I Love Football, But…

17 11 2014

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“When I meet a European, the first thing I say is, ‘I’d much rather watch football than football.’ But I’m just teasing them, and they know I’d really rather watch football than football.” ~ Jarod Kintz

One may assume that because my Eagles got pounded yesterday that I am down on football and ripe for a rant. Au contraire! These issues have been eating at me for some time. But maybe the Packers have given me a push…

In case you didn’t know, I’m a big soccer fan… I’ll put it right out there! I live, sleep, eat and breathe it. But that love has only been around for less than twenty years, dating back to when my son started to play. Before that I preferred – in order – hockey, football, golf, baseball and basketball.

I still watch these sports, just not as religiously as before. There are only 24 hours in a day!! I do watch every Eagles game, a lot of Flyers games (all of the playoffs), and a lot of Phillies games, too. And I still love them all.

In any sport, there are things that could be better for the good of the game. I’m not a big fan of fighting in hockey, and I think there are just too many baseball games to make the season interesting beginning to end. But that’s just me, one opinion.

No other sport causes me as much consternation as football, especially the NFL. Don’t get me wrong… I’d love to love football. I just don’t have the patience for the rule inconsistencies, slow game play, and the prima donnas and thugs that populate the NFL rosters.

So… my opinion on what is wrong with NFL football, and some things I’d like to see changed. For what it’s worth…

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  • The Plane – The rule that a player is deemed in bounds on the sideline and back of the end zone according to the position of his feet – but deemed “in” the end zone based on the ball breaking the plane of the goal line – is strangely inconsistent and makes no sense. Everything else – touchdowns, first downs, field goals, touchbacks – are decided by the position of the ball relative to a line. Please change the sideline rule…
  • Moving The Kickoff – The league mandated that the kickoff spot would be moved forward to increase the amount of touchbacks, therefore decreasing the amount of violent hits that can cause concussions.  The stats have confirmed that there has been a reduction of injuries on kickoffs. But if the NFL is serious about eliminating concussions, remove the kick off altogether. Each team starts at the 20 yard line.
  • Charlie_Brown_Lucy_Moves_Football-1LGIcing The Kicker – The practice of calling a timeout seconds before the ball is snapped on a field goal is bush league. It very rarely works, but I do laugh riotously when it backfires on a coach. Come on, guys… grow the hell up!
  • My Time Has Value – In 2013, NFL television broadcasts ran an average of 3 hours and 10 minutes. In that time, only 11 minutes consisted of actual football plays… kickoffs, punts and plays from scrimmage. To me, that is a stunning number. One hour of the time was used for commercials, but I can live with that – I go to the bathroom much more these days.  But 17 minutes of the time was devoted to instant replays of those 11 minutes of play. Add as many as 75 minutes for shots of players huddling, standing at the line of scrimmage or just doing nothing between snaps. And that means I am watching people standing around doing nothing. Not the best use of my time…
  • 100514-THROW-THE-FLAG-PI-CHOfficials – There are seven officials on the field during an NFL game. SEVEN!!! It’s amazing to me how they aren’t tripping over some of the 22 players on the field!!! I do not think that officials are bad, but I do believe that instant replay has reduced their effectiveness. Nothing is sadder than watching the play end and the obvious uncertainty on the face of the officials, afraid to commit to a call. While I’m all for accuracy and getting the call right, the current system is a detriment to the flow of the game and needs a major overhaul to be a workable solution. And why does the ref have a microphone when a hand signal should explain everything (as in every sport on the planet)? And another thing… yellow flags are stupid.
  • Screen-Shot-2014-09-15-at-12.27.08-AMPriorities  – I won’t add much to the debate and outrage about the behavior of a small number of NFL players, other than my sadness that the chart on the right exists (click to enlarge). But for the good of the game for the long run, discipline needs to be taken out of the hands of people who can experience financial gain or loss as a result of such action. The furor over Ray Rice not being suspended immediately by the Ravens is a prime example. It was argued on one side that any team action was premature in that he was not charged or found guilty, while the other side called for immediate dismissal from the team.

    Cutting the bullshit… it was purely a business decision. How would the team or league be affected financially by doing something, or nothing? Weigh all of the scenarios and make a conclusion. Forget what’s right and what’s wrong… the question is always about dollars. It has nothing to do with the rights of players, and certainly not their victims.

The reality is that most of the rule changes enacted by the NFL over the past twenty years have not improved the game, but have added significant time to the game day experience. But the good news is that profits are up in the stratosphere from licensing and advertising revenue, so these are wonderful days for the NFL. And clearly the league rolls on, impervious to bad press.

Their shortsightedness will be costly as the kids raised on technology enabling immediate returns will state, by their disinterest, that they don’t have hours or dollars to waste an entire Sunday afternoon.

But that’s not me because I’m no kid, and I like football. I would just like to love it again.

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Go Raibh Maith Agat

28 11 2013

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“Go Raibh Maith Agat” is gaelic for Thank You. That’s for you, Mom… 

Just a few of things I’m thankful for today…

2013 has been a good year, thus far. I’m in a nice place in my life right now. Could I be happier? Of course… who would answer “no” to that question? But this year has been full of smiles, laughs, creativity and change. Many people had a big part in that, and I’m grateful.

I’m thankful for the creative people I’ve been fortunate enough to spend time with, and learn from. All of my marketing and social media friends – Chuck Hall, Lynette Young, Rick Toone, Jen April, Pat and Peggie Walsh, and Christina Kristofic. I’ve been amazed by the creativity of authors Dennis Tafoya, Jonathan Maberry and the members of the Philadelphia Liars Club.

My love for soccer has been enriched by the passion and creativity of others… John Whitesall, Mark Jenkinson, Kelly Christine Delaney, Kenny Hanson and Earl Gardner… and all of my fellow Sons of Ben. And I can’t forget PPL Section 110 friends Sean and Allison Malloy, and their son Declan… each match I’m thankful to see the love of the game through a child’s eye.

I’ve spent time with you all this past year, and am happy to count you as friends.

Friends go in and out of your life. I am rich with friends, but there is that close group. I used to say, “I don’t want to make new friends because I don’t have time to see the friends I have as much as I’d like.” Those people are my core… Laff, Ness, Dick, Nimh, Fluge, Chas and Helene. Last night proved… I’m at my best when I’m with you, your spouses and your families.

Sisters are a pain in the ass, and I don’t know what I would do without mine. Can’t wait to see you both today because “Ah… family. It’s what it’s all about.” Families named Taylor, Zlakowski, O’Hagan, Carr, Macowski, Cohen… sounds like the Eagles offensive line, and they provide protection too. They take care of me.

I have good boys. My oldest, John, has an unbridled enthusiasm for life and he is a fierce friend. He has great work ethic, and I’m so happy about how he is getting down to business and making things happen for himself. Colin is just starting out in his journey, and I know he will embrace his challenges with thought and good humor. He is the funniest person I know, with a smart understated wit and just the right amount of cynicism. Not sure where he gets it, because he has stated on numerous occasions that I’m not funny at all.

I’m proud of them both, every day. My Mom always said to me that “you are judged by the company you keep”. Both of my boys have made great choices there, fostering long and wonderful friendships. I’m an extremely fortunate Dad, because my sons are my friends.

No matter what happens in my day, my week, my life… I can always count on the best welcome when I walk in the door. Stan is the man…

All credit for these “three” boys goes to their Mom, who’s every decision is made with the well-being of her children in mind. I’m continually awed by the work she does with cancer patients everyday. Most amazing is that she puts up with my lunacy and I haven’t been tossed out on my ass… yet. And she makes me coffee. Sometimes…

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Quickly… I’m also thankful for the wonderful craziness of Penn Emblem and ImprintsUSA, the brilliance of Elvis Costello, the hilarity of Kevin Smith and Ralph Garmin, the quirkiness of Sheldon Cooper, the energy of PPL Park, the community of Academy Sabres, the old friends from Bandon Drive, the tradition of Manchester United, the grapes on the Ryan High School vine, and for discovering the many wonders of Cape May.

I live in the City of Brotherly Love, and there is nowhere else I want to be. Everything I need is right here. I’m in a good place, because of all of you.

Happy Thanksgiving!





B-Musings – Scary Blueberry Pancakes Edition

15 10 2013

“B-Musings”… sharing random blurbiage and ping-pong balls rattling around my dome.  Why?  Because I can, and I have a blog!

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Dead Inside – If someone had told me ten years ago that my favorite television show would be about zombies, I would have snorted derisively. That snort has evolved into a sinister laugh… I’m a huge fan of The Walking Dead, and the zombie genre as well!

I’ve never been much a horror fan, with the violence so gratuitous. But what intrigues me about The Walking Dead and the zombie apocalypse genre is that it usually focuses on the victims and how they are reacting and interacting in extreme situations. Yes, there is violence and gore, but it is so over the top you have to laugh – in a “Dan Aykroyd playing Julia Child” sort of way. With characters that are so well realized and outstanding effects, the show is a breakthrough at a time when television has never been so good.

I saw an interview with series creator Robert Kirkman, who asserts that the “walking dead” in the show are actually the survivors, not the zombies. I thought that was brilliant, and it helps me understand my fascination. It’s all about people struggling to live and understand. Cool stuff… that’s why Sundays are “dead” to me.

Speaking of Being Dead Inside – The laundry list of what sickens and appalls me about this world continues to grow. Adrian Peterson played football for the Vikings on Sunday, mere days after his two year-old son was murdered. It boggles the mind that he would do that, or that his family and friends would not counsel him otherwise. God forbid, if something like this happened to me… I would be numb, unable to speak or move. And I’m positive my employers would refuse to even let me work.

I had similar shock and indignation when the Kansas City Chiefs played a game just days after one of their own players murdered his girlfriend, then shot himself at the team training facility – in front of his coaches!

Have we all lost our humanity? Peterson and the Vikings, you should be ashamed.

Dark Days for Philly Sports?  The Phillies are in free fall, and face at least a few seasons of retooling.  The Eagles are lucky to be in a weak division, and also rebuilding. The Flyers are in limbo and the Sixers just plain suck.

My friends, the team to watch in Philly is the Union… young, aggressive and fighting their way into the playoffs. Union manager John Hackworth is the most tenured professional coach in the city, and PPL Park is selling out every match. With average attendance outpacing the Sixers, soccer is now the fourth most popular professional sport in Philadelphia.

It’s time for those on the fence to embrace the beautiful game! Haters? We don’t need you…

Pet Peeve of the Month – People “Liking” their own posts on Facebook. Dorks!

And speaking of dorks…

government-shutdown-heroHow About A Shut “Up”? – I can’t believe I’m going to attempt to add to the enormous, smelly mound of dung that is  “government shutdown” commentary… and where do I start? Certainly, I’m not going to pick a side in this argument because both have an equal share in this mess. Also, I think we are too far gone to make any substantive improvements without a complete overhaul of the system.

Partisan politics is here to stay, folks. When Mr. Smith goes to Washington, he brings the party noose tied tight around his neck and a boatload of owed favors. In a few months he sees that it’s a pretty good gig – lots of money, power and a huge ego boost. So, he wants to stay and to do so he needs money and the backing of his party. What is right – and what makes sense – is replaced by an overwhelming primal need… survival!

Every decision made by a congressman or senator is about being re-elected, not about what is right for his constituency. A prime example is the bullshit legislation passed by the House the other day approving back pay for the 800,000 furloughed government employees affected by the shutdown. Co-sponsored by Virginia Reps. Jim Moran (D) and Frank Wolf (R) , it is clearly an attempt to buy votes in a state that has the most furloughed federal employees. What this actually amounts to is a vacation funded by tax dollars, and if somebody did that for me you’re damn right I’d vote for them!! More than once! I’m not saying that these people will not experience hardships being furloughed. But like any citizen out of work they deserve unemployment compensation, not back pay.

I know it’s not that simple. Of course we should be concerned that 800,000 non-essential government employees will be without income. But shouldn’t we also be concerned about the ridiculous number of positions in the federal government deemed “non-essential”? And what does it say about us that we have allowed this whole situation to spiral out of control?

As usual, I’d love to hear what you have to say. Please leave me a comment, or check the box that calls me an idiot. What? You can’t find the box? Insert another sinister Halloween laugh… 





Investment Advice

1 07 2013

17 - 2002 NFC - Buccaneers @ Eagles“If you don’t expect too much from me, you might not be let down.” ~ Gin Blossoms

Simply put, I’m a big sports fan.   Soccer is my passion, but I still love all of my Philly teams – Iggles, Flyboys, Phightins, and even the Sixers.  Well… Maybe not the Sixers.

I’m no expert, but I have a very good knowledge and understanding of major American sports, plus a working ESPN grasp of the not-so-major sports as well.  For example, when the mood strikes I…

  • … sometimes stay up late and watch Australian Rules Football. G’Day!!
  • … had a great time at Parx Derby Day in 2012.
  • … watch college baseball.  Mostly because I like to hear the aluminum bats pinging.
  • … want to learn about cricket.  I see it on Sky Sports (English SportsCenter), and would love to understand the rules.  It’s one of those sports where I say, “Shit… I could do that!”

I still love my Philly teams, but I don’t have that all-consuming fire anymore.  Not so many years ago I was living and dying by game results and playoff wins and losses.  Success gave me satisfaction, but defeats made me moody.  As the years went by, the ups and downs became too extreme.  Everything changed on Sunday, January 19, 2003, when Ronde Barber intercepted Donovan McNabb pass, and ran it back for a 92-yard touchdown interception return to clinch a Super Bowl trip for the Buccaneers.  That precise moment… over 66,000 people at Veterans Stadium and millions of fans watching at home had their hearts broken.  Including me, in my living room, decked out in my Eagles green.

This was definitely our year.  The best Eagles team, destined to win the Super Bowl.  It was a given.  Hmmm… not so much.  I was down for weeks.  F#%&in’ Ronde Barber!!  To this day, I still shudder when I see the video of that play.  But after a few weeks of surliness, I had a realization.  This consuming investment in my beloved sports teams had to stop.  It wasn’t going to get any better, because my team was not going to win every game every year.  I decided then that I couldn’t, and wouldn’t do it anymore.

A similar epiphany happened about 15 years earlier, when I realized that I was not going to be a great golfer.  After a particularly sad chip shot, I threw my club into a tree.  Because obviously, the club was faulty!!  When It came down to earth in two pieces I realized that I might be missing the better part of the golf experience… fun.  I gave up my ambitions of the PGA Tour after that incident.

Today, there are just too many games in sports to sustain meaningful fan support.  NFL owners want the expand the schedule, the Stanley Cup playoffs make the regular season meaningless, and don’t even get me started about the close to 200 hundred games World Series participants could play in one year.  Soccer isn’t immune, with plenty of extra tournaments for club and country.

In soccer, any team can beat any other team, on any day. Whatever the level, top tier versus semipro. That was never more evident than this year, with a giant killing in the FA Cup final. If the unthinkable happens the supporters may cry and curse, but recover quickly… because there is another game coming up fast, and the team needs them.

I love soccer, and regret that I discovered it so late in life.  One of the reasons I’ve embraced the beautiful game is the supporters culture.  I can hear you haters out there, revving up your hooligan stories.  I’ll stipulate that these idiots do exist, but in no greater percentage than in any other sport.

sons-of-benI’m a member of the Sons of Ben, the organization that supports the Philadelphia Union.  I take pride in what the group stands for… support the team.  No matter what.  From the SoB Code of Conduct… “Sons of Ben are in the stadium to support the Union. If you’re here to support the team, you’re welcome in the Sons of Ben. If you’re here to make trouble for yourself or for the fans around you, you aren’t welcome.”  And obey the four rules… Don’t be a Racist.  Don’t Be a Thug.  Don’t Be an Idiot.  DO Support the Team.  Simple as that.  I like it.

Sure, I’m gutted if the Union lose a match.  Or if Manchester United loses.  Or if the USA National team loses.  Or the Eagles, Flyers, Phillies… even the Sixers.  I’m bitching and booing loud, because it’s my right.  But the next day I’m over it.  I’m up and ready, and psyched for the next opportunity to support MY team.  For them, not against them.  It’s my thing.

Because I’m a sports fan.

**** Sons of Ben photo courtesy of SonsofBenMovie.com.  Click on the picture to see a larger version… I’m in the back right corner!  Ronde Barber photo courtesy of Satan and his minions.