June 1, 2020

Lions Around the Dorm

This week in Around the Dorm, we hash out Tommy Morrison’s return to boxing, the NFL Combine and all-star games. The contestants this week are Signal sports assistant Justin Jez, Signal managing editor Lauren Kohout and Signal nation & world editor James Queally. Signal sports editor Brandon Lee is the referee.

1) More than a decade ago, boxer Tommy Morrison was indefinitely suspended following a positive HIV test. He has now been cleared to box again after passing a series of medical tests. Do you think he should be allowed to fight again?

JJ: I have no problem with Morrison getting back into the ring. Back in 1996 “Tommy Gun” tested positive for HIV and, by rule, was banned from boxing for fear of transmitting the disease. However, in the last decade he has been retested over a dozen times, with all the results being negative. This proves what Morrison had been saying all along: that the positive test was flawed. One bad test ended the career of a great boxer. Before the test, his record was 47-3-1 and he beat George Foreman for the WBO heavyweight title. I feel bad for the guy. He is now 38 years old and whatever kind of prosperous career he had a decade ago is now gone. There is no way to get it back. Morrison never had HIV and it is about time he was reinstated and given a chance to climb between the ropes a few more times.

LK: Hey, if Rocky Balboa can face Antonio Tarver, then I think it’s pretty clear that boxers can do anything, as long as Morrison doesn’t star in another “Rocky V.” I think that if doctors are 100 percent sure he is HIV-free, then it shouldn’t be a problem if Tommy “The Duke” Morrison fights again. As long as he isn’t sharing needles, rubbing his cut face up against the other guy’s or having sex while he is in the ring, I don’t see the big deal. I think it is more up to Morrison. If guys are afraid of fighting him because they fear they might get HIV, then I don’t think Morrison will be too comfortable boxing. If it doesn’t show up in the test, then Morrison can show up in the ring.

JQ: Morrison would not be the first major professional athlete to make a return after testing positive for HIV. Does the name Magic Johnson ring a bell? The NBA great revealed he was HIV positive in 1991 and proceeded to come back and play on the Olympic Dream Team in 1992 and again for the Orlando Magic in 1996. I understand that there is a much higher potential for blood to be drawn in a boxing match, and because of that the risk of transferring the disease is much higher, but Morrison has tested negative for HIV on four separate occasions. It’s also important to note that while Morrison is nowhere near as important to boxing as Magic is to basketball, he is a former World Heavyweight Champion. Morrison has competed in several memorable fights, including the bout in which he won the title against Foreman. Johnson provided many memorable moments as a part of the ’92 Dream Team; it is only fair that the sports world give Morrison the same opportunity.

BL: Justin gets 3 points for mentioning that Morrison was a former champ and lost his once promising career to a faulty test. Kohout also gets 3 points because she makes a Rocky reference. I didn’t know Morrison was in “Rocky V.” Queally gets 1 point because Magic came back to the Lakers in 1996, not Orlando.

2) With undrafted free agents and late round picks such as Tony Romo, Tom Brady, Marques Colston and Antonio Gates having success in the NFL, is there too much importance placed on Combine results?

JJ: I think the media places too much emphasis on the Combine. Actual NFL scouts, however, know how to use Combine results in the correct way: as a supplement to a player’s body of work on the field. The Combine provides a level playing field for top prospects to be compared and a chance for fringe players to showcase their talent. However, someone’s 40-yard dash time or Wonderlic score does not necessarily predict how effective they will be on the field. Last year, people wondered if Vince Young could lead a team after receiving a poor score on his Wonderlic test. Young was taken with the No. 3 pick in the draft and played extremely well for the Titans, who won six of their last seven games. Coaches and scouts do not make decisions based solely on the Combine, and their opinions are the only ones that matter.

LK: Of course there is too much importance placed on the Combine results. You can have a guy sprinting a four-flat 40-yard dash but he might not know what to do once he has a pigskin in his hands. Not to mention, a guy can have a lucky or a bad day at the showcase and if coaches base everything on those results, they might not be getting what they expected. Now all guys like Romo have to do is focus on the game and not so much on Carrie Underwood and maybe he’ll advance farther in the playoffs.

JQ: Among the names you listed, Brady has proven without a doubt that it’s not about how much you can bench press or how fast you can run a 40-yard dash, but rather your ability to react to game-time pressure and situations. Brady has emerged as one of the most talented field leaders in NFL history. There is no other quarterback I’d want driving me downfield in the fourth quarter, with the exception of John Elway. Yes, the Combine results definitely help scout a player’s conditioning, but if you want to see the complete package you’re getting at draft time, teams should be placing more emphasis on game film rather than a hodgepodge of statistics and sprint times. The Combine is effective at hyping the draft and providing a nice showcase of some of the NFL’s future superstars, but after watching the seasons Colston and Romo had last year, it’s hard to argue that it should function as a primary factor in a team’s draft picks.

BL: I’m feeling generous today, but the fact is the Combine is overrated and cannot measure the on-field intangibles certain players bring. 3 points for everyone.

3) Out of the NHL, NBA, NFL and MLB, which sport has the best all-star game in terms of entertainment and meaning?

JJ: The MLB’s Midsummer Classic is the most meaningful because it decides which league will have the home-field advantage in the World Series. It is the only all-star game that has any impact in the postseason. For entertainment value, I think the NBA offers the most for its fans. It is a three-day long basketball celebration, with celebrity games, young rookies and sophomores showing off, and a bunch of contests (including the always entertaining Dunk Contest). Not to mention the All-Star game itself. But most importantly, NBA All-Star Weekend does a great job of showcasing the players’ talent and pizzazz. From Nate Robinson dunks to Shaq breakdancing, the NBA offers the best entertainment, hands down.

LK: No one watches the Pro Bowl, probably because it’s the only one not played in the middle of the season. For meaning, it’s obvious because the MLB All-Star game is the only one with meaning, having the winner get World Series home-field advantage. Besides the actual games, people pay most attention to the Slam Dunk Contest and the Home Run Derby. The NBA gets the upperhand when it comes to entertainment because of its done-up pregame and halftime shows. However, when it comes to the actual game and the quality of the play, MLB wins because it usually proves to be a good game without overrated talent like the NBA and without any ball/puck/touchdown celebration hogs.

JQ: In terms of entertainment, the NBA provides the most exciting showcase of talent around. Defense and structure get thrown out the window and fans are treated to the best pick-up game they’ve ever seen. The players run up the score and provide a 48-minute long highlight reel, continually trying to one-up each other. It’s all the flash you miss out on during a regular season game because the game means nothing. However, in terms of meaning, the MLB provides an all-star game with purpose. First off, the winning league gains home-field advantage for its representative in the World Series. Secondly, it provides potential World Series opponents a chance to scout competition they might not see in interleague play. Unless the AL and NL champions are from the same division, they won’t meet during the regular season. Why not the NFL or NHL? The Pro Bowl takes place post-Super Bowl, so nobody plays for real, while the NHL just can’t match the spectacle of the other three.

BL: Kohout gets 2 points for including the Pro Bowl. Justin failed to mention the NFL and NHL so he only gets 1 point. Queally gets 1 point for another inaccuracy: interleague play rotates every season.

With a score of 8-7-5, Kohout wins this week’s title.

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