NFL15: Did Caldwell Pull All the Stops?

21 Aug ......RG3.wc.8.1.12.K.Allison.TC.VA.2.3m

Little “Carole (Sherry Jackson)” and big “Steve Williams (John Wayne, Trouble Along the Way (‘53)),” were wrong: Not only is “winning (not) everything, neither is it “the only thing.” Spunky frozen asset turned soft-touch, court-appointed officer “Alice Singleton (Donna Reed)” of the nice legs did look a bit skeptical of her young charge’s code. Smart cookie.

.....Caldwell.wc.9.19.10.Sgt.JL.Small.thm

And such is the case in the oh-so popular NFL pre-season.

Football is a beast but the NFL exhibition slate has long been considered a slightly different animal. Someone may need to remind Lions’ Jim Caldwell & crew. Ouch!

In the minds of coaches around the League, the real culprit in the Detroit-DC pre-season scrimmage on Thursday night where Redskins’ oft-injured quarterback Rob Griffin was walked-off in 2Q for suffering from what’s been confirmed as concussion, may be Lions’ head coach Jim Caldwell who, with staffers, apparently felt it fine to ‘pull out all the stops’ in having his defensive felines go ‘full-tilt’ in the exhibition.

On video view the hits (& roll-over) looked to be extra-heavy, an effort usually reserved for regular play and slightly reminiscent of Bountygate in 2010 post-season, as legal as they appeared.

.....Gruden.1.18.14.K.Allison.wc.thm

By the time RG3 became cookie-dough for Lions’ rolling-pin 6’6” 280 lbs defensive end Corey Wootton in a fumble-fall, the ill-effects of the two prior wicked whacks had fully set in.

Major media, social circles and quick-to-pounce sport site commenters alternated between lining Redskins head coach Jay Gruden and his offensive line in their critical crosshairs to take all of the blame for RG3‘s bruising night.

But then it’s always groovin’ for PC media to bash the Washington brand, ever since 2012. Almost any reason will do. It fuels the on-going, transparently self-serving and largely hypocritical anti-Redskins (logo) campaign. Just happens to be Gruden instead of Snyder or Allen this time.

Life has it’s unwritten codes. Clarity and a necessary conformity come by way of guidance, good judgment and redress.

.....RG3.7.31.12.K.Allison.wc.TC.VA.thm

In NFL pre-season the code goes something like this: Don’t hit your hardest (D (80%)) nor extend the furthest (O). Make the play, don’t make a mess.

Reasons are obvious and well grounded, though, the heightened scrutiny that exhibitions receive today in a business whose popularity is off the charts, presents players & coaches both with a conundrum of sorts. Too much, too little?

Gruden and Redskins’ O-line may have issues (Who doesn’t?), it’s what the pre-season is made to address. But Lions may’ve broken code, taken advantage and it’s time the experts (coaches & players) chimed-in on this sad display.

And new Miami Dolphins defender Nda Suh has gotta‘ be smiling. Not at the hits, he’s human, but the irony. He was nowhere in sight to blame this time.

.......NFL.wikiproject.6kb

Steven Keys
Macro Sport
Photo Credits: Griffin, wc, 8.1.12, K.Allison, TC.VA; J.Caldwell, wc, Sgt.J.Small, 9.19.10; J.Gruden, 1.18.14, Allison, wc; RG3, 7.31.12, wc, Allison, TC.VA; NFL-symbol, Wikiproject.
Posted: 8.21.15 @ 6:10pm; Copyright © 2015

Bills Like IKE: 2nd Chance or Free Pass?

17 Aug .......Smith.8.11.13.Eltiempo10.954k

It’s been the talk of town, New York town, that is, for good part of this past week. And it’s likely to have some traction running well into the NFL 2015 season.

News broke Tuesday (8.11) that New York Jets starting quarterback, 3rd-year man Geno Smith, suffered a broken jaw at the hand of 2nd-year, small defensive-end (6” 1’ / 261), IK Enemkpali who‘d appeared in but 6 contests in 2014, making a mere 2 tackles (1a).

“Sucker-punch” was the phrase of the day.

......Bills.wordmark.M.Epsilon.sportslogo

The rumor-mill was working fast & furious in the hours and days following, offering much speculation but little or nothing in the form of substance. The consensus was that a believed debt owed in the form of a $600 airline ticket was the assailant’s motivation with no small amount of bad judgment at the root cause.

The non-refundable ticket has probably been source of more arguments and animosity in America than vacation destination debate and infidelity, combined.

Equally blind-sided was 1st-year NYJ head coach Todd Bowles who handled his press conference like a seasoned pro but, as expected, offered little insight into the fracas except that IKE had been summarily dismissed (waived) from the Jets and that changing a team’s “culture (reporter queries are getting Dumb and Dumber by the day)” doesn’t happen “overnight.”

But no sooner had IKE been set adrift in an NFL sea awash in wannabes, than the free-swinger from Pflugerville, Texas was thrown a line and hauled in by the Buffalo Bills who claimed him off those waivers. Enemkpali will be reuniting with Bills 1st-year head coach Rex Ryan who drafted IKE when he headed-up the Jets draft selection in ’14.

It’s the type of act that defines Rex Ryan’s persona, i.e., player’s coach.

....Ryan.10.23.11.wc.M.O'Leary.thmb

Less confrontational someone like former Raiders owner-coach, Al Davis (d.2011), and less enigmatic than Belichick, RR’s more akin to Seahawks’ Pete Carroll. But all like-minded in providing port of sanctuary for the occasional misfit & malcontent, though, Rex has “miles to go“ before he matches Al’s record of safe-harbor (See; R.Incognito (BUF)).

Who doesn’t like 2nd-chances, who’s not a hater or hypocrite?

It’s a dice roll but often affords good press, might fuel some locker-room mojo and pay big dividends (See; Raiders SB11, 15 & 18; M.Lynch (SEA)).

The problem with Buffalo’s move is apparent failure of Bills’ brass (GM Whaley) to set a condition precedent to claiming IKE, i.e., first, require he man-up by attempting a sincere, face-to-face w/Smith whose rep will always suffer from this emasculation, hopefully including reciprocating apologies from both parties.

Talk, or lawyer-vetted public apologizes, can be cheap, just as PCP-mandated counseling can fall on deaf ears. A face-to-face would’ve been a gesture benefiting all interested parties and the NFL, i.e., ‘mistakes happen, we make it right.’

An opportunity lost.

Jets Jab speaks to the immense power of imagery in 2015.

Even with the non-sport brutality that is MMA being forced on the masses by marketers, and using ladies, too, no less (equal opportunity viciousness), the power of the video-displayed punch on public passions is all too evident in wake of the Rice-Palmer elevator incident and to a lesser media-degree, the LeGarrette Blount jab at Byron Hout a few back (NCAA).

.....Blount.wc.1.19.14.J.Beall.tm

Oregon Duck Blount, who’d just seen his Heisman and team’s national title hopes take a nose dive in ‘09 loss to Boise State, received a punitive pounding for what amounted to a reflexive message-punch to a taunting, in-your-face Hout. A long suspension and serious drop in NFL draft (‘10) was the result for the star RB.

You’ll not see state criminal codes change but the Blount-Hout dust-up raised a valid question of whether physical force (SD) should be sanctioned in certain circumstance absent meeting of traditional standard, the reasonable belief in (serious) bodily harm. If a punch recipient’s words, manner & timing incite a reasonable but irresistible impulse towards physicality (See also; Zidane), as adjudicator I’d be open to finding it justifiable.

But that’s all theory.

What is real is LeGarrette’s resilient rebound in the pro-ranks, a success story (SB49 ring) that warrants a cover shot (Sports Illustrated). His own punch-line speaks to the power of video, even as it’s sometimes overstated and oversold (See; Disney (ESPN)).

To the Bills, whose newest rosteree in IKE was luckily spared the same degree of national outrage that often accompanies wide, public dissemination of audio (Sterling) and video-captured moments of indiscretion, seeking success (Ws & $) and fomenting feel-good by affording a 2nd-chance is, on the surface, a-okay.

But if it comes by enabling quasi-criminal acts and jellyfish mentality (fear of taking responsibility) it’s just more over-identification from the likeable coach (who hadn’t even spoken with IKE pre-claim) and maybe an excuse for a troubled player to simply carry his overt-anger elsewhere, off-field, to another unsuspecting victim. Maybe.

.......NFL.wikiproject.6kb

Steven Keys
Macro Sport
Photo credits: G.Smith, 8.11.13, Eltiempo10, wc; Buffalo, wordmark, wc, M.Epsilon; R.Ryan, 10.23.11, wc, M.O’Leary; L.Blount, 1.19.14, J.Beall, wc; NFL-symbol, wikiproject.
Posted: 8.17.15 @ 12:11am; Copyright ® 2015

Canton 2016: Think Buddy Ryan

8 Aug ........PFHOF.Canton.M.Sharp.7.14.7.93k

It’s August, a time of preparation for the coming autumn change.

Plants, wildlife and insects are doing all their things in appreciation of a limited lifespan and anticipating the coming cold.

Farmers are, well, not exactly sure what they’re doing but they’re always busy.

Parents are planning one last getaway before the kids head back to school (farmer-parents don’t have the luxury). So if you live in a blessed cul-de-sac, get ready for the ‘beep-beep-beep-beep-beep’ sound at 6:15, 7:00, 7:25, 8:05 and 9:00am (safety school bus).

It’s officially “makeover time,” per Oprah Winfrey. My beautiful wife subscribes.

And for ball-players it signifies arrival of summer’s dog days.

Most players & coaches return to baseball in mid-January and by this time it’s taken a heavy toll on both mind & body that money can‘t forestall. It’s the grind.

Contenders bearing-down for the stretch run, vying for League pennants and all-expenses paid trips to the October classic, the World Series.

And it’s also when the current trends in baggy-pants and long locks come into direct conflict with the 90°+ day-time temps (80° night). I get mental-sunburn just thinkin’ about it.

.......PFHOF.Canton.Coemgenus.6.27.6

But this weekend in the month formerly known as Sextilis (6th in original 10-mth Roman calendar), later re-named in honor of Emperor Augustus (Wikipedia), is also time for that other big operator of fun & frolic, the NFL, to ceremonially kick-off their new season.

With the 32 training camps up & running, Saturday marks a collective effort to honor & reflect on those men (someday a woman, by-golly) who helped make their vocation a great one by way of busty inductions into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, OH.

This year’s list of honorees include Misters Jerome Bettis, Tim Brown, Charles Haley, Mick Tingelhoff, Bill Polian, Junior Seau, Ron Wolf and Will Shields.

Halls of Fame voters take alot of flak these days.

On rare occasion it’s deserved, when the commitment appears to be in serious doubt (Le Batard vote transfer (MLB)). But it’s an honor that creates a duty and one that cannot be all that easy to fulfill.

Like the Constitution, you don’t want to be hamstrung by too many guidelines or turn it into an encyclopedia of do’s & don’ts. You want flexibility, choice.

By the same token there’s gotta’ be a standard, a cut-off point.

What used to be a “three hour tour” in Canton’s football-shaped complex may now take parts of two days and feel more like a stranded stay on “Gilligan’s Island,” sans the slap-stick (and adorable “Ginger,” “Marianne” and “Mrs. Howell,” i.e., “Lovie”) as the number of bustees steadily grows.

The Canton Theatre:

Dad: ‘Hey, no horsing around, champ!
Zachary: But Dad, there are so many. It’s all becoming a blur. Besides, bronzed means unbreakable, ya‘ know?
Dad: Really, Einstein? Don’t get smart, kiddo, or no Xbox® tonight. I saw that.’

As is customary, induction day will trigger sport forums discussions as to the worthiness of this year’s honorees, personal favorites and those notables who didn’t get the call for the current roster of bronzed immortals.

One name recently debated is that of former Raiders (Oilers / Saints) QB Kenny “the Snake” Stabler who died in July of colon cancer (d.7.8.15).

But to discuss a man’s HOF credentials so soon after his passing, especially when the answer can be a nay, which, in Ken’s case is not an unreasonable position. Best in the immediate aftermath of a death to reflect on the man’s life as it was, not on what it wasn‘t, and save the Hall topic for a respectfully later date.

.......Ryan.wc.P.Souza.thb.10.7.11.WH

Other notables not in mournful state but viable candidates for Cantonization include coach Tom Flores, NFL Films innovator-tech Steve Sabol, QB Jim Plunkett, D-lineman Jim Marshall, O-lineman Jerry Kramer and coordinator Buddy Ryan.

This 2015-16 season will mark the 30th anniversary of the Bears whopping win in Super Bowl 20 (v. Pats, 46-10), Chicago’s last NFL title and due in no small part to the man many consider the mastermind of their vaunted defense, James David Ryan.

Buddy Ryan was born in the Sooner state (2.17.34), played offensive line at OSU (A&M) and is well-known amongst football fans as the father of Bills current head coach Rex Ryan and his brother, Saints defensive coordinator, Rob Ryan.

For Buddy’s 31 years in the NFL, 24 were in a coordinator (line) capacity, having been a head coach at career’s end with the Eagles (5) and Cardinals (2).

In my run-down of the 295 inductees since 1963’s charter class I did not notice one a coordinator among them, or one who was ‘best known’ in that capacity.

......Carter.bust.11.7.13.MN.NG.thm

There are two ‘best known as’ general managers, including Bill Polian of this year’s distinguished class (See; Ron Wolf), two team administrators (Finks / Schramm), numerous team owners, a film innovator (Ed Sabol), a punter (Guy) and even a Supervisor of Officials, Hugh “Shorty” Ray. All very deserving enshrinements, some late in coming, but no man elected based largely on his coordination contribution.

And that’s a damn shame.

Coordinators are specialists. Like the MD called in for the tough case (“Dr. Kimble”), they prove their value over time in what can be very trying, unique circumstances, are highly-regarded and then rewarded accordingly ($).

But apparently not so in America’s pro football chapel.

Ryan‘s impressive record:

Buffalo Bills (AFL): 1961-65, defensive line coach, champions ‘64-65;
New York Jets (AFL-NFL): 1968-75, defensive line coach, SB3 champ ’69;
Minnesota Vikings: 1976-77, defensive line coach, NFC champ ’76 (SB11);
Chicago Bears: 1978-85, defensive coordinator, SB20 champ, ’86;
Philadelphia Eagles: 1986-90, head coach, 43-35, 3 playoffs (0-3);
Houston Oilers: 1993, defensive coordinator, yapg (#14), papg (#4);
Arizona Cardinals: 1994-95, head coach, 12 – 20.

......PFHOF.Canton.M.Russell.8.31.08.tm

Deciding on a selection standard has to be challenging.

That a voter will inform their opinion is most certain a commonality. That bias, prejudice or peer-pressure skew the process cannot be discounted, but what are you gonna’ do, turn it all over to a robot or slew of sabrheads who have no feel whatsoever for the game beyond digits? No thanks.

On personality – character, Buddy rubbed some the wrong way (See; Houston jab), but then geniuses don’t win elections. My understanding is that he earned the respect of his men, not by over-identification with players but by his vast knowledge of defensive scheme and applying a standard with consistency.

Cantonizing one whose NFL contribution was in the assistant capacity would be a break from tradition, requiring a broader view from voters. But then the NFL has been broad-ening it’s own perspective and breaking barriers with a near zeal of late (Welter / Thomas / pink-wear (ugh)), so maybe it’s Bud time, too. Cheers.

.......NFL.wikiproject.6kb

Steven Keys
Macro Sport
Photo credits: PFHOF, Canton, M.Sharp, 7.14.7, wc; PFHOF, coemgenus, Canton, wc, 6.27.6; Ryan, WH, 10.7.11, P.Souza, wc; Carter, Canton-bust, 11.7.13, wc, MN-NG; PFHOF, 8.31.8, wc, Russell; NFL – wikiproject;
Posted: 8.7.15 @ 4:41pm EST
Copyright © 2015

Relax Brady, Anti-Hero’s a Better Look

3 Aug .......Brady.wc.cca.J.Beall.1.2m.10.11.09

He’s face of the NFL, reigning Super champ QB with the GQ smile and model wife. But lately, Tom’s been taking more punches on the chin than a Pacquiao – Mayweather fisticuff. Hagler v Hearns (85) it was not, but then, not many are.

Deflategate just won’t fade away.

And now it’s taken on a Rose-Mary Woods feel (d.2005), she of Watergate infamy, having been the personal secretary to President Richard Nixon before and during the scandal. She took responsibility for erasing 5 minutes of a suspicious 18 minute gap in a White House tape subject to the Senate inquiry.

......Brady.wc.cca.12.18.11.J.Beall.thmb

NFL Commissioner, veritable Vice-Principal and CBA-approved appellate judge Roger Goodell handed down his decision on Tuesday to maintain Tom Brady’s 4g susp’n for what he and investigator Ted Wells believe was a “more probable than not” likelihood (?) that the Patriots QB knowingly partook in a “scheme” to deflate game balls (AFCC15) and then “obstructed” the inquiry by having an assistant destroy his cellular phone just prior to an interview with Wells who’d sought it’s contents.

Tom, like Woods, tabbed “Stretch” by media for myriad of machine maneuvers required to pull-off her claims (Wikipedia), explains his own act was not malice but mere coincidence as he had a habit of destroying phones upon purchasing a new model which he claims was necessary due to a functionality issue.

Needing a new phone just as Wells needed to see the old phone is a timing that Ms. “Elaine Benes” might’ve called one “BIG coincidence (Seinfeld).” Yeeeeah.

Some believe Brady a liar on this matter and take it further in calling him (and his team (Spygate)), a cheater. Hater hyperbole? Beyond a reasonable doubt.

Others cut Tom some terrific slack.

There are any number of valid, benign reasons that one would destroy a cell phone apart from skullduggery, i.e., intentional destruction of potential evidence, even with such poor timing as was Tom‘s.

For one, a reasonable All-American need for privacy. Yanks taught the world.

But privacy too has taken it on the chin of late, especially and appreciably so since the 9-11 attacks (See; NSA, etc.). And it’s not just from Uncle Sam.

......Silver.11.21.14.K.Allison.wc.thmb

Private sector boasts a growing disregard for the privacy right which sports a pretty wicked swell from blows like the national lynch-mob that throttled racially-paranoid but dementia’d 81-yr old former Clippers owner & ‘escort’ imbiber, Don Sterling, and the recent invasion of Planned Parenthood’s zone of privacy by intruders-with-agenda.

Which makes “Privacy Notification” I receive in the mail on a monthly basis from my credit card companies all the more weirder and suspicious. Thanks, Congress.

And then it’s possible Brady held a principled belief that the requestor (Wells et al) is not entitled, under CBA and / or due process, to access his cell phone.

Best advice in such circumstance might’ve been to hold said phone in abeyance and let a magistrate rule before said destruction. But rulings can go haywire and then where would the privacy-seeker be, everything exposed to inquiring minds or, in those famous words of “Varmint Cong (Caddyshack),” “Uh-oh!”

In addition, there’s a skewed, somewhat sorted nature to the whole Deflategate thing, a witch-hunt feel that stems from the following:

1) Parties purportedly initiating the inquiry (IND / BAL) have axes to grind;

2) Rules are rules but in this case the NFL policy on ball-flation was in somewhat primitive in stage preceding the hubbub while the in-game referees oversight of said balls was clearly lacking, almost, one could argue, inviting in it’s nature.

3) An investigator who employs easiest of standards (“more probable than not (51%)),” yet uses “likely” in couching report in an air of clear & convincing;

4) League’s manner has appeared indifferent to DP in inquiry and review.

......Vincent.7.13.12.thmb.careerupdate.wc

NFLPA is championing Brady’s case and filed grievance in a Minneapolis federal court last Wednesday (transferred NYC) to challenge Executive VP of Football Operations Troy Vincent’s 4g susp’n he handed down earlier in the year and upheld by Roger.

But take heart, Tommy, there are silver-linings in that dark Deflategate cloud staying stationary overhead.

Firstly, most Americans are tired of having their heroes deconstructed, folded, spindled and media-mutilated in for profit, politics, prejudice or combo thereof.

Second: You can take solace in knowledge that you’ve been granted full (pending) membership in the All-American Anti-Hero Club. It’s a good thing.

The anti-hero has some great qualities, real triumphs, but has an Achilles’ heel, chink in the armor that sends some folks running for either the rosary or the critics’ club. They are uncommon figures who, upon closer inspection, prove human and fail that false standard of perfection to which we hold our heroes, i.e., JFK, MLK and Audie Murphy.

.....Lafayette.wc.Peale.wc.1780.thm

One might argue the United States (1783) and it’s Charter ((C)1791) were created by a whole lotta’ anti-heroes that would’ve swung high from “white oak tree(s)” if not for the un-paid, poorly fed but stout Continentals, Washington’s out-maneuver of Britain the Earl Cornwallis at Yorktown (’81) and Lafayette’s compatriots, le Français.

That group includes Tom Jefferson, the man who started public education (UV) and penned the Declaration of Independence, the newest public enemy #1A, along with Old Hickory Andy Jackson (#1B), of the politically correct bully bunch (PCB).

My question to them: How do you all get here, if not from there? Spontaneous civil rights? “How conveeeeenient (Carvey),” for the catty, callous & closed-off.

The anti-hero club is non-sectarian and shows no preference to age, gender, era, income-level and has membership that’s both factual and fictionally-inspired.

Spartacus

“Thracian dog (McGraw’s tag on Kirk Douglas in the 1960 film)” sent shock-waves throughout the Roman Republic, yet, to slaves who heard-tell, he gave hope.

Robin Hood

“Baron of Locksley” was a hood with flair for robbery, so you can’t classify hero. The legend says he shared his loot with the poor of Sherwood Forest and vicinity, making him an early proponent of wealth redistribution. Any friend of Olivia de Havilland (E. Flynn) has gotta’ be A-OK, i.e., a bit of alright.

Andrew Jackson

He’s taken more flak than a B-17 over 40s Berlin. Nothing’s free and when he brought democracy to DC the spoils system was part-in-parcel. It persists today (lobbyism / quotas). Trail of Tears was a stain on our soul but without this first commoner in the White House who bested hostile Indians, British invaders and greedy bankers, the aristocrats (shareholders) might have the last 20%.

....Garfield.Gentlemens.47.wc.thm

John Garfield and Anne Revere

Stalwarts of 30s & 40s stage and screen, both stood brave against tyranny that was House Un-American Activities Committee, refused to name names and were black-listed as most America quivered. The Red Scare destroyed 100s of creative lives in a political effort to win power and snuff diversity. Like spoils system it lives today in corporate appeasement and homogenization, forcing conformity that stifles freedom of thought, artistic expression and does a cut & paste job on history. Still scary stuff.

“Pvt. John Reese (Steve McQueen, Hell is For Heroes (‘62))

When movie fans talk today about great war cinema, recency rules with movies like Fury (’14), Saving Private Ryan (’98), Glory (’89), American Sniper (’14), maybe The Pianist (’02). But classics hold their own with the likes of The Longest Day (’62), Platoon (’86), Apocalypse Now (‘79), The Deer Hunter (’78), All Quiet on the Western Front (’30), The Bridge on the River Kwai (‘58), Cross of Iron (‘77) and “Hell.” You’d not want to bar-be-que with the wired-tight Mr. “Reese” in peacetime, but in a trench, he’s Silver Star.

“Sgt. Stryker (John Wayne, Sands of Iwo Jima (‘49))

You’d not think the “Duke” anything less than straight hero-type, and you’d be right 95% of the time. But there were roles (The Searchers (‘59)) where you wondered if John had both oars in the water. Marital discord on homefront and abrasive leadership imbue Stryker with anti-, the stand-up-guy scene with juke-girl / mother and baby is ‘Grade A’ hero and should move you tears.

....Grier.2.3.12.wc.CFC.thm

“Jackie Brown (Pam Grier, Jackie Brown (‘97))

“Jackie” won’t make Condy Rice’s list of female role models but the ‘smart as a whip’ stewardess would get my vote for NFL Commish. She made a bad call with Stranger-Danger man “Ordell (Jackson),” but when she confides in smitten bondsman “Max Cherry (Forster)” about “starting over,” she speaks to everyone who’s reached middle-age and starts to scramble.

Brett Favre

“Mississippi” was bigger than Vince Lombardi in the formerly progressive State of Wisconsin, then Thompson & Board showed him the door, handed him his hat and he went to the other side (Vikings). Big surprise. He almost took Norsemen back to the promised land but got over-undered by the Saints, then had phone trouble of his own (Sterger). But Brett’s an endorsement machine, living the good life and back in fold (Packers’ HOF).

Jose Canseco

If Jose could stop whining about his bold decision to blow whistle on PED cheats and playing to the camera, he’d have his anti-hero club card in his good hand.

....Newman.68.Peterson.MF.WI.wc

“Frank Galvin (Paul Newman, The Verdict (‘82))

Like John (The Breaking Point (‘50)), Paul specialized as the anti-hero (Cool Hand Luke (’67)). Alchie ambulance-chaser turns his steed around, takes on cowardice & corruption and becomes a crusader on white charger.

“The Bad News Bears (‘76)

For anyone who’s ever muffed a can o‘ corn, got eaten-up by a grounder, made an errant throw or whiffed with bases full, they can appreciate this original fairytale that is inspirational staple for kids and adults alike. Mötley Crüe’s got nada on this bunch of misfits turned teammates and players. Entire cast, including Tatum O’Neal, Joy Van Patten and Vic Morrow is superb with Matthau (“Buttermaker”) and Haley (“Kelly Leak”) as the anti-heroes.

Randy Moss

Couldn’t have a Brady anti-hero list without TB’s battery mate, Moss. Maybe only Rodman affected play and emotions as did this incomparable receiver. From the get-go in debut with Vikes (‘98), Randy was uncommon as a game-changer and persona, vacillating unpredictably from spirited & strong to lackadaisical & surly. His pantomime moon of GB royalty was a creative high (’05), his snooty heart-stab of Minnesotans in brief 2010 return was a low.

Well, there you have it, some of the heavy hitters in the anti-hero club.

It’s not a bad place to be: better endorsements, better parties and I’d not be surprised if they found better brokers, too (more money, more fun).

Besides, if anti-hero status keeps you from having to shill for pizza money, Tom, it‘s gotta‘ be good, eh (See; Papa & Peyton)? Sorry, Manning, I’m off the gluten.

......macroecono.lamcasinoroyal.wc.2011

Steven Keys
Macro Sport
Photo credits: Brady, 10.11.9, wc.cca, J.Beall; Brady, 12.18.11, wc, J.Beall; Silver, 11.21.14, wc.cca, K.Allison; Vincent, 7.13.12, careerupdate, wc.cca; Lafayette, 1780, Peale, wc.cca; Garfield, 1947, Gentlemen’s, wc; Grier, 2.13.12, CFC, wc; Newman, MF-WI, 1968, wc, Peterson; macroeconomo, lamcasinoroyal, 2011,wc.
Posted: 8.3.15 @ 3:35pm; edit @ 7:08 EST
Copyright © 2015

NFL15: Bills’ Rex Ryan Tops Coaches on the Cue

28 Jul ...R.Ryan.8.3.8.K.Allison.2.36m.wc

The hot seat: That’s the term of the trade, coaching, that is.

Specifically, a term of warning that means, he, maybe she someday the way things are moving (See; Welter (AZ) & Hammon (NBA)), who sits on said seat had better get his rear-in-gear, find a winning touch or that proverbial pink-slip is certain to arrive by or before season’s end, depending on the equity said coach has accrued.

But that ain‘t this write, not exactly.

Coaching cats listed here would at least appear to be pretty well situated and are, in fact, not in immediate danger of getting the boot.

Some are new to their job but so popular they’d trigger an impromptu parade with local fans (Ryan). Others have recently received extension (Tomlin / Coughlin / Lewis) and most are in possession of Lombardi (replica) home décor.

Even so, not all is as rosy as it appears for these elite NFL sideliners.

While they’ve all had success and anticipation runs high as summer training camps are getting under way, each of them has struggled for extended periods time and failed, sometimes miserably, to meet their own particular expectations.

For some that simply means consecutive losing records and no post-season play; for others it means doing everything necessary in the RS to punch-ticket for prime playoff placement but then fail repeatedly to close the deal (GB).

If these expectations are not met, whether that‘s simply a >.500 record or Super Bowl birth, all of these coaching veterans could be looking for work next March or begin to feel a noticeable warming in their seats, contracts notwithstanding.

....Ryan.10.23.11.wc.M.O'Leary.thmb

Rex Ryan, Buffalo Bills (1st year HC)

“A parade all by himself (Jimmy Cannon‘s description of Ruth)” would be bit of a stretch but Rex Ryan may be the closest thing we’ve got today, sans the whiskey, womanizing, wee-hour waltzes, hot dog eating contests, etcetera. Rex’s press conferences, anyway.

Ryan starts fresh in Buffalo after six seasons at the helm in Jetsland in the town the Babe called home for many years (1920 – 48), having left the Big Apple with mixed results. After reaching a couple AFCCs in the early going the wheels came off, offensive-side mostly, and a semi-amicable parting-of-ways was reached.

He hopes to dispel belief he’s an early-bloomer, inspiring with a positive persona in phase I, only to lose his grip in phase II when the bloom comes off the rose.

“Over-identification with his men,” is what Gregory Peck (“Gen. Savage”) called it in the classic World War II drama, Twelve O’Clock High (‘49). Big trouble. You want your men’s respect, even a little fear on occasion, not their friendship, not necessarily. Whether that’s factual with Ryan or not, only he and players can say, but it does give appearance.

Rex’s specialty, defense, is in the genes, evidenced by brother Rob (NO-DC) and their famous father “Buddy” having coordinated way back to those AFL title days in Buffalo (‘61-65). Like father, like sons, except James had some terrific guys on the O-side, including names like Kemp & Gilchrist (BUF), Namath & Maynard (NYJ), Tarkenton & Foreman (MIN) and Payton & McMahon (CHI), something with which Rex has rarely been assoc’d since his days in Baltimore (’99-08).

Mastering offense has proven his bugaboo, in particular, finding a quality field general. He ain’t alone. When young Mark Sanchez (NYJ) hit a wall, Ryan kept his cool but eventually was forced to make change and came up short (G.Smith).

As it stands, Bills QB question remains unanswered.

Veteran Matt Cassel, displaced in MIN by Ted Bridgewater, has two 10-5s under his belt (NE / KC) appeared the presumptive starter but Ryan wants to please everyone so everyone (Manuel / Simms / Taylor) will get a good look-see. He knows securing a signal-caller’s key to making his mark in Western New York State versus a likely last NFL head coach gig.

Bills fans are a frustrated lot, playoff-dry since ‘00 and though looking to be turning a corner under Marrone in ‘14 (9-7), saw him skedaddle and capable Orton call it a career at season‘s end. While playoffs in ‘16 is, to a Bills optimist, expected, the QB quandary permits RR something less, but with a seat-warmer handy. Gets cold in Buffalo!

...McCarthy.wc.cca.8.11.7.TJ.Grant.thm

Mike McCarthy, Green Bay Packers (10th yr)

The hand-writing was on the wall for this move.

On the one hand, you can’t blame Packers for taking Mike down a peg in having to fork over the play-call book, given GB’s recent playoff runs with unexpected Ls to visiting Giants (’12), Colin Kaepernick-led 49ers (x2), last one at home, no less (‘14), and then the Cheese Melt 2015 (1.18) versus defending champs, Seattle, in NFCC in what looked (late) like an earned trip to SB49.

One the other hand, while Packers fans & Mgmt are some of the best in the biz, great success will often breed over-inflated sense of self-worth and unreasonable expectations, i.e., big brats, and not the Usinger’s® or Klement’s® varieties.

Green Bay’s collapse, a worst in NFL post-season history, was a team effort. Call it Murphy’s Law, if anything could go wrong, it did. I call it Swing Time (’36), the best of Astaire & Rogers and apt name of what afflicts this NFL. A winning team loses all momentum which swings to the up & comers who turn the tables. Cause? Millennials don‘t handle pressure like Dad? It’s as good an explanation as any.

And orchestrating Brett Favre’s high-profile return to the Fox Valley just prior to opening of training camp, the prodigal QB, as it were (Luke: 15: 11-32), just when faithful are having serious doubts about keeping McCarthy‘s hands on the controls, was not Thompson‘s best play. Now fans have all summer to remind ’em of those halcyon days of Green Bay Renaissance when Wolf, Holmgren, Favre & White seemed invincible, until they met Elway & Co. (SB32), of course.

Though, it’s a bit rough for a guy who built his rep on offensive know-how (See; UP ‘89), relinquishing strategizing duties is, in big picture, nothing to stew about, when you’ve got a guy named Aaron Rodgers conducting the orchestra (MVP ‘14).

Packers problem every January is the same it’s been since Reggie and LeRoy Butler retired: defense, or lack thereof, in crunch time.

A panache for glory stats guys (Clay Matthews / Woodson) in sacrifice of tackling (See; SEA, CAR, SF), the heart & soul of football, has too often been their undoing. Moving out of the mid-pack (yapg (15) / papg (14)) by leaping Minnesota and Detroit and into the top-10 on these key defensive measures will punch Green Bay’s ticket to Santa Clara.

...Tomlin.wc.steelcityhobbies.9.16.7 thm

Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh Steelers (9th yr)

If I’d had ear of Steelers Chair Dan Rooney in 2013 I’d have advised Mike be dismissed from his coaching job at season’s close, giving Tomlin option of sooner if chosen, and pinned my own position of influence on the call.

Tomlin’s buffoonery in Baltimore on Thanksgiving, of all nights, where he clearly interferes with Ravens return man Jacoby Jones breakaway sideline run, gave the Pittsburgh organization a black-eye, traces of which still remain with the two-time Super Bowl (43 W / 45 L) coach’s continued presence on Steelers‘ sideline.

The fact he chose to step on the field while watching the ball-carrier approach (not Jumbotron as claimed), most certainly to divert Jones likely TD trot, was bad enough. That he wore a Cheshire grin immediately following his chicanery certified the misdeed. That he didn’t own-up afterwards was strike three.

Even as game officials failed to flag Tomlin, speaking once again to the fallacy of instant-replay’s purported necessity, the NFL fined Tomlin $100,000 for interference, one of largest penalties levied on a coach in the League’s history.

Tomlin just inked a 2-yr (K) extension with the Rooneys. Irony is that as long as veteran QB Ben Roethlisberger remains hearty & healthy, he, like Rodgers in GB, almost assures Steelers dbl-digit wins, which nearly assures Mike his continued employ in the Steel City that’ll pretty much assure Ben & Co. won’t be returning to a Super Bowl anytime soon. The steady slide in key defensive categories over the past few seasons (yapg 18 / papg 18) throws up another red flag.

...Payton.wc.2.7.10.VOA.s.schy.thm

Sean Payton, New Orleans Saints (9th yr)

Like Mike & Mike, Sean’s nearing a decade at the helm of the first and only NFL team he’s headed, and, could too be on the outs soon, add’l proof that winning a Super Bowl doesn’t, or in some cases, shouldn’t, guarantee undying loyalty from the faithful.

Though the Saints haven’t exactly been in free-fall post-Bountygate, making the PS 3 of 5 seasons, they’ve clearly fallen from juggernaut status since the scandal.

What almost assuredly differentiates the Steelers guru and his Saints peer is that while Tomlin arguably rode on coat-tails of Bill Cowher’s success, Payton, strictly in coaching terms, forged a title-club by his own method & means, as debatable as they were, while others before (Haslett, Mora, Phillips, etc.) came up short.

Call it a pattern, trend or an NFL norm (I miss Cheers (pre-Kristie Alley)), but here’s another team with a Super QB (Brees) that looks to’ve become over-reliant on his wherewithal and seen the defense go to the dogs (yapg 31 / papg 28).

Drew, like Eli & Ben, is a tough customer but won’t play forever. If the once stout New Orleans D doesn’t find it’s footing in ‘15 (the OL protects the franchise well (29sk ‘14)), Sean may be footing it out the door in ‘16.

...Reid.wc.USAF.SgtSTSturkol.thm.8.6.08

Andy Reid, Kansas City Chiefs (3rd yr)

Reid may be one of the few non-titlist NFL head coaches to get busted in Canton (See: Grant, Levy). In his 16 seasons at the helm for Philly (14 (’99)) and KC (2 (’13)), Andy’s had 9 dbl-digit, 12 winning and only 3 losing campaigns (2 @ .500).

Trouble with Andy (reads like a Hardy movie) may be, as with Rex, his teams come outta’ the gate strong but if they finish back, tend to fall back in later runs, not out of the money (show (playoffs)), but out of the big money (win or place (title)). Perceptions like that can be short on fact / substance but can carry weight, especially with a franchise that hasn‘t supped champagne since 1970 (Stram (SB4)).

Though not enriched with a fantasy-favored, statistically-elite QB in Alex Smith, who’s been stanchion under center the last four, compiling a 38-16 tally (SF / KC) with a tremendous TD-ratio (71-23), Reid’s Chiefs may have the best balance of all six teams listed herein.

Dropping in key offensive categories in ‘14 (ypg 25 / ppg 16), Chiefs still possess Alex’s matriculatory flair, the explosive, multi-man Jamal Charles and mythically mondo 3rd-yr TE in Travis “Zeus” Kelce, while the defense should take advice from nobody, coming in at #7 in yapg and just behind Seattle in papg (2).

Because full balance is attainable (more hands, top reserves on D), coupled with the Super drought (‘70), expectations are high for Reid in 2015. If KC boards the roller-coaster again (9-7) or busts early in the PS, no one in the Hunt household will hit the panic button but talk will begin on change v. staying the course.

...Lewis.9.16.13.wc.emeybee.thm

Marvin Lewis, Cincinnati Bengals (13th yr)

Like McCarthy, Payton and Tomlin, Lewis too is making the most his first NFL head coaching gig, setting franchise record in wins (100-90-2) and compiling mostly winning marks (6-3-3) over his dozen seasons in the Queen City. In April, Marvin, like his friend Tom in NYC, signed a 1-yr extension to a deal that was to terminate at close of 2015-16 NFL season.

Cincy has been a regular post-season player under Marvin’s tutelage but have yet to advance in any session, going 0-6, whether it be capable field generals Carson Palmer (‘04-10) or Andy Dalton (’11-14) barking out the signals.

The team rankings are unimpressive though hardly distressing. In 2014, the Tigers were the epitome of adequate, or, as “George Costanza” would say, “a solid C, not falling behind, not showing off (Seinfeld).”

On offense, they came in at #15 in both yards allowed and points allowed per game, while the defensive ranks fell slightly lower at #15 (ypg) and 22 (ppg). And somehow, some way, the Bengals found a way to manage double digit wins again. Where there’s a will, there’s a way?

And maybe that’s Lewis in a nutshell. What he may lack in rah-rah he makes up for in a professionalism and coaching cool that inspires players and staff to perform. Taking nothing away from a fine Colts performance, it’s fair to write that in their last playoff go-round, a 26-10 wild card loss at Indy, injuries to key personnel left Cincinnati a markedly different team.

But while patience is a virtue, even Machiavelli had his fill (See; The Prince).

...Coughlin.Bush.Eli.4.30.8.USGOV.thb

Tom Coughlin, New York Giants (12th yr (20))

Canton beckons for this 2-time Super Bowl winning coach (42 / 46), both roads to glory that ran through Green Bay (’08 / ’11) and culminated in competitive contests against one of the other ‘best’ coach (Belichick) / QB (Brady) combos in NFL annals.

Winning one Lombardi won’t guarantee a lifetime contract, that’s understood, but winning two in the fashion Tom (and Eli et al) did, well, if that doesn’t give an assurance of loyalty from owners and fans, I don’t know what does.

Even at 6-10 and a so-so run game, the Eli Manning (another Canton lock) -led offense finished impressively in ‘14 (ypg 10 / ppg 12T), with no small thanks to an O-line that knows blocking (28sk). But like the Saints, Bears & Falcons, this traditionally stout defense has fallen on hard times (yapg 29 / papg 24).

Though having in March signed a 1-yr extension that pays him through 2016 season, Misters Mara and Tisch will be honored to have Coughlin guide their Giants as long as they’re reasonably competitive (‘reasonably’ interpreted broadly: no playoffs since 2011 and combined 22-26) or Tom keeps competitive fires burning. But hard to imagine any result in ‘15-16? that’d stoke those fires sufficiently to bring TC back for another, add’l (K)-yr, notwithstanding.

.......NFL.wikiproject.6kb

Steven Keys
Macro Sport
Photo credits: Ryan, 8.3.8, wc, Allison; Ryan, wc, O’Leary, 10.23.11; McCarthy, 8.11.7, wc, Grant; Tomlin, wc, 9.16.7, steelcityhobbies; Payton, wc, 2.7.10, VOA, Schy; Reid, wc, USAF, Sturkol, 8.6.8; Lewis, wc, emeybee, 9.16.13; Coughlin.Bush.Eli, WH, wc, 4.30.8, USGOV; NFL-Wikiproject;
Posted: 7.28.15 @ 5:15pm; edit (photo) 7.29 @ 5:57pm EST
Copyright © 2015

PGA 2015: Tiger, Tiger, Burning Out

22 Jul ......Tiger.7.4.7.wc.M.Burgess.USN221k

“Tyger, Tyger, burning bright,”
Those days are gone but take no flight,
With crowded mantel that others crave,
The Woodsman can revel in bygone rave.

......Tyger.Poem.Wm.Blake.wc.thb

One would not be limb-walking to write that the bloom has now officially gone off Tiger Woods’ rose. He’s in full funk, game all catawampus.

After another dismal showing, this time at the 144th British Open (missed cut), won on Monday by American Zach Johnson by way of a thrilling playoff, it’s been made abundantly clear to even the most Pollyannaish of Woods’ supporters that the seemingly inhuman & unstoppable Tiger of pre-2009, before personal problems befell, is and will never be that same superlative sport star again.

Having been named the PGA Player of the Year as recently as 2013 (7) with five tour victories, at 39 (12.30.75), this era’s greatest golfer seems to’ve had all the air let out of his tires since that awarding and gone completely flat.

Woods has “miles to go” before gracing the senior (Champions (50)) but the way he’s mishandling what used to be a malleable PGA tour it can’t come soon enough for the former wunderkind and would-be Nicklaus (18) – Snead (82) surpasser.

It’s gotten so bad it appears he may be emotionally sabotaging his game from the get go, as evidenced by a post-British comment (“doomed…(by) second swing”), almost willing a Jack & Jill result down the hill, sans the crown lost years ago.

.....Tiger.4.23.9.T.Hipps.Army.wc.thb

With this sad state engulfing Tiger like a heavy fog, missing cuts with regularity of an over-sleeping greenskeeper, attempts by his detractors to deconstruct his tremendous legacy and it’s record of accomplishment (79 PGA / 14 major) have begun in earnest.

The line of attack: Woods wasn’t a truly great golfer as the quality of competition was such that any good golfer could take advantage, rise to the top and stay there for a long, long time. Imagine?

QoC can be a valid line of inquiry. I’ve used it myself for historical comparison. But who’s to say that some champions cannot, to some degree, play a role in shaping or affecting that competition?

On the Woods topic one must consider the real possibility that he and his near suffocating PGA dominance had a negative mental impact on the mind-games of many a potentially starry golfer from 1997 – 2009 (‘13).

Imagine what the average pro in 2000 was telling his wife, family on Monday mornings after a tourney: ‘Helen, you wouldn’t believe this guy, he’s a machine!’

....Nicklaus.J.Dye.9.27.6.FL.wc.thmb

The Golden Bear most certainly had a similar psycho-impact on his peers but arrived on the golf scene (‘58) at a time when competition was famously fierce. But the generations of which Nicklaus was part was arguably more adept at handling pressure than is our own. Early 20th century folk (Depression / WWs), some who grew up around outhouses and horse-drawn transport had a wherewithal we don’t see as much today, not on a broader, societal scale anyway.

Some feel the lucrative endorsement deals in a post-Nicklaus age, in a consumerocracy where golfers act as walking billboards, have played a bigger role in adversely effecting current player performance, i.e., motivation.

While that point holds some merit, to believe it explains Woods near total dominance for a decade that saw a dearth of serious, regular competitors to the Tiger challenge (Mickelson, Singh, Els, etc.), would seem somewhat specious.

The golfers Tiger faced have all, like he, been weaned on competition. A passion for winning won’t wane simply because money‘s flowing in, especially when your own trophy mantel is sporting few pieces, or few of the ‘Wow!’ variety.

And then Tiger had (has) the spiffiest sponsorships deals of anyone and it clearly did not cut into his own drive to win. It may’ve in fact encouraged it.

.....Tiger.7.4.7.wc.M.Burgess.USN.thb

Bottom line: The desire to win is engrained in the brain of every PGA player from the time they handle their first Playskool® putter. Tiger had no monopoly on that emotion.

One would be no nearer to ascending that proverbial tree and it’s limbs of liability by suggesting a fair percentage of those detractors are driven by one or more of the following motives:

1) Prejudice, be it either of the jealousy or racially-based variety;
2) Love of sport: A circumstantially-based belief that Woods partook in the use of performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) in his prime period; or
3) The California-born golfer named Eldrick Tont Woods has conducted himself too often with airs of arrogance, bratty course play and deserves comeuppance.

Whatever the motive, Eldrick’s record of achievement will withstand a battery.

So what to do about his gamey game, getting back in the swing of it?

The tried & trues have been tried and have proven mostly erroneous, so it may be time for Woods to embark upon a new path, venture onto Drastic Highway.

Go on sabbatical, re-charge the batteries, learn to live without golf? He’s young enough to give it a whirl and chance the comeback. Sponsors won’t likey.

...gluten.baked.wc.S03311251.15.thb

Find a new sponsor (Nike), if terms & tact permitting? Maybe marginally relevant to his funk but everything, excepting family and true friends, are subject to review.

Find a new club (religion) or new variety? Born-again PGA’er Bernhard Langer would say it changed his life.

Keep pluggin’ away? Persistence can pay off but then stress is a killer.

Work a change in diet? Bingo.

Woods looks kinda’ haggard these days, even before he tees off.

If he hasn’t, get off the gluten and HFCS. The move is helping millions. Can a wheat-free and low-sugar diet help him bag tourneys again? No promises, but he’ll feel, look a new man, born again, as it were. That’s when new life begins.

“As the old Scotsman said, golf is a humbling game (M.Rooney).” A truth.

A line from the movie Blade Runner (’82): “The light that burns twice as bright burns half as long (J.Turkel).” And Tiger did burn bright.

......macroecono.lamcasinoroyal.wc.2011

Steven Keys
Macro Sport
Photo credits: T.Woods, 7.4.7, M.Burgess, USN, wc.cca; W.Blake, Tyger-poem, wc; T.Woods, wc, T.Hipps, 4.23.9; T.Woods, wc, 7.4.7, M.Burgess; J.Nicklaus, wc, 9.27.6, J.Dye; gluten.baked.spongy, S03311251; macroecono, lamcasinoroyal, wc, 2011.
Posted: 7.22.15 @ 7:22pm; edit 7.23 @ 3:45pm EST
Poem reference: “The Tyger” by Wm Blake, 1794 (“Songs of Experience”)
Copyright © 2015

 

“Gods & Monsters:” Recalling ’85 Bears Catalyst McMahon

16 Jul ......McMahon-F16B.wc.5.1.88.D.Sutherland.2.4m

It has been called the greatest team in the modern NFL era.

Some will prefer a broader definition of greatest, one incorporating a sustained success or dynasty in today’s sport vernacular. For them, one of the following title teams would likely fill-the-bill:

1960s Green Bay Packers;
1960s Houston Oilers, San Diego Chargers & Buffalo Bills (AFL);
1970s Dallas Cowboys, Miami Dolphins & Pittsburgh Steelers;
1980 – 90s San Francisco 49ers;
Joe Gibbs Redskins (1980s – 90s);
1990s Dallas Cowboys & Denver Broncos;
2000 – 10s New England Patriots & New York Giants.

......McMahon-F16B.wc.5.1.88.D.Sutherland.crop

But the greatest compilation of players to ever lace ‘em up and dish it out over course of a single NFL season is without much serious doubt the 1985 Chicago Bears, a run culminating with what had been the most lopsided victory in Super Bowl history (until SB24 (’90)), a 46-10 drubbing of AFC champion New England in SB20.

When the Bears (Decatur Staleys) commence their 95th summer training camp on July 29th at Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, just north of Kankakee, hope will spring eternal (if Fox tightens that D), and it will mark the 30-year anniversary (UW-Platteville (‘85)) of the first leg in an 6-month journey that would culminate in the best football showing in NFL history.

Detractors mutter dictum along this line: ‘Those ‘85 Bears were a flash in the pan, one-hit ‘Monster Mash’ wonder.’ Fair enough, but WHAT a hit they were. Pow!

While it’s true those 80s Monsters of Midway were no dynasty, losing four of five straight playoff runs, three in a row at Soldier Field (‘87-89), for one spectacular season they were nonpareil, unmatched in might & means, before or since.

What comes to mind immediately with those Bears is defense. The particular image associated with that word can vary, depending on your particular taste.

Some start at the top with Cantonized player and Bears head coach, Mike Ditka (‘82-92) and his no-nonsense approach, while others dig deeper and tag the purported mastermind of Chicago’s D-scheme, player favorite, long time NFL guru and father of NFL coaches Rex and Rob, Mr. Buddy Ryan.

Still others vest their vision of greatness in the workhorses, men on the field who made it all happen. Hall of Famers like Mr. Intensity, defensive captain Mike Singletary and linemen Dan Hampton and Richard Dent, along with a half-dozen All Pros who would prove integral, i.e., Marshall, McMichael, Gayle, Wilson, Duerson & Fencik.

.....Bears.wordmark.sportslogos.thb.wc.74

Move to the numbers and it comes crystal clear, these Bears were special.

The W-L gets your attention (15-1), the defensive rankings will win you over.

Team-averages on yards allowed per game (258.4) and points (12.4) were both League toppers in ‘85 but a stinginess on scoring not unseen before or since.

In 2000 both Tennessee (238.9 / 11.9) and Super champ Baltimore (247.9 / 10.3) bested Bears marks, only to be topped again in ’02 by Gruden‘s titlist Buccaneers (252.8 / 12.2). The 1972 “No Name Defense” Dolphins, the only undefeated championship campaign in modern era (‘07 Pats (16-0) lost SB42 to NYG, 17-14), set the standard with miserly marks of 235.5 (yapg) and 12.2 (papg).

But then both those Bucs and Ravens succumbed to opponents a total of four times respectively in the regular season (12-4), Brian Billick‘s men suffering a 3-game skid at mid-point before righting the ship, while Miami ran a gauntlet of slightly shorter version at 14-0. Every game matters, in more ways than one.

That toggles a key word in the debate on GTE (greatest team ever): dominance.

All four of those championship defenses, Bucs, Bears, Dolphins and Ravens, where shut-down variety, to be sure, but nothing shows greatness like dominance and nothing shows dominance like post-season play. Built for pressure and proving it against the best.

In their respective playoff runs, these are the opponent’s point totals:
Buccaneers (‘03): 6-10-21 (SB (OAK));
Ravens (’01): 3-10-3-7 (SB (NYG));
Dolphins (‘72): 14, 17, 7 (WA);
Bears (’86): 0-0-10 (SB (NE)).

.....Ryan,B.wc.P.Souza.thb.10.7.11.WH

While Ravens, Dolphins & Bucs matched da’ Bears in defensive prowess, it was Chicago who best displayed the balance of greatness by way of a notable offensive output as well, a side of their game that’s gone largely ignored by pigskin historians.

The ‘85 Monsters ranked top-10 in yards gained (364.8 (7)) and points scored on average (28.5 (2)), with the later tally coming in just behind the record-setting Air Coryell (Fouts) Chargers (29.2), whilst the Bucs and Ravens were fair-to-middling in matriculation, Tampa Bay as low as #24 in yards (312.6), #18 in points per (21.6), the Ravens slightly better at 313.4 yards (#16) and 20.8 (#14).

That Namesake Miami offense that included notables like QB Earl Morrall (9-0), Griese (5-0), Csonka, Morris, Warfield, Yepremian and All Pro lineman Langer, Little, Evans and Kuechenberg, together make a strong case for perfect balance, leading NFL in both ypg (359.7) and ppg (27.5). The totals, however, do fall just below Bears key scoring averages in ‘85. Phew! “That was close (Encounters).”

Every once in a blue moon the scoring side is subject of an ‘85 Bears roundtable and one name quickly comes to mind. Not Ditka nor OC Ed Hughes (d.2000), but Mr. Walter Payton (d.1999), aka, “Sweetness.” No surprise there, as Walter had a dozen seasons that’d make a career for most backs and 1985 was no exception.

In his 11th season (13) he rushed for his 4th highest yardage total (1551) and posted 2nd best career marks in reception yards (483) and run average (4.8). Teamed with fullback Matt Suhey (471 / 4.1) they together made a very formidable backfield tandem.

Helping making that all possible was Chicago’s cohesive and highly-regarded offensive line of Covert, Bortz, Hilgenberg, Thayer and Van Horne. Formidable.

.....Singletary.wc.12.17.00.MLTaylor.USAF.thb

But if you thought it was high-steppin’ Walter, “Iron” Mike, Singletary or Ryan who was key to this team’s success, a standard for greatness by which all other single-season team performances are still measured, you’d be mistaken.

The real catalyst to the ‘85 Bears, a man most often overlooked by corporate historians, was Chicago’s wild & wooly signal caller, James Robert McMahon, Junior.

I can hear the cackles: ‘You mean that cocky, gum-chewing, oft-injured, headband rebel (“Rozelle”) who introduced the helmet-howdy-do and led what may’ve been the most painful-to-watch music video all-time (“Super Bowl Shuffle“)? Him?’

‘Yeah, him.’

In those heady, bygone days, Jim could put people off when his confidence would turn, as it sometimes did, into boyish arrogance.

So, how pray tell did I arrive at this choice? It was one big performance which left an indelible memory.

The date: September 19, 1985;
The time: 8:00pm (EST);
The place: The Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

It was a rare Thursday night (?) telecast, the network, I don‘t recall. Assume it was ABC, birthplace of off-night Monday Night Football, which had been a national happening with “Dandy” Don Meredith’s colorful cowboy quips and Howard Cosell’s hearty halftime review of Sunday’s action. But by 1985 only Frank Gifford remained of the original trio and the former ratings topper was starting to tank. It’s never fully recovered.

But they had a humdinger in store this night.

...Ditka.wc.8.31.06.JJPerry.thb

What happened in 2nd half would give Bears’ confidence a jolt of adrenaline that would carry through all the way to Super Bowl 20 where it swelled to gargantitude.

Chicago entered the game 2-0, home wins by combined score of 58-35. Impressive, but not the frighteningly good football that would blitzkrieg the NFL in weeks to come.

With Vikes up 17-9 midway through the 3rd quarter on heels of a Tommy Kramer TD toss to all-purpose Anthony Carter, McMahon, who’d taken the two earlier wins but had sat this start (injury?), came in to relieve a capable but uninspired Steve Fuller. What happened next would set the wheels of destiny in motion.

Within seconds, Jim hooked up with deep threat speedster Willie Gault for a 70-yard TD strike: Score, 17-16.

Next Bears possession, McMahon matriculates to Minnesota’s 25 and hits sure-handed Dennis McKinnon for a second TD pass in just over five minutes. Visitors take the lead. The score, Bears 23-17.

Minutes later the former BYU field general throws third TD strike to his man McKinnon covering 45 yards. Bears up 30-17, a contest but the befuddled Vikes don’t know what hit ‘em and the Monsters of Midway have found their momentum-maker in McMahon.

Vikings would add another TD in the 4th but sure-footed Kevin Butler ice’d it and Chicago exited the Metrodome with a 33-24 divisional road win and a mojo that was bursting at the seams just looking for another opponent to turn into mash.

Talk about turning points.

Some men feed on pressure. Mobile pocket-passer Jim McMahon (early career) was just such a cool customer. Stan “The Man” Musial understood the type.

...McMahon.93.wc.Diz28.thb

In discussing some of the toughest moundsmen he faced in his long & storied career, the Cardinals’ legend identified the great relievers Elroy Face and Clem Labine: “Both of them also had that extra something…they loved to come into the game in a tight situation, thrived on pressure and challenge. The tighter the spot, the better they loved it (The Complete Handbook of Baseball (‘76 ed., Z.Hollander)).”

Men like Jim, Favre, Ray Lewis, Chancellor, Mannings, Doug Williams, Montana, Lilly, Brady, Stabler, Joe Greene, Steve Garvey, Bob Gibson, Jon Toews, LeBron and Curry, all grasp the leadership talisman and beckon their cohorts to follow.

And to that one, lone blemish on Bears record in taking a loss at Miami (24-38, W13)? It should be noted that Fuller started the game which was officiated at a time before the NFL began to seriously monitor crowd noise shenanigans to help keep the playing field level. Unlevel, Mr. Shula (See; Deflategate cmts).

McMahon would only start parts of three more seasons for Chicago after the memorable ride of ‘85. Injuries, more than Jim’s sometimes awkward confidence, defined his career as he bounced around the League, playing for five other teams which, ironically (See; C.Martin ‘86 (GB)), included Bears rival Green Bay, picking-up another ring in the process as a clip-board man in SB31 win over Bill Parcell’s Patriots (35-21).

But for one, glorious season, Jim McMahon and the rest of the Bears were the best that’s ever been. Of course (gum smack).

......macroecono.lamcasinoroyal.wc.2011

Steven Keys
Macro Sport
Photo credits: J.McMahon, F16B, wc.cca, 5.1.88, D.Sutherland; J.McMahon, crop, wc, D.Sutherland, 88; Chicago-Bears, wordmark, sportslogos, wc, 1974; B.Ryan, wc, P.Souza, WH, 10.7.11; M.Singletary, wc, 12.17.00, wc, M.Taylor, USAF; M.Ditka, wc, J.Perry, 8.31.6; McMahon, wc, 93, Diz28; macroecono, lamcasinoroyal, wc, 2011.
Title Reference: Bride of Frankenstein (‘35);
Posted: 7.15.15 @ 9:22pm EST
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