Bread and Circuses

We Love Urban

I get it.

The ongoing Urban Meyer investigation is nothing more than a PR campaign. When Ohio State officials issued a statement in which they promised a decision within “fourteen days”, it meant they plan on bringing him back, unless more damning evidence comes out before then.

So of course, a hundred or so clueless individuals showed up for a rally in support of Coach Meyer last Monday. And so I composed a letter to them. To the vast majority of Ohio State peeps who get it, please understand that I bear no ill will to you, your school or your sports programs. This is for the small minority of fools whose priorities should be questioned, not simply by yours truly, but by anyone who knows them.

Dear Ralliers,

I’m writing to you on behalf of all the battered women out there who have more important things to do than post a blog. Important things, like survive. They don’t have time to ask Urban Meyer why he would aid and abet a known abuser over all these years. They don’t have time to ask why you thought it was a good idea to hold a rally for someone like Urban Meyer.

Nut

Thing is, you were probably quick to slam Penn State. Michigan State too. And you were right on both counts, of course. Because the respective administrations of those two schools needed to be held accountable for horrific cover-ups. Problem is, your indignation seems to have been more about conference affiliation- The Lions and Spartans are Big Ten rivals- than about concern for the victims.

Don’t get me wrong, we weren’t expecting much from your small (thankfully) contingent. And yet, you managed to give us so much less anyway. Because wins and conference titles and playoff appearances are what matter most to you. Because you let us know that when you held a rally for a coach who is still employed because he can supply those things to your fan base.

If Urban Meyer was anything less than a great coach, he would’ve been gone by now. You would have been plenty fine with doing the right thing . . in that instance. But in this one, Meyer did wrong, and then he perpetuated that wrong by keeping an abuser on his payroll, and the only reason you’re okay with that is because of his 73-8 record.

What does it say about you . . that you would stand behind a bad guy like Meyer? That you would rally for his job when the facts demand that he be gone? What does it say about you that wins matter more than Courtney Smith’s well being? That wins matter more than the women who are being abused every single day? What does it say about you that, when you had a chance to do the right thing and demand that Meyer be fired immediately, you chose to hide behind his 73-8 record? What does it say about you, that you chose cult behavior over courage and compassion?

Me Too!

You should be ashamed of yourselves. But as that rally you held for Urban Meyer shows us all too well, you have no shame. Because the truth is, you might have been able to make a real difference in the interim. As your school waits it out in the hopes they won’t have to fire Meyer for his transgressions, you could have stayed neutral to the decision while still making a statement of hope and change. Because while an independent panel of investigators that includes three Ohio State trustees conducts its sham investigation, you could have issued a preemptive warning to Meyer’s second act, which seems more likely by the day. You could’ve put Meyer on notice.

You could have gotten together in support of all the women who are abused every single day. You could have gathered to remember all the women who have lost their lives to their abusers. And in so doing, you could have sent a message to this big name coach and his big deal program that by helping one abuser, they do an injustice to all those who are abused.

Because your cowardly rally comprised of weak minded individuals? It was the stuff of lemmings. You trashed journalists for uncovering the truth. You belittled a movement that is trying to move out of the dark ages. You defended a coach who hides behind bible study sessions and plausible denials. And why? You did so in the name of trophies.

I thought you should know that since you held your little rally on Monday? Twelve women have been murdered by their current or former male partners. And by the time this investigation is completed by that other Urban Meyer fan club? Thirty more women will have been murdered by their current or former male partners.

Your football coach is part of the problem, and so are you.

When Rocky Got Real

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In honor of the Eagles Super Bowl win, I broke out my New Years resolution to make a totally new sammy. The rules were simple: It had to be out of this world tasty, super rich . . and it had to be something I wouldn’t mind treating myself to on lazy- non running- mornings now and then. Simply put, it doesn’t make my roster if I wouldn’t make it again.

This particular sammy scored a roster spot. And while it may not be my starting QB, that’s plenty fine. I mean, it worked out pretty well for Nick Foles . . .

Here’s the blueprint for my Winna Bagel: 

Plain bagel, toasted and lightly buttered
Lebanon Sweet bologna
Jalapeno cream cheese
Muenster cheese
Scrambled egg (whipped frothy with S&P and a little Half and Half)
Sriracha honey chicken
Bacon
Guacamole

I put the sweet bologna on first. Next up was my cheesy scrambled egg, which was gooey in the middle with the cream cheese and Muenster. It had some delectably crunchy cheese nibbles on the edges. I topped that with chicken, bacon and a ‘lil guacamole.

The first thing that hit me was the smoky flavor of the sweet bologna and next came the creamy wave of the scrambled egg. The sweet and spicy chicken played well with the bacon and they danced madly with the guac. Needless to say it was a title winning flavor.

As for the game. best Super Bowl I’ve ever seen.

The back and forth scoring, the trick plays and ballsy calls by Doug Pederson. The middle finger Tom Brady threw at Father Time as he shattered passing records. And Nick Foles, the dude who almost retired a couple years ago, matching Brady and then beating him when it mattered most.

My Top 5 Venti Vents:

5- Defense was either optional, or those squads just decided to get a head start on the off-season.

4- I did not watch the halftime show, because while I dig JT, I don’t dig all the hype that surrounds the event.

3- I have nothing against Chris Collinsworth, but he really annoyed me for some reason.

2- Instant replay was introduced as a way to correct egregious calls. Unfortunately, it has taken out the human element of a bang/bang play that should be left alone and in most cases it STILL gets shit wrong! Even with a million different camera angles.

1- Sense was made of the nonsensical when a football neophyte brought enlightenment to my Super Bowl party.

“If he catches the ball, what’s the problem?” She asked.

“Well, he has to make a football move or it’s not considered a catch,” I replied.

“Oh, so he can prove he’s playing football and not hockey?”

“Well, it’s not that simple,” I insisted.

“It IS simple. And why are they reviewing this catch?”

“To see whether or not he had possession of the ball,” I replied.

“It’s in his arms!! Hell, if it’s enough evidence to get you arrested, it should be enough evidence for a football game!”

Now, if a fan who only watches football on occasion can get it right . . what’s up with the league office?

Other than that . . .

This game was a microcosm of the Eagles season. To paraphrase Rocky Balboa, no matter how hard they got hit, this team just kept moving forward. And in so doing, they exorcised the demons of so many heartbreaking endings. And they settled up with a town whose love for its hometown team would be dangerous if it weren’t so fucking romantic.

Take all that, and add this. I think the team that never won a title before Sunday is going to go down as the team that brought down an empire. Because I think Bellichick is getting out of Dodge, and while Tom Brady will probably continue doing Tom Brady things, it’s gonna be different.

Personally, I think this title tops all the other sports droughts that came before it. The Eagles didn’t have the romance of a ‘curse’ the way the Cubs and Red Sox did. And while Cleveland and San Francisco can most definitely bring the passion and love, Philly is a whole ‘nother beast. Because no town can match the psychosis of a team and its city in this way. And that’s kind of what this marriage has always been, psychotic. Fanatical doesn’t quite describe what Eagles fans truly are.

No less an authority on winning than Giselle pointed out how Eagles fans have waited a million years to call themselves Super Bowl champions. It probably does feel that long for a fan base that didn’t have a dynasty to fall back on. But that’s okay, because if you asked them how it feels to finally get their one, they’d probably all say the same damn thing.

Worth it.

 

 

The New England Invitational Turns LII

Minny 2018

I can’t believe it’s Super Sunday already. It feels like only yesterday that I was putting together my fantasy league team whilst under the illusion my Dolphins had a chance to see January . . . if only for sixty minutes.

The Patriots are making their annual trip, preparing to take on yet another bird. Last year’s Falcons replaced 2015’s Seahawks who have been unseated by this year’s Eagles. Soooo, Cardinals fans might want to book their Atlanta trip for next year’s Super Bowl before Patriots fans grab up all the best tickets.

The good news for Eagles fans is that Tom Brady will eventually succumb to Father Time. The bad news is, it ain’t happening soon enough. And if you happen to be one of those peeps who is suffering from Patriots fatigue, well . . .there’s always baseball!

A top 5.2 thoughts before I get to my Super prediction? Sure . . .

#1- Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Alshon Jeffery said this: 

“Ain’t no ‘if,’ man. When we win on Sunday, ain’t no telling what we’re going to do,” Jeffery said. “But we’re probably going to celebrate, have some fun.”

New England quarterback Tom Brady thought this: 

Umm,Alshon? Don’t poke the bear.

2- The Eagles insist they are getting no respect. 

What I hear when the Eagles rail on about the lack of respect people are showing to a 13-3 Super Bowl team . . .

3- Justin Timberlake will perform at this year’s halftime show. It will be his first appearance since the infamous “Nipplegate” episode with Janet Jackson. 

What everyone watching will see as they watch this year’s halftime show. 

 

Okay, I just had to sneak that video in because it’s fucking hilarious. No kids, the correct answer is Nipples for a thousand, Alex! 

4- The Eagles have a bevy of big deal fans rooting them on at this year’s game. From the Angels Mike Trout to actor Bradley Cooper. Ya got Will Smith, Carl Lewis, Kevin Bacon, Sylvester Stallone, Tina Fey, Tara Reid, Pink, Bob Saget, Kevin Hart, Carrot Top, Dr Oz, Jake Tapper, Questlove, Sofia Vergara, Charles Barkley and former Vice President Joe Biden. 

The Patriots have Giselle. 

Advantage Patriots. 

5- Vegas books reported a multi-million dollar wager was laid on the underdog Eagles. This elicited a conversation with a pal of mine that went something like this.

Okay . . . that was verbatim. 

As far as my .2 thought on today’s game? I won’t be watching the halftime show unless Janet Jackson shows up. And since that doesn’t seem likely, Imma go ahead and tell ‘yall what’s going to happen in Super LII, so there really is no point in even watching . . .

In the first half, absolutely nothing happens.

The halftime show proves to be a nipple free affair, but NBC puts a thirty minute delay in place just in case. The time lapse plays havoc on television viewers, and Fox News erroneously calls the game for the Patriots as a result. The Russians deny any involvement in the snafu.

Sommee Cards Super Bowl

The third quarter is when things really start cooking. Nick Foles pulls the Statue of Liberty play on the Pats and Jay Ajayi takes it eighty yards to the house to open the scoring. From there, the Eagles score thirty five unanswered points. They head to the fourth quarter with a 38-3 lead. In spite of this, Pats coach Bill Belichick is overheard saying “We have ’em right where we want ’em!”

In the fourth quarter, the Patriots stage a historic comeback (yep, again) and tie the score at 45 with just under two minutes to go. Tom Brady tosses six touchdown passes, including a Hail Mary to himself. Rob Gronkowski leaves the game with concussion symptoms after Brady slaps his helmet with his 283 diamond Super Bowl ring during a touchdown celebration.

Nick Foles and the Eagles take over at their own five yard line with a minute and a half remaining. A false start by Philadelphia moves them back to the goal line and three incomplete passes later, they are staring down the barrel of a fourth down and forever. Coach Doug Pederson sticks to the script that got him here by deciding to go for it. It seems that only a miracle can save the Eagles now. Or gravity . . .

On fourth down, Foles drops back into the end zone and flings the ball straight up into the air. Upon returning to earth, the ball is deflected by several players before falling into the arms of Eagles wide receiver Nelson Agholor, who picks up the first down by half a yard. The play is dubbed “The Isaac Newton” and it revs the green engine as Philadelphia marches down the field and with twelve seconds left, the Eagles have a first and goal at the Patriots nine yard line, Pederson inexplicably decides to leave his field goal kicker on the sidelines rather than have him attempt the Super Bowl winning field goal. As he would later explain, “I don’t trust Jake Elliot unless it’s from fifty yards out,”.

After a play action pass sails out of bounds, there’s time for one more play into the end zone. Against a heavy New England pass rush, Nick Foles finds Zach Ertz for what appears to be the game winning touchdown with one second left. But referees convene and the play comes under review to determine if Ertz did in fact make the catch.

Announcers Al Michaels and Chris Collinsworth debate what constitutes a catch.

Michaels: It’s when the catch is conceived! 

Collinsworth: No! It’s when the football is physically visible! 

Sideline reporter Michele Tafoya suggests that if the NFL cannot decide what constitutes a catch, the Supreme Court should step in. She then uses several replays that show Ertz juggling the football, proving that he did not make the catch. Her argument is eerily reminiscent of the JFK investigation.

Tafoya: As you can see Ertz enter the turn, the ball snaps back . . and to the left. See it guys? Back . . and to the left. Back . . and to the left . . Back . . and to the left. 

The instant replay review drags on for more than an hour, allowing NBC to air two episodes of Will and Grace. Despite the sitcom’s popularity, viewership plummets since there’s no Tom Brady to root/hate on. In response to the deflated numbers, Commissioner Goodell tells Brady not to leave town.

When they finally come to a conclusion, Head Referee Gene Steratore tweets out their decision before making the announcement . . . Touchdown! The Eagles celebrate for several minutes, drawing one penalty another until Coach Pederson feels comfortable enough to let his placekicker attempt a sixty yard extra point, which he nails as time expires.

Final Score: Eagles 52- Patriots 45

The front page headlines of the Philadelphia Inquirer say it all. Ertz So Good! Bud Light follows through on its promise to buy beer for the entire city of Philadelphia, and the City of Brotherly Love is transformed into a real life version of The Purge. After the game, Tom Brady announces his retirement and signs with the Cleveland Browns. Coach Bill Belichick decides to follow his dream and become a fashion designer. Patriots owner Bob Kraft begins drawing up plans to turn Gillette Stadium into a strip mall.

As for the champs, Nick Foles signs on with Fox/Paramount to star in the Napoleon Dynamite reboot. Fletcher Cox apologizes for his team’s poor defensive performance by donating his winner’s share to the charitable organization Free Melania, and Carson Wentz sues a Nevada town and wins the rights to “Carson City”, after which he guarantees the Eagles will repeat as champions.

The NFL scores record ratings despite all those peeps who insist they’re boycotting the sport forever. Commissioner Goodell announces he will step down at the end of his current contract to become the wealthiest Buddhist monk, ever. Giselle Bundchen lambastes the NFL as nothing more than  “a primitive blood sport that thrives on violence and crooked decision makers,” before revealing that she is buying the Miami Dolphins because “they have beautiful uniforms and they don’t hit anyone,”.

Richard Branson wins the rights to host Super Bowl 60 on the moon, and construction begins on a 100,000 seat bio-dome. When a reporter criticizes the locale by asking where fans will spend the weekend leading up to the big game, Branson snarkily replies.

“Uranus.”

 

 

Groundhog Day Meets Rocky Balboa

We have seen this movie before.

The one where the Patriots win twelve plus games, score a couple playoff wins in Foxboro and end up in the Super Bowl amid all the chatter about how they cheat to win and how they get all the calls. There are few things more certain than death, taxes . . and the Patriots being in the Super Bowl. This is Groundhog Day in cleats.

And once the Patriots get to the Super Bowl, well . . . you know. They vanquished the ‘Greatest Show on Turf’ back in 2002 when they came from behind to beat the Kurt Warner led St. Louis Rams with a field goal as time expired. They were the ‘darlings’ of the league that year, the charming underdogs with spunk and a pretty boy quarterback who defied all the odds and took down the Goliath. Man, how things have changed.

Since then, the Patriots have been more consistent than Apple stock. Their laundry list of Super Bowl victims includes the Panthers, Seahawks, Eagles and Falcons. On that last count, the Patriots actually had us believing their remarkable run was finally over by spotting Atlanta a twenty five point lead before storming back to win, again.

This time around, they get a rematch thirteen years in the making. They beat Andy Reid’s Eagles in 2004 to cap off their second consecutive title and third in four years. And if they win it again this time around, it will be their second consecutive title and . . you guessed it . . their third in four years. Attention Patriots fans, please pick up the white courtesy phone, Bill Murray is calling.

There has never been anything like this Patriots run in sports. Not over this length of time and not with this degree of consistency there hasn’t. Tom Brady went a decade between world championships before beating Seattle a few years back. Which is the kind of story line that would be dismissed out of hand if you tried peddling it in Hollywood. Seventeen years later, the Patriots are still doing this. Tom Brady is still bringing his team from behind in January’s biggest moments. Bill Belichick is still making halftime adjustments that prove he might be the best there has ever been. New England is still the sports center of the universe.

The Philadelphia Eagles aren’t just going up against an MVP candidate quarterback and a battle tested coach who knows what to do with two weeks prep time. They are not just going up against a team that defies age and injuries and all this nonsense talk about mutinies inside the Patriots clubhouse. The Eagles are going up against seventeen years, five Super Bowl titles and a history unlike any the league has ever witnessed. They are going up against Jordan and Jeter, Gretzky and a young Mike Tyson. They are going up the Roman Empire, whose days are dwindling but still mighty. They are going up against a team that took the Jaguars best shot before reminding them that the game isn’t over after three quarters.

Here’s the thing. The Eagles don’t care a wit about that history. They’re too young to remember Gretzky and Jordan or the best of Derek Jeter. And the only thing they know about Mike Tyson is that his championship reign came to an end when someone finally punched him in the mouth.

Really, the only history the Eagles are going to focus on as far as New England is concerned are the two Super Bowl titles the Patriots didn’t collect. And isn’t it ironic that the Eagles are going to be borrowing a page from their long time rivals- the New York Giants- who have proven to be New England’s kryptonite not once but twice? And the game plan is really quite simple. Punch them in the mouth.

This is the tenth anniversary of that first Giants/Patriots clash, when Eli Manning and Tom Coughlin and a ridiculous helmet catch by David Tyree all conspired to ruin the Patriots perfect season. I wrote back then that the Patriots owned the worst 18-1 record in the history of the league. And as if that wasn’t enough, the Giants came back four years later, and with the Patriots hell bent on revenge, they beat them again.

The Eagles go into Minnesota with every intention of following that blueprint. They’ll be carrying a chip on their shoulder and the talent to give us a different ending. They’ve navigated injuries of their own. They lost their MVP candidate Carson Wentz during their division clinching game. They lost their all world left tackle Jason Peter and middle linebacker Jordan Hicks in the same game! And somehow, someway, they still made it to Minnesota.

They came to the Super Bowl not to praise New England, but to bury them. And yeah, we’ve heard this kind of thing before and we’ve seen how things usually turn out. And I expect that the Patriots are probably going to find a way to win, again. Because as a Dolphins fan, I’ve been conditioned to do so.

But this is a heavyweight title rematch, and so there’s that punchers chance thing to consider. We have the brash and cocky reigning champion going up against a brawler from Philadelphia. I’m pretty sure the Eagles would be just fine with the Rocky Balboa comparisons.

Considering what happened in the rematch.

 

Keep your realities close, but your fantasies closer . . .

I never imagined I would be “that guy,”.  I was never going to be the dude who plays Fantasy League Football as if it’s a side job that he really needs because his wife is pregnant again and he’s got a mortgage payment that’s trashing the shit out of his sleep.

The guy who treats Fantasy League Football as if it’s, yanno . . important.

And yet here I am, immersing myself in the data idolatry of a cursed art whose fake news applique renders me a rag doll to Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s pulverizing thrusts. Listen, I don’t dig the imagery of the Rock having his way with me, but I’m just ‘splaining the how it be of this latest football fascination of mine.

I have become downright obsequious to this shit, and it truly pisses me off. How truly? Bitch, I just used obsequious . . in context . . without the benefit of a well made hallucinogen! I happen to think that’s evidence enough of just how truly pissed off I am.

Lemme give you an example as to the sickness I’ve been getting down with since signing up.

I give a shit about Leonard Fournette. Don’t get me wrong, the rookie running back for the Jacksonville Jaguars seems like a fine gentleman by all accounts. But it never occurred to me to give him a second thought, much less have a thought like this run through my mind . . .

I wonder what Leonard’s doing right now? 

Would I have wondered such a thing before this season? Hells. No. But seeing as how he’s the featured back on my fantasy squad, I wanted to know. Heading into last weekend’s games, Fournette was a question mark due to a gimpy ankle. And let’s just say I wasn’t exactly stocked at the position. My second best RB would have had a hard time beating the UPS guy in a 40 yard dash. So I picked up Latavius Murray and sat Fournette. Aside from having a cool name, all I know about Latavius . . is that he has a cool name. But a little fantasy shopping, and I had my guy. Long story short? My man came through with twenty one points. Which is fantasy speak for cha-ching!

A postscript to that whole episode is that Fournette actually played, but he only fetched eleven points. All the same, I love him every bit as much as Latavius. Just so long as they produce next week, I do.

Conversely, I also happen to think bad things of people I do not even know. People like Julio Jones, a wide receiver for the Atlanta Falcons. JJ was my primo get for this fantasy season, and I actually celebrated with a few beverages of choice when I realized I had scored his services. If you would have given me the choice of bedding Giselle in Vegas whilst Tom was busy doing his job or having Julio dropped into my lap in the Fantasy League draft? I would’ve been torn. Okay, maybe not torn. I’d definitely go with bedding Giselle. But I would’ve been pretty pissed that I missed out on drafting Julio.

So far this season, Julio has been disappointing to say the least. He’s the twenty seventh ranked wide receiver, which is fantasy speak for shit. I’ve debated trading Jones but I can’t bring myself to do so. This must be what it feels like to own a Jaguar; the car, not the football team.

Then there’s Ben Roethlisberger, a recent pick up of mine who delivered for me this past weekend. I sat Dak Prescott in favor of Big Ben, which ended up being an inspired choice. Personally, I don’t like Big Ben in the least . . but he’s producing so I’m not gonna kill someone. This must be what it feels like to be Negan.

I’m debating as to whether I should play Fantasy League next season. My consternation is the result of having shouted “Yes!” after another pathetic loss by my Dolphins . . . simply because I have Kenny Stills on my team and he scored me twenty four points. This was a defining moment, and it allowed me to see what I have become: A shallow, narcissistic stats compiler who doesn’t give a fuck about allegiances.  The kind of materialistic douche who cares more about stats than soul. This must be what it feels like to be one of those analytics people.

This fantasy league relationship is weighing on me, and I’m only a couple months into it. I’m thinking I should take next season off. Hey . . . maybe I’ll feast every twenty three years, like that giant demon cicada in Jeepers Creepers. Or maybe I’ll play CFL fantasy league . . . because nothing says football like Canada.

In all seriousness, it might not be the worst idea to familiarize myself with our neighbors to the north, in the event the shit hits the fan here and I need to figure an escape route to safety. I can become a survivalist on training wheels. I’ll need a camper, spam and whiskey stores. And a shitload of fat warming threads from Columbia. Maybe I can make friends with Michael Moore on social media and we can go halfsies on a badass fortress (preferably by a lake) in some outpost town populated by grizzlies.

I feel better already.