UCLA’s Josh Rosen, Eco-Athlete, Hopefully Will Be Gang Green’s (aka NY Jets) Next Quarterback

This year’s NFL draft is considered by many so-called experts to be a quarterback bonanza. Many mock drafts have four QBs — in alphabetical order, they are Josh Allen of Wyoming, Sam Darnold of USC, Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield, and Josh Rosen of UCLA — being chosen in the top 10 picks of the first round. In fact, there is a solid chance that the first three picks of the draft will be quarterbacks. It says here that, if he is available when Gang Green, aka the New York Jets, my New York Jets make the third overall pick in the first round, they should select Rosen for two good reasons: 1. He’s the best pure passer in the draft and has a high football IQ, and 2. He’s an eco-athlete! 

 

EDITORS’ WARNING: THE FIRST TEN PARAGRAPHS OF THIS GSB POST GET INTO THE MINUTIAE OF THE NFL DRAFT, THE ANNUAL SELECTION OF COLLEGE FOOTBALL STARS THAT DRAWS A TELEVISION AUDIENCE OF ALMOST 10 MILLION VIEWERS, AS WELL AS THE PSYCHOLOGICAL SCARS OF NEW YORK JETS FANS. IF THIS DOES NOT APPEAL TO YOU BUT YOU ARE INTERESTED IN THE ECO-ATHLETE ASPECT OF THIS STORY, PLEASE SKIP AHEAD TO THE PROMPT BELOW. THANK YOU.

The New York Jets have been in the quarterback desert for almost 50 years, the halcyon days of Joe Willie Namath and the miracle of Super Bowl III. As a Jets fan since the then, I — and my brothers and sisters in green — have suffered, quarterback-wise, through the unspeakably awful (Browning Nagle, Geno Smith), the hopeful-but-ultimately-meh (Richard Todd, Mark Sanchez), the good-ones-derailed-by-injury (Chad Pennington) and the pretty-good-but-did-they-really-bloody-pick-him-before-Dan Marino?!?! (Ken O’Brien).

 

Browning Nagle

Browning Nagle, one of many Jets quarterback busts over the past 40 years (Photo credit: Gang Green Nation)

 

That legacy of abject failure means most Jets fans approach the first round of the 2018 draft — which takes place April 26 in Dallas — with typical sports fan hope (“we’re picking third, we need a quarterback AGAIN and there are four top QB prospects. We will get one of them!”) leavened by a heaping helping of fatalism (“not all of them will be good and these idiots will pick the wrong guy!” and/or “even if they pick the right guy, he’ll get hurt!”)

And that fatalism is amped up by the fact that the Jets, originally slotted to pick sixth in the first round (the 32 NFL teams pick in inverse order of their finish the season before — the team with the worst record picks first, the team that won the Super Bowl picks 32nd), traded two their two* second round draft picks this year and their second round pick in 2019 to the Indianapolis Colts to move up to the third slot as they were fearful of missing out on the Big Four. Second round draft picks are expected to turn out to be solid-to-very good starters so that was a heavy price to pay. But if you don’t have a quarterback, you’re nowhere, so, it says here, it was a trade the Jets had to make.

And that amped up fatalism has been dialed up to DEFCON1^ status because, as good as the Class of 2018 quarterbacks appear to be — Allen has one of the most powerful arms seen in recent years, Darnold looks like the complete package, especially his ability to improvise under pressure, Mayfield is a leader and is very accurate, and Rosen is seen as the best pure passer and the most intelligent of the bunch — none are sure things. They all have flaws: Allen’s accuracy, Darnold turns the ball over too much, Mayfield is too short, and Rosen has a concussion history and is alleged to have personality issues (or, as Sam Alipour of ESPN The Magazine puts it, while “roughly half of draft-loving America feels he’s a future franchise QB, while the other half fears he’s a crap-stirring, system-disrupting locker room poison pill.”)

So, who should the Jets pick? It depends on who will be available.

With the draft two weeks away, conventional wisdom has it that the Cleveland Browns, picking first and with a three decades long need at QB, will select Darnold. As an aside, if you’re unfamiliar with the NFL draft and the first 500+ words of this post make no sense, rent the 2014 movie “Draft Day,” starring Kevin Costner. It gives you a Hollywood-i-fied version of the draft, it’s entertaining and Costner’s character runs the draft for the Cleveland Browns. Art imitating life.

The New York Giants — the “older brother” rival of the Jets — have the second pick. Eli Manning won two Super Bowls (2008, 2012) for them at QB but he’s 37. Backup Davis Webb, a third round pick last year, is untested. If these QBs are really “all that”, then the Giants will pick one. If they opt to stay with Manning and Webb, they could trade down to amass more picks, to a team more desperate for a signal-caller (Denver, Miami, Buffalo, and Arizona are all in that predicament, to one degree or another). Or, they stay put pick the best non-quarterback in the draft. I think Big Blue will pick a QB. My guess — and it’s just a guess — is that they will take Josh Allen, loving his big arm in the cold weather games of the northeast. But, for the sake of this Jets-centric post, let’s assume they take a non-QB (pass rusher Bradley Chubb would be my choice in that case), giving Gang Green the choice of the law firm of Allen, Mayfield, and Rosen.

I would pick Josh Rosen.

 

Josh Rosen Michael Owen Baker:Associated Press

Josh Rosen, working out for NFL scouts in the run up to the draft (Photo credit: Michael Owen Baker/Associated Press)

 

My biggest concern is his concussion history but I’m not worried about the personality stuff. And on the field, I like his vision, decision making and arm. He’s not as good a runner as the other three but he moves well enough to extend plays. If Darnold somehow is available when the Jets pick, I would take him. Otherwise, for me, it’s Rosen.

 

Rosen Darnold Kevin kuo USA Today

Josh Rosen (l) and Sam Darnold shake hands after Darnold’s USC Trojans defeated Rosen’s UCLA Bruins last season (Photo credit: Kevin Kuo/USA Today)

 

ECO-ATHLETE ONLY READERS, IT’S SAFE TO REJOIN US HERE.

And that was before I learned about Rosen’s eco-athleticism on Tuesday. In an in-depth interview on espn.com with Sam Alipour (it’s well worth reading), Rosen took on the personality issues that have dogged him, and showed himself to be a curious, insightful 21 year-old. And he also discussed climate change when discussing which causes he will champion as a pro:

I think it’ll evolve, but one cause I’ll champion is the environment. It touches everything. I mean, the war in Syria started because of the drought and famine that destabilized the country and led the population to revolt against the government. I know global warming is a partisan issue for some stupid reason, but it touches everything.

Rosen is the first athlete I know of who made the link between climate change, the drought in Syria, and, by inference, the resulting refugee crisis. I expect this from Pulitzer Prize winning New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman but not from a quarterback about to be a first round NFL draft pick.

It shows common sense, the ability to connect dots, and the ability to think. All important, if underrated, qualities for an NFL QB.

So, to New York Jets General Manager Mike Maccagnan, the ultimate decider in the draft room, bring eco-athlete Josh Rosen to Gang Green.

Unless, of course, Sam Darnold is available. Then all bets are off.

 

* The Jets had an additional second round pick in the 2018 draft due to a prior trade with the Seattle Seahawks
^ DEFCON1 is the most severe level of readiness of the U.S. military, on a 1 to 5 scale

 


 

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The GSB Interview: Mick DeLuca, Greening UCLA Sports

UCLA has won 113 NCAA team sports championships, more than any other Division I school. But sports at the university involves much more than big time football and basketball. Many of the 65,000+ students and staff use the 16 recreational/athletics facilities, often alongside varsity athletes. Overseeing the well-being of the worker-outers as well as the facilities themselves is Mick DeLuca, Assistant Vice Chancellor of Campus Life. GreenSportsBlog spoke to DeLuca as he is also leading UCLA’s efforts to green its gyms and arenas. 

 

GreenSportsBlog: Mick, managing and greening the UCLA athletics’ facilities must be a massive undertaking. How did you get into this work?

Mick DeLuca: Well Lew, I’ve been working in the world of Student Life, Campus Life, Recreation and Sports for over 35 years, at the University of Denver, University of Wyoming and, for the bulk of my career, here at UCLA. And it is massive in that we have about 44,500 students plus 21,000 employees on a 408-acre campus, making it the most densely populated campus in the U.S. As far as Athletics and Recreation are concerned, our 23 facilities are available to all, from the All American basketball player to the recreational runner.

mdeluca-photo

Mick DeLuca (Photo credit: UCLA)

 

GSB: That’s in contrast to many big time Division I schools which manage separate facilities for the varsity athletes. I like the UCLA model better. And what a vibrant place to be; one of the iconic collegiate sports programs in the country.

MD: Oh no doubt about it. The UCLA brand is known worldwide. In fact, speaking of worldwide, we were very proud to be the Athlete Village and host 7 competitive sports during the 2015 Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles, and our UCLA’s housing complex as well as our sports and recreation facilities are significant parts of the Los Angeles bid to host the 2024 Olympics, creating a new model for an athletic centric, sustainable Village and Games experience. Talk about green—one of LA24’s biggest selling points is its greenness in that most of the facilities are already built. Isn’t the most sustainable Olympics the one you don’t have to build? As far as UCLA’s recreation and athletics are concerned, I’d like to believe green was always been in our DNA, but, to be truthful, our real interest in it started to come about through the building and construction end, when LEED standards came into vogue, starting in about the late 90s-early 2000s. Then, quite naturally it seemed to me, we got involved with the consuming end, with resource management. By that I mean water, gas and electricity usage all became a big concern in the mid-2000s, not only from an environmental point of view, but also from a financial one.

GSB: That seems like a logical way to get into it. What about climate change?

MD: Well, we’re a university. And so as climate change came into prominence, again in the 2000s, interest in it and trying to do something about it touched just about every corner of UCLA, including recreation and athletics. As part of the University of California, we have pledged to become carbon neutral by 2025.

GSB: Which is very high profile…

MD: No doubt about it. And just as our sports teams and athletics department are held to very high standards, so too is recreation. Our “greenness” is one of the things we want to be identified with.

GSB: That’s great to hear. So let’s get specific. Talk about one of the highest profile greening projects on campus, the renovation of Pauley Pavilion, the home of the 11-time national champion UCLA men’s basketball team…

MD: …and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s volleyball^, women’s gymnastics*, intramurals, dance classes and open gym. Pauley is really one of the best examples of sustainable recreation/athletics space in the country in that so many people use it.

pauley

Renovated Pauley Pavilion, home of UCLA basketball, volleyball, and gymnastics. (Photo credit: Southern California Public Radio)

 

GSB: So any student or faculty member can go play pick up ball at Pauley?

MD: Yes…

GSB: That is SO COOL! Students can shoot hoops where Lew Alcindor# and Bill Walton and the rest played…

MD:…And they also have the John Wooden Recreation Center, which gets 1.47 million uses and 47,000 unique users per year. So when we look at green, we look at construction, consumption and also a healthy environment. We call it “Active Sustainability”, inclusive to all.

wooden-center

Exterior of the John Wooden Center. (Photo credit: UCLA)

 

GSB: That’s a very healthy approach…

MD: Anyway, back to Pauley. When we shut it down for a year in 2012 for renovations—we played at the old LA Sports Arena and and Honda Center in Anaheim in the interim—we went for LEED certification for existing buildings and, by the time we reopened in November 2013, we had attained LEED Gold status.

GSB: That’s great! How have the students reacted to the greening of UCLA athletics? Do they care?

MD: For sure; for the most part, they’re very into sustainability and the concept of sustainable communities. We’ve worked with students from our Education in Sustainable Living Program and had an Action Research Team Project to work on our Zero Waste initiatives, and Zero Waste Pauley Pavilion both for sporting events, and other large scale events. We also hired an Environmental Science alum, Katie Zeller, to embed as a Sustainability Coordinator shared by our Sports Venues and Recreation.

GSB: What does Katie do?

MD: What doesn’t she do?! She handles all sustainability reporting at all 23 facilities (emissions, waste, water usage and other climate change metrics), conducts research, ensures our events are up to ISO 2012-1 standards for sustainable events, liaises with other student sustainability action teams, and handles all sustainability program activations. She also collaborates with many campus departments and on campus initiatives, as well as works directly with student groups and student event organizers.

GSB: Could you give us an example of what a sustainability program activation looks like?

MD: One great example is our Ecochella, held at our Sunset Canyon Recreation Center. It is a bicycle-powered concert event in which local and student bands play for four hours with a sound system powered by the energy of students’ pedal power for a crowd of 1,000.

ecochella-imgrum

UCLA students use pedal power to provide juice for the Ecochella concert. (Photo credit: Imgum)

 

GSB: What a great way educate students about unconventional uses of renewable energy while showcasing the link between sustainability and health. Bravo! What about on-site renewables on or near UCLA athletics and/or recreational facilities?

MD: UCLA is on the cutting edge of research on solar power and we’re working on installing solar at a number of campus facilities including those that are central to student activities such as the John Wooden Center. This helps our researchers and builds awareness of solar among our fans and students.

GSB: You guys are leading on the field and, as it relates to sustainability, off the court. And you’re in great company being in the PAC-12, the first collegiate sports conference to become a member of the Green Sports Alliance. You’re in amongst the Green-Sports heavyweights in the PAC-12, with University of Colorado, Boulder and Dave Newport, as well as the great work being done at Arizona State. How do you look at the Green-Sports competition in the PAC-12?

MD: We have a healthy competition with the other PAC-12 schools for Green-Sports. We know friendly competition both moves people to action and raises awareness. And, of course, we also collaborate. It’s a “lift all boats” kind of thing because we all have the same goals: To raise awareness of the need to be environmentally friendly…Doing so drives cultural change. To leave the world a better place for the next generations. To leave no trace.

GSB: Sounds very “Burning Man”-ish! How does UCLA go about engaging fans about green?

MD: Pauley Pavilion is where we message the fans. In fact our players and coaches provide sustainability, recycling-focused messaging that you’ll see on the concourses. Football has been more of a challenge as we, of course, play our home games at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. The stadium and grounds are owned not by UCLA but by the City of Pasadena and the Rose Bowl Group. So we don’t control things over there. But, over time, we are creating a great partnership with shared values as we’ve pushed sustainability and fan engagement programs

GSB: That’s good to hear. So will be seeing fan-focused sustainability messaging at the Rose Bowl next season?

MD: Either 2017 or 2018.

GSB: I look forward to seeing what that messaging is—and to seeing UCLA play in the 2018 Rose Bowl Game.

MD: You and me both!

 

^ UCLA men’s volleyball has won 19 national championships; the women’s team has won 3 national titles.
* UCLA women’s gymnastics owns 5 national championships
# Lew Alcindor (UCLA ’69) led the Bruins to 3 consecutive national championships, was drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks. After winning the NBA championship in 1971, Alcindor converted to Islam and changed his name to Kareem Abdul Jabbar. He is the NBA’s all-time leading scorer (38,387 points). 
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