Mike Kays

The NFL gave ESPN and the sporting world something to focus on this week. 

For that, we should be grateful. Staying updated with this worldwide calamity that leaves no one untouched is essential, but the escape that sports gave us is like a cup of cold water in July.

While people get deathly ill, while we search for toilet paper or bread and some of us try to figure out where the money for the light bill will come from, there was, well, awkwardly speaking, buying and selling in the temple going on.

The NFL? Who is feeling the pinch there?

There’s poor Dak Prescott, and I’m a Cowboys fan at heart. Had to settle for a franchise tag salary worth $33 million a year.  If you make $50,000, a decent salary, that’s 660 of you. If you’re a waiter at a restaurant that just shut down averaging $9 an hour with tips, that’s 1,763 of you.

Dak, you’re still better paid than Ryan Tannehill ($29.5 million), and in his case, while your stats are better, he’s gotten his team to a conference title game — which is starved for in Dallas. That Cowboys star on your helmet also opens a wide door to other lucrative opportunities, both immediately and long term. You have plenty to take care of that mom who inspires you so much and plenty of change left over for yourself.

For the ticket-buying, TV-watching public, free agency was a diversion to anxiety. For those who got new contracts, the only hitch was that you might not have had a swank restaurant to go celebrate in.

Save the money for toilet paper. 

Meanwhile, in other sporting news, minor league baseball players, all a step or two from the real money, found out they would get barely a few hundred dollars to help pay rent while unemployed. 

Sports has winners and it has losers. Including the sting of wondering if your senior season’s search for a state title is going to be stonewalled by this virus that may or may not befall you personally.

But of much is given, much is expected — and that is why stories like that of former Oklahoma State tight end Blake Jarwin is full of warmth. Jarwin got a new three-year, $24.25 million contract to catch passes from Prescott. He’s going to donate a portion of it to Oklahoma State to help workers impacted by the cancellation of spring sports.

The NBA will most likely lose games due to the suspension of the season and maybe, even the season itself. But Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, who likely took a hit in the stock market, committed to pay all arena workers inside the Mavs’ home arena of American Airlines Center.  In exchange, he said he might ask them to do some volunteer work in exchange for it, but hey, neighbors help neighbors.  Many NBA teams followed suit. The Thunder released a statement stating that they will offer financial assistance to both the part-time stadium workers that they employ directly and the ones who technically work for ASM Global, the company contracted by the city to operate the arena.

Karl Anthony-Towns of the Timberwolves gave $100,000 to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota for COVID-19. Utah’s Rudy Gobert, the first player to test positive and set into motion right here in the Sooner State the dominoes that closed all of sports, split a half-million bucks between game-day employees for the Jazz, $100,000 to families in Utah and Oklahoma City and 100,000 euros to his native France.

All of that is good news amid a heap of bad.

As I’ve watched bits and pieces of another “sport” this week in Vince McMahon’s World Wrestling Entertainment, superstars have been battling in the company’s Florida-based performance center. Only announcers, performers and camera crews are in attendance.

It has all the fire of — practice.

While athletes and teams have recognized the needs of the support staff for their craft, it’s good to see WWE’s venture for what it is — without the fans, sports is, well, just practice.

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