It's About Time

Time, without getting all Stephen Hawking, is an occurrence that has profound effects over a broad enough period. Take for example Mount Everest, at a plus 29,000 feet it continues to grow a quarter of an inch a year, which in a man's lifetime is imperceptible, but give it a million years and that's a whole new ball game.

Approximately 90 years ago the NFL was formed, and it's safe to say the NFLPA wasn't close to being a gleam in anyone's eye at that time. In fact it would take another 30 some years for that to happen and another 12 for the first collective bargaining agreement, which occurred in 1968. So, now the "players" are back to a trade organization and the "owners" are in court with these same "players", which has proven to be a hostile environment for the thirty-two Boss Tweeds of the NFL. But, I would argue that through the inexorable march of time, what was once imperceptible then has become quite apparent now. And that, quite simply is the players have always possessed the game and are the rightful "owners", and the Boss Tweeds, as witnessed by their perfidies over the years, are the real "players" in this game within a game.
If one believes in evolution, and I do, then we have to reexamine the constituency of this game. There are some absolutes that we're dealing with in this regard. That regardless of who's cutting the beer deals, the TV contracts, or marketing the show biz, the integrity of this game has always belonged to the participants.

The "Boss Tweeds" are in an unenviable position, but when you've colluded behind closed doors for decades, justice, although it grinds slow, grinds fine. The commissioner may be right, that the game as his bosses knew it, may be in jeopardy, but as long as they foolishly allow themselves to be examined under the legal microscope, they shall continue to meet with repellant  news. And if they should, as equally foolish, allow their fields to go fallow this fall, they shall surely witness a reseeding of the game much, much to their disliking.

I offer the NFL some free advise, see yourselves for who you really are. Become contrite and tell the players past and present that they are your partners and then let's see if we can't all be reasonable.


We're In For A Championship Run

Watching the early part of the Capitals' game on Saturday, reminded me of what it was like putting up hay, and finding the bale that was lying on a nest of bumble bees. That's when all hell would break loose! Most of the New York Rangers would agree, including their coach John Tortorella, that they came across the magic bale Saturday. When it comes to fury, and I'm sure I speak for them, give us a woman scorned.

There was a moment at the instant of the opening face off the Rangers may have thought they had a shot, but it was only a flicker. Within seconds the flow had drastically shifted, and for a while it seemed the Rangers and most of all their goalie, Lundqvist, may not survive the afternoon. I don't recall who the made the shot or who absorbed the shot, I just remember a Ranger getting hit in the mid section and crumpling on the spot. The early wrath of the Caps evoked all the movies, where one group is being overrun by another, and for some reason Zulu comes to mind. The Rangers had to know early on it was going to be a long days journey into night.

I was not surprised at how the game concluded, because of what had happened in the last game in New York. They found the kernels of self-reliance and trust in that game, and as a team, have entered another portal. It was paramount they understood the importance of the lesson learned in New York. The x's and o's, the physical and tactical part of what they do on the ice came to harvest at the begging of this series, but the honing of their mental edge took its first few strokes on the oil stone the last two games! 
"Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship."


Wild Card Weekend

The football season in the NFL has come down to the haves and the have nots, and we know that for another season anyway, the Burgundy and Gold will reside with the have nots. But, this is the second season the players and coaches talk about, and as of now everyone has the same record. Four games gets it all started this weekend, let’s take a look.
The first game gets underway in Seattle tomorrow with a 4:30 P.M. EDT kick. New Orleans, certainly to the Vegas crowd, appears to be strong favorites (N.O. -10 1/2 pts); however, offensively speaking they have quite a few dents from injury. Having lost running backs Pierre Thomas and Chris Ivory to injuries this week, and with TE Jimmy Graham and safety Malcolm Jenkins yet to practice this week, the Saints have a few holes. 
With a 7-9 record it’s hard to take Seattle seriously, yet they get Matt Hasselbeck to play QB for them. He’s been in the Queen’s (Super Bowl) presence before, and he and his teammates are playing at home, so I don’t think the players will be overwhelmed. This game appears to be so lopsided that it makes me think Seattle has a chance. But ultimately, Sean Payton is a slippery offensive coach and I don’t think Petey can match him. I like the Saints to win, but not cover.
The nightcap on Saturday at 8:00 P.M. EDT is what most people want to see. The Jets are 2 1/2 point underdogs to the Colts in Indianapolis, which seems about right. Rex Ryan has been doing his usual bluster, and I think at this point of the season it’s turned into white noise. It doesn’t work in his “looker room,” and it has negligible affect in their locker room. This game will come down to how well the Jets can control the game offensively; they need to be able to run the ball and keep Manning on the sidelines, because Manning will make plays with whomever he has on the field with him. It’s either that or Rex has to employ a scheme that will harass Manning, and I don’t see that happening.
I like the Colts and I think they cover.
On Sunday Baltimore will tee it up in Kansas City at 1:00 P.M. EDT. This is going to be the most intriguing game of the week end to me. Kansas City, having come from out of nowhere this season, has an image problem for most of us, and they are taking on the vaunted defense of Ray Lewis and his Raven constituents. But let that go, Kansas City is improving every week, and they can run the ball, which I think will be the difference in this game. Brian Waters the All Everything guard for KC needs to be on the field and, if he is, Ray Ray will have his hands full. I think too full. I like KC to win this one out right even though Baltimore is favored by 3.
The second game of the Sunday double header is another game that makes your brain twist. There seem to be two very distinct outcomes, for Mike Vick and the Eagles. Vick is Good Mike, and we all get to watch a track meet, or it’s Bad Mike and Green Bay has an easy time of it so to speak. I favor a third scenario, which is So-So-Mike, because Green Bay has shown a resilience this season few other teams have. Their defense is their strength and they have a wicked pass rush, which is the defensive device that turns Vick into So-So-Mike. Throw in a QB in Aaron Rodgers that is as good as anybody in the game today, and you’ve got the all the ingredients to whup up some “Kick Ass”. With Green Bay catching 2 1/2 points, I have to go with them. They may not win, but they’ll keep it close.
If nothing else it should be a couple of good days of NFL football, while we all wait with bated breath the faux national championship. Hey, NCAA and BCS folks, see if you can find your checkbooks and do what every other sport at any level does, make the champ earn it, instead of doing the beauty pageant with the winner and first runner up.


Have Some Fruitcake

It turns out with the Burgundy and Gold’s season in the bag, they have become very difficult to follow. It’s not because Rex is the QB; they would have the same lack of sex appeal if Ole Number 5 were quarterbacking. All the new guys, who are playing as well as they can, aren’t really getting me revved up. The problem lies in the fact that with one game to play, no one knows where this team stands. They can’t travel; they have no I.D. and they appear to have no idea. This Rex Grossman nonsense is exactly that.
My suspicious mind is caused by what I saw last night in Atlanta. What a difference a QB makes. I’m not going to get all gooey, gooey like Gruden did when he referenced Drew Brees as  a “rare cowboy”, or Steve Young by saying he’s among maybe two other people in the world, who can do what he does. But those guys throwing passes last night are elite players, and their sublime play take their respective teams to their particular levels of excellence. 
Without Mr. Big Time QB, there is no system that turns sow’s ears into silk purses. Does Kyle know this? And, this in turn shows how far back the Burgundy and Gold really are in relationship to their competitors. Kyle Shanahan is the mastermind of an offense that has accomplished nothing in the big leagues, and yet his father sings the praises of his “system.”
I thought it’s the sorcerer, not the apprentice, that knows how to summon the magic. My gentle suggestion to Mike, “ Fire Kyle!” between the three of you, and this includes  Number 5.  This was botched so badly, two of you have to leave. We really don’t need the “soap opera” that comes with the father, son, head coach, offensive coordinator relationship. When I think of the machinations the two have cooked up this fall, I don’t feel particularly “Zestfully clean”.
I think Mike was let go in Denver partially because he forgot how to play defense. Didn’t he go through four or five defensive coordinators there, in the last five years or so?  If he starts right now, I’m not sure the fans will get their fruitcake by next Christmas.. 


Need Blasting Caps

A slight melancholy came over me after the defeat at Dallas. It was like both barrels discharging simultaneously, a real jolt! I came to the conclusion that it’s possible, Coach Shanahan had come to the conclusion he should have come to when he signed on -- that it was going to take time. When I took that in, I realized we’re all headed into a type of therapy --- the long and painful way back to recovery.
I recall him saying something like this back in January. But that was the last mention until recently. “When he stood that day with a hope that was dead in the glare of the truth at last. He had failed, he had failed; he’d just done things by half. The season had been a jolly good joke on him, and now was the time to laugh.” (paraphrasing of Robert Service, The Men Who Don’t Fit In)
Shanahan should have figured out early on this was a raze site not a fixer-upper. For reasons unknown, he called off the wrecking ball. Instead, he defied the sagging main timber in the foundation that would be Old Number 92, and then decided to make the whole construct top heavy by expanding with a superfluous addition that would be Old Number 5. Not typical know-how for someone in-the-know. 
Ironically, with the crash that was heard last week, when the facade was mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, he has turned into a right jolly old elf.  As odd as it sounds, this is the first time Shanahan was probably ever okay with missing the playoffs, because the specter of having Old Number 5 take them there, would have caused catatonia.
If they actually do bring in the H.E.O’s (heavy equipment operators), and we’re looking to 2012 as the earliest for significant improvement, then I have to drink a stern toast to Shanahan and simply say ‘here, here.’ Like they say, all things must come to an end and be careful what you ask for. I’ve been pointing in this direction for so long, now that they may actually take it, seems to take my bully pulpit away. Kind of like that movie Kirk Douglas was in, “There Was A Crooked Man,” in the end after struggling to get back to where he’d left the loot, he opens the box only to have a rattlesnake bite him in the neck. Kirk’s last words, as only Kirk could say it , “Aahh, Sheet”!
So now, when the coach talks about it taking time, and building it the right way, what are we to believe the right way is? Do we believe he still knows how to build, based on what we’ve seen so far? Or the all encompassing question, CAN HE GET A PERMIT?