Archive for September, 2012

32 Questions and More: Week Four

Posted: September 29, 2012 in ALL II
Tags: , ,

As a Packers fan I was going to have a very long post on the disgraceful end of the Monday Night Football game where a win was given to the losing team on a play so egregious that Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch and companions openly acknowledged they had been gifted a “W” but the 13th man.  My greatest frustration with the game did come with the final bad play but had been building for some time after the blown roughing the passer penalty.  Still, Green Bay played a terrible game for 30 minutes.  The offensive line looked as bad as USC did against Stanford.  Dropped passes.  Just a poor look.  I hate when people say “well, you should never put the game in the hands of the officials – just play better” because in general it is true but sometimes you are put in situations where you need to battle.  The Packers struggling in this game shows me that Green Bay can make adjustments (see the final 30 minutes of that game) and that Seattle’s defense is legitimate.  You hope the referees do their jobs properly so battles can be decided on the field.  Oh well.  Despite the screw job, I didn’t exactly want the NFL to cave in on everything to resolve the labor dispute immediately.  Some of the requests were absurd no matter the amount of money the league makes, especially the idea that part-time employees making on average $140,000+ should get a pension plan while full-time NFL employees do not.  NFL should have paid them more.  Eventually they settled things but it should be noted that my main man Commissioner Roger Goodell is employed by the owners who would not budge on these issues.  I know Goodell has a cushy life and criticism is part of the job but as fans we should do better at understanding what the Commissioner has control over (player conduct inconsistencies) vs. what the Commissioner is merely a representative on (labor negotiations between monetary interests).  Look up in the press box to the big wigs you cheer for putting players on the field – and try not to forget they were the same people that delayed and damaged the game.

Another 9-7 week for me.  Third straight in three weeks.  It’s consistency that will lead me through the lesser hot streaks of other “bloggers” on this site.

Browns at Ravens

Brandon Weeden played well last week.  Baltimore’s defense has been fraudulent.  Can Weeden put up numbers on this defense and should we owe him an apology for a bad week one?

Trap game on a Thursday night?  It’s the only reasonable way they lose this game.

Falcons vs. Panthers

With major quarterbacks struggling, is the Ice Man Matt Ryan in position to win an MVP trophy?  Best team in football right? (No, its still the 49ers)

Maybe I am out of touch but I had no issue with the Charlotte Observer’s editorial cartoon of Cam Newton with a Miss Kitty shirt.  Should I be more open to arguments like the one Stephen A. Smith laid out?  Should CAAAAM just play better?

Patriots at Bills

After week one, who thought the Patriots would be behind the Bills in the AFC East?

Fred Jackson is the game changer.  But his presence means nothing compared to the Buffalo expensive front seven versus Brady’s machine-like offense.  Can Mario Williams get to Brady?  Is this game the one where we know if Williams’ contract was a waste of money?

Vikings at Lions

Two close games with less than stellar opponents and a dominant performance against the best team in the NFC.  With teams no longer looking at this team as a gimmie, will the Vikings step up or was Week Three a fluke?

Detroit can win with Shaun Hill right?  Hell, if they can shut down Percy Harvin they can win…right?

Titans at Texans

Chuck Klosterman wrote a great piece on how fantasy football has changed how people view player success and performance (re: Chris Johnson).  Mr. Johnson has 45 yards after three games.  Is there any real way to understand this stunning lack of productivity?

Are the Texans the most underrated (certainly underappreciated) team in the NFL?

Chargers at Chiefs

Hehehe…Chargers got exposed didn’t they?  NFC seems superior to the AFC so seeing the Chiefs should right the ship.  Don’t mind the classic Arrowhead trap game fever and questions about the Chargers defense matching up against Jamaal Charles.

Not going to go overboard with Charles’ big day.  Can the injured secondary force Rivers turnovers?  Two is the magic number.

49ers at Jets

Alex Smith struggled, defense struggled, special teams looked good actually.  Can losing to the Vikings be forgotten by going from west to east and winning?  In the modern era, nothing is more overstated than east to west splits.

Joe McKnight playing cornerback in practice.  How much more evidence do you need that this team is a mess?  First place in the AFC East by the way.

Seahawks at Rams

Not to be a spoiled sport but it is impossible to look at Russell Wilson and think “there is a good quarterback.”  How bad is Matt Flynn?

Felt good about this being a trap game until I wondered: How is Sam Bradford going to deal with this really good Seahawks defense?  Rush the passer with the Rams offensive line somewhere between Packers bad and Bears bad.  Not good.

Dolphins at Cardinals

Amazingly enough, the Dolphins should be tied for the AFC East lead.  Reggie Bush needs to be healthy for them to win.  In any event, how good would this team be with Matt Moore at quarterback?

Skelton is healthy.  Kolb appears to be “back” which means he is good but not that good but good as of late.  Who will be the quarterback of the future for the undefeated Cardinals?

Raiders at Broncos

Can’t figure out this team, can you?  When McFadden is on, he is ON!

Peyton Manning going behind early is concerning.  His comebacks are reassuring.  Can the offense avoid early struggles to keep the game close?  If so, they will win.

Saints at Packers

Brees has struggled to live up to his high standards.  Will Brees and the Saints validate the third ranked defense in the NFL or expose it as a result of poor offense opponents?

The Packers offense has struggled to live up to its high standards.  Will Rodgers and the Packers get back on track against a bad Saints defense or expose themselves to be mortal?

Bengals at Jaguars

Looks like the young Andrew Dalton maybe winning the Dalton/Newton argument of 2011.  Will the Bengals be able to stop MJD or at least try to avoid being a bottom team in run defense?

Speaking of MJD, he is averaging 5.3 yards per carry.  That’s nuts.  Can Blaine Gabbert pull himself from the jaws of being a 50% completion percentage quarterback to support their star running back?

Redskins at Buccaneers

Simple question: Can the Redskins defense be half as competent as their offense?  All of their struggles have to do with their defense giving up over 30 points per game.

Over/Under Josh Freeman touchdowns 2.5?

Giants at Eagles

Can the Giants offensive line handle a talented and powerful Eagles front four?

LeSean McCoy.  Does Andy Reid forget he plays for his team?  Will he get some touches?

Bears at Cowboys

Can the J’Marcus Webb turnstile hold up against DeMarcus Ware?

Will Tony Romo – off to his typical good start – avoid his typical big game mistakes?

Advertisements

Point/Counterpoint

Posted: September 23, 2012 in ALL II, Bunker, Collaborative Posts

Defense of Goddell – ALL 2

Per usual with the legal sphere and rich folks (especially in sports), we get a bunch of confusing statements, juicy headlines, and more questions than answered.  Earlier this week, Jonathan Vilma finally met with Commissioner Roger Goodell to discuss his involvement with the Saints bounty program, the story that will not go away.  Soon thereafter the meeting, the public learned that Vilma and his attorney were given a signed affidavit (available here) of Gregg Williams’ statements pertaining to the bounty program.  Not being a legal scholar, I know that the penalty for lying in an affidavit is perjury and that is something people should not want to face because it’s a BIG deal.  (Note: I am a PhD student in political science, not a law student.  I will leave the legal side open for my more legally inclined colleague) The kicker in all of this is the new rush to present affidavits on the situation.  Vilma’s attorney Peter Ginsburg suggests 30 players are ready to defend Vilma.  Vilma took to Twitter to suggest Williams was bullied into signing this.  Everyone is confused as to why its dated September 14, 2012.  All of this does not matter to me because until further notice it appears as bad for Vilma as it did before.

The first thing that bothers me is the quickness for people to dismiss the genuine nature of the affidavit.  Most people acknowledge that the statement mirrors the exact information he gave to the NFL back in March.  Most people complained that they did not believe the evidence the NFL had and some recently suggested Williams was backing out of his statements; the affidavit seems to double down on the genuine nature of the statement.  Maybe this is the contrarian opinion but this seems more than reasonable since this is going back in front of a court.  I suppose it’s also contrarian to not hate the commissioner but I digress.

The other part of this that gets me going is the public’s willingness to be on board with the 30 players willing to support Vilma.  This, to me, sounds similar to the Lance Armstrong situation that everyone sided with USADA on a month ago.  Remember Lance being confronted with more and more people in trouble and giving testimony claiming he doped?  Remember Lance saying he didn’t and could bring many more teammates, coaches, etc. to support his side?  Remember no one giving a damn that Lance could do that?  I do. I do. I do.  Vilma is now in a similar situation and everyone seems to be siding with Vilma because Goodell is a bad man.  Having a bunch of players pop up to your defense does not mean you didn’t do anything.  It means you have people that said you didn’t do something other people said you did.  Why does Gregg Williams get no credibility but Tyler Hamilton, Floyd Landis, and others do when making statements after testing positive and “in the clutches of the man?”

What this comes down to is Roger Goodell and the NFL are not just picking on the Saints.  We are in a semantics war between pay for performance and pay for injury.  It’s a lawyer’s wet dream which means it’s time for me to bow out.  What I do know is that a bounty system did take place and that involved some players.  Now, no player is willing to rat on another. I get that.  But some player was involved.  Multiple players were involved.  While I am in no position to challenge someone’s motives, I do wonder if this is about integrity or the moolah lost.  If this was not a full season suspension, would we even be here?  Maybe.  I have no issue with Goodell looking to hold players accountable for their involvement in something egregious like a bounty scandal.  Hope the players implicated are the ones involved but to this day nothing has changed to point the finger of doubt towards anyone but Vilma and the three other’s fingered by the NFL.

 

Defense of Jonathan Vilma: Bunkie

I don’t know whether or not Jonathan Vilma is directly responsible with this pay for performance (some call it a bounty) scandal. He’s racking up legal fees by the day to defend his name and reputation, money I’m sure he’ll want when he retires. I can respect the way Vilma has gone about defending his innocence. When Goddell asked to meet with Vilma, Vilma refused, a move I first criticized. But what has become increasingly obvious is that Roger Goddell has relied heavily on hearsay and third party references to come to his conclusions about bounty-gate.

An independent arbitrator lifted the suspensions. That tells me that there is a serious lack of evidence on the side of the NFL. Don’t get me wrong, the circumstantial evidence mounted against Vilma is convincing, but since when do we convict on such matters. While some may quibble with the idea that we still aren’t even certain that this was a bounty scandal, the distinction between pay for performance and bounty is very important. The NFL needs to go out and prove without a doubt that this Saints system was contributing to unnecessary violence that would not have happened were it not for this system. That’s tough to do. Especially when there’s no smoking gun. So in a desperate attempt to save face and pin the deed to Vilma, Goddell reached into the gutter to trot out the troll that he suspended indefinitely: Greg Williams.

Although I’m not a fan of the “Stop Snitching” era, this Greg Williams affidavit is exactly why that moniker was created. Greg Williams was the face of the bounty-gate, he received the most severe punishment of all. He’s desperate. Goddell’s desperate. They are both making a deal with the devil. For all of those who believed that Goddell had an agenda against the Saints, this helps give that notion A LOT of credence. I’m sure Goddell didn’t obtain this affidavit without giving Williams a little something in return. Vilma’s defense, although it sound childish, is valid: “The nfl has 1 affidavit saying i did it. I have NINE saying i didnt. Do the math. Hush haters”. The whole investigation and the subsequent suspensions were resolved via questionable circumstantial evidence, why can’t the defense be the same.

When it comes to NFL credibility, well, these are the same people who are telling us the replacement referees are doing a great job.

32 Questions and More…Week 3

Posted: September 21, 2012 in ALL II

Consecutive 9-7 weeks makes me a contender in the NFC East and a league leader in the AFC South.  Picks in bold and 32 questions for 32 teams in Week Three.

Giants at Panthers

Every week the Giants are more and more injured and that famed pass rush is not doing the job to help the band-aided secondary.  Will Manning, Eli need to throw for 400 yards to beat the Panthers by a touchdown?

How will the Panthers decide to confront the Giants defense: a primary run first team with three NON-INJURED THOUGH NOT HEALTHY running backs or a passing attack to take on the Webster led secondary?

Rams at Bears

Sam Bradford can pick apart a bad defense but for now the Bears still have a good defense.  In a tight game, will Steven Jackson be healthy enough to open up lanes for Bradford to go over the top (re: Cedric Benson last week versus the Bears)?

Matt Forte is the top rusher and second leading receiver.  He is hurt.  Who steps up to fill that void in the wide receiver department?  Did the Brandon Marshall signing detract from a still poor wide receiving corps?

Bills at Browns

Was the Bills defensive performance against the Chiefs last week taking advantage of a beat up team or a sign of a defense meeting high expectations?

Brandon Weeden looked great.  Trent Richardson looks good too.  Everyone else is disastrous.  Is there real hope for Cleveland going forward?

Buccaneers at Cowboys

Which unwritten rule will Greg Schiano break this week?  I can only hope he doesn’t do the handshake at the end of the game and advocate for more helmet-to-helmet hits.

It’s clear that Tony Romo is doing this on his own.  Will people see through the box score and recognize that Romo is overachieving with an offensive line on par with the USC Trojans?

Jaguars at Colts

Upset special.  MJD looks smooth like an American beer with nearly similar initials.  Can Blaine Gabbert get his life together to play consistent decent games?

Luck is in a similar situation with Romo with a terrible offensive line but got his first win against the once formidable pass rush of the Minnesota Vikings.  Still, is Reggie Wayne the team’s MVP?

Jets at Dolphins

Loss against a good defense.  Tebow getting a bump.  Sanchize under fire.  Hate to deflect a bit but will anyone call out Shonn Greene for being unsatisfactory at the running back position?  3.1yds/carry is not exactly ground breaking.

Tannehill played better too but the guy of the team is Reggie Bush.  He looks very good this year coming off a season where he looked like a number 2 overall pick in 2006.  Can he establish the run against a top flight front?

49ers at Vikings

Recently bloodied Alex Smith has now beaten Rodgers, Stafford, and Brees in three of his last four games.  Is he any closer to getting respect from anyone in the league?

The Vikings have played the two closest games of the season based on play (not score).  Both of those teams were not good.   Can the Vikings, at home again, provide the 49ers defense with some problems and keep it close again?

Chiefs at Saints

So when the Chiefs go 0-3 will my upset pick to win the AFC West be voided due to serious injuries on the team?

Not to be rude but Drew Brees isn’t exactly playing at an MVP level.  Their defense is atrocious.  Can the Saints hold off a fledging Chiefs offense and can Brees establish himself against the beat up defens?

Lions at Titans

What’s wrong with Matthew Stafford?  This is abnormal.

Chris Johnson has 19 carries for 21 yards.  What’s new with this guy?  This is normal.

Bengals at Redskins

Law firm is producing nicely and Andy Dalton has resumed his solid performance from last season.  I know the spotlight is on A.J. Green but who will cover Andew Hawkins and his 14.2 yards/catch?

Josh Morgan got death threats after his penalty cost the Redskins last week.  When will fans get a grip and upgrade their priorities?

Eagles at Cardinals

How many turnovers can the Eagles (Vick) commit and still win?  Isn’t that the theme for the first few games for the Eagles?

Kevin Kolb’s revenge maybe a bit over blown.  Will he survive against a legitimate NFC East pass rush?

Falcons at Chargers

Matty Ice looked good early but the Monday Night Football game was way too close after those early turnovers.  On the road outside, can Matt Ryan be productive enough to open up lanes for a struggling Michael Turner (2.6yrds/carry)?

Philip Rivers is back on track and Ryan Matthews should be returning this game.  Will this begin to swing the tide from the NFC to the AFC?

Texans at Broncos

First real test for the Texans who got to 2-0 with confident wins over scrubs.  I do believe in this defense and the best set of running backs in the league.  Will that offensive line be able to protect Schaub who has one touchdown in two games?

Peyton stunk, worked through it, and almost pulled off the comeback.  Not to start a controversy but can it ever be a good sign anytime Brock Osweiler is warming up?

Steelers at Raiders

Can the Steelers gain control of a tough AFC North against a weak opponent as their rivals fight it out in Baltimore?

Before anyone can point a finger at Carson Palmer (and he should not get a finger pointed towards him), what happened to Darren McFadden with 54 yards total in two games?  Not acceptable.

Patriots at Ravens

Quietly kept, the Ravens defense can be run on.  With the Patriots excited (and more commited) about the run, can Stevan Ridley get to the century mark on the ground?  Does that guarantee a win?

Will Joe Flacco finally cement himself in the next tier of quarterbacks?  This game falls squarely on his shoulders as this is not his offense.

Packers at Seahawks

People are very quick to point out how the Packers offense has not looked sharp.  It may have something to do with playing the best defense and a perennial top five defense in the first two weeks of the season.  Can Green Bay play an effective game against another top tier defense in the NFL?

Do the Seahawks have (or need) enough offensive diversity to slow down the revitalized Packers pass rush and move the ball down the field?

 

Way Down in the Hole for the Referees

Posted: September 18, 2012 in Bunker

Here’s some irony for you, we watch football now not only to watch the players, but to watch for the next controversial play where we, the fan, can poke fun of the ineptitude of these replacements. We love to scream and holler about how much we’re bothered by the refs, but on our twitter feed we allow the referees to trend. We hold our breaths every time a flag is thrown or one of the players screams at the refs until they throw a flag. Forget the integrity of the game. If integrity of the game truly mattered, wouldn’t we have been up-in-arms for years when we saw the first team to get the ball in overtime kick a Field Goal for the win? Wouldn’t we have fled the NFL after the controversial calls in the Steelers vs. Seahawks SuperBowl XL where the NFL had to soon apologize for the horrendous officiating during that particular game. Turns out the game is rigged, not by the refs,  not by the league offices, but us, the fans. They sucked us in and we’re not going anywhere.

Remember when there was an alternative?

[youtube:www.youtube.com/watch?v=OKk5qTtpOjg]

Steve Young’s right, we’re all shills. We never truly cared about the integrity of the game, because our love for the NFL has no integrity. We need something to talk about early in the season other than the game itself. We don’t mind, we’re not going turn the game off. We’re all Bubbles and even though Pandemic is just Yellowtop , we’re still buying.

 

Sundays are our Hamsterdam:

 

[youtube:www.youtube.com/watch?v=GOHkrZECnfs]

Narratives of Week 2 Before They Happen

Posted: September 15, 2012 in Bunker

The Cowboys go 0-2 and every one is reminded of Tony Romo’s biggest choker moment. We are showed the video 5 or 6 times to try to make Seahawks-Cowboys a more relevant game than reality reveals.

[youtube:www.youtube.com/watch?v=vRn5b4BJyiI]

Victor Cruz drops key passes while announcers are shocked at this even though Cruz was top 5 in drops last year.

Fans realize that Kansas City and Buffalo have teams when they are forced to sit through highlights and pretend that they only care because they have Jamal Charles and CJ Spiller on their teams.

Analysts will make a big deal out of the Vikings being 2-0 and Adrian Peterson’s heart and determination will be lauded.

When you pay a Coach $7million and he gets suspended, it hurts your team.

We are shown a flashback of Michael Vick’s right fibula fracture in 2003.

Griffining attempts to be the black Tebowing (Mature audiences only). And fails miserably.

People begin looking at the Texans schedule and find little reason why that team won’t clinch before December.

Dick Lebeau begins talking to an empty chair, while Tebow scores a touchdown.

Peyton Manning will be on every National primetime game this season.

The debate about player safety takes a new twist.

Rough week in the picks department but week one is about survival and figuring out what you really have against other opponents.  Going 9-7 was a nice start but in the 32 questions below, it’s already must win double digit games or I fear a benching or even a firing.  Ok maybe not but it’s not as bad as Andy Reid’s seat.  Picks and questions for week two with winners in bold.

Bears at Packers

Chicago has played the Packers close and lost over the past six meetings but has not been this balanced in years.  Will Cutler’s plan to bait the Packers into press coverage result in a 125yd, 2TD performance from Brandon Marshall?

Offensively the Packers looked the same, playing well against the top defense in the NFL but defensively looked as suspect as ever: little pass rush, penalties, and corners who could not keep up.  Can Mr. 1000 yard rusher Cedric Benson provide enough quality rushes to ease some pressure off Aaron Rodgers to outscore the Bears?

Bills at Chiefs

Kansas City struggled last year due to key injuries on the offense and the little depth in the secondary.  Last week, the defense came under attack with injuries to starting corner Brandon Flowers, linebacks Derrick Johnson and Jovan Belcher, and safety Kendrick Lewis.  Can this team catch a break?

Along with the Chiefs, the other upset playoff pick that looked bad was the Bills.  The upgraded defense got worked by Sanchize and Ryan Fitzpatrick seemed healthy and still crappy.  Will Chan Gailey be outcoached by Romeo Cronnell?  If you get worked by the offensively limited Jets, everything else seems like an uphill battle.

Saints at Panthers

How stupid were people to suggest that Super Bowl winning coach and offensive mastermind Sean Payton wouldn’t be missed because Drew Brees is really good?

How long will it be before Panthers GM Marty Hurney (employed in Carolina since 2002) get the ax for perpetuating this rotational running back mess?  Decide on the running back of choice and let that person run the ball.  Caaaaaaaaaaaaam….woaaaaah, Caaaaam is spared for now.

Browns at Bengals

Since week two comes falls on the week of September 11th and Brandon Weeden struggles with American flags, how will avoid the pregame blitz from good ol’ USA!USA!USA!? Did you notice his attempt to fake right and run backwards before taking the sack?

The Bengals were blown out by Baltimore but that game was much closer than the final score indicates.  If Vick can throw four interceptions and still win by one, does that mean Andy Dalton has only two turnovers worth of error to win?

Vikings at Colts

Adrian Peterson not only played, he ran for two touchdowns and looked pretty amazing in week one.  Can the Vikings enter week three as the only 2-0 team in the NFC North!?

It’s easy to credit a wide receiver when he has a great quarterback just was its easy to forget a star with a bad quarterback (see Larry Fitzgerald).  Have people underappreciated the greatness that is Reggie Wayne?  (YES!)

Texans at Jaguars

In Andre Johnson’s career, he has never had a double digit touchdown season but first things first: Can Johnson tie his 2011 touchdown total in only two games this season?

Blaine Gabbert played well in a game they should’ve won if they weren’t the Jacksonville Jaguars.  Will the Jags be fooled again into thinking they can compete this season (check out Jacksonville’s paper after they won the first game of the 2011 season), only to win four games?

Raiders at Dolphins

Is it possible to trade Reggie Bush to the Raiders to complete their insatiable desire for USC Heisman trophy winners from the Pete Carrol days?  (Sidebar: Did the Raiders address the question of why on a 52 man roster there was no one capable of long snapping to the punter in the event of injury?)

Aside from Darren McFadden, is there a more important non-quarterback offensive player for an AFC team than Reggie Bush?  Both Bush and McFadden run and catch more than anyone else.

Cardinals at Patriots

Which was more shocking: Arizona winning against the Seahawks or Kevin Kolb leading the win against the Seahawks?

Again, how the Patriots got this easy schedule?

Buccaneers at Giants

Greg Schiano prepared his defense to crush the Panthers rushing attack and he succeeded (10 total rushing yards for the Panthers).  What will Schiano focus on against the Giants and can stopping one thing be enough?

One game is an aberration; two is more of a trend.  Can Martellus Bennett back up his solid week one performance with a boneheaded free week two game?

Ravens at Eagles

Will the Ravens no-huddle offense make them the better team with better offensive athletes this Sunday?

How hard is it to believe that Vick will play winning football after his dud in Cleveland?

Cowboys at Seahawks

Are we just at the peak of the Cowboys season before underachieving the rest of the year or is there still room for improvement?

Yes, the Seahawks came one dropped pass from winning the game but is Bill Simmons’ pick to win the Super Bowl the dumbest thing ever written?

Redskins at Rams

Can recent fantasy pick up and rookie running back Alfred Morris be more than a one hit wonder before Shanahan pulls the plug?

Am I too afraid to pick the upset when this game has all the signs of a trap game?  (YES)

Jets at Steelers

How many games of leeway does Sanchez have after his amazing week one performance?

Can the Steelers ever get through a game without losing an offensive lineman?

Titans at Chargers

Is it bad to say that Chris Johnson is back on track after his 11 carry, 4 yard day last week?

It’s hard to root for Norv Turner but this could be the season where the losing streak comes at the end and not the beginning?

Lions at 49ers

Quietly kept, the Lions didn’t do themselves any favors with a poor performance in St. Louis.  Will Jim Schwartz successfully make it through the postgame handshake on opponent territory?

Randy Moss is back.  Manningham looks good.  Defense?  Spectacular but will it be able to contain a dual threat team with an elite wide receiver like Calvin Johnson and a healthy Kevin Smith?

Broncos at Falcons

Peyton Manning back in a dome with a high speed, no huddle offense and he rarely loses night games in primetime.  Can he pick apart an upgraded secondary with an injury to Brent Grimes but still anchored by Asante Samuel?

Can the Falcons’ streak of winning in that dome during the regular season over power Peyton’s power to not lose in primetime at night?  (Or is this going to be the first good test of how much better the NFC is over the AFC?)

This is going to sound like rambling so I apologize ahead of time but it’s just the beginning of some sports thoughts I’ve had for some time.

Going to a sporting event in the United States of America is a very exhilarating activity with many nuanced details and customs.  One of the oddest things has been the singing of the national anthem before games.  I generalize sporting events because this happens for major professional leagues the same as it does for untelevised high school sports.  It is a thing we (Americans) do because we are…exceptional.  Or so I think.  I only occasionally thought about why we drop what we do (eating, heckling, texting) to stand, find the flag, and listen to someone sing about our triumphant moment some centuries ago.  It took leaving the USA to realize that this is not a standard operating procedure in sports; it is uniquely American.

Visiting England (soccer) and South Africa (soccer and rugby) made me realize something that seemed obvious all along: when you are going against a team in the same nation, you don’t really need to sing the national anthem.  You all know what country you are in and presumably chanting that name or acknowledging it doesn’t change anything.  It was weird for me to not rise and remove my hat to listen to an anthem.  Odd but refreshing.

One of the things I like about international competition is that the opponent is from a different place and the kinship I feel is to the athletes from my location.  Singing the national anthem for the USA seems wonderful to inspire the fans against a different rival.   Singing it for Chicago vs. Detroit seems woefully uninspiring and at worst suggests one place to be more American or patriotic than the other.

I love this country and living here but this socialization to find the flag and recite the national anthem prior to high school track seems absurd – with the greater suggestion of not doing it means you are not as American.  Of course this is racialized as many persons of color have a distinctly different perspective of American history or “patriotism” through their own lens.  My qualms don’t go down those lines, rather they are squarely focused on the insecurity about our collective patriotism in highly “masculine” venues like sports.  It bothers me.  It seems very silly to do what we do and even more concerning when asking the question is met with disgust.

Some days are exceptions to my general feelings towards sports merging with patriotism.  Today is one of those days.  Today is September 11, 2012, the eleventh anniversary of the most dreadful and heinous terrorist attack that took place on September 11, 2001.  We were wounded, suffered, and lost as a nation and recognizing those losses and our healing seem appropriate today.  At most venues (and throughout the weekend for football), “God Bless America” will be performed to further pay homage to our losses and rebuilding efforts.  In New York Yankees games, this is a common practice every game during the seventh inning stretch.  A bit too much for my liking but what works with the patrons is the motivating factor for the day.

We should all take some time to remember how connected we are as people in this nation and paying tribute by singing the national anthem is a great way to do that at sporting events.  But going forward, it should be asked: why we need this every day for every sporting event?  Old Habits Die Hard (my suggestion for the title of the next Die Hard movie with 60 year old Bruce Willis) but not questioning why we do things may be doing more harm than good.  Just a sport thought though…

Short Revisit of 9/11

Posted: September 11, 2012 in Bunker

It’s been 11 years since the attacks of 9/11. I was reminded by all the commercials, previews and television shows recounting that awful day. What I do remember was the tremendous outpouring from the athletic community. Professional athletes and those associated with sports provided us with some really moving moments. I wanted to show some of them here:

I’m neither a Mets fan or a Mike Piazza fan, but I loved this moment. The eruption in Shea Stadium was powerful.

[youtube:www.youtube.com/watch?v=cBMC1tA4CdM]

Here’s my favorite George Bush moment of all-time. I’m convinced that strike down the middle helped him win re-election in 2004.

[youtube:www.youtube.com/watch?v=UXuxCqPKflo]

Jack Buck’s Poem

[youtube:www.youtube.com/watch?v=EvP97Z_bvIs]

This Guy is Your Other Option

[youtube:www.youtube.com/watch?v=4fH8ihdEz4w]

Its a quarterback driven league so we know the winners and losers early….Happy Sunday!