Legal Use of Marijuana for NFL Players Could be Coming

Author: Danny Abriano, Current Events/Politics

The NFL, which has seen young players suddenly retire recently out of fear for their long-term health, while retired players are diagnosed with CTE, is apparently willing to discuss the potential of players using marijuana for pain management.

“The NFL has written to the NFL Players Association offering to work in tandem to study the potential use of marijuana as a pain management tool for players, according to people familiar with the situation,” Mark Maske of The Washington Post wrote last week.

According to the Post, the NFL Players Association is also interested in the league adjusting its rules that currently prohibit the recreational use of marijuana.

CTE (Chronic traumatic encephalopathy) is the main issue the NFL needs to address, with so many former players being diagnosed with it. But the potential of the league allowing the players to use marijuana to help with pain is a nice step for the league nonetheless.

Football is a brutal sport, and while there are only 16 games on the schedule, the players beat the hell out of one another during those games.

Allowing the players to use marijuana to cope with the pain — while others, I’m sure, will love to simply be able to use it recreationally — would be wise.

While marijuana has been decriminalized in states such as Colorado, California, and Illinois, players for the Broncos, Raiders, and Bears would be subject to suspension if they tested positive for marijuana. That’s absurd.

It’s also absurd that marijuana is still something that’s causing people to go to jail, while money is wasted on law enforcement agencies targeting those who use. But back to the NFL.

Commissioner Roger Goodell has been getting it from all angles lately with his laissez faire approach to the CTE issue, and it would behoove him to not stand in the way of one small nugget (pun intended) being given to the players who put their health on the line for the sport.

What You’ll Learn When Working in Sports

Author: Emmanuel Pepis, Career Advice

So, you want to work in sports?

I have been fortunate to work in sports since I was in high school. I was put in touch with a well-known sports personality in the New Orleans area and 13 years later, I feel like I could hum the Johnny Cash song, “I’ve Been Everywhere.” Not quite from a travel standpoint, but I have taken a lot of different jobs within the sports field over that time — where I’ve learned a lot of different things.

Get connected
This is the most obvious, yet most vital first step. Without connections, it’s going to be very hard to land a job. That’s true in many fields, but the sports field is among the top of the list in that department. When prospective employers look at references, they’re not just going to look at what you’ve done. They’re going to look at your connections.

When you’re starting out, say yes to everything possible
No experience is bad experience. When you work in sports, you’re going to most likely wind up doing things you never thought. For me, I never thought I would work in production for a radio station, but I did. It diversified my skill set and I’m glad to say I have those basic skills on the technological side.

Whatever path you choose, it’s going to be a long road to get there. At the beginning, it won’t be a particularly lucrative road. This is the toughest part especially for those either in or fresh out of college. If you keep an open mind, you’re going to learn a lot more than you ever dreamed. Also, you’re going to wind up applying those talents you do have in forums you may not have thought about.

Be relentless
Again, this is a statement magnified by the field discussed. There are many thousands of students who have similar goals. It’s one of the most competitive fields you can imagine, but your connections and a diverse skill set are a great start.

However, you have to be aggressive. Keep putting your resume out. Keep persisting about job opportunities even if they’re not open at the time. Take every chance you can to show any potential employer your ‘never quit’ attitude. That eventually gets noticed and can go a long way to you moving up in your desired career path.

Set your goals, but allow some flexibility
You may enter the sports field thinking you’re going to be one thing. That’s great to aspire to. For instance when I was a teenager, I wanted to be an anchor on ESPN. I shifted that goal to wanting to become a broadcaster since I started picking up a lot of experience in that department.

The point of all this is to say that your goals have a good chance of changing. Maybe it won’t be drastically, but you’ll discover a job that changes your perception. Let it happen if that’s the case. Aspire to what you want, but allow yourself the freedom and flexibility as you travel down this road.

I’ve been lucky enough to stay involved in sports in some capacity for over a decade. If you choose this path, it’s going to be a grind. There are going to be tough days as there are in any profession. However, if you stay connected, be persistent, and gain versatility then you’ll give yourself the best chance of succeeding.

Swinging for the Fences: How I Started My Own Sports Law Video Blog and Succeeded

Author: Tony Iliakostas, Career Advice

The year was 2011. It was my first year at New York Law School and just prior to starting law school, I had a vision of being a sports agent. This only happened after I watched Jerry Maguire. But once I started law school, read/watched commentary about the sports agent business and even talked to some sports agents, I realized that this wasn’t an industry cut out for me.

Being a sports agent meant being cutthroat and at times unethical — values that fundamentally went against who I was as a person. As a 22-year-old who had just graduated from Fordham University, I needed to get my foot in the door in the sports law industry. Otherwise, I’d be in a scenario that other millennials my age would be in: either unemployed or in a job that I’d be very unhappy in. And given what a niche industry sports law was, and still is, I needed to figure out a way to make my brand stick out from everyone else’s. It wasn’t until November 2011 that I had an epiphany that changed everything.

Being that I was a communications major from Fordham, I thought that the most prudent and effective way for me to break into the sports law industry was to talk about it.

My initial research showed that sports law blogging existed, so my idea wasn’t totally far-fetched. The problem was that there were so many sports law blogs out there and I easily became discouraged. And then it dawned on me. I had a Kodak Zi6 lying around, a Blue Snowball microphone, a Macbook Pro, a tripod and an iPad. I thought to myself, “what about a sports law video blog?” After all, no such thing existed. So with my Blue Microphone connected to my MacBook, my iPad used as a teleprompter for my script and my Kodak mounted on my tripod, my sports law video blog, “Law and Batting Order” was born.

The premise of Law and Batting Order, or LABO for short, was simple: to tell a story about a major or minor legal issue in sports that mainstream media, like ESPN or Fox Sports, may have touched on but not explained fully.

Since the start of LABO, I’ve covered an assortment of sports and a garden variety of legal issues, from what a jurisdiction’s rule is on rape to labor peace issues in major sports leagues to big name athletes involved in crimes like domestic violence or even murder. My goal is to speak to a legal and non-legal audience in a way that they would understand what the heck I’m talking about. I get rid of the legalese and explain the law as if I were talking to a five-year-old.

LABO has proven to be a valuable resource to many in the sports law community and abroad. It’s thanks to viewers’ support that LABO just turned five years old on December 23.

Starting and operating my very own sports law video blog was and still is an intensive process. I’m basically a one-man band. I write, film, edit and market all my own content. I don’t outsource my material to a third party. I also don’t have the money to help fund a team to help cut my workload to half. At the same time, creating and running LABO has been an incredibly rewarding experience.

As a millennial making his mark in the sports law world, LABO has allowed me to interview some prominent sports executives and sports law experts. I’ve had the privilege of attending events such as the 2015 NHL Draft in Sunrise, Florida and even chatting with a courtroom sketch artist who sketched during the Deflategate trial. LABO has also served as a great conversation starter at networking events I’ve attended. I should also add that my writing and orating skills have improved exponentially thanks to LABO.

I consider myself a citizen journalist in some way, and I have acquired a true appreciation of the trials, tribulations and valuable experiences that professional journalists experience today. Just like a professional journalist, it is my goal to tell a story in a clear manner, raise the important issues when needed, and tell the truth as it is without sugar-coating any details. I’m thankful that LABO has served as that vehicle for me.

I’ve talked to many college and law students who perpetually ask me: “what can I do to be like you?” I give the same advice over and over again: build your brand by doing something unique and creative.

Millennials get a bad reputation for being “entitled” and thinking that everything will be served to them on a silver platter. And while there are some who indeed have that mindset, I’m happy to report that not all millennials are like that. Many realize the value of hard work. Many understand that you have to earn your stripes to earn an ounce of respect in this world. I’ve learned that after having done many internships in college, law school and now as a working man in the real world.

Remember that you are your own salesperson, so it’s up to you to tell your future colleagues, future bosses and the world why you’re special and what you bring to the table that differentiates you from the bunch. I realized that “loving sports” wasn’t an effective way to sell my brand in the sports law world. But telling people I was a self-starter by creating my own sports law video blog made me, as a millennial, a unique person from other students in my position. I’m thankful that I was ambitious and not afraid to challenge myself in this regard.

To any millennial afraid to take a chance on something career-oriented, I implore you to take that leap of faith. Be bold. Be different. It sounds like a cliché, but you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. I did and it has paid off. I’m certain it will for you too, and I’ll be rooting from the sidelines for your success.

And if all this talk about sports law has you intrigued, please check out Law and Batting Order and follow LABO on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. And feel free to connect with me individually on Twitter and LinkedIn.


The 10 Best Sports Movies From Before Our Time

Author: Danny Abriano, Entertainment

There have been lots of incredible sports movies released in the last 30 or so years – Field Of Dreams, Bull Durham and Rudy all come to mind – but there wouldn’t have been a template for those if it were not for what came before.

We’ve already talked about 20 great movies from before our time. Now, it’s time for the ten best sports movies from before our time…

10.) Safe At Home! (1962) – We’re kicking things off with a bit of an obscure one, but this film – which revolves around a little leaguer who lies about knowing Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris and then seeks to meet them – actually stars Mantle and Maris. As a die-hard Mets fan, this film is a tough one to include on the list, but the coolness of it can’t be denied. An added bonus? William Frawley (Fred from I Love Lucy) also stars. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a a good clip to do this one justice.

9.) Rocky II (1979) – Get used to the Rocky theme, because there’s more coming. The second installment, which features a rematch between Rocky and Apollo (and much better fighting scenes), more Burgess Meredith, and a tug-at-the-heartstrings family moment near the end, is incredible in its own right. And Rocky’s run through the streets of Philadelphia is amazing:

Rocky’s Run:

8.) All The Right Moves (1983) – Tom Cruise before he became a star – and before the madness of Scientology consumed him. Cruise stars as Stef Djordjevic, a high school senior who’s attempting to escape his western Pennsylvania steel-mill town on the strength of his football ability. A run-in with his coach (the appropriately prickly Craig T. Nelson) throws a wrench into those plans. The football scenes are raw and powerful, as is Cruise in his performance as Stef.


7.) Rocky III (1982) – As promised, more Rocky! Rocky III is the most off the wall of all the Rocky films, but it really does have everything. Hulk Hogan as Thunderlips (The Ultimate Male), Mr. T as the ferocious Clubber Lang, Rocky and Apollo becoming friends…This movie also features one of the best sports movie songs ever, Eye Of The Tiger.

Opening montage with Eye of the Tiger:

6.) The Pride Of The Yankees (1942) – Yup, another Yankees movie on the list of a die-hard Mets fan. It’s impossible to ignore this one, though. One of the best actors ever, Gary Cooper, starring as one of the best ballplayers ever, Lou Gehrig, whose career and life ended prematurely due to ALS.

The “Luckiest Man” speech:

5.) The Hustler (1961) – Paul Newman and Jackie Gleason at the height of their powers. Honestly, this blurb could end there. Newman stars as pool shark Fast Eddie Felson, with Gleason in the role of his adversary, Minnesota Fats. This film is dark, amazing and an absolute must-see.

Fast Eddie vs. Minnesota Fats:

4.) The Bad News Bears (1976) – Walter Matthau stars as a drunken former major league pitcher who begrudgingly takes the reigns of one of the worst little league teams ever. Featuring a star-making turn from young Tatum O’Neal, the film is hysterical, and has heart and an ending that most little leaguers grow up dreaming of emulating.

A motivational speech:

3.) Caddyshack (1980) – A young Chevy Chase at his most sarcastic, a young Billy Murray at his most weird, a little groundhog wreaking havoc, the legendary Rodney Dangerfield. And golf. Lots of golf. Caddyshack isn’t just one of the best sports movies ever, it’s one of the best comedies ever. So many classic scenes, so many classic lines.

Ty Webb (Chase) imparts his wisdom:

2.) Rocky (1976) – The film was an underdog story but so was the fact that it even got made. It was written by Sylvester Stallone and starred Stallone, who refused to sell his script unless he was allowed to play Rocky, the club fighter who is given a chance at the world title. Rocky transcended sports – turning Stallone into a star, winning best picture and spawning six sequels.


1.) Raging Bull (1980) – Like Caddyshack is one of the best comedies ever, Raging Bull is one of the best overall films ever. A true story, telling the tale of the troubled boxer Jake LaMotta, Raging Bull is directed by Martin Scorsese, stars Robert De Niro as Jake and Joe Pesci as his brother. The fight scenes here are the stuff of legend, as is each scene with De Niro, scarily channeling what LaMotta was like.

Jake vs. Sugar Ray:

What it’s Like to Run a Blog for My Favorite Team

Author: Danny Abriano, Career Advice

I’ve been a Mets fan since I could crawl, and my passion for writing has been flowing since elementary school. It took quite some time for those two forces to meet, though.

Once they did, a hobby turned into somewhat of a full-time thing, though the paycheck that comes with it belies the ‘full-time’ moniker.

I have two jobs that pay the bills – at SNY and The Fest For Beatles Fans, which I’ve already elaborated on. But my third job, serving as co-editor for Rising Apple – is extra special.

ra logoI became the editor of Rising Apple in 2013, which meant transitioning from watching games and focusing only on the outcome. In addition, I was now focusing on storylines, poor managerial decisions, Twitter reactions, immediate news pieces that needed to be written and more.

That’s probably the most stressful part of running a site – the immediacy. If a story breaks and it’s not up on your site quickly, it’s basically useless.

And it’s that immediacy – and constant focus on being immersed in and writing about/overseeing the writing of every bit of news – that can be a bit draining.

One thing I didn’t think of when I first started writing about the Mets was the potential of losing the innocence of simply being a fan. But sometimes I feel that innocence slipping away.

When you live and breathe something just for the enjoyment of it, there’s a kind of purity that comes with it. When you add a professional element to the mix, the waters get a bit muddy.

I’ve covered games at Citi Field, and while it’s incredible to be in the dugout before the game, walk around foul territory while speaking with players and watch the game from the press box, part of me wishes I was in my regular seats instead. After all, there’s no cheering in the press box. It’s not really the place for a fan.


Up close and personal with former Met Matt den Dekker.


Mike Piazza throws the first pitch to David Wright before he was inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame.











But whenever I find myself worrying about losing the purity of my fandom, it’s the social media engagement that brings it back.

Yes, Twitter – the place where people hiding behind egg avatars curse you out – is the place that reminds me how much of a die-hard fan I am.

Through @RisingAppleBlog, I engage with other fans – many knowledgeable and rational, many at the opposite end of the spectrum. But it keeps things fresh, offers perspective (even if it’s often twisted) and provides fodder for articles.

During my time at Rising Apple, I’ve overseen a rotating cast of writers, some who wrote just for a few months before life got in the way and others who have been there longer than I have.

It’s imperative to have other voices and ideas to break the monotony when you’re writing/editing on a daily basis. The writers have all been great, but here is where my co-editor, Michelle Ioannou, comes in.

Michelle came on as my co-editor earlier this year. She has brought new ideas and angles to our articles and editing process — a great touch to our interaction with our staff — and has given new life and a lighthearted element to our social media arms. Michelle is a serious writer, and a damn good one. But the way she often injects humor into her articles and responds to our followers on Twitter has given me a new perspective on how to operate Rising Apple moving forward.

And that takes us back to the point of worrying about losing the innocence of being a fan.

I take Rising Apple extremely seriously, but perhaps I had been taking it a bit too seriously, losing sight of the fact that I was writing about a team I’ve been in love with since I was a little kid.

That love is still there. Maybe it’s taken on a bit of a different form due to how invested I am in every piece of information about the team, but it’s there.

And with Rising Apple heading down a new, fresh path lately, I’m extremely excited to see where it’ll end up.