Turns out, my lost mojo was on ice

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Okay . . maybe it wasn’t lost after all. But admittedly, it has waned over the last few weeks. Blame it on the weather or James Comey’s new tome, but whatever it was . . it was getting to me.

One of the drawbacks to being a passionate individual is that the ebbs that switch out with the flows can be a real bastard. Add to this my inability to budget my thoughts into some neat and tidy semblance of organization . . . because when I preoccupy myself with something, I tend to never mind certain matters that . . yanno, need tending to. So needless to say, there’s a better and worse to this passionate side.

Both of which came out to play yesterday afternoon when I took in a Stars on Ice show in Hershey, Pennsylvania. If you’ve never been to an ice show, I highly recommend it. There are few endeavors that are able to marry sports to entertainment the way an ice show can. It’s like theater met a sporting event and they had this magnificent baby of a performance.

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The downfall of my passionate ways is that I tend to jump before thinking, and this can be problematic. So there I was, driving up to Hershey in the early afternoon when it finally occurred to me that “Hey . . isn’t it a little early? What time DOES this thing start?” to which she replied 7:30. Some quick math had me replying with “No seriously . . .” 

Seems we were taking in the whole shebang. From practice skates right up to showtime. Yes, I had bought the tickets. Yes, I had made plans for me to meet up with my sister and niece at the doors at 3 pm. And yes . . I am that oblivious. 

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After subjecting my daughter to a litany of questions, which began with “What am I supposed to do for the rest of the afternoon while you guys watch them practice?” and moved into deeper questions regarding life, mortality and beer concession possibilities . . I eventually figured out my shit once I got there.

The girls enjoyed watching the skaters go through their practice routines in front of the small audience, while I lapped the arena concourses to get in my steps whilst making phone calls and texting friends. I even met some of the skaters during a meet and greet later on. So you can say my oblivious nature could’ve done worse.

When the gates opened for the general public at 6:30, my daughter and I constructed our concession strategies. The stand alone beer concession stands were closed tighter than a drum, and this was an unnerving development for yours truly. The food concessions? Still prepping.

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This lag time, combined with a giddily excited crowd whose average age is what keeps Taylor Swift in business, resulted in the formation of lines. To everything. My allergic reaction to lines compelled me to find something to do that didn’t involve a line. The men’s restroom was a natural conclusion, seeing as how the female to male ratio was somewhere around 85-15 and there was no waiting involved. Try that at a hockey game . . .

Thirty five seconds later, the lines had grown exponentially. The concessions were still ‘prepping’ so now I had to make the decision as to which line I wanted to join, seeing as how my first, second and third choices- beer only concessions- were apparently unavailable for this performance.

If there is such a thing as hell, I gotta believe it involves waiting in lines. I hate waiting in lines. I hate it so much that if Vera Farmiga was the hostess of a kissing booth and the line was absurdly long, I’d probably ditch the idea. That’s how much I hate waiting in lines. 

The concession line I chose was straight out of Dante’s diary. But they had beer, so there’s that. While my daughter went in search of a nacho stand, I observed the staff. There were like . . a dozen peeps, most of whom were just happy to be there. I don’t like throwing shade at anyone who works with the public, but a hint of urgency wouldn’t have killed them is all I’m saying. The highlight of my fortnight in this line came when a woman old enough to be my grandmother grabbed my ass, twice. She was very nice about it, apologizing both times. I texted Linds B, who exhorted me to knock her out. It wasn’t the worst advice, considering that security personnel would’ve expedited my wait.

I returned to the seats just in time for the opening, after which I had to summon my inner contortionist in order to navigate into my seat. After which I realized that my freedom of movement had been stolen from me. I had my adult beverage, my braided pretzel and my Italian sausage, and that would have to sustain me until the show was over.

So really . . it’s a good thing the show kicked ass. From the get, this thing was a blazing blossom of boom. The entire cast got the crowd jumping to Pink’s Raise Your Glass. And lemme tell you . . there are few connections quite as simple and sweet as the connection between ice skaters and their adoring fans. It’s as if the seats are plugged in to the skater’s every move, and it never wanes. The visceral plunge is an everlasting possession, retrieved from the cradle of simple dreams gone Broadway.

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When Jason Brown jumped the place into a mercury risen froth as he skated to Hamilton’s “The Room Where it Happens” . . well, I was every bit as invested as I would’ve been with a Giancarlo Stanton at bat. If you want to know what it means to own a room, look up Jason Brown because the kid was doing it.

A top five  of my favorite Ice moments for the sake of brevity? Okie . . .

5- Anything Jason Brown. The kid is Mike Trout in skates. You stop what you’re doing when he takes the ice, because you know that when God was divvying up talent? He went overtime with Jason Brown.

4- Adam Rippon is a live wire proposition who instigates the crowd into a madness unparalleled. His skate to Adele’s “Remedy” was stronger than a ninety proof selection on a cold night. And the payback just as strong.

3- Maia and Alex Shibutani, aside from being such a lovely couple, are the definition of kismet. They light a fire to the ice, after which they sculpt a starry eyed union into your memory banks. They translate Frank Sinatra for teenagers, and Jay-Z for the old folks with the very same magic. And since it’s my top five list, Imma tuck Madison Hubbell and Zach Donohue into this as well. Because their Q and A before the show was endearing, and because they shook it loose to a Rag ‘n Bone/ Beth Hart ditty that left me crushing on their love affair.

2- The boys, led by Olympian Nathan Chen, introduced me to a new song in the very best way. Admittedly, I’d never heard Portugal. The Man until yesterday afternoon during the practice skates. But by the time they cranked it in prime time, I was sold. What a way to discover a song!

1- When Bradie Tennell finished up her evening with a Patrick Doyle score from “Cinderella”, she had thrown a perfecto. Because from the practice skates to the performance, she nailed it. All of it. She is the Queen of the Triple Axle, for good reason. And believe me when I tell you I ain’t serving up no hype jam on this. Because the truth is, I teared up while watching her nail every landing. She got to me, as if I was listening to opera and chasing it with red wine. A performance that leaves you overcome with emotion, well . . you cannot put a price on that kind of thing.

When you see these kids making it happen in the Olympics and the World Championships . . you don’t often get a peek at how that kind of perfection came to be. Because it’s happening inside the quiet hours, where twisted ankles and countless spills are heaping doubt on those dreams of a roaring crowd.

To think, if I had been a little less oblivious yesterday, I wouldn’t have been reminded of all that. And so, it’s why I love my passionate side. Because even when it fails me so, it leaves me somewhere better in the doing.

I’m good with that.

Dear Sports: I’m Just Not That Into You

When did sports become so unlikable?

It used to be that sports was a respite from the everyday; a temporary form of escapism that was fun and legal. It was a snow globe fascination whose import was clear as life and death but whose suspension of disbelief allowed us to dream like children. It was a gloriously forgiving province where loss was temporary, victory was forever and next year was a sweet promise.

Being a sports fan these days is like being stuck in a marriage that went too long.

Major League baseball used to feel like summer. A day at the ballpark was like a picnic on steroids (pun intended). Now, the early and late season games feel like Stalingrad, and they last just as long. Home runs are no longer celebrated, they’re investigated. I’m just thankful the emphasis on analytics wasn’t around back in the day or it would’ve killed those moments supplied by Bucky Dent, Bill Mazeroski and Kirk Gibson.

The NBA has become a three point shooting contest that feels like a two and a half hour commercial for licensed product. Defense is optional and humility a foreign word. There’s no Jordan-like presence to provide stability and a rooting interest for Association fans. We know LeBron is the greatest player of his time because his Instagram page says so. And Kevin Durant went from darling to dickhead faster than a WWE wrestler.

I feel sorry for the NHL, because they seem to be doing things the right way. But truth be told, it doesn’t feel like hockey when Canada has gone twenty four years without a Cup and we have clubs in Tampa, Nashville, Anaheim and Las Fucking Vegas.

And that brings me to the NFL, whose wild popularity says more about us than it does about them. Love of this sport feels increasingly narcissistic, as the actual games seem to have taken a back seat to gambling, fantasy league and social commentary.

The new normal for keeping score includes police logs, contract disputes and TMZ-like reports detailing every aspect of the players’ personal lives. None of which feels like escapism, in the least bit.

Ask the casual fan about pro football and their response will probably have something to do with the anthem protests. And is there a better example of much ado about nothing than those protests? Colin Kaepernick became the face of a movement to which he never quite understood the gravitas. His gesture- to kneel during the national anthem in protest of the inequities of a country that purports to be all about equality and fairness- was a righteous one. Kaepernick meant well, and he did donate over a million dollars out of his own pocket to various causes in the aftermath. But his message was mitigated by failed optics that made him look as if he was more interested in symbolism than substantial change.

On the other side of all that, the irony is that he was right on about the double standards that exist in our power structure. Because he and several of his peers who kneeled with him are still looking for work; in a league that has been filling roster spots with lesser talent in a transparent blackballing effort.

Meanwhile, the San Francisco 49ers (Kaepernick’s former team) are holding serve on whether or not to cut linebacker Reuben Foster. They’re going to let the courts play out first as Foster faces two felony domestic violence counts and a felony weapons charge for possession of an assault weapon. Basically, Foster beat the shit out of a woman but his team won’t cut bait just yet because he can help them win.

How many fans are going to ‘quit’ watching games over the Foster story, the way they vowed to quit when Kaep took a knee? And why isn’t President Trump railing on about how the NFL will employ dog killers and men who batter women . . just as long as they don’t kneel.

Sports used to live somewhere else, far from the worries and troubles of our every day lives. Nowadays, it’s like a pain in the ass neighbor who throws a party and trashes our property. And while I still dig the games, I find myself increasingly detached from the box scores and standings I used to know by heart.

If this truly was a marriage, I’d file for divorce.

Like Rocks For Chocolate

I ain’t much for popular opinion.

I can’t remember the last time I fully trusted the tally of a widely held opinion. This isn’t a contrarian gallivant, myopic bent or some degenerative condition that rhymes with Larry King. Nah, it’s just the truth in my lovely bones. A truth that cannot shut up, even when it really . . really should.

Every now and then, I say something that perturbs the proclivities of a heretofore popular vote gone final. Like . . for instance, when I suggest that I ain’t down with the idea that Forrest Gump is a great movie.

I discussed this opinion with a friend of mine recently, and the results . . they were predictable. And shit! If it ain’t safer to stand in the middle of Pyongang and call Kim Jong Un a cocksucker than it is to suggest that Forrest Gump isn’t the greatest story ever told. Because her response was uglier than a Charles Manson welcoming committee. More inhospitable than Elton John after a bad spa day. It was meaner than a shit faced Bethany Frankel, a sober Tucker Carlson . . more hell bent than Trump in a KFC drive-thru whilst waiting on a big vote.

So if you have a problem with it, you ain’t telling me anything I ain’t heard already. But please notice I make a point to say Gump ain’t great, I’m not saying it’s not good. Maybe even really good. Not that it matters to Gump Nation.

The IMDB 100 Greatest Movies of All Time lists Forrest Gump at Number 16 . . . of all time. Take it for what it’s worth, considering they put Gladiator at 34- a flick which is basically the cinematic equivalent of a bacon cheeseburger; easy to love, but not to be mistaken with a filet mignon. The American Film Institute is a tad more realistic in their top 100 ranking, listing Gump at 71.

There is alchemy to ranking systems, in that they are able to transform the factual into something much sexier than that. Forrest Gump happened into the right time and the right place. America was in a funky place in 1994, having hired a President it wasn’t fully sold on to make good on a Kennedy myth that we knew was never present. We were struggling through a racial divide that was only getting more complicated with the arrest of O.J. Simpson. Terrorists had bombed the Trade Center the year before and taken down the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City only months earlier.

Forrest Gump was a simple piece of American pie served to the hungry masses. The first weekend’s box office bite quenched a hunger, after which the film’s producers upped the marketing ante and every other fucking commercial and movie ad was Forrest Fucking Gump . . and I know because I was there. Sooooo . . . good became something else entirely, in an Andy Warhol manner of artful speak. You can win a pot with an okay hand but it requires selling the table, and man . . did they sell the table. After which it had everything movie goers pined for. It offered big names, a popular director, simple dialogue, kitschy catchphrases, paint by the numbers history lessons and a killer soundtrack. It was a political movie that wasn’t political, and who doesn’t love that?

My top 5 reasons why Forrest Gump Love bugs the shit out of me? Sure . . .

5- Too Much Information- You know those restaurants where the menu is a novel, featuring everything from chicken pot pie to paella so you always end up ordering an omelette or a burger? Yep, that’s Forrest Gump. It’s too much, without really being enough of anything.

4- People Love The Every Man- In movies. Everybody loves Forrest Gump when he’s a fictional character. But in real life . . ain’t nobody showing a dude with a crew cut and an IQ of 75 much love. Especially not Robin Wright.

3- Peeps Even Get The Lines Wrong– People are always plugging Gump lines into every day conversations, but when pressed for the best of ’em . . they can’t get it right. It ain’t “a box of chocolates” or “stupid is as stupid does” or even “run Forrest run!”. It’s “sometimes, there just aren’t enough rocks”. And it’s not even close!

2- Musical Seduction- The soundtrack seduced those peeps who were on the fence into going along with those peeps who were head over heels for the movie. Because really . . you can close your eyes and just listen.

1- Tom Hanks Did A Job . . But . . Just ThatNever mind that, because back in the day, he was the silver screen’s sultan. There’s a reason why Hollywood has an A-list. Those peeps bat four in the lineup and yes . . they are expected to clean up. Hanks did his job . . but that doesn’t mean this was a great job!

It’s funny, because when I had this ‘disagreement’ with my otherwise agreeable pal, she had to pull the Fargo card on me. As in “You love Fargo . . so what do you know?”. And it’s funny because she was trashing my opinion in order to make hers. Which isn’t the same thing . . at all. I mean . . I didn’t trash her sports teams or her choice in a husband (who happens to be a Red Sox fan), and I didn’t even trash her love for the sitcom Roseanne, which is a show whose popularity I will never understand.

Oops.

 

 

Beware the Lies of March (Madness)

deflated basketball

Don’t worry, this isn’t a whiny, frothing rant on the shitty state of the sports world. No . . this is a whiny, frothy rant on the shitty state of college basketball.

I used to be a fan of college ball back in the day. Back when players stayed in school all four years. Back when conferences made sense. Back when fundamentals mattered more than gangster posing and preening and three pointers and slam dunk highlights.

This isn’t to say that players shouldn’t make the jump to the NBA if they possess the skills. Hey, if you can make baller money . . go do it! But this is to say that the pillars of the sport- Roy Williams, Jim Boeheim, Jim Calhoun, Mike Krzyzewski- have failed their young charges. Miserably. Not the one tenth of one percent who end up playing at the next level. They have failed the ones who won’t. But since those kids aren’t where the money’s at, no prob.

Rail on all you want about John Calipari being shameless. Damn the basketball factory he’s running at Kentucky, but yanno what? He is the only one who ain’t lying. And most of his starting lineup actually will get drafted by an NBA team. So there’s that.  See, all the rest of these coaches love Calipari, because he’s the punching bag for their transgressions.

This didn’t just happen overnight, mind you. It happened over decades and decades, as the money got bigger and the priorities of these institutions of higher learning became increasingly narrow and subversive. How else to explain how it is that many taxpayer funded schools wantonly recruit athletes with rap sheets . . recruit athletes from the other side of the world . . hire coaches in order to ‘bribe’ recruits into playing for them.

Why doesn’t someone ask Jim Boeheim how he got out from under the Bernie Fine scandal? Why doesn’t someone ask Jim Calhoun how, if he loved his kids so much, he could leave them and his school holding the bag when he walked away from a litany of transgressions, unscathed? Why won’t someone ask Pimp Daddy Rick Pitino what he’s smoking when he boasts of always having run clean programs? And why in the blessed fuck doesn’t someone ask Michigan State coach Tom Izzo to be real, or at least try? When Izzo says he won’t answer any non-basketball related questions in fairness to his players, why doesn’t someone ask about the women and the girls? Was it fair to them? Every single fucking question he is asked should be about the women and the girls.

And now we get “March Madness”- the most over hyped production since Waterworld, and every bit as anti-climactic. How else to explain a tournament where every single ‘upset’ is a subjective enterprise? I mean, a committee seeds the teams, which is overwhelmingly subjective. And then, when a nine seed beats an eight seed, everyone screams UPSET!. The truth of the matter is there are very few true ‘upsets’ in the tournament, yet we are led to believe it happens all the time and every year. It’s nonsense, perpetuated by networks who buy the rights to televise this tournament for a shitload of money, after which they lord over the NCAA. The tail wags the dog, and the tail is big money that leads to more corruption, which leads to the next scandal. After which the NCAA will get tough by taking wins away from a school, titles too. But it won’t change a fucking thing, because the system is built for cheating.

I know exactly one thing about this year’s tournament. My son’s school (Penn) is slotted as the sixteenth seed in some regional . . somewhere . . Whoville or Buttfuckswana who knows? What I do know is that these kids- all of ’em- will be pulled out of the classroom to go play tournament basketball for days, maybe even weeks at a time. Not that the high profile athletes have to worry themselves with missed class time, unless they want to be students. The academics are optional for too many of these kids, and the sad fact is that too few of these kids will make an NBA roster, so yanno . . a college education is kind of important.

The Penn Quakers will be playing the number one seed Kansas Jayhawks. The game will most likely be over before halftime, and Kansas will probably make another title run because they’re a minor league basketball team whose integrity as an academic institution now runs a distant second to being a basketball power, since that’s where the money is.

The Penn kids will be just fine, and who knows . . maybe a few of them will even be representing the Kansas kids before too long. Either as player/agents or in a court of law. Harsh, sure. True? Absofuckinglutely.

I’ll fill out a bracket in which I guess my ass off, but I will not watch a minute of the tournament. Because college basketball doesn’t need me, they already have their money.

Maybe it was always going to be this way. Maybe college basketball was destined to be a runaway train whose allegiance to the almighty dollar over every single other thing was gonna happen regardless. Maybe it was always destined to crash and burn in the same way Bobby Knight’s coaching career did, after one too many bad grandpa acts. Come to think of it, Knight is symbolic of college basketball- a high profile bully whose boorishness was overlooked because winning games mattered most. Knight was the literal bottom to a bottom line that honors winning games over all else. I wish Bobby Knight would’ve tried his act on the wrong person, just once. Because he didn’t need kudos and applause. What he needed was a good ass kicking.

So too, does his sport.

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.