Archive for the ‘Sports’ Category

The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game

About 2 weeks ago my wife and I watched a great movie – The Blind side – which tells the story (somewhat fictionalized) of Michael Oher.  I thought the movie was very good and very interesting and I had noted that it was based on a book.  This book.  So I went on Amazon and downloaded it to my Kindle.  While the movie dealt only with Michael Oher – who (if you don’t know) is the left tackle for the Balimore Ravens – the book deals, to some extent, equally with the changes in the NFL that have made the quarterback – and thus the left tackle – so much more important.

The book pretty much alternates chapters which retell Mr. Oher’s saga growing up as an underprivileged child in the worst parts of Memphis and getting adopted by a well-to-do family with chapters about the changes that have occured in the way NFL football has been played over the past 30 or so years.  There are anecdotes from Bill Parcells and other football notables as well as discussions with the people in Mr. Oher’s life.

While being a football fan definitely helps your enjoyment of this book – if you really don’t like football at all you might just want to watch the movie which I also highly recommend – it’s not totally necessary.  Unlike many books centered around sporting events or figures, this one leaves a lot of the jargon at home (probably because the author, Michael Lewis, is not a football person) and tells of the evolution of modern football, including the changes that free agency brought, while at the same time telling a heart-wrenching story about a young man who – in spite of the odds – found love and family and made himself a success.

I’ve read a lot of books that were turned into movies and they usually disappoint.  My general rule is – either the book or the movie.  This book – and this movie – are definitely the exceptions to the rule.  As I said, if you don’t like football at all skip the movie.  But, if you like it – even just watching a game on Thanksgiving, or going to cheer for your local high school team once a season – pick up The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game.  I know you’ll enjoy it.

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For those of you who don’t know, the 2011 NFL season is in major jeopardy. The NFLPA dissolved itself as a union and has assisted a number of players – among them Tom Brady and Peyton Manning – to file an anti trust suit against the NFL and all 32 clubs. What really rankles about this whole situation is that we’re not talking about issues of fairness between the two sides but of issues of how to split a $9 billion pie.
Our only chance of getting both sides talking again is if the courts grant the injunction that the players asked for blocking the lockout. I for one don’t want to see the 2011 season get cancelled or – worse – played with replacement players. I feel that as a fan who has invested time, money and a hell of a lot of emotional pain in (it can hurt being a Jets fan!) the NFL over the years, they owe it to us to come to an agreement quickly. After all, baseball still hasn’t fully recovered from the last time labor issues shut the league down…

The NFL and the NFLPA are on a collision course and we, the fans, are standing in the center.  As of the 4th of March at 12:00 AM the current Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) expires.  If a new CBA isn’t in place by then some really nasty things could happen which are bad for everyone involved.

  1. The Lockout – The owners will be able to lock the players out.  They will try to use this as a bargaining chip because, during a lockout, the players don’t get paid and they don’t get benefits.  While this may seem like no big deal to some of the multi-millionaires, a lot of the players are not all that rich (while no-one playing professional football has a small salary, many players make 6 figure salaries).  The benefits will also hurt because many players who were injured are in rehab.  The one good thing about this is that a labor judge apparently decided that the NFL doesn’t get the TV money for games that aren’t broadcast.
  2. The NFLPA dissolves itself as a union – This would be a bad deal all around.  It would mean that there is no union and no collective bargaining meaning that players with existing contracts are likely to be screwed with the benefits and the owners could have a season with “replacement” players.  The upshot (and bargaining card) for the players is that they would then be able to file anti-trust suits against the league.  There are lots of legal nuances here but the players did it once before – that’s how they got free agency – and they may be willing to try again.  The union already has authorization to dissolve itself.
  3. They agree to continue negotiating and to play the 2011 season under the expired CBA – Everyone agrees that this isn’t likely.  The owners feel that the current division of wealth in the CBA is too slanted towards the players.
  4. Absolutely nothing – things stay in a state of limbo with no lockout and the union continuing to exist while negotiations continue.  This could go on for a while and would keep the cliff a bit farther away.

While option number 3 would give us football in the coming season I seriously doubt it’s going to happen.  So here is a message to both sides – when Thursday runs around hold off on the throwing down your cards.  Owners – don’t declare a lockout.  Players – don’t dissolve your union.  Give it a little more time before you drive off a cliff and take the fans with you!

Unlike the Colt’s game where the defense kept it close enough for Sanchez and the offense to wake up and win it, or the Patriot’s game where everything clicked and we saw one of the best overall games by a Jets’ team ever, last night’s game in Pittsburgh proved what the pundits have been saying all year – the Jets are not a complete team ready to win a Super Bowl. While at times we saw some good play on both offense and defense – it almost all came in the second half. In all fairness, the Steelers played an amazing game and did a very good job of moving the football and controlling the clock.

In the end I think that the Jets had a good chance but were snagged by some major coaching missteps. I’m still in shock after the last touchdown they didn’t even try an on-side kick. I mean, seriously, the Steelers had been moving the ball well – racking up 166 yards on the ground at the end of it – you have to take the gamble and believe that even if you can’t recover the football you can stop them before any damage is done. Even if they manage to get a field goal, it’s an 8 point game and you can still tie it and send it to overtime. I’m also amazed at the play calling on that goal line stand – I know that no matter what the calls were, if the TD doesn’t come everyone is going to second guess – but usually in that situation you play to your strengths – a wild cat, a straight up run, a play fake or an option, a gadget play.

One last thought before I wrap it up. I understand the rules about roughing the kicker, and I know the Jets benefited not long ago from a similar call where Weatherford was tackled, but the refs have to have some freedom to judge intent. While this was an infraction because the ball wasn’t touched it would be like throwing a flag for a hit on the quarterback that started prior to releasing the pass but connected a split second after release. The NFL should take a serious look at the rules surrounding this penalty as it can be a true game changer like almost no other infraction.

Much as I’d like to same it was the “same old Jets” that went out to play today, it definitely wasn’t. I think the Jets have proven over the past two years that they can be a force and should not be taken lightly. I think in the end we same Mark Sanchez grow and mature as a player and Rex Ryan as a coach. I think that if the Jets can take the same level of play that we’ve seen through most of the season and add some consistency that has been lacking the Jets have a good shot of being in Indy in Feb. 2012.

In preparation for the Patriots we got “Rex’s Gang Green”…now before we go to Pitt to take out (I mean take on) the Steelers we get Consequence doign “Put Your Arms Out” Check out the video for the song!

While New England took the AFC East title they weren’t able to be more than one and done in the playoffs.  The Jets came in to Foxborough and schooled them but good.  While last weeks game against the Colts was a beautiful game on all sides of the ball for both teams and a nail biter to the end (my Sister Suzanne complained about needing a manicure after it…) this week was Jets all the way.  From David Harris’ interception to the 5 sacks of Brady to Shonn Greene’s endzone nap.  2 down and Pittsburgh to go before Dallas for a rematch with either Chicago or Green Bay.  These Jets are not the same old Jets -but they might be, once again, a big green monster.  Go Shrek 🙂

Rex’s Gang Green

Posted: January 12, 2011 in Sports
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Having seen this and being the Jets’ fan that I am I couldn’t resist sharing it with everyone.  Check out the video.

Thank you J! E! T! S!

Posted: January 9, 2011 in Sports
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I would just like to take the time to thank Rex Ryan, Mark Sanchez, Nick Folk and the rest of the Jets for giving my mother such a great birthday present!  It was a beautiful game, well played on all sides of the ball.  Next stop – Foxborough!