often last season.

It’s impossible to win in the NFL if the defense knows the play beforehand. But for Kelly, the problem is amplified because of his tempo: If you stop Kelly’s offense, you also stop his team. While Kelly’s Eagles teams went 24–8 when they rushed for more than 100 yards, they were just 2–13 when they failed to hit the century mark, including 0–7 in 2015. (Kelly’s Oregon teams went 0–3 when rushing for fewer than 100 yards, versus 46–4 when they rushed for more than 100.) In part this is because his passing game cannot carry the load (the 2015 Eagles were fifth worst in the NFL on traditional dropback passes at 5.5 yards per pass), but also because if Kelly’s offense can’t run the ball, his defenses are stuck on the field.

“Chip Kelly is a friend, but I could not run the offense he runs,” Stanford head coach David Shaw said this summer at a coaching clinic. “If you run an up-tempo offense, you better be good at staying on the field. If you cannot get first downs, your defense will play the entire game.” Indeed, the 2015 Eagles defense defended an incredible 1,148 plays, while the team that defended the fewest, the Seahawks, played just 947 snaps. At an NFL average of around 65 plays a game, Kelly’s defense effectively played three more games than Seattle’s.

Albert Einstein once advised his students to “make everything as simple as possible, but no simpler,” and Kelly’s offense, increasingly unable to benefit from either tempo or QB runs, is simply, well, too simple. But he doesn’t need to change his core philosophy and suddenly start using a 700-page playbook. Rather than add a bunch of new schemes, Kelly could better protect the plays he currently runs, by mixing in additional formations, motions, and shifts with his tempo to keep defenses off balance.

Chip Kelly (Getty Images)

Bill Belichick once spoke glowingly about Hall of Fame coach Joe Gibbs’s Washington teams that were, like Kelly’s, built around one-back formations and an elegantly simple running game. “Honestly, they [Gibbs’s Washington teams] only had three plays, running plays,” Belichick explained. “But they had a million different ways to run them: every formation, personnel group, motion, shifting. And it was hard to recognize because it was always different every week. … It’s unbelievable the amount of success they had running, really, running the inside zone, running the outside zone and running the counter [trey]. They won a lot of games doing that.” A little variety would go a long way to helping Kelly’s offense get back on track.

But the question is whether or not Kelly is ready to evolve. As the new coach of the San Francisco 49ers, the man who was at one time football’s leading innovator seeks redemption in the heart of Silicon Valley, America’s current cradle of disruptive innovation, a fitting landing spot given that it appears Kelly is seemingly hurtling toward being the next victim of the “Innovator’s Curse.”

The first idea of the curse is that innovations that can’t be protected frequently don’t benefit the innovator, an issue for Kelly given that one can’t patent football play, and any play that works one week is sure to be used across the league by the next. Indeed, NFL coaches as diverse as Hue Jackson, Pete Carroll, Mike McCarthy, Mike McCoy, Bill O’Brien, Adam Gase, and even Belichick have co-opted Kelly’s ideas, and Kelly’s former quarterbacks coach, current Raiders offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave, said frankly that “the majority of what we’re doing [on offense] is Chip Kelly stuff.” The history of football is in many ways the history of men who watched others win with their ideas.

But the second idea behind the Innovator’s Curse is that, having once innovated, it’s increasingly difficult for the innovator to continue innovating. To use Silicon Valley examples, there are countless IBMs, Xeroxes, and Yahoos: one-time disruptors whose cultures and ideas ossified and who eventually became the disrupted.

If Kelly fails to innovate and evolve, he’ll just be yet another in a long line of football coaches, once considered cutting edge, who themselves were disrupted. But there is some reason for hope. Kelly is a smart coach in a sport where those are in short supply, and, in his first press conference as 49ers head coach, he hinted at introspection when he said he was performing an “autopsy” on what exactly went wrong during his Eagles tenure. But Kelly’s actions since — from his uninspired assistant-coaching hires to his team’s play this preseason — showed nothing that would indicate anything except more of the same, and just Thursday Kelly said the only thing he’s done differently since his time in Philadelphia is “put a lot more sunscreen on.” If Kelly 2.0 fails in San Francisco, it will be a shame for those of us who continue to admire what he did to push the game of football forward, but it certainly won’t be a surprise.

I was raped by my gymnastics coach; ‘We were trained to say nothing bothered us’

The following was told to espnW by a former gymnast whose coach was found guilty of rape of a child and indecent assault and battery on a person over 14. She felt compelled to share her ordeal after recent reports that USA Gymnastics has repeatedly failed to report abuse cases?in the hopes that her story, when added to the voices of other young women, can help to enact change.?

To prevent retaliation or harassment, we are not identifying her or the coach involved.

It had been three years since we started having sex when the man who would later be convicted of raping me took me to an abortion clinic. He had scheduled the appointment for after my 18th birthday so that I wouldn’t need a parent to sign their permission for the procedure.

We went to a clinic that was an hour from where he lived and he dropped me off at the corner because he didn’t want to be seen. I went in by myself, and I sat there in this room full of scared young women, all of whom had someone to support them except for me.

I was taken into the back room. I remember lying down on the table and then waking up on the table. But I was in a total daze. They wheeled me out into the waiting room and I said, “I’m ready to go.” And when they asked whether someone was there to pick me up, I said, “I’m sure he’s waiting outside.”

And there he was, waiting in his car. He took me to a restaurant, and I ate two bites of food, then ran to the restroom and vomited violently. We went back to his house and he had to go coach gymnastics, so he left me there. And I remember thinking, “What the f—? Why am I doing this? Why isn’t somebody taking care of me right now?”

I had my follow-up appointment scheduled for a week later, and during recovery you’re not supposed to have sex. But the night before I was supposed to go, he forced me to have sex with him because he “just couldn’t wait that long.”

I thought, “What am I doing with this guy?” This wasn’t a real relationship.


 

You’d think that any interactions with a child predator would be scary, but my first moments with that coach?didn’t scare me one bit. I was a gymnast, and he came up from Connecticut for a meet with our gym in Massachusetts, and then all of the gymnasts and coaches went to an amusement park together.

I was 13 years old, and I remember thinking he was very handsome and exuberant and had this larger-than-life personality. He was 33, and everybody wanted to be around him. He was one of those people who made you think, “I would like him to notice me.”

On that first day, we were all standing in line for a roller coaster, singing the Billy Joel song “Captain Jack.” He came up to us, a bunch of 13-year-olds, and was like, “You know what that song is about, right?” And we said, “It’s about a captain! Captain Jack?” And he said, “No, that song is about masturbation.”

And I don’t know if I’d even heard someone say that word out loud before — and obviously never a gymnastics coach. Looking back, it was this icebreaker. He threw this word out there, and all of a sudden we went from being coaches and athletes to having an adult conversation. And every teenager wants that, right?

At the end of the day he gave me a jacket from his gym, and I was the only person he gave one to, so I thought, “This is somebody who is so interesting and everyone wants to be around him, and yet he’s paying attention to me.”


 

I can trace everything back to that day. I wasn’t the best gymnast in the gym, so his attention was a way for me to stand out. This amazing coach has noticed me. From that day onward, I was excited to see him, and we’d see each other fairly often at gymnastics meets and at a summer camp.

For two or three weeks in July, he and two other coaches would run a gymnastics camp. It was usually held on a college campus, and we’d train during the day, stay in dorm rooms at night and do some normal summer camp things when we weren’t in the gym, such as campfires and talent shows.

But it was far from a wholesome camp experience, at least for me. Once you became a junior counselor around age 14, you were a part of the staff, and although you still trained during the day, you were allowed to hang out with the coaches at night, drinking and playing games that included things like strip poker and group showers. And that sexual environment often carried over to the daytime workouts.

Once, I finished a tumbling pass at camp and was walking past the coach when he turned to another coach and said, in front of me, “It’s taking all of my willpower not to go after that one.” I was 14 years old, walking past him in a leotard.

It didn’t matter to me that this older coach shouldn’t be making those comments. From my perspective, it was just nice to be noticed. This gymnastics camp was billed by our coaches as something special — you’re part of it, and it’s a family. Whatever happens here stays here. And if people didn’t subscribe to this and stopped coming to the camp, they would be shunned. God, you didn’t want to be outside the circle.

As gymnasts, we were conditioned to show how tough we could be, how little emotion we could show. We were trained to say that nothing bothered us and not show any sign of fear or pain.

It all clouded my ability to see that what was happening with this coach was wrong.

The first time he kissed me was in a moving truck. I was 14. He was driving. It was at the end of camp, and we were bringing mats back to one of the gyms. I remember he asked me to come sit on his lap — while the truck was speeding down the highway. My heart was racing, knowing that something was going to happen. I was completely inexperienced with boys at that point, and then all of a sudden my coach was French-kissing me.

Not long after, we were alone, and he had me put my hand down his pants and touch his penis. I knew this was not normal, and afterward I felt sick to my stomach. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t talk to anybody the next day. Now when I look back, I can see clearly that it was a violation — that I had trusted this person, and he went way too far. At the time, I thought I was ready for something like this. But when this very adult thing happened, I wasn’t ready at all.

We talked later about it on the phone, and he said, “Maybe you can’t handle this. Maybe you aren’t as mature as I thought you were.” He was challenging me. I was supposed to rise to it, not shy away from it. So I said, “No, no, I can handle this. I do want to be with you.” And I actually thought we were in a consensual relationship.

He would say, “You can’t tell anyone. I could go to jail. What we have is special; no one will understand.” That never triggered in my mind that something was wrong. I wanted to think that we did have something special, and I never told anyone.

He continued to pursue me. We had intercourse when I was 15. It wasn’t pleasant — it was painful. But I remember walking away and feeling proud of myself, like I got through it. It was like in gymnastics, when you do that move that you’re so scared to do.

The thing I was most scared of was getting caught, because I thought I was going to get in trouble. I thought I was the one doing something wrong.


 

The turning point for me wasn’t that abortion at age 18. It was about two years after that, when I was hanging out with a couple of the gymnasts he coached, and I heard about a woman he was dating. I thought that he was cheating on me, so I went back to his house, where I’d been staying, and started searching for evidence.

I found a letter one of his former athletes wrote to him, talking about how he manipulated her into having sex with him when she was 15. She said she remembered the first time he entered her and how she cried, and how he would bribe her with gifts and money not to tell anyone, that she would sneak out of her house to meet with him.

I didn’t understand. It felt like I was reading about myself. I started to realize that I wasn’t special — he had done the same thing in the past. He was a predator. I couldn’t believe there was another “me” out there.

I confronted him about it, but he somehow twisted it around so that I was in the wrong for snooping in his house. He raged at me, and I was scared of his anger. I came away feeling guilty — that I had done something wrong. And I wanted to believe that I was wrong about what I’d found. So I didn’t walk away, but I was very suspicious from that point forward, and finding that letter was the best thing that could have happened to me. It shifted my path forever.

A few months later, he called me and told me that three women — in addition to the woman who had written that letter — had accused him of sexual abuse and that there would be an article coming out in the newspaper. He said he felt horrible that he’d ruined so many people’s lives. It was the one moment when he displayed any sense of wrongdoing. Later, he would fight tooth and nail against the allegations. He said the girls were all older than 16, the age of consent, and that yes, he had relationships with them, but considered it dating because he’d been only 25 at the time.

I often wonder why I stuck by him as I watched the investigation go on. But I never felt a draw to stand beside these other women. There was a part of me that still wanted to hang on to this idea that his relationship with me was different.

The accusations from those four women didn’t lead to any criminal charges because they couldn’t prove the girls had been under 16. But he was banned from USA Gymnastics in 1998. He could no longer be a member. He made a big deal out of it at the time, but I remember thinking that it didn’t seem to have any impact on his life. Maybe parents didn’t fully understand what had happened because he tried to garner a lot of sympathy, claiming it was all untrue and unfair. Only a few parents took their gymnasts out of his gym, and he competed with his team under different organizations instead of USA Gymnastics. He still was a director at the camp, and it seemed as if other coaches stood by him.

When I look back at this, it makes me feel very frustrated by USA Gymnastics. I often think that I could have been saved if its policies were different. It all comes from the leadership down, and unless the leadership stands up and says, “We are not going to tolerate this,” nothing will change*. It needs to say, “Anyone who crosses a toe over the line we’re drawing here is going to be out. You will be banned. We’ll talk to our sister organizations, and you won’t be able to find a loophole and have access to kids. You can’t run a gymnastics camp.”


 

I moved across the country shortly after he was banned to pursue a graduate degree and because I knew I needed to get away from him.

After moving, I was talking to a fellow grad student who asked, “So what was your longest relationship?” I told him seven years, and he couldn’t believe it. I told him it started when I was 14, and it was with someone 20 years older than me. It was the first time I’d said any of this out loud.

And this guy just looked at me and says, “You know that’s illegal, right?” I felt like I had broken through into another universe, where there were clear lines and boundaries. I didn’t have any of that in gymnastics. And I thought, “Holy s—, what happened to me was wrong.”

I didn’t want to bring him down, though. I just didn’t want to be a part of it anymore. So I tried to reclaim my life far away from New England. But my part in it wasn’t over.

A close friend was training to be a therapist, and one day, in 2006, she talked to her own therapist about the way our gymnastics coaches had treated us. She also told her what had happened to me. And her therapist said, “Thank you for sharing that with me. I’m required by law to report this.” It was just like that.

The therapist told my friend that we could report it ourselves if we wanted to, or she would do it. I felt like my entire perspective shifted again. Even though I knew that it had been illegal, I still thought of the relationship as mostly consensual. I’d never thought that what happened to me was a crime that needed to be reported right away, and for the first time I realized this could be happening to other girls, right then. I knew I had to report it.


 

The process of going to trial would deter anybody from reporting sexual abuse. The district attorney warned me that it would feel like I was the one on trial. I didn’t know what that meant when he said it, but I lived it. Everything that you do is under scrutiny. Your character is questioned. People blog about you and call you a liar and say this is unrequited love or you’re just doing this to get attention.

Throughout the three weeks of trial in 2010, the defense attorney would say things like, “Are you sure you didn’t lie in your journal?” Or, “Weren’t you a very mature 14-year-old?” It was degrading and infuriating, and then we finally got to the end, and the prosecution team told me I needed to be prepared that the jury might come back with a not-guilty verdict.

My heart was pounding when they read the verdicts, and I just froze when they said guilty on every count: rape of a child (three counts) and indecent assault and battery on a person over 14 (two counts). In the elevator as I left the courthouse, I collapsed and cried hysterically. I am so grateful for that jury.

During the trial, many people had come forward with stories of abuse from the same man. I met the woman who had sent the letter that I had found in his house — the letter that had changed my life. I remember this amazing sense of community, that all of these women whom I’d never met before could tell the same story about their childhood as I could. There was so much positive energy in such a negative situation. We had been an army of women, and the pain we’d suffered as kids was validated by that verdict.


 

I’ve had people tell me how strong I was to go to court and take this guy down. I know it’s meant as a compliment, and I try to hold on to that. But if I could go back and have none of this happen to me, I would do that in a second.

When I look back on my childhood, I wonder who I would be without this experience. I still have nightmares that coaches are coming after me, looking for revenge. I’m scared of when he gets out of jail. It’s something that will always be with me, and I know I can never get those years of my life back.

Some of the best people in my life have constantly reminded me that we are not our experiences — that, as the quote says, we can take the lesson but leave the situation. And I do take this: We brought a group of women together who were so scared and alone, ashamed and hurt, and we created a community of survivors. And we made sure that this man could never hurt another girl.

* In a statement to espnW, USA Gymnastics said?it received a complaint about the coach in 1997 from adults who had previously been athletes in USAG. The organization hired a retired FBI agent, who investigated the complaint and spoke with local authorities. The investigation resulted in the termination of the coach’s professional membership, public notice of that termination and a lifetime ban on his participation in sanctioned competitions and other events. None of the existing USAG staff was with the organization at the time the original complaint was filed.

“It is heartbreaking and unacceptable for a young person to have the intolerable burden that results from being a victim of sexual misconduct,” USAG chief executive officer Steve Penny said in the statement. “We share the outrage that sexual assault victims and their families feel. This is why USA Gymnastics has implemented SafeSport training?and created educational materials that encourage members to contact law enforcement first when reporting incidents of abuse.”