Greg Cote

Greg Cote: Dear Athletes: Don’t bite (or blow up) the hand that feeds you

A 22-year old guy from Maine had been drinking and partying with friends when he decided last week that it would be a good idea to light Fourth of July fireworks off his head, so he placed an explosives-filled mortar tube up there and set it off.

Hilarity surely would have ensued had the reveler not been killed instantly.

Which brings us to sports, and the decision-making process.

Two prominent NFL players — Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (one finger) and Buccaneers cornerback C.J. Wilson (two) separately lost digits the same holiday in fireworks-related mishaps of their own. Pierre-Paul had so many fireworks he rented a van to carry them.

Around the same time, star golfer Rory McIlroy injured an ankle playing pickup soccer and will miss this week’s British Open, becoming the first defending champion to not defend since Ben Hogan in 1954.

Now, freak injuries are not new in sports. Sammy Sosa once strained his back sneezing. NASCAR star Jimmie Johnson once broke an arm falling off a golf cart. The so-called “Jim Lonborg Clause” started going into most sports contracts starting in 1968, after the Red Sox had lost their Cy Young-winning pitcher to a career-wrecking skiing accident.

Accidents happen, yeah, but when was it, exactly, that common sense became a rare commodity?

Professional athletes, y’all are paid lavishly to keep your bodies in optimum health to perform in the sports that pay you, even if it means the small sacrifice of curtailing activities that might amuse you.

(Does the photo of Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill shooting a rifle at a gun range not make anybody but me go, “Hmm…”?)

▪ The PGA Tour weighs whether to divest from Donald Trump-owned courses (such as Doral) over his comments disparaging Mexican immigrants. One possible solution: Trump buys PGA Tour.

▪ A study by Atlanta’s Emory University ranked Dolphins fans 32nd — dead last in the NFL — in a “fan-equity ranking” measuring willingness to financially support their team. Yeah, I don’t need a college study to tell me 30 years between Super Bowl appearances can do that.

▪ Answer: The Heat objected to the NBA’s recent goodwill trip to Cuba, but this week it was announced that Carnival (owned by Heat owner Micky Arison) would begin cruise excursions to the island. Question: Do you think a guy gets to a $7.1 billion net worth by not making cold business decisions?

▪ Adidas plans a lavish VIP party Saturday at trendy Club Liv to unveil the Hurricanes’ new football uniforms. Remember when you didn’t know — or care — who made your team’s uniforms? And when you said your team “looked good” you meant winning, not sartorial splendor?

▪ That reminds me. The betting over/under on UM football wins this season is only six, meaning an expectation the Canes will be mediocre. On the bright side, at least they’ll be fashionable!

▪ By the way, receiver Michael Irvin Jr. has joined the Canes’ 2016 recruiting class. I think I’d still rather have Dad out there, at age 49.

▪ Golf’s British Open starts in four days at St. Andrews in Scotland, without injured defending champ McIlroy but with Tiger Woods trying (again) for his first major win since 2008. Headline: “Old Tiger seeks old form on The Old Course.”

▪ The Tour de France is about half done. First cyclist to pass both the finish line and a doping test wins.

▪ Clippers star DeAndre Jordan agreed to terms with Dallas, changed his mind, and re-signed with Los Angeles. Tell me. Is there anything in sports better than the sight of an angry, helpless Mark Cuban?

▪ All-Star fan voting came into question when at one point Royals players led at just about every position. I still think baseball fans should be allowed to vote. Except Kansas City fans, who should not even be allowed to attend games.

▪ Expect Tom Brady’s “Deflategate” suspension to be reduced soon from four to two games by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who apparently will remember he’s good friends with Robert Kraft.

▪ The Panthers are seeking arena lease relief from Broward County, and, really, other than not advancing in the playoffs since 1996 and finishing last in NHL in both TV ratings and attendance last season, I think their timing is good.

▪ R.I.P., Ken Stabler, the former Raiders quarterback, dead at 69. But enough with the predictable bloom of sentimental Hall of Fame talk. Unless there’s a Hall of Nicknames, the Snake falls short.

▪ ESPN is not renewing Keith Olbermann’s contract. It will be interesting to see where Olbermann next works temporarily before irritating management there too and then exiting across a burning bridge.

▪ Chile won its first Copa America title, confirming rumors that soccer teams in South America other than Brazil and Argentina really do exist.

▪ I’ve been told that Ritz is “the official cracker” of the champion U.S. women’s soccer team. Please help start a rumor that Hope Solo and most teammates privately prefer Cheez-Its.

▪ The U.S. men’s soccer team is competing in the Gold Cup. “What!? We have a men’s team, too!?” said America.

▪ Parting thought: LeBron James is featured in the new movie Trainwreck, and hosted a private VIP screening. Based on the title, I assume the film is about the Cavaliers’ collapse in the recent NBA Finals?

Visit Greg’s Random Evidence blog daily at and follow on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram, Vine and Periscope.

Hot list

Today: Baseball’s All-Star Game. Most ASG selections for players chosen for Tuesday’s Midsummer Classic in Cincinnati:




All-Star Games

Miguel Cabrera




Albert Pujols




Matt Holliday




Yadier Molina




Note: Cabrera is injured and won’t play. Six appearances each: Blue Jays OF Jose Bautista, Rangers DH Prince Fielder, Mariners P Felix Hernandez, Phillies P Jonathan Papelbon and Brewers P Francisco Rodriguez. The Marlins’ two all-stars, OF Giancarlo Stanton (injured) and 2B Dee Gordon, were selected for the third and second times, respectively.


All-Star Game, Home Run Derby on deck: The 86th All-Star Game is Tuesday in Cincinnati, with the Marlins’ Dee Gordon and Giancarlo Stanton selected but both likely out injured. The Home Run Derby is Monday, though diminished without Stanton and Bryce Harper. The danger in Cincy hosting? Pete Rose runs onto field past security and demands an at-bat.


Miami adds Stoudemire, shines in summer ball: Another strong week for the Heat as Miami signed veteran forward/center Amar’e Stoudemire one day after signing three-point specialist Gerald Green, and both came cheap. Oh, and the Heat’s youth squad finished 5-0 in the Orlando Summer League. Pat Riley hasn’t had a better summer since 2010.


Fernandez excels, but Fish sputtering at break: Jose Fernandez improved to 2-0 since his return from Tommy John surgery — and 14-0 all-time at home — but the team slogged into the All-Star break with the second-worst record in MLB. Now there are reports Mat Latos, Dan Haren and others might be traded. Can Fernandez pitch every game, please?


It’s Champions Weekend at Wimbledon: Novak Djokovic faces Roger Federer on Sunday in the men’s Wimbledon final, one day after Serena Williams completed the “Serena Slam” by winning her fourth major in a row. She defeated Garbine Muguruza, who evidently is a rising young Venezuelan even though Greg Cote had never heard of her.


America still celebrating women’s World Cup win: The symbolic culmination of last week’s third U.S. Women’s World Cup soccer championship and first since 1999 came Friday with a ticker-tape parade along New York’s “Canyon of Heroes.” There are so many great players on the champions’ roster. Hey, maybe they could loan a few to the U.S. men’s team!