Getty Images

As Ray Rice began his formal appeal process in front of former federal judge Barbara S. Jones on Wednesday, the proceedings—and ultimately the resolution in this critical case—hinge on one key truth: what NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell knew, and when he knew it.

One of the most important decisions in the history of NFL—a crisis that has already changed the league's policies at their very core—comes down to who we (and Jones) believe between Rice and Goodell, based on the recollection of a conversation the two had in June with multiple witnesses, including Rice's wife, in the room at the time.

This appeal isn't about what Ray Rice did in that Atlantic City casino elevator in February. This arbitration hearing is 1,000 percent about what he said this past June and how, in any way, that was negligently ambiguous in the mind of the Commissioner.

To review the details of the case: Rice was arrested on February 15 for striking his then-fiancee, Janay, at the Revel Casino in New Jersey. The first video of Rice pulling her out of the elevator surfaced four days later.

AP Images

Dynasty vs. Destiny. That's how Major League Baseball billed Game 7 of the World Series between the San Francisco Giants and Kansas City Royals. Sadly for Royals fans, who have waited nearly three decades since the team's last championship, the 2014 World Series did not manifest in destiny.

But what about the Giants "dynasty?" Is winning three titles in five years a modern-day dynasty?

In most sportswriting circles, it is. There is no word better than "dynasty" to describe something as simple as "a really good team that wins a lot."

The San Francisco Giants are surely that—a really good team that wins a lot. But are Bruce Bochy's bunch more than that? Are the Giants a bona fide sports dynasty?

AP Images

Teenage pitching phenom Mo'ne Davis was back on the national stage during the World Series—sorry, Major League Baseball's iteration of the World Series, not the Little League version that made her famous in the first place—in an ad for Chevrolet titled "Throw Like A Girl."

Directed by Spike Lee, the 60-second television spot, which is part of a 16-minute film Chevrolet produced about the young star, features Davis reading the words of what sounds like a letter to the American public.

"Dear United States of America," the commercial begins, "I am 13 years old. This summer was the best summer of my young life."

Thirteen. That's an important thing to remember when we talk about the composure Davis has shown since being thrust into the national—frankly, international—spotlight this summer, all for having the ability to throw a baseball better than almost anyone else her age, boy or girl.

Getty Images

Every four years, but for a brief fortnight, a handful of world-class athletes convene from all reaches of the globe to capture our hearts, enrich our lives and inspire us with wondrous feats of strength and speed.

We call these men and women heroes in the most literal, historic sense. They are an inspiration, not just for the success they achieve, but for all they sacrifice to do so. They are Olympians: a better breed of human being…or so we often hope to believe.

Sometimes the pedestal we place our champions on is warranted, and other times the truth of a person's character lies deep within, behind the layers upon layers of accolades, hard-plated in gold—sometimes silver or bronze, but mostly gold—and protected from ever reaching the surface.

It's easy to compare Oscar Pistorius and Michael Phelps in so many ways, but almost all of them tend to come tethered to each star's athletic prowess.

Getty Images

Jurgen Klinsmann is managing U.S. Soccer like a second-term president. Now past one World Cup cycle that saw him receive a contract extension through the 2018 tournament before his team even landed in Brazil this summer, the American soccer governing body handed over as much power as it possibly could to its current head of state.

It seems—and frankly, who can blame him—the power has gone to his head. There is no person in international sports with more job security than Klinsmann, and his recent comments illustrate just how much he cares about his legacy in the annals of U.S. Soccer above anything else, including his current constituents.

It's not even that Klinsmann is wrong with his recent comments; it's more the sheer audacity of their timing.

[Update: Klinsmann's comments about the MLS harming certain U.S. players' progress inspired a heated response from MLS Commissioner Don Garber, who said in a conference call Wednesday, "For him to publicly state issues that he has with Major League Soccer, in my view, is not something that is going to allow him to effectively serve the role of not just coach, but as technical director.")


"I think in the end we're all just trying to do our part to keep building the game."

That's what Landon Donovan told U.S. Soccer as part of a tribute video the organization put together to celebrate the amazing career of the best soccer player to ever represent the red, white and blue.

There's been little debate about that over the years, at least in terms of field players for the United States men's national team. Donovan is the best American to play the beautiful game, but if you look at the roster put together by Jurgen Klinsmann for Donovan's testimonial match on October 10 in Connecticut, this send-off is as much a look to the future as it's become a celebration about the past.

For U.S. Soccer to grow into a new era, it seems only fitting for it to end—and begin—this way.

Getty Images

In America, we are used to being the best at everything. Frankly, even when we aren't actually the best, people in this country just spout off unprovable sentiments like "America is the best country in the world" and, sure, why not go with that, because it sounds just about as awesome as we know America to be.

We're the best at everything, especially when it comes to sports. (Except soccer. We aren't the best at that. And men's tennis, international hockey and a bunch of other Winter Olympic sports we try not to care too much about because we don't win.)

But in everything else, America rocks. We're the best.

Except golf. We are not the best at golf. Not this year. Not anymore. Does that mean it's time for American golf fans to embrace an underdog role? Could the Ryder Cup be looked at more like…the World Cup?

Getty Images

It is evident—if it wasn't before the second domestic assault video involving Ray Rice and his then-fiancee Janay Palmer surfaced this week on TMZ—that Roger Goodell is in over his head as commissioner of the National Football League.

He is, simply put, a bad commissioner.

And yet no matter how many of us think his job should be on the line after this latest debacle, it's short-sighted to think Goodell's tenure as the face behind the Shield is coming to an end anytime soon.

Wanting Goodell gone and getting him gone are two very different things.

Kirby Lee/USA Today

The National Football League, as an organization, trades in violence.

No matter how many rules the league puts into place to curtail injuries and prolong the careers—and lives—of its players, the NFL finds some other ways to justify the use of violence as a means to promote its product.

There's a reason for that. Big hits still make all the highlight shows, even with the growing realization that each crushing blow is doing irreparable damage to both the player getting hit and the one doing the hitting. The NFL athlete is unlike any other in professional sports—a professional gladiator through and through. And the league is banking on that…quite literally.

That's why situations like what happened this week at a joint practice between the Dallas Cowboys and Oakland Raiders is met with raucous cheers from the fans in attendance. Two teams duking it out on the field after a huge hit knocked one player to the turf, all right in front of the fans? That's NFL manna. That's why the fans show up to preseason sessions in the summer. That's what it's all about.

Chris Brunskill/Getty Images

After a long summer of virtually no soccer worth talking about at all, it's officially Premier League season! Soccer is back in America! "Tim-may How-ward! (Clap, clap, clap-clap-clap!)"

Wait, I feel like I'm forgetting something.

The World Cup, as it does in this country every four years, managed to once again turn general sports fans into soccer supporters, and casual soccer viewers—they'll put a game on every other Saturday morning just to see what all the fuss is about—into ardent footy fans.

Only, there's something a bit different about the post-World Cup buzz this year. It feels like this time—with the prevalence of the sport on American television across close to 10 different networks—a lot of those World Cup fans are heading into the fall looking for more.