History’s Uppercut

Baylor Falls to Gonzaga 83-71 - Our Daily Bears

This happens to be more times than I figured on writing anything about college basketball, and it’s entirely the fault of the Gonzaga Bulldogs. And maybe I’ll never write another word about a sport I have no investment in, excepting for a signed basketball by the 1991 Duke team that won a national title. And that’s okay with me, because Gonzaga made me pay attention on Monday night.

Watch? Well . . no. I was tired and so I napped away the first half before waking to a Baylor rout in the making. And so I figured it was a good bet that the 1976 Indiana Hoosiers would remain the last undefeated champion in the sport. I didn’t feel the need to watch history take its best shot, because I know how that usually turns out.

The Zags had a great season at 31-1, even if that one loss looks bigger than the thirty one wins that came before it. That’s how it works in sports. History doesn’t play nice when it comes to matters of perfection. I’m not sure how many college basketball teams have gotten close to a perfect season. I remember UNLV losing their chance to that Duke team in the ’91 National Semis. And I think Kentucky had a chance a while back. Gonzaga got further than either of these teams, but still . . falling forty minutes short only feels worse.

The New England Patriots had the worst 18-1 record in NFL history back in 2007, seeing as how the one loss came in the last game of the season with a chance at perfection in their grasp. Since the Hoosiers perfecto of a season, many have tried but none have succeeded. Because the only sure thing about sports is that, more often than not, it flips the script on you when you least expect it.

To set a course for perfection is a brilliant sounding plan, but as former New York Giant Michael Strahan once remarked “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face”. And while he was talking about how his Giants took it to those perfect Pats, he might as well have been talking about history’s uppercut. It’s a keeper.

It doesn’t change the narrative, not for me it doesn’t. Because the Gonzaga kids earned the right to be immortalized by getting to the final game of the season with nary a pimple on their season’s resume. Inside the forty minutes they played last night, it wasn’t about wins or losses as much as it was about the chance to deliver an outcome whose echo will keep paying it forward for decades on end.

And in the end, the echo will carry. Sure, the ending is going to look a lot different than they were planning on. But they’ll be remembered nonetheless, and for a good long while. Until some other college team makes it through a season unscathed, at which time it will become their turn to figure out how to win the gauntlet with history breathing down their necks.

I’d have to believe the Gonzaga kids will be pulling for them.

 

Partly Interesting With A Chance Of Greatness

Beavers bound for Elite Eight with 65-58 win over Loyola | Ncaa Basketball  | hastingstribune.com

In lieu of common sense and because I don’t drink the way I used to, Imma dish yet again on the world of college basketball. Or more specifically, “March Madness”. For those of you unfamiliar with the college basketball tournament, congratulations! It means you have a life.

For the rest of the population, this month long carnival validates our belief in the underdog. It’s a time when fans can rejoice in the accomplishments of student athletes while paying homage to sacred programs run by coaches who value teaching above wins and losses . . . okay, that’s not it at all. Nope, March Madness is when fans blow their vacation money on schools they never heard of. It’s also a convenient excuse to drink too much beer and eat too many hot wings . . and call off work.

In spite of the much hyped moniker, there’s precious little madness to it all. It’s a tournament that involves sixty-four teams, although by now it might be sixty-eight . . or a hundred . . rest assured it’s a shitload of teams. They all have one thing in common, they’re all unpaid amateurs . . tall, lanky pups who’ve been seeded based on the opinions of a committee made up of . . you guessed it, NCAA suits. But it doesn’t matter what the suits say because these are kids we’re talking about here. And if the star player for a “prohibitive favorite” ends up getting dumped by his high school sweetheart? Well, you can use your bracket for toilet paper.

Tournament seedings are based on qualifiers such as conference strength, conference records, ranked vs unranked teams and other important sounding bullshit. But it’s all conjecture. You’re better off wagering a thousand bucks that you’ll run into your doctor in a grocery store checkout today than pluck it down on a group of young men who have little idea what their lives are going to look like next month.

The selling point of “Madness” is that there are upsets aplenty, but a quick look at three of the most talked about finals upsets tells a different story.

1983- North Carolina State defeats Houston: The late Jim Valvano was every bit the crooked recruiter as Houston, he was simply more charming.

1985- Villanova defeats Georgetown: Villanova is a big time basketball program, always has been. No upset there.

1991- Duke defeats UNLV: This was considered an upset because Duke’s roster was full of kids who went to class.

A couple years back, a sixteen seed (the lowest a bracket has to offer) beat the number one seed Virginia Cavaliers. But to go and call it a “monumental upset” is to conveniently forget that Bob Barker is older than the combined age of the Virginia roster. So there’s that.

Which brings us to this year’s darlings of the dance, the undefeated Gonzaga Bulldogs. They are now two wins shy of the title game, and it’s a tilt I would tune in to watch. Not because I believe they’re a mortal lock, but rather, because I know it’s never that easy when you’re talking about kids. Hell, the 2007 New England Patriots were a bunch of grown ass men with rings on their resumes and they got their asses handed to them in a one game winner take all contest.

Of course, there’s still time for some club to knock off the Bulldogs before they get there. After which paid shills journalists and broadcasters will exclaim that “Cinderella” crashed the dance, even if it’s just not true. And what’s even dumber is that these talking pinheads can’t shut up long enough to let the games just be. To let the kids just . . be kids. In all their bluster, they miss the point of it all. Entirely.

The only thing that really has to be true is the chance.

The 4th-ish Annual Sorryless Super Bowl LV Preview?! (Results May Vary)

Myth-busting Patrick Mahomes vs. Tom Brady: The five worst Super Bowl 55 narratives for Chiefs-Buccaneers | Sporting News

In the week leading up to the big game, Tom Brady announces he’s a vampire, after which author Stephenie Meyer offers to write a three-part life story. The Chiefs file suit, claiming European products are superior to American made- thus giving Brady an unfair competitive advantage. The Bucs counter by asking for Mahomes to produce his birth certificate, claiming he is actually a Martian. The Chiefs quickly drop their suit as a result.

League news goes heavy metal throughout the week, with one standout headline after another.

  • Texans QB Deshaun Watson is traded to CBS where he will star in a reboot of a long running series on the network. When he asks which series it will be, his agent replies “It’s Elementary, my dear Watson,”
  • Aaron Rodgers announces he is retiring from football so he can host Jeopardy and drink scotch. Simultaneously.
  • The Jaguars announce they will be moving to London, but are rejected. “We already have football teams that kick the ball around and don’t use their hands,” explains Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
  • The Los Angeles Chargers are bought by the Kardashians for $2.6 billion. Their name is changed to the Vuittons and they are relocated to a more spacious locale: The Kardashians’ backyard.

The game is being billed as the sexiest matchup since Brad Pitt and Angelina’s first date. And the first thirty minutes live up to exactly none of that hype. As the half comes to an end, Tony Romo is shocked by the scoreless tie and remarks “Nobody saw this coming!”. To which Jim Nantz replies, “That’s what she said” and is promptly terminated by CBS which puts out a statement decrying the remark. The network assures its viewers that degrading remarks about women will not be tolerated. The halftime show’s opening act then begins its set with “Bitch goes down for a dollah”, after which the Weekend takes the stage and performs for exactly that long.

When the teams take the field for the second half, it’s Tuesday afternoon and Mahomes is still AWOL. So is the Chiefs offense, which accumulates minus 81 yards and is trailing 2-0 after the referees chip in to buy Tom Brady’s team a safety. Brady promises the officiating crew seats in his cabinet when he becomes President.

In the fourth quarter, Tampa Bay scores twice; first on a twenty eight yard pass from Brady to Julian Edelman. The referees come together to review the play after KC objects to the fact that Edelman does not play for the Bucs and is actually seated two rows up in the north end zone. The call stands and less than a minute later Brady is sacked and loses the football before he can pull it back in. Nonetheless, after another review Brady is awarded a touchdown for pain and suffering in what is deemed the “What the Tuck Rule”.

Kansas City replaces Chad Henne with actor Ryan Reynolds. Andy Reid will later admit he didn’t realize Reynolds was even on the roster. “He’s a great locker room guy and he always brings donuts in, so I wasn’t asking any questions,”. Reynolds then proceeds to throw for 311 yards and three touchdowns before accepting a lucrative offer to become the Green Bay Packers new quarterback.

Tampa Bay storms back and leads 37-21 with thirty five seconds remaining. On the cusp of winning his seventh title, Tom Brady takes the snap and is about to kneel down when he breaks his hip. The Chiefs recover and call a timeout. As Henne runs back onto the field, Mahomes makes an appearance. He explains that someone placed a tire spike in the parking lot of his hotel, blowing all four tires. “It only took AAA eight hours to respond, which is record time for those guys . . .”

Bill Belichick produces tape from a spy-cam he installed in the parking lot that reveals the culprit bears a striking resemblance to Tom Brady. The quarterback denies all charges, claiming he was in his cryogenic chamber at the time of the incident. Commissioner Roger Goodell settles “Deflate-Gate 2” and “Spy-Gate 3” by removing the Chick-fil-A concessions from both the Patriots and the Buccaneers home stadiums. The inimitable Jason Whitlock will later opine, “Brady and his former coach now have more gates than a posh California suburb,”.

Mahomes enters the game and promptly throws a forty two yard touchdown strike, after which the Chiefs complete a two-point play to close the deficit to eight. The KC wunderkid then recovers the onside kick himself and delivers yet another forty two yard score. He follows this up by running in the two point conversion to tie the game . . . with his eyes closed, while running backwards, and reciting poetry. In Mandarin Chinese.

The Super Bowl goes to overtime and the Chiefs win the toss. Mahomes tosses his third forty two yard score in as many throws and Kansas City becomes the first team to win back to back titles since Brady and the Patriots accomplished the feat in 2004. The Bucs ask for a recount. Brady asks to be driven to a blood bank. Chiefs coach Andy Reid asks for a double cheeseburger with fries and a Coke.

Hating A Player Means Ignoring The Game

I know I’m in the vast majority here, but I gotta say: God Bless Doug Pederson.

Contrary to those hot-take heads, I don’t think the Eagles coach has got to be got for what he did and more specifically, what he didn’t do in the Eagles season ending loss to the Washington No Names. I refuse to semblance a thesis paper on why Pederson should be brought up on charges for playing the role of Butch Coolidge in a game the Eagles sorta/shoulda/coulda won.

For those unfamiliar, Pederson took his starting QB, Jalen Hurts, out of a game the Eagles still had a chance to win the other night against Washington. He brought in some fellow named Nate Sudfeld, who is behind yours truly on most NFL depth charts. The Eagles would end up losing the game, and a result, handing Washington the division title.

The vitriol hurled at Pederson comes as a result of what was at stake. The Eagles had nothing to play for, outside of a higher draft pick if they lost. Washington was playing for a division title while their I-95 rival New York Giants were rooting hard for an Eagles upset that would have given them the chip.

Now, I could argue that Pederson’s decision to yank his starter was justified considering that Hurts was 7-20 for 70 yards, an INT and a QB Rating of 25 to that point. I could say the coach was looking to give Sudfeld one last chance to show his stuff before sending him off to sell life insurance. I could even be so bold as to imagine that Pederson was playing the margins: Maybe he figured Washington would take a nap once he subbed in a human paperweight under center.

could say all of those things, but I won’t.

Because the mafioso in me feels like Coach Pederson put out a hit on the New York Giants division title dreams while at the same time looking out for his own interests. And he won . . I mean lost. Both.

I learned many lessons growing up in John Gotti’s Howard Beach. One of which is that for every bad guy, there’s always a worse guy. And if you’re talking NFL business, there are a ton of worse guys than Doug Pederson, starting with Sheriff Goodell, who runs his league the way Gotti used to run his empire.

Now I can dispense with the tongue in cheek defense of Doug Pederson, who for all intents and purposes, is a genuine creep. He skipped town after an alleged sex scandal when he was in KC. And he’s thrown a ton of look away passes in regards to certain members of the Eagles engaging in criminal behavior since he’s been here. Let’s just say the guy is building up quite the resume in the event he ever wants to run for political office.

There’s a robust irony to the NFL community getting all disjointed over Pederson’s assault on its warped senses. They cry about how coach is messing with the integrity of the game by positioning himself for a higher draft pick rather than trying to win a game. Am I being too cynical if I laugh at the idea of the league having any integrity left to mess with? I mean, we’re talking about a Commissioner who took money from the US military in exchange for those patriotic pre-game ceremonies. And a league where all manner of criminals are given second, third, fourth, fifth and six chances to play their game, so long as they have some talent left to give.

So yeah, thank God for this “Tank-Gate” moment, because it shines a light on the low down dirty shame of a league it’s coming from. And I really don’t give a flip if Giants players are upset that the Eagles “weren’t trying to win” the other night. They went 6-10 on the season, so it’s evident they know all about not trying to win. And I say to those Eagles players upset at their coach that they can ask for a trade, which really means a raise. And to all those talking heads out there concerned that the game they love is in dire need of change, I gotta ask.

Where you been?

Sports is like Family: Dysfunctional with lots of yelling

With the MLB season only days away and the NBA season not far behind it, this felt like a peach time to cook up some sports paella. Please note that if you plan on using any of this information for wagering purposes, you’re probably a degenerate gambler . . . .

  • New name for the Washington Redskins? That’s easy. The Washington Champions. Because as long as Dan Snyder owns the club, they ain’t gonna be winning in January.
  • And not for nothing but, are the revelations about sexual harassment in the Washington organization enough to force Snyder out? And if not now, when?
  • We need a new NFL commissioner. Raja makes it rain for his old boy network, but he isn’t quite so proficient at braving the social issue storms that rock the boat. He merely provided lip service when it came to getting Kaepernick back in the league. And he was silent on the anti-Semitic rhetoric being spewed by one of his players after he got done preaching inclusivity on the BLM front. He is tone deaf, inaccessible and downright aloof in a time when the league needs much better.
  • Have the Dodgers and Astros start the season with a one game, winner take all reboot on the 2017 World Series. Houston doesn’t get to steal signs and Los Angeles doesn’t get to opine on the one that got away in perpetuity.
  • Move the three point line back in the NBA. Make what happens inside the blocks matter again, rather than rewarding teams who play no defense and simply hoist half a hundred three pointers a game.
  • Someone please mention the NHL? Somewhere? All these overpaid hacks who write about the same damn thing every day now that there are no games being played . . haven’t once mentioned the NHL even in passing.
  • The Edmonton Oilers have one of the more underrated jerseys in sports.
  • How about an open air hockey game in Alaska sometime? Or Central Park?
  • And see what I mean, lazy sportswriters? It ain’t hard . . .
  • Contraction in the MLB will never happen even though it should. Sorry Florida baseball fan (singular), but the Marlins and Rays have to be dissolved. We start there and move forward. The league is too watered down and these two locales are money pits.
  • STOP BEATING US OVER THE HEAD WITH USELESS DATA!!! If you work up the data, you can figure a way to make Dak Prescott a ‘better’ QB than Patrick Mahomes. Thing is, since his rookie season Dak is 6-17 vs teams with a record of .500 or better while Mahomes just won a Super Bowl. Imma take the real world results over data.
  • And may I say again how proud I am to root for a Dolphins club that has a black GM and head coach? They didn’t talk it into being, they simply made it happen. So how in the blessed does Eric Bienemy of the Chiefs not have his own team right now? No good reason.
  • Note to NBA players: Shush ups, buttercups. We don’t want to hear about your hardships inside the bubble. Ever since the Association made the scene in Orlando, various players have been bitching and moaning about how horrible the amenities are. Meanwhile, businesses nationwide are shuttered and scores of people are still jobless. Funny how these guys will let us know how socially conscious they are in one breath while giving themselves away in the next.
  • Note to sports television analysts: Speak English. We know y’all make way too much money, considering the fact that not a single fan tunes in because you’re calling the game. But stop complicating the language to prove you’re worth the monopoly money. It’s not “putting the ball on the ground”  . . it’s a fumble. And it’s not “exit velocity”, it’s hard hit! And the probability of a catch being made is either zero or one hundred . . and nowhere in between, sorry. Oh, and one more thing. It’s not a walk off hit . . it’s a game winner. Thanks.
  • Let’s please stop pandering to the divas. Cam Newton and Odell Beckham have many things in common. They’re both immensely talented, they both came into the league with tons of hoopla, and neither one of them has actually won anything. No one is being unfair to them, so please kill that stupid narrative. Give the pub to guys like Chris Long and Larry Fitzgerald, whose contributions on and off the field possess substance. Because style may grab the headlines, but it gets old quickly.
  • Without fans in the stands, how on earth is FOX going to litter the good seats with actors for its fall TV lineup? I’m thinking holograms.
  • Can we please give Monday Night Football to a network not named ESPN? Because they done ruined the franchise.
  • I hope someone in the MLB hits .400 in this abbreviated season. Because while it won’t count against Ted Williams’ historic ’41 season, it’d just be nice to have a baseball moment that doesn’t include more home runs.
  • And I hope deGrom wins a third straight Cy Young. To which there is no asterisk, because every pitcher has the same chance.
  • And one more baseball wish? Trout in October. The best player in the MLB on the biggest stage. I’m in.
  • May all the games and all its players be safe inside this craziest of times.

 

Heroes Of The Week!- Super Bowl Edition

Image result for Storm superhero

I was behind on my news munch this week so I had to run a hurry up offense in order to get this episode nestled onto its Friday morning doorstep. You could say I winged it, and that’s no guac. But I figured out a way to make this a Super edition by including a member of both the Niners and the Chiefs in my lineup. Yanno, in the name of fairness and world pizza.

And now your heroes . . .

Heart of Gold- Richard Sherman is going to be a first ballot Hall of Famer whenever he decides to hang up his cleats, but in the game of life he is already there.

In November, Sherman wrote out a check for almost $7,500 to the Cabrillo Middle School in Santa Clara, California that wiped out all lunch debt owed to the cafeteria. A month prior to that, he wrote a check for over $20,000 to the Tacoma Public Schools in Tacoma Washington to clear all lunch debt there as well. Since 2013, Sherman’s organizations- The Richard Sherman Family Foundation and Blanket Coverage Foundation- have raised more than $1.5 million dollars to provide students in low income communities with school supplies and clothing.

This dude is already super.

A real Life Saver- For all I know, this might have been Timothy Prather‘s first rodeo. But you’d never have known it from the way the nine year old sprang into action to save his little cousin. Timothy was enjoying a night out at the rodeo when his three year old cousin Connor began to choke. Welp, Timothy knew exactly what to do thanks to a first aid poster he’d taken notice of in the cafeteria at Ramer Elementary School in Tennessee. He applied the Heimlich and dislodged the candy from Connor’s throat. This story had me wondering how many adults know how to apply this life saving move.

Image result for Melvin Marlett

Take this job and shovel it- Remember kids, my heroes run the gamut. They don’t need to score the real world headlines to make mine. They just need to show me some kind of wonderful, and when they do it in the quiet? That’s butter. Fed Ex driver Melvin J. Marlett of Manistique, Michigan supplied the flavor recently when he was delivering a package to Jodi LaFreniere. The kindergarten teacher wasn’t home but the motion sensor on her security camera resulted in a notification text, and when she checked out the video footage, there was Marlett . . shoveling her front stoop. Of all the random acts perpetrated in this crazy world, kindness always works best.

 

Commander and Chief- Derrick Nnadi was a hotshot Florida State prospect a couple years back until a forgettable workout at the league Combine left his pro career in doubt. But the defensive tackle worked his ass off to overcome that blip, and now he finds himself sixty minutes away from a Super Bowl ring.

Nnadi’s hard work on the field is in keeping with the great good work he’s doing off of it. The league honored him as the Kansas City Chiefs Community MVP of the Week back in September for providing a shopping spree to the family of one of the victims of the Virginia Beach mass shooting. That’s his hometown, and it’s where his heart will always reside. He’s pretty good at dishing up these shopping sprees to school kids, having done it last summer in his adopted hometown of Kansas City as well.

“As my father says . . we don’t receive . . we give . .”

When the universe listens- Seven years ago, Georgina Laurie had just lost her husband Dennis and life no longer seemed worth living. She slipped into a depression from which it seemed she might not return.

“A year prior to that, I’d had a stroke, so my whole life completely changed and I couldn’t cope with that,” recalls Laurie. “I got really depressed, really down and I really couldn’t see there was a way forward in life for me.

It was on the night when she began thinking about the end of her life that she was able to find a new beginning. She noticed the card for a suicide prevention hotline called Samaritans by her bedside cabinet and gave them a call. She had no intention of being talked down from the ledge her life was balancing on, but that is exactly what happened. So inspired was she, that this grandmother from the UK later made the decision to become a volunteer for the organization. So it was that Georgina overheard a conversation her fellow volunteer Des McCarthy was having with someone who called into the hotline recently. Des was comforting the person on the other end of the line and the words . . well, they brought Georgina all the way back to that fateful night. And that’s when Georgina realized that Des- her mentor and fellow volunteer for the last four years- had been the voice that talked her down from that ledge once upon a time.

There are no coincidences.

 

 

 

 

The Sorryless Super Bowl Preview: LIV For Today Edition!

Image result for Super Bowl LIV Chiefs vs 49ers

So another football season is in the rear view and now we’re left to contemplate whether the Cleveland Browns should maybe try another line of work. And if you’re gonna ask me for a top five takeaways from NFL ’19, you know Imma provide . . .

1- Antonio Brown played exactly one game while grabbing more headlines than a newspaper delivery person.
2- The league uses more cameras than the British press and yet they still can’t get calls right.
3- Contrary to the popular belief that the game was going the way of flag football, defense still matters.
4- The New Orleans Saints must have done some really bad shit in their previous lives.
5- The Miami Dolphins were the most fascinating 5-11 team in NFL history. (I had to).

The New England Invitational has been put on ice as Tom Brady and Giselle shop for homes in more temperate climates and Bill Belichick contemplates yoga. We won’t be bogged down with Fill in the blank-Gates, avocado ice cream recipes or Live PD feeds of owner Robert Kraft walking out of massage parlors. This year, we get actual football!

And we get an historic match-up with the Chiefs making it back to the big game for the first time since Nixon was shopping for tape recorders; while the 49ers are looking to score their sixth Lombardi trophy and their first since Clinton was shopping for cigars. So of course, I had to pull one of my all time favorite NFL photographs: Chiefs legend Len Dawson tugging on a smoke in the locker room. That, is some old school shit right there.

Image result for len dawson smoking

Speaking of old school, San Francisco is bringing some of that flavor with a defense that Cersei Lannister could’ve used. Kansas City will bring its master gunslinger and a posse that could have been peeled right off the pages of the old AFL, with an ability to score from the locker room.

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What’s that you say? Give us some top five trivia, Marco? N’kay . . .

-The most expensive price for a ticket to the first Super Bowl was $12. Which is about what you’ll pay for a beer at this year’s game in Miami.

-The game was originally called the AFL-NFL Championship Game. Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt coined the term Super Bowl after the Super Ball his daughter played with.

-Commissioner Pete Rozelle sketched the design for the Lombardi trophy on the back of a cocktail napkin.

-17 million Americans will call in sick next Monday.

-The Patriots have appeared the most times. The Lions/Texans/Browns/Jaguars have never appeared. And the Miami Dolphins are the only team in NFL history to complete a perfect season with a Super Bowl win. (Yep . . had to).

Of course, the game will be the thing for the small fraction of the population that doesn’t tune in simply to get drunk, bet the spread or watch commercials. So Imma dish up my prediction on how the LIV Bowl will play out. This is for entertainment purposes only, because if you place a wager based on what I write? Seek help . . imeejiately.

The league agrees to cancel the first half so they can fit in all of their musical commitments. With the extra time, the teams decide to take in a Miami Heat game. At halftime, Patrick Mahomes takes part in a contest in which he can win $1,000 dollars for each shot he makes from half-court. Twenty minutes later, the Heat hold a press conference in which they introduce the Chiefs quarterback as their new owner.

When the game finally begins, Mahomes is unable to lift his arm thanks to all that balling. As a result, the 49ers sack him twelve times on one play even though the league maximum is one sack per play. A replay review proves inconclusive so the league dials up Bill Belichick who delivers video evidence that proves San Fran should be credited with twelve sacks. After three quarters of play, the Niners lead the Chiefs 4-0 thanks to two safeties and a Travis Kelce touchdown that is overturned on account of the fact that coach Andy Reid threw the pass. It’s the most bizarre turn of events since this happened.

During the two hour concert that takes place between the third and fourth quarters, Jimmy Garoppolo is suspended after making a porn in the visitor’s suite. Joe Montana suits up and throws three touchdown passes, because he is still Joe Fucking Montana. With two minutes to go and the 49ers up 32-0, Patrick Mahomes gets the feeling back in his right arm and leads the Chiefs on a furious run. He tosses four touchdown passes in forty two seconds to close the gap to 32-28.

When San Francisco’s Robbie Gould misses a fifteen yard field goal that would have put his team up by seven with nineteen seconds to go, the team trades him back to Chicago. After a delay of game penalty pushes the Chiefs all the way back to their own one yard line with three seconds left, Twitter blows up with #fortyninereasons, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer calls it for the 49ers and NPR reports on rumors of an important game being played in South Florida.

Mahomes steps back to pass as a wave of burgundy and gold converge on him, sending him back through the tunnel and all the way to the parking lot. While simultaneously signing autographs for fans, paying the $150 parking lot fee and evading the 49ers monstrous pass rush, Mahomes flings a pass back into the stadium. The ball travels three hundred and sixteen yards and lands in the arms of Chiefs wide receiver Sammy Watkins in the end zone for the winning touchdown as time expires. The Chiefs donate the extra point to the New York Stock Exchange.

The Vatican heralds the Chiefs three hundred and sixteen yard TD winner as proof of God’s existence. Trump tweets a pic of himself clapping with hands that appear to have been photo-shopped. Ricky Gervais blames the foreign press.

After the game Las Vegas installs the Chiefs as the prohibitive favorites to win the 2021 Super Bowl, as well as the next five Super Bowls after that. Joe Montana announces that he is coming out of retirement to become the Miami Dolphins new starting quarterback (Of course I had to!)

 

 

 

A Love Scenario For My Favorite Team

The following is a simple thank you to my beloved Miami Dolphins. For being the most relevant 5-11 squad in the history of the league. They somehow out-won the mighty Patriots down the stretch by going 5-4 after that 0-7 beginning; capped by an upset victory in the final week to knock New England off its perch. Last night may have been the end of the Patriots dynasty, and maybe I’m being a tad bit hyperbolic . . but I like to think this wonderful bunch of miscreants played a small part in the final breaths of a dynasty.

Thank you to Monika for suggesting Justin Herbert in the starring role as Miami QB. Not sure if it’ll work out this way, any of it. But who cares? All I know is that I found reason to believe inside this lost cause of a season. And while there is a long road ahead, there is a lot more hope involved than I had bargained for at the get. Sometimes, a season can be that way; it can give you something you never saw coming. Where one minute you’re throwing your arms up in disgust, and the next, you’re uttering that most magical of sporting refrains, and meaning it.

Wait till next year.

New Orleans 2024- Brian Flores sits in his makeshift office inside the New Orleans Superdome and scratches out an idea, whittling it into precise measurements as if a master carpenter. He is a craftsman of sorts, having built the foundation of a championship club from the rubble of obsolescence along with general manager Chris Grier.

It’s as if the moment Flores walked in the door, those couple decades of mediocrity that preceded him hitched a ride to someplace else. He paid scant attention to the collective shrug that accompanied his introduction as Miami’s field boss in February of 2019. And he paid little mind to the vitriol heaped on his club due to the clumsy maneuvering that led to a mass exodus of their most talented players in the name of draft capital. The overpaid suits said it was morally reprehensible that a football organization left its players in harm’s way by fielding a prohibitive skeleton crew.

Their criticism was temporarily vindicated when Flores’ Dolphins team lost his first game 59-10 to the Baltimore Ravens. It reached Chernobyl status when they began the season 0-7. The critics were only too delighted to break out their “Told You So” material, to which Flores responded with three simple words: We’re not tanking.

He was parodied for this, but he never minded that too. All he concerned himself with was drawing up a game plan that would give his fledgling outfit a fighting chance. And just as importantly, changing an organizational culture that was equal parts Caddyshack and Animal House.

Five years to the date when he was named head coach of the Miami Dolphins, he’s sixty minutes away from the Holy Grail of professional football. His opponent- the Arizona Cardinals- present myriad complications for Flores and his defense. But they’ve been up to the challenge all season, and on through January in wins over the Vegas Raiders and then, the defending Super Bowl champion Ravens.

There is irony in that Baltimore was the team Flores beat to get his squad to the Super Bowl for the first time since ’85. But he hasn’t got time to dwell on it with MVP Kyler Murray next up on the docket. Later today. About ten hours from now, to be exact, as evidenced by the bustle of doors and chatter that is making its way to his office now. His guys, come to keep their coach company.

“Hey coach,” Justin Herbert says as he sticks his head in the door whilst munching on a power bar.

“What’s up ten?” Flores says, referring to his quarterback’s number.

“We’re here to kick ass and chew bubblegum . . .” Herbert smiles.

“AND WE’RE ALL OUTTA PATIENCE!!!” The guys whoop and holler as Herbert leads them to the field. Flores grins as he moves out of his chair for the first time in several hours and stretches out before moving towards the tunnel of the North end zone. His Dolphins will be the ‘home team’ today- dressed in their dark aqua old school threads out of the time of Shula and Marino. And it’s appropriate, since the feeling is of yesterday once more.

“I can’t believe we’re actually here . .” Justyn Ross, their third year wide receiver out of Clemson says as he looks out over the field.

“Not yet JR . . .not yet,” Flores says.

A Momentary Lapse Of Season

Miami Dolphins

We learned something about ourselves inside that darkest of nights. We learned that the cause was not lost, and that it hadn’t even been missing. And once seen, it could not be unseen. It possessed us with a most magical ability. We believed in tomorrow . . .

What a difference two months makes.

Exactly two months ago in this very spot, I penned a bad romance of a love letter to my favorite team in the world, the Miami Dolphins. There was no need to read between the lines since I was as brutally honest as a Jim Bob Duggar paternity test. The Dolphins were all set to rewrite history . . in crayon, and the only reason I wasn’t doing somersaults is because I am on a strict somersault diet. But I was all chips in on a losing hand because I was under the impression that less would equal more in the long run.

A funny thing happened on the way to NFL ignominy. The Dolphins stopped sucking.

By winning their third game of the season, the Dolphins would basically have to get Tony Soprano to serve as their draft point man in order to score a top three pick right now. Say adios to quarterback Joe Burrow and defensive end Chase Young- the top studs at their respective positions. A couple more wins and not even Tony Soprano will be able to un-fuck the situation.

And guess what? I’m kinda loving the zeitgeist of these formative moments that are busy trashing the temporal sensibilities- like standings and draft positioning. Because what Brian Flores is coaching up in South Beach is a bulldog mentality that doesn’t give a blessed fuck about gutted rosters and tank jobs.

Because maybe all this worrying I was doing about getting a top name in the NFL draft was for naught. Maybe it doesn’t matter one little bit whether we draft first or fifth . . or wherever. Maybe what matters more than that is what’s going on, right now. What Brian Flores is doing with the skeleton crew of a band that started the season 0-7 but has gone 3-2 since. He isn’t winning coach of the year, but he’s damn worthy of getting someone’s vote, out of principle. It would be a fitting apology, after Flores got trashed for presiding over what many sportswriters were calling the biggest sporting abomination of all time. Which is hyperbole at its most hypocritical when you consider all the real world shit the sports world has thrown at us.

This might sound strange, but this team is the most fun I’ve had in a very long time. Because that country club mentality which had worked its insidious vines into the heart and soul of a franchise for the better part of two decades is withering just a little bit. It’s by no means dead and gone, but it’s no longer being allowed to retrench itself. Because maybe they’re figuring out that most prized possession of all; more vital than a blue ribbon prize in the NFL meat market. Maybe they’re figuring out a culture that transcends big names and splashy acquisitions.

Ask the Steelers what culture means, because they pretty much wrote the book on it. They lost their star quarterback, running back and wide receiver in one calendar year and yet they’re standing at 7-5 after beating the Browns today. The Steelers have had three head coaches in the past fifty years. In that same span of time, there have been five Popes. Enough said.

And look at those Browns, with all their big name talent- including quarterback Baker Mayfield, who oh by the way . . was the first pick in the draft a couple years ago- who are busy making vacation plans for January after falling to 5-7.  If ever there was a cautionary tale when it comes to falling in love with top picks and big names? They are it.

If I had to choose one word for this season, it would be perspective.

Lamar Jackson beat the stuffing out of us in the opener, but he’s done that to a lot of really good teams since. And it’s worth noting that thirty teams overlooked him in the draft. And okay, putting up a thirty seven burger on this Eagles team isn’t nearly as impressive as it might have seemed back when everyone- including yours truly- was penciling them in as a playoff team. But it still counts.

And so what if they’re not the worst team of all time, destined to take home the top prize for their futile efforts? And so what if they’re light years away from having a legitimate shot at knocking off guys like Mahomes and Jackson? All that really matters is their allergy to the canvas, because they refuse to lay down on it. And it’s not much, not really.

Not yet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The NFL Double Issue Edition!

 

Football Players in Action

The NFL season is more than halfway cooked and the more things change, the more the Patriots still look like the favorites to fuck up a lot of Super Bowl parties come January. I mean, does anybody else see the irony here? A league that prides itself on parity has the most prolonged dynasty in sports history.

Despite the specter of that long national football nightmare moving into yet another decade, it’s been a fairly entertaining NFL season to this point. The Cleveland Browns are winning . . on TMZ.  The Oakland Raiders are actually winning on the field. The Titans, Seahawks, Steelers, Colts, Panthers and Lions have been plucky. The Packers, Cowboys, Eagles and Bills have been lucky. And the Jets? Still suck.

If sports ain’t your thing, here’s an alphabetized list of teams complete with a cocktail party anecdote or observation for each. You’re uh . . welcome?

Arizona Cardinals- Investing in semiconductors is the same difference.
Atlanta Falcons- There is a Chick-fil-A in Mercedes Benz Stadium. Chicken Jesus doesn’t do business on Sundays, and this year? Neither do the Falcons.
Baltimore Ravens- Lamar Jackson is to quarterbacking what Jimi Hendrix was to acoustic guitars.
Buffalo Bills- The fan base is known as “Bills Mafia”. They guzzle beer, smash tables and have a guy named Pinto Ron who has a condiment fetish.

Because . . sports fans!

Carolina Panthers- The peeps in South Carolina take great pride in the fact that the Panthers play in North Carolina.
Chicago Bears- True story. Bears fans traveled to Nashville once, and drank the town dry.
Cincinnati Bengals- If Kandahar ever gets an NFL team, they’re perfect.
Cleveland Browns- The NFL version of Apple TV’s “Morning Show”- flashy, big name cast with little payoff.
Dallas Cowboys- Sugar Daddy Jerry Jones, built them a $1.2 billion dollar crib (Arlington taxpayers forked over $325 million). The Boys have a grand total of three playoff wins there since 2009. Only Congress offers up a weaker bang for the buck.
Denver Broncos- Unless you live in Colorado, the Denver Broncos will never come up in casual conversation. If you live in Colorado, just use lots of four letter words.
Detroit Lions- Motown legend Marvin Gaye once tried out for the team.
Green Bay Packers- They are the only publicly owned franchise in the league.
Houston Texans- They became only the second expansion team ever to win their first game when they defeated the Cowboys in September of 2002. It remains the high point.
Indianapolis Colts- In 1983, the franchise packed their shit on Mayflower vans and left Baltimore in the middle of the night. It doesn’t get any more Paul Simon than that.

Jacksonville Jaguars- Like the car, they’re expensive and rarely worth it.
Kansas City Chiefs- They have more offensive weapons than the US Army and a weaker defense than the French Army.
Los Angeles Chargers- Most peeps don’t realize they left San Diego. And most of those peeps live in Los Angeles.
Los Angeles Rams- Warren Beatty remains the coolest player to ever don a Rams uniform. And I know it was a movie, but it still counts.
Miami Dolphins- They’re not the worst team in football.
Minnesota Vikings- Unless you live in Minnesota, the Vikings will never come up in casual conversation. If you live in Minnesota, just bring the sausages, cheese curds and beer. 
New England Patriots-
 Before the Russians started rigging elections, they re-calibrated a middling football coach named Belichick and created a cyborg named Brady. The idea was to create a hatred of the red, white and blue. Those Russians are crafty.
New Orleans Saints- Charlton Heston starred as an aging Saints player in the film Number One. 
New York Giants- 
Jimmy Hoffa wouldn’t be caught dead in the Giants end zone.
New York Jets- Haven’t appeared in a Super Bowl since Joe Namath was wearing pantyhose on purpose.
Oakland Raiders- Will relocate to Las Vegas next year . .  move back to Oakland in 2030 . . relocate to Germany in 2035 . . . move back to Oakland in 2042 . . . relocate to Mars in 2050!
Philadelphia Eagles- Their former digs- Veterans Stadium- housed jail cells. And if you ever attended a game there, you understand why.
Pittsburgh Steelers- They haven’t returned to the Super Bowl since Bane blew up their fictional stadium in Dark Knight Rises. Not a coincidence.
San Francisco Forty 49ers- Joe Montana was chosen with the 82nd pick of the 1979 NFL draft. It worked out alright.
Seattle Seahawks- They aren’t the first pro football team to go by the name Seahawks. That would have been the Miami Seahawks, who did their business back in the ’40s.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers- See my suggestions for Broncos and Vikings. After which, feel free to mix and match.
Tennessee Titans- The designers of their uniforms imagined Masters of the Universe having sex with Ross Department Store.
Washington Redskins- No team matches its locale so perfectly. They’re corrupt, inept and divisive as fuck. 

As for the NFL season, there’s still time for the resistance to thwart the Evil Empire. And if Sam Rothstein were to ask me for a top ten best bets to take down Darth Vader Inc., Imma go with these . . .

1- Ravens: They kicked the shit out of New England last week so they get the top spot.
2- Chiefs: They’ve got Patrick Mahomes.
3- Packers: They’ve got Aaron Rodgers.
4- Seahawks: They shouldn’t be doing what they’re doing, but they’re doing it anyway.
5- Texans: They’ve got Deshawn Watson.
6- Eagles: Because they kicked the shit out of New England in the Super Bowl . . what, five minutes ago? It seems like it. And I still love Carson Wentz, even if I think he’s got to step up big time.
7- Browns: There’s a better chance Drew Carey plays center for the Cavaliers and leads them to the playoffs, but hey . . this is a top ten and I need warm bodies.
8- Cowboys: Yes, I put them below the Browns because they piss me off and I’m not even a fan. All that talent and they can’t beat Kirk Fucking Cousins . . at home?
9- Raiders: Because Jon Gruden deserves some props from those clowns (me) who said he was a mistake. His Raiders play hard, they came together after the Antonio Brown debacle and they’re fun as hell to watch. And while I really don’t think they’ve got a chance to sustain over the rest of the season . . who wouldn’t want to see Gruden and the Raiders back in New England in January? Almost twenty years hence from the “Tuck Rule” game that began the Patriots dynasty.
10- Dolphins- Again, this is a top ten list and since I can only come up with a legitimately serious top fourish, why not Miami to put a cap on it? Because I believe they have as much a chance to win it all as the Vikings and Bills. And that might be none at all, but that just makes it equal. And I cannot and will not include the Saints on any list after how they carried on after the NFC title game last year. The same franchise that brought us Bounty Gate . . . railing on about a bad call? Nope.

Up until a couple weeks ago, Miami was destined to go down as the worst pro football team of all time. I even wrote about it, somewhat excitedly at that. Because I wasn’t so much interested in the ignominy of a possible 0-16 season, as in the idea that my team actually had a brain trust in place that wasn’t an oxymoron.

History is toast now that the Dolphins are on an actual winning streak. And maybe we blew our chance to score Joe Burrow in the draft- a kid who happens to be the latest QB du jour. And I don’t care right now, because all I know is that Brian Flores has a gutted roster playing as if it’s the Super Bowl. So let the Jets and Skins, the Bengals and maybe even the Falcons dog it out for the top spots in the draft. Because maybe my team has something they don’t have.

A plan.