2021 PIGSKIN PICKS OF PROFUNDITY…WEEK 3

Credit where credit is due…Zach nailed the Cleveland/Kansas City game a week ago. He predicted that the Chiefs would start slow and the game would be close, and that’s exactly what happened. Having said that, I am also going to take an opportunity to pat my own back for picking the Chargers over Washington and New Orleans over the Packers. So at the end of the day Zach was 3-4, while I was only slightly better at 4-3. As I have stated before, we don’t put money on these picks and there is a reason for that.

My Season: 8-8

Zach’s Season: 7-9

Cincinnati (-3.5) at Indiana

Apparently Bearcats’ head coach Luke Fickell is amongst the leading candidates to get the vacant gig at USC. I am sure he would make significantly more money in that scenario, but personally I think it’d be crazy to leave a solid team on the rise that will be joining a Power 5 conference in a couple of years to enter the pressure cooker of leading a program that considers anything less than a national championship to be a disappointment. Anyway, as far as this game goes, both teams are coming off of solid seasons a year ago, but they’ve gotten off to vastly different starts this year. Cincinnati is already 2-0, while the Hoosiers are 1-1, having been obliterated in their season opener at Iowa. I think Cincy is still ascending, while Indy may have peaked last year. I don’t believe this game will be particularly close, and Zach concurs. 

My Pick: Cincinnati 

Z’s Pick: Cincinnati

Oklahoma State at Boise State (-4.5)

Well, the Big 12 has sent out invitations to the conference realignment party and the Broncos aren’t on the guest list. If you understand there is much more that goes into all of that than just success on the football field then you aren’t surprised. Nevertheless, this is another opportunity for Boise to prove that they can compete on the field even if they fall short off of it. Thus far they are 1-1, with that heartbreaking loss to UCF in the season opener reverberating even here in West Virginia. Meanwhile, the Cowboys have become a forgotten team in the Big 12, but they are 2-0. I know about the blue turf & all that jazz, but I’m going with the upset in this one. With the Big 12 shuffling its lineup in a couple of years I believe the Cowboys will want to begin showing that Texas & Oklahoma won’t be missed. Conversely, Zach thinks a turnover will make the difference in a close Boise victory. 

My Pick: Oklahoma State

Z’s Pick: Boise State 

Minnesota at Arizona (-4)

Is it possible that I overvalued Minnesota while underappreciating Arizona in my NFL Preview?? A week ago the Cards had no problem taking down my predicted Super Bowl Champions, while the Vikings lost to the Bengals in overtime. It looks like Arizona is a better team than I thought they’d be, so I have to pick them in this one. Zach believes the Cardinals look like a legit Super Bowl contender and will win easily. 

My Pick: Arizona 

Z’s Pick: Arizona 

Tennessee at Seattle (-5.5)

As mentioned, Tennessee was beaten soundly by Arizona a week ago, while Seattle defeated the Indianapolis Colts. Seahawks QB Russell Wilson already looks to be in mid-season form, and that home field is extremely difficult for opponents. If Tennessee can control the clock with RB Derrick Henry eating up yardage they might be able to keep it close, but Henry’s measly 58 yards in the season opener doesn’t inspire confidence. Zach sees Wilson as an early front runner for MVP and predicts a double digit win for the home team. 

My Pick: Seattle 

Z’s Pick: Seattle 

Kansas City (-2.5) at Baltimore 

Cleveland gave Kansas City a real fight last week, but does that mean the Browns are that good, or that KC just wasn’t as prepared as they should have been?? One could ask the same question about Baltimore, who lost a hell of a game on Monday night in Vegas. In my season preview I predicted that the Ravens wouldn’t be as good as most “experts” thought they’d be, and a rash of injuries to their stable of running backs has made me even more confident in that assessment. I believe the Chiefs will shake the cobwebs of last week’s slow start and be emboldened by overcoming it to get a hard fought victory. It won’t be easy on the road, but look for a comfortable KC win. Zach thinks it’ll be close but likes the road team to cover the points. 

My Pick: Kansas City 

Z’s Pick: Kansas City 

Music, Laughter, and Sunshine: Honoring the Victims & Families of 9/11 

Have you forgotten how it felt that day to see your homeland under fire and her people blown away?? Have you forgotten when those towers fell we had neighbors still inside going through a living hell?? Have you forgotten all the people killed, some went down like heroes in that Pennsylvania field?? Have you forgotten about our Pentagon, all the loved ones that we lost, and those left to carry on?? – Darryl Worley 

Amongst the plethora of wisdom my father has taught me in this life is the fact that you usually don’t have to look very far to see someone in worse circumstances than you. That’s good advice to keep in mind on those rough days when you’re lonely, not feeling well, or hating yourself for being out of shape, financially deficient, professionally unaccomplished, and any of the myriad ways we tell ourselves we are not good enough & our life is terrible.

I’ve had more of those kind of days in the past year & a half than I care to admit, but you know what?? I am alive, which means that as many regrets  as I have (unlike Frank Sinatra there are more than a few) the fact is that I am doing better than the 3000 people that died on September 11, 2001. 

My family & I have had twenty Thanksgivings & Christmases together that those individuals never got to celebrate. I have enjoyed twenty warm & beautiful summers that they never got to see. On a daily basis I get to read interesting books, listen to beautiful music, & eat delicious food that those folks can no longer savor. I still have my father & my sister, which is more than can be said for thousands of people who lost their parent or sibling two decades ago.

These are not things that I dwell on often…that would be crazy. However, in the years since 9/11/01 I have watched documentaries & read stories about the events of that day. Tales of heroism. Wild conspiracy theories. Interviews with people who were there. History that is concurrently heartbreaking & inspiring. 

Unfortunately most of us tend to look at the big picture. We focus on politics. We lament that our nation, so united back then and supportive of first responders & our armed forces in the months following the attacks, has splintered into various opposing factions in the ensuing years. We celebrate the recent military withdrawal from Afghanistan while forgetting the reason they were there in the first place. Too many show disdain for law enforcement, which then causes others to argue with those that exhibit such contempt. 

I am not saying that any of those subjects are wrong to ponder or discuss. There are valid issues worthy of intelligent debate. However, perhaps we should spend a little more time thinking about the lives lost, the families affected, and the communities impacted by the attacks. Maybe we should get back to respecting the police and our men & women in uniform. And we absolutely need to be more appreciative of every precious moment that we draw breath. 

Twenty years ago 3000 people woke up to a lovely September morning. They got dressed, had breakfast with their families, kissed their spouse, dropped the kids off at school, and went to work at the various offices inside the World Trade Center & the Pentagon or reported for duty at firehouses, airports, & police precincts. They had no way of knowing that they would never return home. To be honest, each of us faces the same potential fate every single day, maybe not from planes crashing into buildings, but from a million other things that we never consider lest we drive ourselves mad.

Life is amazing. Occasionally mundane?? Sure. Oftentimes frustrating, sad, and exhausting?? Yes. But priceless nonetheless. I am reminded of Tom Hanks in Cast Away when he says “l gotta keep breathing, because tomorrow the sun will rise, and who knows what the tide could bring??”. So today, on this melancholy anniversary, hug your loved ones, laugh with your kids & grandkids, smile at your neighbors, value your job, call an old friend, listen to some music, delight in the sunshine, watch a good movie, read a book, eat something tasty, enjoy whatever makes you happy, and appreciate life. By doing that you honor those that can no longer do the same. 

2021 PIGSKIN PICKS OF PROFUNDITY…WEEK 2

For those who may be new to these picks we normally choose five games each week. However, since we didn’t do this at all last year, and since the college schedule was abnormally stacked with awesome season openers last week, and since the NFL is back this week…well, y’all get what I call bonus picks. To be honest that’s a tad bit dangerous since neither of us got out of the gate too well. Zach nailed Fresno covering the points against Oregon, while I correctly predicted Georgia upsetting Clemson. Unfortunately though, we both finished 4-5. Let’s see if we can do better this week.

My Season: 4-5

Zach’s Season: 4-5

Oregon at Ohio State (-14)

I usually don’t like picking games involving teams we dealt with just a week ago, but this one is just too tempting. The Buckeyes had a tougher time with Minnesota in their opener than most anticipated but still managed to win by two TDs. Oregon also had a close call but emerged victorious. Both teams are preseason playoff participants for me, but I don’t think the Ducks will go to Columbus and win. Can they keep it close?? Probably not. I think the home team wins by 15-20 points. Zach isn’t impressed by either team, opining that Ohio St. needs to take pressure off their young QB by running the ball. He thinks this will be a boring game but the home team will win by enough.

My Pick: Ohio State

Z’s Pick: Ohio State 

Iowa at Iowa State (-3.5)

I think this could end up being the most fun game of the weekend. The Hawkeyes surprised some people a week ago by handling the Indiana Hoosiers by 3+ touchdowns, but not me. Meanwhile, the Cyclones handled their business against in-state 1-AA foe Northern Iowa. Who knew there were so many colleges in the state of Iowa?? Anyway, I think this might be a really close one…like field goal close, which is why I’m taking the visitors. Zach notes that he’d pick the Hawkeyes easily if the game were on their home turf, but thinks it’ll be a little tougher winning on the road. Like me he won’t go so far as to pick the underdogs to score the upset, but believes they will keep it close. 

My Pick: Iowa

Z’s Pick: Iowa

Utah (-6.5) at BYU

Conference realignment has really messed with some of the traditional charm of college football, including long-standing rivalries, so it’s nice to see intrastate games that are all too rare nowadays. The Cougars, whose invitation to join the Big 12 might already be in the mail, beat Arizona in their opener, while the Utes hardly broke a sweat beating some pissant irrelevant team that atleast got a nice payday. Utah is a rare road favorite because everyone is impressed by the big bad PAC 12, but I’m picking the upset. Zach concurs, stating that once again he isn’t all that impressed with either team. 

My Pick: BYU

Z’s Pick: BYU

LA Chargers (-1.5) at Washington

Since I predicted that the San Diego…excuse me…Los Angeles Chargers will narrowly upend the highly touted Kansas City Chiefs for the AFC West crown I suppose I need to get behind them early. I’m a little concerned about RB Austin Ekeler’s hamstring injury, but even if he misses the game I think QB Justin Herbert is good enough to get the job done, and I like LA’s defense to stop the Redskins’ (yes, I still call them that…deal with it) lineup of QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, RB Antonio Gibson, & WR Terry McLaurin. I think Chargers’ pass rusher Joey Bosa will have a huge game. Conversely, Zach has more faith in FitzMagic than Herbert and believes the ‘Skins get the win. 

My Pick: LA Chargers

Z’s Pick: Washington 

Cleveland at Kansas City (-6)

All the talking is done for the Browns. It’s time to prove that they’re worthy of the hype, but I don’t think they can. The crowd at Arrowhead Stadium provides one of the biggest home field advantages in sports, and that’s not going to change now. I’ll be disappointed if the Chiefs don’t win by double digits. Zach is all in on the Cleveland hype and thinks the home team will start slow and find themselves in a nail biter. 

My Pick: Kansas City 

Z’s Pick: Cleveland 

Arizona at Tennessee (-3)

I expect big things from both teams this season, so the loser of this game shouldn’t be affected too terribly. The Titans get the requisite home field bump, and I think they’ll win by atleast that much. Look for RB Derrick Henry to wear down the opposing defense and allow his team to take control in the fourth quarter. Cardinals’ QB Kyler Murray can’t hurt you if he’s on the bench, right?? Zach thinks Arizona has a bright future, but believes Tennessee is a team built to win now. 

My Pick: Tennessee 

Z’s Pick: Tennessee 

Green Bay (-3) vs. New Orleans

It should be noted that this game is being played in Jacksonville, FL due to Hurricane Ida. Drew Brees ain’t walking thru that door for the Saints, so they have to hope that former Heisman Trophy winning QB Jameis Winston can finally fulfill all the potential so many have always seen in him. The offseason hasn’t been any easier on The Pack, as quarterback Aaron Rogers creates more drama than the writing team of Days of Our Lives. Will all that off the field turmoil cause issues on the field?? I think it just might, especially in the first half of the season. But fear not Packer fans, because I think they’ll eventually figure things out. That being said, I am picking the upset in this one. While Zach agrees with me that Green Bay is a Super Bowl caliber team in the long run he also believes they’ll get out of the gate fast. He thinks Winston is garbage and New Orleans will get destroyed in this game. 

My Pick: New Orleans 

Z’s Pick: Green Bay 

2021 PIGSKIN PICKS OF PROFUNDITY…WEEK 1

Football season really snuck up on me!! There were actually a few college games last weekend, but I didn’t realize it until the night before. I suppose I’m a little out of practice since we took a break from these picks a year ago. Thankfully those games, which ESPN called Week Zero (seriously), weren’t anything…notable. But this week?? Folks, we have interesting matchups from Thursday to Sunday, which is great since our local Italian Heritage Festival…a northcentral WV tradition for over four decades…has been cancelled for the second straight year due to The Sickness and I suddenly find myself with no weekend plans other than watching football. A big shoutout to my nephew Zach who will once again be doing picks with me this season. Two years ago he ended the season with a .500 record of 52-52, while I was 61-43. Zach has already called his shot and predicted that he’ll best me this season. We’ll see.

Boise State at Central Florida (-5)

Neither team is really in the “Group of 5” spotlight anymore, and both are probably praying they’ll get invited to “move up” in the upcoming conference realignment chaos. The Broncos finished 5-2, skipped out on bowl season, and their head coach bolted for Auburn. New head coach Andy Avalos was a longtime Boise St. assistant before spending last season as the defensive coordinator at Oregon. After three straight 10+ win seasons (including going undefeated in 2017) UCF fell to 6-4 a year ago, including a bowl loss to BYU. UCF gets the home field bump in this Thursday night game, but I think Boise comes into town and steals a win for their new coach. Zach concurs, predicting a high scoring affair in which the Broncos’ ground game makes the difference.

My Pick: Boise St.

Z’s Pick: Boise St.

Ohio State (-13.5) at Minnesota

I have defending CFP runner-up Ohio St. as my preseason #1, while Zach despises them with the white hot intensity of a thousand suns. The Gophers had won bowl games in 4 out of the previous 5 seasons before last year’s pedestrian 3-4 campaign. I’m not holding anything bad that happened a season ago against anyone, so there is reason to believe that they could be a winning team once again…but Minnesota isn’t beating the Buckeyes. The points make me a bit nervous, but I think the favorites roll big & cover easily. This is also a Thursday night game. Zach doesn’t think Ohio St. will have any issues replacing departed QB Justin Fields, and they may even get into the playoff again…but will choke once they arrive. As far as this game, he calls the Gophers scrappy and believes they could stay close for atleast a half, but at the end of the day the favorites will win.

My Pick: Ohio St.

Z’s Pick: Ohio St.

North Carolina (-5.5) at Virginia Tech

The Tar Heels are a Top 10 team according to some polls, but not mine. I think they’ll have a nice season, but they aren’t winning the ACC. The Hokies haven’t had a 10 win season since 2016, and a year ago they finished 5-6. How’s that move to the ACC working out for them?? I know Tech has the home field, and strange things happen at Lane Stadium after dark, but I foresee a blowout for the favorites on Friday night. Like myself, Zach has doubts about Carolina’s playoff worthiness, but thinks they’ll be pretty good. He believes this will be a closer game than I do, but still predicts the Heels will cover.

My Pick: UNC

Z’s Pick: UNC

Stanford at Kansas State (-2.5)

The Wildcats have been getting some pre-season love and should be in the top half of the Big 12 after finishing 4-6 a year ago. Meanwhile, Stanford feels like a forgotten team in the Pac 12, which seems unfair. Putting aside last year’s 4-8 finish, Stanford had won 9+ games eight of the previous nine seasons. Kansas St. has the home field, but I think it’ll be a comfortable win for the visitors. Zach recalls that Kansas St. oftentimes begins the season strong before fading away, but thinks Stanford’s size & strength will make the difference.

My Pick: Stanford

Z’s Pick: Stanford

Penn State at Wisconsin (-5.5)

This might end up being one of the best games of the (real) opening weekend. After winning 11 games in three of the previous four seasons the Nittany Lions were a pedestrian 4-5 in 2020, but I’m not concerned at all. The Badgers had won 10+ games in five of the previous six seasons until last year when they were 4-3. Both teams will be looking to put a forgettable season behind them, and I look for both to be successful in that endeavor. The loser here is behind the proverbial 8-Ball right out of the gate though, and I think that’ll be Penn St. Look for Wisconsin to run the ball a lot and their offensive line to wear out the opposing defense before surging to victory in the 4th quarter. Zach concurs.

My Pick: Wisconsin

Z’s Pick: Wisconsin

Fresno State at Oregon (-21)

The Ducks are my pre-season #3, and if they’re going to get the playoff committee’s attention a dominant victory in the season opener would be a good start. Fresno seems to have a solid team more often than not, but they’re not winning this game. Can Oregon cover the points?? I think so. Conversely, Zach foresees first game jitters for Oregon being just enough to allow Fresno to keep things closer than three TDs.

My Pick: Oregon

Z’s Pick: Fresno St.

Alabama (-18.5) vs. Miami (FL)

There was a time when this would have been the top matchup of the week. Unfortunately ‘Bama has simply gotten too good (and boring), while the ‘Canes aren’t the powerhouse they once were. Still though, given the storied history of both programs, if we close our eyes and use our imagination we might be able to fool ourselves into believing this is a game awash in nostalgia & greatness. The truth?? As decent as Miami has been lately they’ve only gotten to nine wins three times in the past decade and The Tide will roll in Atlanta. Can they cover the points?? Sure. I think Alabama wins by three TDs. Zach is a big Nick Saban fan and thinks the favorites pull away in the second half for a comfortable win.

My Pick: Alabama

Z’s Pick: Alabama

Georgia vs Clemson (-4)

This is the best game of the weekend. Both teams have legit playoff hopes. The Dawgs face a formidable schedule and will need to beat Alabama in the SEC title game. Conversely, this is the toughest game of the season for Clemson until they get to the ACC Championship. It won’t be easy, but I believe Georgia waltzes into Charlotte, NC and steals a late victory via turnover or some kind of special teams wackiness. Zach also thinks it will be close, but foresees Clemson winning by a touchdown in the last three minutes of game.

My Pick: Georgia

Z’s Pick: Clemson

Notre Dame (-7) at Florida State

Since the NFL doesn’t begin their season until next week this is a Sunday night game, which is cool. Can the Seminoles regain some semblance of their former glory after being a dumpster fire the past few years?? I’m not sure whether or not that’ll happen, but if so it won’t be in this game. The Irish have their eyes on another 10+ win season, something they have accomplished five out of the past eight years, including a playoff appearance a year ago. I predict more of the same in 2021, including an easy win in this one. Zach concurs.

My Pick: Notre Dame

Z’s Pick: Notre Dame

2021 NFL Preview & Prognostications

Just a few days ago I was pretty excited about the return of football with capacity crowds and business as usual, but now The Sickness has grabbed headlines again and it seems as though that sense of normalcy could be in jeopardy. At the moment no sweeping proclamations have been made, but stay tuned. In the meantime we shall proceed.

The biggest news outside of Covid related chaos is the NFL’s expansion to a 17 game regular season. To achieve that teams played one less pre-season game, so the only people really affected are the fringe players trying to make a team’s roster. There are always old faces in new places, teams with new coaches, and overhyped rookies looking to become the next Joe Montana, Walter Payton, Randy Moss, or Lawrence Taylor, and we’ll have a much better idea in a few months how all of that might shake out. For now it’s all guesswork, but atleast it’s fun, and I am glad that I feel encouraged enough to bring back this preview after a one year hiatus. As always the team’s record from the previous season is in parentheses, with the predicted record for this season following it. And remember…no wagering. I am not a professional and most of the time I’m not very good at this.

North

Cincinnati Bengals (4-11-1) 10-7

Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4) 10-7

Cleveland Browns (11-5) 9-8

Baltimore Ravens (11-5) 8-9

I think Bengals’ QB Joe Burrow is the real deal, and he’s going to surprise a lot of people. The Browns might be a bit of a surprise too, but I don’t believe it will be in a good way. Everyone assuming they are the presumed division champs will likely be wrong. Am I undervaluing the Ravens?? Perhaps. But every team can’t have a winning record and make the playoffs, and in a highly competitive division my vibe is that Baltimore will run into some problems and fall short of expectations (actually those problems have already began with the loss of starting tailback JK Dobbins to a torn ACL).

East

Buffalo Bills (13-3) 11-6

New York Jets (2-14) 8-9

New England Patriots (7-9) 8-9

Miami Dolphins (10-6) 7-10

The Bills have to be considered amongst the favorites in the conference. To be honest I thought QB Josh Allen was a bad choice as the 7th overall pick in the draft a few years ago, but he’s doing a pretty good job of proving me wrong thus far. There’s no reason to believe Buffalo won’t dominate a division that is a mess otherwise. I think the Jets may have finally found a decent quarterback, and they also added some other pieces on both sides of the ball that make me think they won’t be the dumpster fire we’ve come to expect. The Patriots aren’t the same team without Tom Brady, and I’m not as confident in their rookie signal caller Mac Jones as I am in New York’s rookie quarterback Zach Wilson. The Dolphins might take a step back this season, but I hope they aren’t dumb enough to give up on second year QB Tua Tagavailoa. I believe they are building a solid team around him and good things are ahead, but it might take another year to gel.

West

Los Angeles Chargers (7-9) 11-6

Kansas City Chiefs (14-2) 10-7

Las Vegas Raiders (8-8) 7-10

Denver Broncos (5-11) 7-10

No one has been talking about the Chargers this offseason, and that might be a good thing. I always prefer to sneak up on people rather than have the pressure of lofty expectations. QB Justin Herbert acquitted himself quite well in his rookie campaign and there’s no reason to expect anything less this year. The Raiders & Broncos aren’t going to be any better than they were a year ago. I expect both teams to utilize multiple quarterbacks and need their defense to lead them to some victories. The stunner here is the KC Chiefs. Most talking heads will consider them legit Super Bowl contenders, but I think they’ll lose a dogfight for the division, sneak into the playoffs as a wildcard, and be watching the Super Bowl at home like the rest of us.

South

Tennessee Titans (11-5) 12-5

Indianapolis Colts (11-5) 11-6

Houston Texans (4-12) 5-12

Jacksonville Jaguars (1-15) 5-12

The Colts acquired QB Carson Wentz from Philly in the offseason, but will that do them any good?? Wentz can’t seem to stay healthy, and at the moment it’s a tossup as to whether he’ll be ready to go Week 1. That leaves the door open for Tennessee. RB Derrick Henry is a stud & receiver Julio Jones came over from Atlanta a few months ago. He’s 32 years old, but with AJ Brown in the lineup Jones won’t have the pressure of being the top wideout. Replacing tight end Jonnu Smith won’t be easy, and that may be the chink in the armor of the Titans’ offense. I’m not sure what to make of the Titans’ defense, although they did add former Steelers’ linebacker Bud Dupree. Watch time of possession in their games. I think they’ll dominate that and win a bunch of low scoring grinders. Everyone has heard more than enough about the Deshaun Watson situation in Houston and there are still a ton of questions. Will they trade him?? Will he be suspended for a big chunk of the season?? If Tyrod Taylor takes most of the snaps I think the Texans are in for a long season. I don’t have much faith in the Jags either, although I think new head coach Urban Meyer will build around rookie QB Trevor Lawrence and have his team in the playoff conversation a year or two from now, but losing first round draft pick Travis Etienne in the preseason doesn’t bode well for this season.

Playoff Teams: Bengals, Bills, Chargers, Titans, Colts, Chiefs, Steelers

AFC Champion: Tennessee Titans

East

Washington Redskins (7-9) 10-7

Dallas Cowboys (6-10) 9-8

New York Giants (6-10) 7-10

Philadelphia Eagles (4-11-1) 5-12

I’m still not buying the Cowboys as legit Super Bowl contenders, although I believe QB Dak Prescott will be just fine returning from the ankle injury that torpedoed his season last year. I suppose the Giants could surprise me and be much better than they were a season ago, but my vibe is that they are just kind of treading water. It blows my mind to see how far the Eagles have fallen since winning the Super Bowl less than five years ago. Can Jalen Hurts make the leap from excellent college quarterback to solid NFL starter?? I think Philadelphia has a bunch of very good players on both sides of the ball, but they have lacked cohesion the past few seasons and I’m not sure that’s going to change. That leaves Washington as the favorite. Is their enough FitzMagic left in the 38 year old signal caller now playing for his ninth NFL team?? Having an elite defense led by Chase Young, Montez Sweat, & Landon Collins will certainly help.

West

Arizona Cardinals (8-8) 11-6

Los Angeles Rams (10-6) 10-7

Seattle Seahawks (12-4) 9-8

San Francisco 49ers (6-10) 7-10

This race is going to be fun to watch. Arizona & the Rams both made moves this summer, and whether or not they work out well one has to give them credit for not standing pat. Los Angeles thinks they have a better chance of advancing in the playoffs with 33 year old veteran QB Matthew Stafford than with 2016 top overall pick Jared Goff, who they shipped to Detroit. I think it might be a positive chain of events (eventually) for both guys. The Rams lost starting RB Cam Akers to injury but traded for former Patriot Sony Michel so I don’t believe the team will be negatively affected all that much. The defense, led by All-Pro defensive tackle Aaron Donald, should be stout. Having said that, I am giving a slight edge to the Cardinals, who added receivers DeAndre Hopkins & AJ Green and have a defensive unit featuring newly acquired defensive end JJ Watt, first round LB Zaven Collins, and a very talented secondary. Seattle has won 10+ games seven out of the past eight years and Russell Wilson is still one of the best quarterbacks in the league, but I feel like they’ll drop off just enough to miss the playoffs. ‘Frisco needs to decide on a quarterback, and once they do that I think they can get back on track, but that might be a couple of years from now.

North

Minnesota Vikings (7-9) 9-8

Green Bay Packers (13-3) 9-8

Chicago Bears (8-8) 6-11

Detroit Lions (5-11) 1-16

Or as ESPN’s Chris Berman used to call it, The Norris Division. I am sure I don’t have to rehash the Packers/Aaron Rodgers drama that has dominated offseason news, but I think it might be just enough of a distraction to cost them the division. The Lions have stunk most of my nearly five decades on the planet and I don’t think that will suddenly change in 2021. Much like the 49ers the Bears have a quarterback conundrum. Conventional wisdom says the smart thing to do is start either journeyman Andy Dalton or former Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles under center, but we all know the pressure from fans & the media will lead to rookie Justin Fields being handed the keys to the kingdom. That decision will likely pay off down the road, but it creates chaos right now. So why am I so high on the Vikings?? I don’t know to be honest. Kirk Cousins isn’t spectacular, but he can be a very good quarterback at times and he has solid weapons at receiver & running back. The secondary could be one of the best in the NFL, and guys like Danielle Hunter & Anthony Barr should disrupt opposing offenses often. It won’t be pretty, but I think the Norris goes to the Vikes by a nose.


South

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11-5) 13-4

New Orleans Saints (12-4) 8-9

Atlanta Falcons (4-12) 6-11

Carolina Panthers (5-11) 5-12

I’ve stopped waiting for Tom Brady to fall of a cliff. That whole regimen of 25 glasses of water per day, fruit smoothies, fish, and lots of veggies apparently works because he proved a year ago that he deserves much more credit for the Patriots “dynasty” than Bill Belichick. I don’t expect much to change this season, and it helps that the rest of the division will probably struggle. New Orleans has named Jameis Winston as their new starting QB after the retirement of Drew Brees, and Winston is going to have to prove himself before I start to believe in him. I don’t anticipate much improvement by the Falcons or Panthers. Carolina must stop opposing defenses from stacking the box to stifle premier RB Christian McCaffery, and for that to happen former Jets first rounder Sam Darnold will need to finally live up to his potential. Atlanta got rid of receiver Julio Jones and I’m just not impressed by what remains.

Playoff Teams: Redskins, Cardinals, Vikings, Bucs, Cowboys, Rams, Packers

NFC Champion: Green Bay Packers

Tennessee Titans 24

Green Bay Packers 19

Top Five Picks in 2022 NFL Draft

1 Detroit Lions

2 Houston Texans

3 Jacksonville Jaguars

4 Carolina Panthers

5 Philadelphia Eagles

Connect or Disengage: Perspective on Social Media

By now most of us have developed a love/hate relationship with social media. What started out as a fun way to keep in touch with friends far & wide has somehow deteriorated into a dystopian experiment gone horribly awry, because that’s what humans too often do…we take something perfectly delightful and ruin it with greed, politics, envy, pettiness, & lack of self control. Some folks have the wherewithal to disengage completely, although oftentimes the people who leave are the ones with class, intelligence, good humor, & a moral compass. Isn’t it sad that the exact people who have something decent to offer to the medium, the ones who we really want to continue connecting with, are the ones we tend to run off??  Many that remain tread lightly because we sure don’t want to offend people who may disagree with our worldview, and God forbid we piss off the power behind the curtain that has suddenly become quite bold in censoring opposing views and using misguided algorithms to erroneously parse language deemed hurtful. 

Even considering all that, most of us choose to stay. Why?? Well, I think I may have the answer. I stumbled upon a post from an old high school acquaintance, and what she wrote pretty much hits the nail on the head, so much so that all I can do is second that emotion.

“Thank you for seeing me. I know people use Facebook for different things, and plenty of people might argue that the platform is unhealthy or biased or for ‘old people’.

I don’t love Facebook but I’d say the lot of you have provided more than half of my social need for human connection over the past decade, and moreso during this pandemic. So thank you for listening to my musings and sharing your majestic human stories with me. 

Thank you for the pictures and stories of your children, grandchildren, & dogs. Thank you for the videos of you roller skating, swimming in a river, twirling fire nunchucks, or jumping on a trampoline with your kid.  Thank you for sharing your moments of accomplishment, your railing rants, your art, your music, and your poetry. You guys are totally awesome as a digitally aggregated community that pretty much exists in my phone and my mind.” 

Can’t put it much better than that 🤷🏻‍♂️.

A few of you are friends, neighbors, & family that I see or talk to with some frequency, while many are former classmates or co-workers that I haven’t seen in person in decades. Some are acquaintances that I’ve met thru various social interactions and would enjoy getting to know better. Hell, there are atleast a half dozen people on my friends list who are dead, but it feels like as long as their Facebook page is still there they remain present in some intangibly tangible way. Regardless of how we met or how often we interact I hope you know that I’m glad for it. A year ago I expanded my social media presence to Instagram. All I do there is post memes. It’s less interactive than Facebook, but I find it oddly enjoyable. I peruse Twitter occasionally but it’s much less interesting. Ditto for Tik Tok. Sometimes I’ll run across a funny video or two, but overall it is overrated and God knows there’s little chance I will ever actually post a video myself. 

I suppose the point is that we have a choice when it comes to social media. Those that have left it in the dust have their reasons and I respect that. For those that remain, we can choose to get down into the muck and participate in meaningless arguments. We can choose to moan & whine about ‘FB Jail’, ‘fact’ checkers, community standards, and all the other associated negativity. Or, as my old classmate so eloquently states, we can be thankful for the connection, the stories, the photos, the music, the laughter, & the community. It’s up to you. 

2021 College Football Pre-Season Top 25

So…it took football to pull me out of the abyss. Y’all may have noticed that I haven’t posted anything here for about six months. There are reasons for that, but this isn’t the time for such a therapy session.

There’s a lot to unpack when it comes to college football. I am excited about its return, and so glad there will be crowded stadiums once again this season. Watching games just wasn’t the same a year ago, and it didn’t help that one never knew how things might be affected week to week by The Sickness. The chaos this offseason though hasn’t been virus related. There is talk of expanding the playoff. That’s not surprising, but I’m not a fan of a 16 team playoff…I like the idea of 6, or 8 at most. Players are also legally able to get paid now. I don’t know all the ins & outs so I’ll tread lightly and just say it is what it is and I’m not all that enthused about it. Conference realignment is back too, as Texas & Oklahoma are leaving the Big 12 in a few years and heading the SEC. More dominoes will fall, and the landscape will change dramatically in the near future.

Having said all that, I am thrilled that football and the relative normalcy of enjoying it as a fan has come back into our lives. I’m happy to do this preseason poll, the upcoming NFL Preview, and weekly picks with my nephew. And I’m damn sure blessed to have this little corner of the info superhighway.

25 Liberty

Last Season: 10-1

Key Games:   9/24@ Syracuse, 11/6@ Ole Miss, 11/20 vs. Lousiana, 11/27 vs. Army

In just their second full season in the FBS division the Flames were 10-1, with road victories over Syracuse & Virginia Tech. Can they have similar success this year?? Maybe. They face the Orange again, then finish the regular season by traveling to Ole Miss then hosting Louisiana & Army. Liberty will need to win 10 games again to sneak into the rankings, but I think that’s doable if they split those four games.

24 West Virginia

Last Season:     6-4

Key Games:     9/18 vs. Virginia Tech, 9/25@ Oklahoma, 10/30 vs. Iowa St., 11/20 vs. Texas

Neal Brown enters his third season as the Mountaineers’ head coach, and it’s time to prove to fans that we really can “trust the climb”. As a lifelong resident of the Mountain State I’m looking for nine wins. As much as we’d love to be in the playoff conversation the truth is that most WVU fans are smart enough to not expect that on a regular basis, but winning 8 or 9 games and playing in a top tier bowl should never be out of reach. If Brown can pull off a couple of upsets and land in the rankings at the end we’ll be more inclined to give him our trust.

23 North Carolina

Last Season:     8-4

Key Games:  10/9 vs. Florida St., 10/16 vs. Miami (FL), 10/30@ Notre Dame

Most polls have the Tar Heels ranked much higher, but I’m just not buying it. I like head coach Mack Brown and I’m glad he’s re-energized his career after things fizzled out at Texas, but the ACC is sneaky tough. No one knows what to expect from Florida St. these days, but I’ll always consider that a tough game. UNC has the Hurricanes of Miami at home, which should be a great game, but I don’t believe they’ll beat the Irish in South Bend. This feels like another 8-ish win season. Not bad…but not elite.

22 Iowa

Last Season:     6-2

Key Games:    9/11@ Iowa St., 10/9 vs. Penn St., 10/30@ Wisconsin

I’m a big fan of good old fashioned smashmouth football, and we can usually count on Big Ten teams like the Hawkeyes to have a huge offensive line that makes that even more fun. While I do not believe that Iowa is a threat to win the conference I wouldn’t be surprised to see them pull off an upset or two and win 8 or 9 games.

21 USC

Last Season:     5-1

Key Games:     10/9 vs. Utah, 11/6@ Arizona St., 11/27 vs. BYU

Southern Cal has been decent the past couple of years, but let’s face it…that’s not good enough for one of the premier programs in college football. Clay Helton enters his sixth season as the Trojans’ head coach, and I have to believe his seat might be getting a bit warm. The October game against Utah could make or break the season.

20 Coastal Carolina

Last Season:     11-1

Key Games:     9/10 vs. Kansas, 10/20@ Appalachian St.

A chanticleer, in case you’re curious, is a rooster. Why the powers-that-be have not booked a Coastal vs. South Carolina game is beyond me…I’ll let y’all figure out why that would be marketing nirvana. At any rate, Coastal was an overtime loss in the Cure Bowl against Liberty from going undefeated last season, and I don’t expect much of a dropoff. The Kansas Jayhawks are rarely very good in football, but a victory over a Big 12 team would be impressive for Coastal. If you’d have told me a few years ago that a Coastal Carolina/Appalachian State game would be intriguing I would not have believed it, but I have a feeling my eyes will be glued to the TV on October 20.

19 Miami (FL)

Last Season:    8-3

Key Games:     9/4 vs. Alabama, 9/18 vs. Michigan St., 10/16@ North Carolina

Much like USC the ‘Canes usually have higher goals than 8/9 wins and a Top 25 finish, but Rome wasn’t built in a day, and after several lean years Miami is back to atleast being pretty good. Can they compete for an ACC title?? Ehhh…maybe, although I’d consider it a long shot. As much as I would love to see an upset of Alabama in the season opener I do not think that’ll happen, but wins over Michigan State & UNC are not out of the question.

18 Army

Last Season:     9-3

Key Games:     10/16@ Wisconsin, 11/27@ Liberty

I’ve always been a big fan of the service academies’ football games for a variety of reasons, and it has been fun to watch the Black Knights’ success, as they’ve won 9+ games three out of the past four years (I’m not sure what happened in 2019). Do I think they’ll go into Madison and upset the Badgers?? No. Do I think they can go into enemy territory and beat Liberty?? Absolutely. Another nine win season should assure an appearance in the final rankings, and I believe that’s exactly what we’ll see.

17 Arizona State

Last Season:     2-2

Key Games:     9/18@ BYU, 10/16@ Utah, 11/6 vs. USC, 11/13@ Washington

I have expressed my admiration for head coach Herm Edwards in the past. How can anyone not like Herm?? This will be his fourth year at the helm in Tempe, and they had winning records in the first two before last season’s weirdness. Can they kick it up a notch to the next level?? The Pac 12 is kind of a mystery. On paper the conference looks loaded, but inevitably someone is going to have a worse season than expected. If the Sun Devils lose all four of they key games noted above then…surprise…they are that team and the joke is on me, which is entirely possible. However, I’m betting on my man Herm to not let me down.

16 LSU

Last Season:     5-5

Key Games:   10/2 vs. Auburn, 10/16 vs. Florida, 11/6@ Alabama, 11/27 vs. Texas A&M

Which Bayou Bengals’ team will we see this year?? Will it be the one that won 10+ games six times in ten years and captured national championships in 2017 & 2019, or the one that finished .500 last season?? Since 2020 was such a strange year on multiple levels I’ll give LSU the benefit of the doubt and assume their season was an anomaly. However, I still don’t foresee them being in the conference title hunt or the playoff discussion. They will need to atleast split the key games noted to have a chance at a solid Top 25 finish.

15 Penn State

Last Season:    4-5

Key Games:     9/4@ Wisconsin, 9/18 vs. Auburn, 10/9@ Iowa, 10/30@ Ohio St.

Not only is the Big Ten stacked, but the Nittany Lions are coming off a losing season, so this prediction makes me a bit nervous. Before last year (which I won’t really take all that seriously given the circumstances) Penn St. had won 11 games in three out of the previous four seasons (they won nine in 2018), so there’s no reason to believe they’ll fall off a cliff. I don’t think they will beat Ohio St. at The Horseshoe, but if they can defeat Auburn at home then split road games at Wisconsin & Iowa they could be looking at a solid Top 25 finish.

14 Wisconsin

Last Season:     4-3

Key Games:     9/4 vs. Penn St., 9/25 vs. Notre Dame, 10/30 vs. Iowa

It’s not so much about including Wisconsin as much as the fact that I simply don’t see a way to leave them out. Other Big Ten teams will get more TV coverage and love from the talking heads, but the Badgers will still line up, ram the ball down opponents’ throats, and grind out ugly wins. That’s what they do, and at some point in late November folks will be looking at the polls and saying “Wisconsin?? Where’d they come from??”.

13 Texas

Last Season:     7-3

Key Games:     10/9 vs. Oklahoma, 11/6@ Iowa St.

The Longhorns still play in the Big 12 and they better enjoy it while they can because I believe they will be very average in the SEC. The winner of the Texas/Iowa St. game in early November will likely meet Oklahoma in the conference title game, although a Texas victory in the Red River Shootout could throw a monkey wrench into that scenario.

12 Cincinnati

Last Season:     9-1

Key Games:     9/18@ Indiana, 10/2@ Notre Dame

I get it, but then again I don’t. A year ago the Bearcats won nine games and finished as a Top 10 team. But that season included victories over Army, SMU, Tulsa, & Central Florida being considered the most impressive. A loss to Georgia in the Peach Bowl was close, but still a loss. So armed with that information I have to believe that a similar season, including another AAC title, could land Cincy back in the same general vicinity. Indiana doesn’t appear in this poll because I think the Big Ten is just too tough and they won’t repeat the same level of success they enjoyed last season, but it’s an important game for Cincinnati. I do not believe a win over Notre Dame is possible, but if the road team can keep it respectably close they could actually gain respect.

11 Texas A&M

Last Season:     9-1

Key Games:     10/9 vs. Alabama, 11/27@ LSU

I will continue to opine that moving from the Big 12 to the SEC was an error in judgment for the Aggies, atleast from a football perspective. God knows they’re enjoying the financial windfall. However, I have also stated that I think head coach Jimbo Fisher (who graduated from the same high school as me, just a few years earlier) is building something in College Station. Will they contend for an SEC title with so many elite teams standing in their way?? I wouldn’t hold my breath for that, but I don’t think an upset or two and a 10 win season is out of reach.

10 Iowa State

Last Season:     9-3

Key Games:     9/11 vs. Iowa, 11/6 vs. Texas, 11/20@ Oklahoma

The Cyclones have been a dangerous team for awhile, and with QB Brock Purdy entering his senior season now seems like a great time to fulfill all that potential. An out of conference game against in state foe Iowa looks intriguing, especially since it’s in Ames, and I think they’ll beat Texas.

9 BYU

Last Season:     11-1

Key Games:     9/11 vs. Utah, 9/18 vs. Arizona St., 10/9 vs. Boise St., 10/16@ Baylor

The Cougars intrigue me. When the aforementioned conference realignment dominoes begin to fall I think BYU will end up with a new home. Pac 12?? Big 12?? Who knows?? Until then part of the fun of them being independent is the schedule, which quite literally all over the map. I am particularly fascinated by the October contest against Boise, who I chose to leave out of this poll though I’m sure they’ll be as competitive as usual. Ranking BYU this high has been a mistake before, but ignoring them has been equally as wrong. They are quite the football enigma, and I dig that.

8 Florida

Last Season:     8-4

Key Games:    9/18 vs. Alabama, 10/16@ LSU, 10/30 vs. Georgia

I’m sure football fans in the deep south enjoy the hell out of the SEC’s dominance, but for the rest of us it has become exhausting. That being said, when doing a poll like this one must decide which teams to include and which ones to leave out, and the fact is I cannot avoid ranking less than five deserving programs. The Gators host ‘Bama but have to go to Death Valley to face LSU. A game against Georgia comes after a bye week which could be advantageous. I expect Florida to lose two of those three games, but they should win everything else with relative ease.

7 Clemson

Last Season:     10-2

Key Games:     9/4 vs. Georgia

Could it be that the ACC is getting better just as the Tigers aren’t quite as elite as they have been?? A loss to the likes of UNC or Miami in the conference title game might be enough to cost them a playoff spot. Am I brave enough to lay money down on that prospect?? Of course not. But it’s a fun scenario to ponder.

6 Alabama

Last Season:     13-0

Key Games:    9/18@ Florida, 10/9@ Texas A&M, 11/6 vs. LSU

I know it’s wrong, but I cannot help myself. With all due respect to Nick Saban & The Tide I will once again opine that I’m simply tired of them. Their dynasty has become tedious. It is likely that this prediction is way off base, that ‘Bama will inevitably find themselves in the playoff even if they lose the SEC title game. The truth is that television (specifically ESPN) controls the college football narrative, and Alabama is good for business. But this is my poll, so indulge me in a little wish fulfillment in which the almighty defending champs stumble once or twice and finish on the outside looking in.

5 Oklahoma

Last Season:     9-2

Key Games:     10/9 vs. Texas, 11/20 vs. Iowa St.

A decade from now I believe the Sooners will regret jumping from the Big 12 to the SEC, but that hasn’t occurred quite yet. For now their path to the playoff doesn’t seem all that tough outside of implicit disrespect of the Big 12, and that may bite them in the ass, especially if Notre Dame takes a playoff spot. The schedule lines up in their favor, with out of conference games they should win easily and Iowa State coming to Norman. The Red River Shootout is, as usual, a neutral site game in Dallas.

4 Notre Dame

Last Season:     10-2

Key Games:     9/25 vs. Wisconsin, 10/23 vs. USC, 10/30 vs. North Carolina

The Irish will always be in the playoff conversation as long as the team is winning games. I don’t know how conference realignment will affect them, but for now the status quo tilts in their favor. All of their key games are in South Bend, and we’ll know by the time November rolls around if they are serious championship contenders.

3 Oregon

Last Season:     4-3

Key Games:     9/11@ Ohio St., 11/20@ Utah

The Pac 12 really messed up last year by preemptively cancelling their season then reconsidering and ultimately having an abbreviated season. I assume there are too many indoctrinated Californians at the top of the conference management food chain. Anyway, the Ducks seem to be headed in the right direction after a rough go of it in 2016 & 2017. This will be the fourth year under head coach Mario Cristobal, and I foresee good things ahead, even assuming a season opening loss in Columbus.

2 Georgia

Last Season:     8-2

Key Games:     9/4 vs. Clemson, 10/30 vs. Florida

Can the Bulldogs upset the Crimson Tide and roll into the playoff themselves?? It won’t be easy. The SEC is stacked and that season opener against Clemson is brutal. That’s a neutral site game in Charlotte, and the winner certainly has a leg up on the competition. Having said that, I think it is entirely plausible that Georgia could lose that game, win every game afterward, defeat Alabama in the SEC title game, and still end up in the playoff.

1 Ohio State

Last Season:     7-1

Key Games:     9/11 vs. Oregon, 10/30 vs. Penn St., 11/27@ Michigan

Let me be clear…I didn’t think the Buckeyes should have been anywhere near the playoff last season. They only played six regular season games. Regardless of the circumstances I believe an eight game minimum threshold should have been in place to get into the Final Four. That did not happen, and I can’t blame them for taking full advantage. Every indication seems to point to another wildly successful campaign, as I don’t see any other Big Ten team capable of stopping them, unless Michigan shocks the world.





Points of Ponderation…..Episode 6.21

A semi-regular attempt to address some of life’s minutiae that might otherwise be overlooked…..

 

 

 

 

I’m not one to copy & paste because I have my own unique thoughts & opinions, but I saw this on FB & it’s too spot on not to steal:

I still love my Democrat friends & family, but you see it your way and I see it mine. You saw Trump’s arrogance, I saw Trump’s confidence. You saw Trump’s nationalism, I saw Trump’s patriotism. You heard Trump’s unsophisticated words, I heard Trump’s honesty. You saw Trump’s racism, I saw Trump’s words being misconstrued & twisted by the media daily to fit their narrative. You saw Trump as a Republican, I saw Trump as a Patriot. You saw Trump as a dictator, I saw Trump as a leader. You saw Trump as authoritarian, I saw Trump as the only one willing to fight for our freedoms. You saw Trump as childish, I saw Trump as a fighter, unwilling to cave to lies. You saw Trump as an unpolished politician, I saw Trump as a breath of fresh air. You believe Trump hates immigrants, I know Trump married an immigrant. You saw Trump putting an end to immigration in America, I saw Trump welcoming immigrants to America legally. You saw Trump’s cages at the border, I saw Obama’s cages at the border. You saw Trump with a struggling economy, I saw Trump with an amazing economy until Democrats shut it down. You saw violence in the streets and called it Trump’s America, I saw violence in the streets of Democrat run cities. You wanted someone more “Presidential”, I’m happy we had someone who finally didn’t  just talk the talk but actually walked the walk. You & I? We see things very differently.

 

 

I try. Atleast in my head I try. Perhaps my effort could be much much better. I know my life would be significantly easier if I could lose weight. A lot of weight. 100 lbs. And while I try to always look in the mirror and blame myself first it has to be said that friends & family bringing me things like 2 lbs of bacon (I live alone), fast food I didn’t ask for, entire pies, boxes of donuts & cupcakes, and greasy pepperoni rolls DO NOT HELP. Are people oblivious?!?!?!?!?? Why are you enabling me?!?!?!?!?? Obviously I have a sweet tooth, lack self control, & have made a lifetime of poor choices. That’s on me. But what kind of people look at the 300 lb. guy in a wheelchair and decide that shoving more bad choices in front of their face is a good idea?? Humanity really needs to reevaluate what being nice means. Offering unhealthy food to an already unhealthy person is NOT being nice…it’s pushing them into the grave. Would you buy a carton of cigarettes for someone diagnosed with lung cancer?? Would you hand a loaded gun to someone with clinical depression?? Would you push a person who cannot swim into a river?? Would you help a drug addict score their next fix?? But it’s okay to keep giving the unhealthy obese person junk food?? You’re actually an accessory to murder, and I wish people were smart enough to understand that.

 

 

Okay, while I’m at it I may as well borrow this one too:

I was in Dollar Tree last night and there was a lady & two kids behind me in a very long line. One was a big kid, one was a toddler. The bigger one had a pack of glow sticks and the baby was screaming for them so the Mom opened the pack and gave him one, which stopped his tears. He walked around with it smiling, but then the bigger boy took it and the baby started screaming again. Just as the mother was about to fuss at the older child, he bent the glow sticks and handed it back to the baby. The baby noticed that the stick was now glowing and his brother said “I had to break it so you could get the full effect from it.” I could hear God saying to me, “I had to break you to show you why I created you. You had to go through it so you could fulfill your purpose.” That child was happy just swinging the “unbroken” glow stick around in the air because he didn’t understand what it was created to do which was “glow”. There are some people who will be content just “being”, but some have been chosen by God to be “broken”…to get sick, lose a job, go through divorce, suffer with addiction, bury a spouse, parent, best friend, or child because in those moments of desperation God is breaking us. But when the breaking is done we will be able to see the reason for which we were created, so when you see us glowing just know that we have been broken but healed by His grace & mercy.

I saw that story posted on FB a couple of times and it really touched me. The truth is that I’ve felt broken for a long time…almost half of my life. I had such high hopes when I was a teenager and even in my college years, but then life happened…poor choices, a car accident that left psychological scars I’ve never gotten over, declining health, loneliness, family deaths that I never quite dealt with properly. The challenges I’ve faced aren’t unprecedented, but if I may make a sports analogy, I’ve seen the losses pile up for quite awhile, to the point that I think I stopped participating in the game. Having said all that, I don’t feel like I’ve ever completely given up. I still believe God has a purpose for me. I still see occasional opportunities to glow. Perhaps I’ll never get the dream job or have a lot of money. I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’ll probably never marry or have children. My life hasn’t turned out the way I once thought it could, but if my brokenness can prove beneficial in some way I’d be just fine with that.

RIP Rush – “He Made A Huge Difference”

I’ve always been a procrastinator, but this is different. I’ve been trying to find the words for several days, with little success. Just because you know something is happening in advance doesn’t mean it’s any easier when it actually happens. Such is the case with my man Rush Limbaugh, whose talent on loan from God was called on Ash Wednesday.

 

The Doctor of Democracy, our Maha Rushie, had been diagnosed with lung cancer a year ago, but continued with his radio show, albeit with frequent days off (I assume for treatment, appointments, etc). Then in October he made the devastating announcement that the treatments weren’t working. Around Christmastime he stated that doctors hadn’t expected him to be alive to see the holiday season so he was thankful for “extra innings”. His last radio broadcast came on February 2, and just over two weeks later he was gone.

 

I was introduced to Rush Limbaugh by my friend Greg in 1991, just in time for the 1992 election season. His books The Way Things Ought to Be (1992) and See, I Told You So (1993) were eye openers. I’ve seen Rush called many things this past week, but to my surprise I haven’t seen anyone refer to him the way I would…as a teacher. Everyone always likes to ask “Who was your favorite teacher??” or “Name a teacher who changed your life”, and of course most have atleast one from high school or college they hold in high regard, but my favorite teacher of all time just might be Rush Limbaugh. Certainly I learned more from him than what I rote memorized in high school, and I barely remember anything I heard in a college classroom (the social aspect of those years were much more meaningful to me, and I don’t feel bad about that).

 

Rush taught me about self-reliance. Rugged individualism. American exceptionalism. The brilliance of our Founding Fathers. He helped me understand media bias, and was a trailblazer in railing against political correctness. I learned more about economics from Rush Limbaugh than all the college professors I had combined. He had…unique…perspectives on race relations, feminism, environmentalism, and any other hot button issue one can imagine. His opinions angered a whole lot of people, but in my opinion he was usually spot on in his assessment. He had an uncanny ability to see thru the…ummm…poppycock…and tell us what was really going on. Hint: most of the time things aren’t what they seem…politicians lie, “journalists” lie, and all those celebrities who like to show off their alleged intellect usually have no idea what they’re talking about. That’s why so many of those kinds of people hated him…he understood their dishonesty, ignorance, & hypocrisy and wasn’t afraid to call them on it.

 

One of my father’s Dadisms has always been “I love you & will do anything I can to help you, but I will NOT defend you when you are wrong”. It is not my intention to put Rush Limbaugh on a pedestal. He had failures & made mistakes. He was married four times. He had a much publicized addiction to pain killers. He pushed the envelope on the radio and in doing so stepped over the line more than once. Sadly those shortcomings were constantly seized upon by those who disagreed with his sociopolitical opinions, and he was portrayed by some as an evil minion of Satan.

 

The odd thing is, those that know him best have always painted a far different picture. They will tell you that off the air he was shy, respectful, and quite generous. I never met Rush in person, but in listening to him I wasn’t offended or felt like he was all that shocking. Over the years I have found that many people who “hate” him never actually listened to his show. At best they may have heard a sound byte that left a bad impression, but if one is being intellectually honest we all know that the media often manipulates such things to further their chosen narrative. Rush Limbaugh became The Boogeyman who represented everything leftists despise about conservatism, and he willingly took the bullet. He always said that to really understand him you had to listen to the show consistently for a few weeks, and I found that to be true. He used humor like a surgeon wields a scalpel, and oftentimes intentionally tweaked the media just to get a reaction (and they rarely failed to live down to expectations).

 

Over the years I would occasionally play a game with myself. I’d hear a story, form an opinion, then try to think about it thru the prism of what Rush might say about it. Inevitably, once I was able to catch up with his show (made so much easier thru modern technology) I would realize that I had been on the right track with my thoughts, although he had an uncanny ability to point out things that I’d missed. The point though, is that thru the course of three decades I learned so much that I wouldn’t have if I’d never become a Dittohead. I suppose some will assume that makes me a misogynistic bigot, but when those accusations start flying I know immediately that I’m dealing with an uninformed ignoramus who never actually listened to the man I enjoyed & admired. I am in regular contact with people who spew obtuse MSNBC & CNN talking points almost daily, so I know the type. Thru trial & error and a lot of missteps along the way I’ve learned to accept those folks and appreciate their more positive contributions.

 

Sadly there are a fair number of people out there whose unhappiness & anger are too much to overlook. Such was the case in the immediate aftermath of Rush’s departure from this mortal coil. The comments on social media, while completely predictable, were no less infuriating. There have been liberals who passed (Supreme Court Justice RBG for example) and I never felt compelled to post something like “Thank God for cancer” or “Rest in Piss”, and that’s thanks to parents who raised me better. I guess everyone isn’t as fortunate as me. Isn’t it funny that “fact” checkers & community standards (whatever that is 🤷🏻‍♂️) are nowhere to be found in that scenario??

 

I listened to & read a lot of coverage of Rush’s death for a couple of days, with much of it being unsurprisingly disrespectful. However, one viewpoint in particular stood out. My apologies for not being able to give that person proper credit because I cannot remember who said it, but someone opined that Rush Limbaugh “made a huge difference”. One of the things he used to say when he was still the only game in town on conservative talk radio and The Internet was in its infancy is “I AM equal time”. I believe it was in response to certain entities calling for the return of The Fairness Doctrine (you might want to study it a bit…there will soon be a renewed push to revive it). Mr. Limbaugh was very clear in his opinion that the media, entertainment, public education, and other powerful parts of our daily lives have long been controlled by The Left and the populace indoctrinated without us even realizing it was happening. That indoctrination has only gotten more bold & pervasive, but many of us are no longer ignorant of it and occasionally even fight back. Rush Limbaugh deserves nearly all the credit for that. He almost singlehandedly saved talk radio, and in the process awakened millions of people to malevolent machinations that had been occurring for decades. Without Rush there is no Bush Dynasty, Fox News, Newt Gingrich’s Contract with America, or Donald Trump. I shudder to think what Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, & a likely Hillary Clinton Administration would have done to our country if Rush hadn’t been around to hold their feet to the fire. Certainly our Supreme Court would look far different and be way more radical. The next wave of conservative pundits wouldn’t be enjoying the level of success they’ve achieved without Rush as a forefather. Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Candace Owens, Ben Shapiro, Steven Crowder, Tomi Lahren…they all owe him a significant debt of gratitude, and I think they know that. I’ll even go so far as to ponder what the 2020 Election might have looked like if Rush had been at full strength this past year, although I don’t think even he could’ve stopped the theft that occurred (that’s a rabbit hole I won’t dive into right now).

 

“He made a huge difference”. I don’t think I’m venturing too far out on a limb when I say that most of us would love to have that said about our life. I’ve had way too much time to think about my own legacy this past year, and without going too far astray I’ll just say that I don’t think I’ve made much of a difference to anyone or anything. When I am gone it will be as if I was never here. Rush Limbaugh?? Well, he is deeply missed already, but thankfully he spent thirty years changing the world three hours at a time.

 

What’s next?? I have no idea. No one can replace El Rushbo, America’s Truth Detector. I saw someone compare him to Johnny Carson, and that seems like an appropriate analogy. A bunch of late night hosts have come & gone since Carson left the stage, and while most have adequately entertained us none have equaled The King of Late Night. Such will be the case with conservative talk radio & punditry. There will be shows. Someone (probably multiple people) will even sit behind the golden EIB microphone for the foreseeable future, but there will never be another Rush Limbaugh…a teacher/entertainer/communicator who expertly balanced humor, wisdom, righteous indignation, mischievous rabblerousing, connecting with an audience, & accessible analysis of complex issues. And he made it look easy.

Points of Ponderation…..Episode 5.21

A semi-regular attempt to address some of life’s minutiae that might otherwise be overlooked…..

 

 

 

 

When I was a teenager in the 80s there was a delicious candy bar called BarNone. It was thick…solid…and very chocolatey. There were chocolate wafers with chocolate cream and peanuts on top, all enveloped in chocolate. Their ad slogan was “Tame the Chocolate Beasty”. In 1992…for whatever reason…Hershey altered BarNone from one substantial bar to two smaller bars (and added caramel) in bright yellow packaging. It was good, but not as great as the original. Then in 1997 BarNone was discontinued altogether. Several years ago a company called Iconic Candy announced plans to revive BarNone, but they seemed to be all talk & no action so I gave up. Not so fast my friends!! Apparently, while we were all caught up in other things last year Iconic finally relaunched BarNone, a fact I only recently discovered. I promptly ordered a box on Amazon and while it isn’t a perfect facsimile (it’s a bit dry and needs more ganache & peanuts) it is close enough. If you liked BarNone back in the day you’ll be glad to know they’re out there again, which makes my world a wee bit better than it was just last week. Sometimes it really is the little things in life.

 

 

Weight Watchers changed their name to WW…but why?? Did somebody that gets paid a salary actually make that decision?? Hell, any idiot could do that job 🤷🏻‍♂️.

 

 

I ran across a blurb that said former child actress Marah Wilson (Mrs. Doubtfire, the Miracle on 34th St. remake) is a cousin of conservative commentator Ben Shapiro. Then I read that Wilson has disavowed her cousin because of his political views and the two “don’t interact”. How sad is that?? I grew up in an Italian-American family, and for us cousins are quite important. I don’t even share the same sociopolitical worldview as my own father, but I can’t imagine “disavowing” him or cutting off contact. I just find it kind of pathetic. Wilson hasn’t even been an actress for two decades yet she still has that Hollywood bubble mindset that believes anyone who doesn’t share their twisted outlook on life is evil & must be cancelled. I used to think that the one thing all performers (actors, singers, athletes, etc) have in common is enormous talent, but I’ve come to realize that most also share some level of mental illness.

 

 

Since Election Day gas prices have soared 18%, while the price of oil has rocketed almost 50%. I TOLD YOU SO!!!!!!!!!!

 

 

Speaking of actresses…

I’ve never watched The Mandalorian. It’s one of those shows I always thought I’d get around to checking out but haven’t, and when I’m being honest with myself I realize I never will. At any rate, some actress from the show recently got fired for right leaning social media posts. Apparently what really got people’s panties in a wad was comparing Nazis treatment of Jews with the modern day cancel culture wherein there seems to be a concerted effort to squash all traces of conservative opinion. I read her tweet and understood the analogy just fine…didn’t find it offensive at all. What’s more interesting is Disney absolutely proving the young lady’s point by firing her. Leftists really don’t get it. They are completely blind to their own insanity. It would be funny if it wasn’t so maddening.