Photo Credit: John Peterson

Drake’s Takes: The Mystery of Purdue’s 3 QBs and Pro Sports Commissioners Are a Mess

October 29, 2021

This week’s Drake’s Takes discusses the mishandling of several current issues in professional sports and Nebraska football’s upcoming opponent. 

An ode to Aidan O’Connell

Nebraska plays Purdue this weekend, and like every game this season, it’s sure to be interesting. 

For starters, this is the most winnable game left on Nebraska’s schedule. Wisconsin confirmed that, beating the Boilermakers 30-13 last week. This matchup being at home is another thing in the Huskers’ favor. 

There’s obviously no guarantee of a win here, though. Just two weeks ago, Purdue upset No. 2 Iowa. A win against the Huskers is more than possible. 

The most fun part of Purdue is its offense. The Boilermakers love passing the ball, they just happen to not be great at it most of the time. They lead the conference in pass attempts by more than 50 throws, and rank in the top 10 nationally. 

In the team’s three-quarterback system, Aidan O’Connell will be the one passing the most. Nebraska fans should remember O’Connell. After Jack Plummer went out with an injury against the Huskers in 2019 in the fourth quarter, O’Connell, the team’s third-string quarterback at the time, came in. He went 6-for-6 on an 82-yard game-winning drive to earn the win for Purdue. 

He was hurt for Nebraska’s 2020 win over the Boilermakers, but now is back starting. His season so far is fairly hilarious, to be nice. Through four games, Plummer was the leading passer, throwing seven touchdowns and no interceptions. In that same stretch, O’Connell threw three touchdowns and four interceptions in one less game and far less attempts. 

Naturally, O’Connell was rewarded with the starting spot. With the larger role, he’s stepped up his game, with five total touchdowns and five turnovers in the three games since. 

To be fair to the quarterback, he did have a great game in the Iowa upset, with 375 passing yards and three total touchdowns. It’s just that outside of that, he has flat out not been good. 

It’s possible that he has a great game against Nebraska, in the fashion of his 2019 heroics, and it’s also possible that the ball ends up in the hands of Nebraska defenders a few times.  

Either way, this game is probably a toss-up at this point. I’d still lean toward Nebraska winning, but it’s just not worth putting much thought into a prediction. Something is going to happen, and I don’t know if I’m ready for it.

Pro Sports’ Incompetence Olympics

Are professional sports OK?

I mean, the obvious answer is no. 

I’m not sure where to start here. The NFL continues to do some very bad things, beginning with refusing to release details from its investigation into the Washington Football Team despite heavy pressure. This is all while Deshaun Watson trade talks are ongoing between teams as if nothing happened.

The Houston Chronicle reported that the only thing stopping the Miami Dolphins from making the move is the settlement of his legal issues. That legal issue is 22 civil suits of sexual misconduct. As it’s been pointed out, it’s possible that many of these don’t result in criminal charges for reasons that have to do with the justice system. Still, there’s been corroborating evidence for the stories of the women who have accused Watson. 

As a result, as Mina Kimes best put it, this could come down to simply being a case of, “He said she she she she she she she she she she she she she she she she she she she she she she said.”

The NFL and commissioner Roger Goodell haven’t taken any action yet, although it has the option of placing him on the commissioner’s exempt list without criminal charges. It’s disappointing to see how this situation continues to unfold.

The NHL also has a sexual assault with the Chicago Blackhawks franchise, and commissioner Gary Bettman has failed to respond to it meaningfully. 

Elsewhere, Major League Baseball continues to stand by the Atlanta Braves’ team name and “the chop.” With Atlanta in the World Series, the team name and chop has been called out as racist toward Native Americans. Rob Manfred thinks differently. 

I could write an entire column on his bad quotes, but there’s one that especially stood out. 

“Look, we always have tried to be apolitical,” Manfred said. “Obviously, there was a notable exception this year. I think our desire is to try to avoid another exception to that general rule.”

Here, Manfred essentially apologizes for not sticking to sports in the past. Don’t get it confused, you shouldn’t dare *expect* the league to be sensitive to racial issues and adjust poor traditions. It’s hard to fathom how people don’t see the issue with the chop, which has been criticized by various Native American groups. There is no harm in letting it go. 

At least the NBA is mostly okay, outside of Kyrie Irving’s empowerment of anti-vaxxers. 

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