NFL Misdirection

September 26, 2014

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell did something I really respect; and then he didn’t.
On Aug. 28, the commissioner sent a letter to the NFL’s 32 owners in which he admitted that he “didn’t get it right” when he assessed a mere two-game suspension for a player who was seen on videotape to be involved in domestic abuse. I admire his admission. (The player later would be suspended indefinitely from the league following additional evidence in the incident)
Unfortunately, the commissioner accompanied his mea culpa by describing a series of initiatives the league will undertake, one of which – once again – attempts to deflect a public relations disaster upon high schools.
When the NFL was under attack for the head trauma its players were experiencing, the league responded with a state-by-state campaign to impose youth concussion laws which, in most places, were mostly unfunded mandates that are more about symbolism than substance.
Now, again under attack for malfeasance by a workforce with more money than maturity, the league’s leadership is deflecting the blame to college, high school and youth football programs by planning educational efforts aimed at those levels.
Commissioner! Clean up your mess, but leave us alone. You are gutting public support of school sports with one televised game Thursday, three on Sunday and another on Monday, and adding Saturday games in December. Don’t have this out-of-control league lecture our level about restraint and responsibility.
Ours is the level that prohibits sack dances and end zone prances. We insist that our interscholastic players demonstrate maturity that the NFL’s players do not.

Connections: Novara Success Stretches Across State, Official Offers Encouragement

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

December 8, 2023

Separated by 527 travel miles – whether over Mackinac Bridge or around Lake Michigan, the Novara family celebrated nearly parallel football successes this fall.

At Portland, John Novara completed his 25th season as head coach leading the Raiders to a 12-1 record – their best since finishing Division 5 runner-up in 2018, and a second-straight Capital Area Activities Conference White championship on the way to reaching the Division 4 Semifinals.

At Kingsford, fifth-year coach Mark Novara led the Flivvers to a 10-2 record – their best since posting the same in 2004. Kingsford shared the Western Peninsula Athletic Conference Copper title and won a Division 5 District title, its first District championship since 2009.

John Novara graduated from Iron Mountain in 1989, and younger brother Mark graduated from Kingsford in 1993.

Similarly parallel, both teams were quarterbacked by Novaras. Dominic Novara directed the Raiders’ attack, and cousin Nic Novara led the Flivvers. Both are juniors. (Mark Novara was a Division III All-American at quarterback at Lakeland College in Wisconsin.)

One more connection: Portland athletic director Kevin Veale quarterbacked the Iron Mountain teams with John Novara as tight end long before they worked together downstate. Veale’s nephew Garrett Veale was a standout two-way lineman for Mark Novara and Kingsford this fall.

Small gesture, memorable connection

Dante DeGrazia’s senior season was sadly short-lived this fall, as he suffered a season-ending injury during the first half of South Lyon East’s opening game against White Lake Lakeland at Michigan Stadium.

South Lyon East's Dante DeGrazia (33) and official Chris Curtis meet for a quick hug during East's Week 5 game.But an official provided a memory the DeGrazias will not forget.

Chris Curtis had begun his 16th season as an official earlier that day at U-M, and stuck around to watch the Lakes Valley Conference matchup. A month later, he was officiating the East/Warren Mott game, and made sure to check in with DeGrazia – a small gesture, but a meaningful one as well and another reminder of the interconnectedness of communities within educational athletics.

When he heard my son wasn't able to play anymore, needed surgery and that he was a senior, he offered him kindness and a hug on the field,” Dante’s mother Dana DeGrazia wrote to East athletic director Greg Michaels. “As a parent whose son is going through a rough time dealing with losing his senior season, hearing this story from Dante means a lot to me and the support that was given to him and I wanted to reach out and tell him thank you.”

PHOTOS (Top) Kingsford football coach Mark Novara, far left, quarterback Nic Novara and Portland coach (and uncle) John Novara celebrate the Flivvers' District title. (Middle) South Lyon East's Dante DeGrazia (33) and official Chris Curtis meet for a quick hug during East's Week 5 game. (Photos courtesy of the Portland football program and DeGrazia family, respectively.)