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Supporters of Brittney Griner’s punishment distressingly wrong

As always and forever, it depends. It depends on lots of things, from how you were raised, to your sense of right and wrong, to whether you have an obstructed view. 

Friday in this space, I wrote about the excessively harsh punishment — nine years in a penal labor colony — given to WNBA star and U.S. Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner by a Russian court for carrying pot oil and a vape pipe. 

I wrote that while I was no fan of Griner’s demonstration of turning her back on our shared national anthem, excessively cruel punishment for minor crimes must never be indulged, let alone smugly supported. 

In view of Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine, it’s likely Griner’s sentence came attached to geopolitical retribution against a U.S. citizen, thus had more to do with her punishment than her crime. 

I expected a mixed response, but not the stridency from those who advocated that she “deserves to rot in prison.” 

That was distressing. Just slam the prison door on her, good-bye and good riddance? See ya, maybe, in 2031! 

My daughters, now adults, one with two daughters, will tell you about their old man’s Open Door Policy, that when entering and leaving stores I’d hold the door open for others, often for an “excessive” amount of time, they said. 

Brittney Griner
Supporters of Brittney Griner’s punishment are distressingly incorrect.

They’d even comment that people often didn’t bother to say “Thank you,” thus I was a double fool. 

And every time I explained that I didn’t hold the door for “them” but “for me,” to make me feel better. 

Calling for Griner’s punishment to be greatly reduced — if not suspended — has nothing to do with Griner’s personal politics, and everything to do with what’s right, based on her status as both a human and a U.S. citizen. 

Who among us doesn’t have a loved one of any age whom we regard as politically naive, even stupid, ungrateful for the freedom to protest whatever they chose? Would we advocate they rot in a penal colony for nine years? Would we allow ourselves to become that embittered? 

Or would we actively support their expedited return to freedom as they had been so clearly denied reasonable justice for a minor crime? 

Would we not hold the store door open because a man or woman with political beliefs other than ours was approaching? Should we act on our most petty thoughts? 

Brittney Griner's punishment is excessive, regardless of personal beliefs.
Brittney Griner’s punishment is excessive, regardless of personal beliefs.
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In 1770, John Adams, a Massachusetts lawyer who lent his intellect and soul to the American Revolution and went on to became the second U.S. president, risked his life and liberty to defend British troops accused of murder in the Boston Massacre, which left five colonists dead. 

Adams was vilified by claims of his treason and tyranny because he felt the aggressors were not the British, but a mob of his anti-British confederates. The facts told him the Redcoats, about to be engulfed by a throng, fired in self-defense. 

That Adams resented the Crown for having shipped troops to Boston was irrelevant. And no matter his personal peril, Adams wanted a fair trial. 

Adams won the troops’ acquittal, saving their lives. Physically short and unimposing, he was exceedingly brave. 

Brittney Griner should rot in a Russian labor prison for the next nine years due to her repugnant unpatriotic positions as a WNBA star with some she-knew-better cannabis oil thrown in? Sure. If that makes you feel better, sure.

Division III game a true first-rate event

Who says we can’t have nice things? 

Our Person of the Week is Mark Holtzman, head of non-baseball events at Yankee Stadium, who put together the wildly successful 63rd Cortaca Jug game last Saturday in The Bronx. 

The Cortaca Jug may sound like a yacht race, but it’s the annual rivalry football game — a civil rivalry, as opposed to too many others — between Ithaca College and SUNY-Cortland, their campuses 21 miles apart. 

This year, both teams came in with 9-0 records. 

More than 40,000 were reported to have shown up in Yankee Stadium to watch a Division III game — the best college game seen on TV that day — won by Ithaca, 34-17, as seen live on YES. And enrollment of the two schools combined is about 11,000. 

Ithaca grad Bruce Beck called the game — playing it down the middle — and seemed thrilled throughout that it was given such big-time attention by fans, students, alums, TV and Yankee Stadium with Holtzman’s thoughts, urgings and energy. 

And it was a clean, well-played game, close until nearly the end. It felt good to feel good, again, watching a college football game. 

More than a few celebrity endorsers have been named in a class action suit claiming they lent — sold — their fame, reputations and credibility to the ill-defined, blind-faith cryptocurrency broker FTX. FTX recently collapsed, losing a reported, gulp, $32 billion. 

Come-and-get-it (whatever it was) FTX Endorsers named as co-defendants in the suit include Larry David, Tom Brady, Giselle Bündchen, Shaq O’Neal, Naomi Osaka and Stephen Curry. 

You thinking what I’m thinking? If one of these big leagues-certified, radio and TV-pitched, personal promo code-carrying and celebrity-endorsed sports gambling operations similarly collapses, there could be more co-defendants than a prosecutor could stuff in a briefcase. 

The Devils have been hit by some magical spell that has made them the best offensive zone passing team in town — including the Knicks and Nets. 

Another nose-to-nose Sunday in New York, both at 1 p.m.: Jets-Pats, CBS, Kevin Harlan with Trent Green; Lions-Giants, Fox, Kevin Burkhardt with Greg Olsen. If the NFL’s TV partners only knew what they know now, at least one NY team would be kicking off at 4:05 — at the earliest. 

Goodell buries head in the sand

Despite the Packers’ miserable season, RB Aaron Jones had the self awareness and dignity to grab his crotch while scoring against the Cowboys on Sunday. 

Sick of this vulgar, copied gesture, and worried that the NFL is losing decent-headed viewers and customers to impudent acts, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell erupted, publicly rebuking Jones while threatening maximum fines and suspensions to the next player who would so intentionally place the NFL in such indefensible public disrepute. 

Aaron Jones grabs his crotch while celebrating a touchdown against the Cowboys.
Aaron Jones grabs his crotch while celebrating a touchdown against the Cowboys.

“I will not allow my stewardship to quietly suffer such rank, intentional misconduct on our playing fields in front of our fans,” Goodell said in a widely distributed statement. “Such behavior must end.” 

Yeah, sure he did. 

Once again, Goodell, the pandering coward, did and said nothing — at least not in public. Having turned the Super Bowl halftime show into an X-rated, crotch-grab festival, his great regard for the greater good — for right over wrong — could not be less evident. 

Try doing what Jones did in Goodell’s and his family’s faces. See if he’s good with that. 

Graphic of the Week won, again, by ESPN. Monday after Eagles WR DeVonta Smith’s TD catch: “First Player In NFL History With Rec. TD On Birthday In Back-To-Back Seasons.” 

Imagine being assigned to research that one: “Say, Kevin, what are you doing, this week? Can it wait? Here’s what I want you to do … ” 

The next time a TV network encourages you to consider a QB’s “passer rating” think what Kenny Golladay has done for Daniel Jones’. 

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