Winning & Musing…..Volume 7.11

It’s my favorite season of the year…football season!! So I have some thoughts on the college game as well as way too early first impressions about the NFL.

 

 

Is it my imagination or has the NFL had an above average amount of serious, season ending injuries thus far?? I have no numbers to back up the supposition and am far too indolent to do the needed research, but that is my notion. Maybe it is because I have had 4 players from my dynasty fantasy league (RBs Jamaal Charles, Mikel Leshoure, & Ryan Williams plus kicker Nate Kaeding) suffer that fate, which has all but killed my chances in that league.

 

Teams that are better than I thought: Washington Redskins – maybe I underrated QB Rex Grossman a bit. Buffalo Bills – QB Ryan Fitzpatrick was underrated by e-v-e-r-y-o-n-e.

 

I assume the Miami Dolphins will still draft a quarterback in 2012, but so far Chad Henne hasn’t been all that bad.

 

Kudos to rookie QB Cam Newton, whose NFL viability some (including yours truly) have questioned. Even though the Carolina Panthers are 0-2 Newton has thrown for a ton of yards and looked very much like he can hang with the big boys. Sure he’s made the normal rookie mistakes, and those errors may have even cost his team victories, but that’s not necessarily unexpected when a young quarterback is thrown into the deep end and told to swim. The bottom line is that that Newton looks like he belongs and might become scary good if a decent team is ever built around him.

 

I detest the New England Patriots, but I have to give the devil its due…that is one heck of an offense. There isn’t a top tier receiver or running back on the roster but somehow Tom Brady still puts up Dan Marino-esque numbers. And when have we ever seen a team with two tight ends that are such lethal weapons??

 

Teams that haven’t lived up to expectations: St. Louis Rams – I may have had their breakthrough predicted a year or two too early. Philadelphia Eagles – they certainly haven’t looked like a Dream Team.

 

More kudos to the Detroit Lions, who are making believers out of those who hadn’t already jumped on the bandwagon. This is a team that went winless just three years ago and now might actually contend for a playoff spot. They’ve done it the right way, by building around a talented franchise quarterback and concentrating on constructing what one day soon might be a wicked awesome defense. Did I just say “wicked awesome”?? Yes, I did.

 

Early leaders in the Andrew Luck sweepstakes: Minnesota Vikings, Seattle Seahawks, Miami Dolphins, and…something I never thought I’d say…the Indianapolis Colts. How wild would it be if the Colts are in a position to grab Luck just as the storied career of Peyton Manning winds down to its inevitable conclusion??

 

I don’t even know what to say about the mess that is college football and all its conference realignment/expansion wackiness. The first thing to come to mind is “Go to Hell” to Pitt & Syracuse for leaving the Big East hanging, the SEC & ACC for having no respect at all for my WV Mountaineers, and the “leadership” in the Big East who have stood around with their thumbs up their asses watching it all happen. But beyond my own personal biases I am just sad to see such a wonderful on-the-field product fragmented by a bunch of suits with dollar signs in their eyes and no reverence for the one thing that elevates college football head & shoulders above every other sport…tradition. Do I want to see a “rivalry” between Cincinnati and Kansas St.?? No, not really. Does it make any sense for Texas A&M to abandon annual battles with Texas, Oklahoma, and Texas Tech to play Vanderbilt or Kentucky?? Not at all. Look, I’m not dumb…I understand the business part of all this. I realize that these suits are looking mainly at population and television markets. But I am just a guy whose lone enjoyment in the dank & dreary chill of autumn is to spend my weekends watching hours & hours of football. I want that football to be competitive, entertaining, and meaningful in that unspoken yet understood way in which we know that Michigan-Ohio St., USC-Notre Dame, The Backyard Brawl, The Border War, The Red River Rivalry, The Battle for Paul Bunyan’s Axe, The Iron Bowl, The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party, and Bedlam are significant just because they are. The fact that these annual rituals are being imploded by a bunch of pointy headed bean counters that probably don’t know a Horned Frog from a Hoosier or the difference between a Golden Flash and a Golden Hurricane should embarrass the hell out of the ineffective and neutered people that supposedly run the NCAA.

 

Faith 101

It has been said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and it’s a proven fact that some of history’s best ideas were…borrowed…from others. I am not sure if I am borrowing or flattering today, but I will readily admit that what follows are not my own words. I was reading an introduction to the book of James in a new Bible I purchased recently and it was so good I feel compelled to share. This is probably the best exposition about faith that I have ever read. Enjoy, but more importantly, soak the words in and put them into action in your own life. I was convicted by some of these words and intend on putting a better foot forward in an effort to live up to them.

Faith without works cannot be called faith. Faith without works is dead (James 2:26). A dead faith is worse than no faith at all. Faith must work. It must produce. It must be visible. It must inspire action. Verbal faith is not enough. Mental faith is insufficient.

Faith endures trials. Trials come & go but a strong faith will face them head-on and develop endurance. Faith understands temptation and will not allow us to consent to our lust and slide into sin. Faith obeys the Word. It will not merely hear and not do. Faith produces doers. Faith harbors no prejudice. Faith is more than just words, more than knowledge. It is demonstrated by obedience and overtly responds to the promises of God. Faith controls the tongue, a small but immensely powerful part of the body that must be held in check.

Faith acts wisely. It gives us the ability to choose wisdom that is heavenly and to shun wisdom that is earthly. Faith produces separation from the world and submission to God. It provides us with the ability to resist Satan and humbly draw near to God. Faith waits patiently for the coming of the Lord. Through trouble & trial it stifles complaining.


 

Amen

Save

9/11/2001 Ten Years Later…”There Are No Words”

 

I seem to recall it was a rather lovely late summer/early autumn day. Sun shining. Temperate. Clear skies. What the meteorologist on the local news would call a “Wow Day”.

 

At the time I worked four tens…Noon-11pm…as a supervisor at a telemarketing company. On that particular Tuesday I had to go in at 9am for our monthly Employee of the Month ceremony, a big dog & pony show where the suits from our corporate office in Akron came down to make boring & repetitive speeches and give out meaningless awards.

 

For some reason I never turned on my TV that morning. I just got up and got ready for the big meeting. I only lived a mile from the office so I left my apartment between 8:30 & 8:45. During my short commute I heard on the radio that an airplane had flown into one of the World Trade Center towers. At first there was some confusion and reports seemed to indicate that it may have been a small plane that an inexperienced recreational pilot had somehow steered way off course. I have never been to New York City and I thought maybe that kind of thing wasn’t a completely unheard of scenario. It was an interesting story but I had other things on my mind and just shook it off.

 

That didn’t last long. As I got to the parking lot at the office a couple of my co-workers were outside. They asked me if I’d heard the news. From there the sequence of events is a bit of a blur. There was a television on in our conference room where we watched it all unfold. We soon found out that it was a commercial airliner that had crashed into the tower. Then television cameras actually caught the second plane crashing into the other tower. I’m no expert, but it immediately became clear to me that this was no accident…it was very much intentional. Soon we heard that the bosses from Akron had not even left Ohio yet on their company jet. Then we heard that all air travel in the United States had been suspended…all flights grounded. That really grabbed my attention. A clearly concerned President Bush tersely addressed the nation. News emerged that a plane had also crashed into the Pentagon, and that another had been hijacked and was presumably headed for Washington DC to dive-bomb into the U.S. Capitol before mysteriously crashing into a field in Pennsylvania less than 3 hours from my home here in West Virginia. Terrorism, which all my life had been associated with faraway places like Libya and Iran, had come to America. Oh there had been a few small incidents previously (the World Trade Center itself had been bombed by a truck in its garage in 1993, killing 6 people), but nothing on this scale. What was unfolding before my eyes was unimaginable.

 

Eventually the EOM ceremony was cancelled, and at some point, to my utter shock & amazement, all operations shut down for the day. Still we stayed. We sat in the conference room watching the TV as the first tower fell, then the second tower. In the blink of an eye the well-known landscape of NY City was irrevocably changed. I came home and continued to watch the coverage on television. The world had stopped.

 

I was not directly affected by the events of September 11, 2001. I had no friends or family members killed, injured, or even present. I didn’t even tangentially know of anyone involved. I never had any fear that my town may come under attack. Little ol’ West Virginia isn’t that important. But the images of that day will stay with me forever. The second plane crashing into the tower. The buildings falling to the ground. The smoke billowing like some sort of sci-fi monster, covering lower Manhattan with soot and debris. The stunned look on people as they wandered through the greatest city in the nation. As one news anchor put it that day “Good Lord…there are no words.”

 

The ensuing years have seen the tragic events of 9/11 become a political football, marginalizing the loss of life and trivializing the decisions made in its aftermath. That is not my intention here. However, I must say that one thing that will always stick with me was the strong leadership exhibited by President George W. Bush and Mayor Rudy Giuliani. No matter what party one may be registered to or what views one may have about economics, social issues, and foreign policy I defy anyone to deny with a straight face that those two men showed incredible resolve, decisiveness, and composure in a time of madness, anger, confusion, and anguish.

 

For a brief period after 9/11 our nation stood united and embraced our heritage of faith, charity, and love. Even when those feelings gave way to anger as we began to grasp what exactly had occurred and understood who exactly had perpetrated this heinous act of cowardice we were united in that rage. And while that unity and prayerful attitude was all too short-lived it was uplifting & encouraging at a time when the masses needed uplifted and encouraged. If only it didn’t take a disaster to produce that outlook. If only it would last for more than a couple of weeks. If only.

 

One thing that has lasted in the decade since 9/11 is a newfound respect for law enforcement, firefighters, and the military. I think society had gotten complacent and began to take those folks for granted. But as we sat in our comfortable homes watching the ultimate, saddest, most heart wrenching reality show in history a healthy reverence emerged for those who put their lives on the line to protect & serve others every single day. They run into burning buildings when everyone else is running away, and nothing ever illustrated that fact more than the events of September 11, 2001.

 

For some odd reason I have been touched more than anything by the stories of those that miraculously survived that day. The people who missed their flights on the four planes that crashed. Those that called in sick or were running 10 minutes late to work and therefore weren’t in the towers when they were hit. Those stories, while haunting, illustrate, atleast to me, the presence of God and His grace. I don’t know why this person died but that person survived. I’m not that smart. But I believe that those kind of small miracles happen every single day whether we know it or not.

 

I wish I could come up with something poetic and profound to say about 9/11 on its 10th Anniversary. Every generation seems to have its historic watershed moment of heartbreak. Pearl Harbor. The assassination of JFK. The explosion of the space shuttle Challenger. Hurricane Katrina. There are no logical explanations for why these things happen or why good people die under such horrific circumstances. We know that hatred exists. Hatred for freedom. Hatred for God. Hatred for humanity. It would be nice if we could obliterate the hate, but that is unrealistic. However, we also know that the vast majority of the population has a tremendous capacity for love, compassion, kindness, patience, and empathy. That does not mean that we are willing to be weak. It has been well demonstrated in the past decade that America will open up a can of whoopass on those that threaten our way of life.

 

Countless lessons were learned on that terrible day ten years ago, both on a grand scale and in the course of everyday small town life. I hope we never forget the event or what we learned from it. We owe it to the 3000 innocent people whose lives were taken to honor their memory, to appreciate every day of life given to us by God, and to defend the principles of freedom & liberty that are the bedrock of our nation. We owe it to the first responders who sacrificed their lives in an effort to save others and military personnel who have perished in the war on terror that was birthed on 9/11 to always appreciate the fantastic job that those individuals do and the danger they voluntarily put themselves in each & every day. However, we also know that life moves on. We cannot wallow in heartbreak or live in fear. I can’t even imagine the sadness and pain the families & friends of those murdered that day have endured…the spouses suddenly left alone and the countless children who lost a parent. But even those folks have had to get on with their lives. I am sure many have remarried. The children have grown up. Some of the rules may have changed, but we continue…we love, we laugh, we work, we live. We move forward. Hopefully we take time to call a friend or visit a neighbor, and never ever pass up an opportunity to tell someone “Thanks” or “I love you”. We should have always done those things, but sometimes we get too lazy, too busy, or too caught up in our own perceived self-importance. Regardless of politics we should understand that we live in the greatest nation on earth and enjoy advantages that are the envy of the world. Evildoers knocked us down on September 11, 2001, but we got back up. We will always get back up.

 

God Bless America, and may God continue to guide & direct the loved ones of the thousands lost on that terrible day a decade ago.

 

Winning & Musing…..Volume 6.11

“Show me a good and gracious loser, and I’ll show you a failure.” – Knute Rockne

 

Dear ESPN First Take: It is not necessary to shoehorn Skip Bayless into nearly every segment. The normally enjoyable show’s increasing focus on Bayless would only be slightly annoying if it weren’t for the fact that the man is quite possibly the worst talking head in the business. The fact that he is almost 100% categorically wrong about nearly everything on which he espouses an opinion takes the emphasis on his BS from merely irritating to downright embarrassing.

 

I am not normally one that embraces the cry of racism as an excuse for anything. Those that constantly accuse conservatives of being racists because they cannot wrap their pea brains around the concept that it is possible to dislike President Obama due to his policies and not because he is black aggravate me tremendously. However, I think the continuing love/hate for Philadelphia Eagles’ QB Michael Vick is often divided among racial lines. White people will never completely let go of Vick’s checkered past and don’t embrace the fact that he paid his debt to society and deserves a second chance as much as the next guy. Conversely, the black community concentrates on Vick’s incredible athletic skill and wants to conveniently sweep his dog fighting thug days under the rug.

 

So Danica Patrick is coming to Nascar full time. Looks like Dale Jr. is going to have some stiff weekly competition for 35th place.

Baseball’s regular season is winding down, and I am betting that the post-season will be anti-climactic. While the Yankees and Red Sox get all the attention I’ll be shocked if the Philadelphia Phillies don’t cruise to a World Series title. The Phillies have been relegated to second banana even within their own city, as the NFL’s Eagles have been hogging the spotlight since the lockout ended. However, ever so quietly they have amassed nearly 90 wins with about 30 games to go. I don’t think the all-time wins record (116…set in 1906 by the Chicago Cubs & repeated in 2001 by the Seattle Mariners) is in jeopardy, but I also don’t think we’ll see a repeat of 2010 when the heavily favored Phillies lost to the San Francisco Giants in the NLCS and failed to make it to the World Series.

 

For the record, I assign virtually no validity to the outcomes of NFL preseason games.

 

It’s funny how football fans move forward so quickly. Just a few years ago the idea of having tight ends Jeremy Shockey and Greg Olsen on the same team would have had the masses foaming at the mouth. Now both are in fact members of the Carolina Panthers and no one seems to have noticed. Maybe it’s because they are on the Carolina Panthers.

 

Did you know that there is actually a Brent Musberger drinking game?? Look it up online…it’s hysterical. If only I were still 19 years old and a wild & crazy frat boy I’d have a whole new reason for getting completely schnockered every Saturday during the college football season. Alas I’m pretty much a skim milk, iced tea, and bottled water kind of guy these days. Oh to be young again.

 

Another small complaint for the folks in Bristol. I love watching Mike & Mike in the Morning and Pardon the Interruption. But come on…how much vacation do these guys get?? Between the four hosts of the shows…Mike Greenberg & Mike Golic for the former, Tony Kornheiser & Michael Wilbon for the latter…it seems like one of them is constantly off. If we common folks took that much time off from work we’d be fired within 6 months. If I had a great job like hosting one of those shows and getting paid to talk about sports I’m not sure I’d ever need a day off. Both shows are entertaining enough even with guest hosts, but I’d still prefer to see the first string on air atleast  95% of the year.