NFL16 Cherry Picks W7: Dallas QB Dilemma Asks, ‘What Would Tony Do?’

19 Oct romo-wc-mc2-ev-gonzales-usn-2-10-08-2-5m

If you like to write and then have habit of coupling that hobby with a love for everything that is the NFL, everything, that is, except Disney (ESPN) and Deion Sanders FaceTime chats (NFLN (ugh)), this particular hour in the week is one that either has you grooving with good thoughts or fumbling for a feature.

That time is Sunday afternoon around 4 o’clock (EST). It’s when everyone and their Grampa should be taking it easy, when NFL’s early slate of games have come to a close and the twilight tussles are just about to kick-off. It’s also when themes begin to emerge from the game results to work a collage of motifs that’ll be used in promotion of next weekend’s match-ups.

Side-bar: If you want to read a good definition for ‘Grampa,’ …this is difficult, go to (“sm1l3 (8.21.8)”). Too often a post place for petulance and porn-obsessed whatevers, this person’s insightful, heartfelt, humorous and non-conforming rendition gives UD a much needed injection of class.

hammock-wc-9-13-07-bjorn-som-tenger-45kSome topics are on-going but in the course of the game crystallize into a clear controversy (Dallas QB, hot-seat sizzle, etc.), others having just sprouted and quickly blossomed into fragrant fodder for the media to breath-in and exhale (injuries, officiating).

A few toppers from Week 6:

Did Kaep Krusader meet his Lionheart (or Saladin) in Buffalo loss? It wouldn’t take clouty customers the caliber of Richard or An-Nasir to expose the limited repertoire emanating from Colin-of-the-Crude-Socks (27-21 W-L / 57t – 26i).

Will Chuck Pagano, Todd Bowles, John Fox and any number of other struggling NFL coaches last the duration of campaign 2016?

Big Ben injured again (“I’ll be back”) while Ryan Tannehill staves off boyish boo-birds for one more week, keeping GMs around the League wondering ‘what if.’

Are the Packers in full throes of decline and rapid exit from the juggernaut category? Maybe, maybe not, but the Chicago Bears in this newish century (W7 @ GB 10.20) are the cure for whatever ails any NFL team.

How did the Cardinals’ David Johnson (UNI) fly under so many radars in D15?

But Ben hurts his knees near every season now, Pack’s been trending down since Cheese-Melt (@ SEA 1.18.15) and Oddball Odell is strictly Disney (ugh).

prescott-helmet-9-18-16-k-allison-thmSo that leaves the Dallas quarterback quandary at the top of the topic pile until Cowboys come off their bye to take on visiting division rival, the Eagles (W8).

With rookie Dak Prescott leading Cowboys offensive charge in timely triumph over Green Bay (30-16) (fifth consecutive W), a place steeped in sad outcomes for the Dallas gang, and deep-rooted veteran All-Pro Tony Romo set to return from his injury in the not too distant future, owner Jerry Jones and HC Jason Garrett are presented with that most wonderful of all coaching conundrums, having two capable QBs at the ready.

Nobody, not Jerry nor Dak, was happier post-Packers rout than was Mr. Garrett whose doubters could line the length of the old Chisholm Trail.

The Cowboys’ 2015 divisional playoff loss at Lambeau (Sometimes the sporting gods do take a hand (See: Cheese-Melt above)) still sits wrong in the saddle for Dallas dudes and dudettes and this win buries a few of those Fox Valley demons.

Yet the demons in Dallas still remain, those that’ve been keeping America’s Team from putting together their first Super Bowl run since 1996. And as every football fan knows, the decision to fill that quarterback slot is too important to be swayed by public opinion poll or political fronts that move in and out.

Many have been weighing in on this Texas-sized topic, including former signal-calling stalwart, Mr. Brett Favre, he now of the Cantonese sect (2016) and most recently uniformed with the Minnesota Vikings (‘09-10).

favre-dugan-wc-11-15-9-mn-ng-1-8mFavre backs Dak, who happens to wear the same #4 jersey and did his pro apprenticeship, like Brett (USM), in the great State of Mississippi (State).

Stepping into the Fox telecast booth last Sunday, “Mississippi” claims friendship and respect for Tony but believes you don’t mess with chemistry.

But then Brett in his playing days was not the sort to happily concede to another (Rodgers?), team chemistry or whatnot, not as long as the NFL ironman could walk upright. Had a former QB the likes of Jay Schroeder been invited to step on the Dak-Romo scale, you could expect a whole different take on the topic.

Inconsistent views aside, Favre was a gridiron king, and a demigod to boot in the grand State of Wisconsin, oh my gosh. Such players can return to action anytime they choose, damn that chemistry thing. ‘I‘ll take it from here, Sport, so you take a seat and watch how it’s done!’

Had Jim Garoppolo remained healthy and taken Pats to 4-0 during Brady’s 2016 susp’n, nobody would’ve begrudged Tom’s return to the starter role no matter if Jim had tossed 20 TDs to that point.

Tony’s not a king. He’s a prince among men and Jerry loves him dearly but he has no throne upon which to sit (stand), i.e., a record-of-note, an MVP nor Super Bowl title. The ring-bearers are about the only guys who can make that long-standing (lame) line on ‘injury won’t lose your starter’s job’ make any sense.

What Would Tony Do (WWTD)?

jones-12-7-15-k-allison-wc-339kThis might be how the decision goes down:

The braintrust will call Romo into Jones’ office for a chat. They’ll talk about his health status (back), his thoughts on team chemistry and the Dak dynamic since the rookie took the ball and Tony’s eagerness to getting back in the saddle.

Tone’s been a performer for Dallas (‘04) and deserves his say, maybe even the final version. And that’s just what Jerry and Jason will likely to do: Holding off any public discussion – announcement on the matter until Romo is in full re-possession of his health and is game ready (to do otherwise would only ding Dak’s confidence), J&J will play out the Romo string and ask Tony to make the call. Meaning, the long-time Cowboy will get back under center to resume the starter’s job when fit and expect to continue that good chemistry at the first opportunity.

Recent reports have Romo continuing his rehab beyond the bye and Cowboys’ game against the Eagles (W8), meaning, Dynamic Dak will likely have at least one more start to either enhance his aura of invincibility or expose an Achilles heel.

Not as unpredictable as portrayed, Jerry Jones loyalty can be counted upon, at least that’s the perception. And if Prescott progresses as Cowboys hope, the Louisiana native can expect the same treatment.

I too got caught up in Dak-delirium. ‘If it works don’t fix it’ is one of my favorites and Prescott is working just fine (5-1, 69 C%, 7t-1i, only 3.5 rush per (man’s poise-n in the pocket)). But also mindful that the Dak-led-Cowboys have topped five teams with a collective 14-16 record, minus the five Dallas drubbings.

romo-10-13-10-bigcatsliar-wc-343kAnyone with a winner’s heart, a champion’s spirit, will take the reins when given the chance and damn any torpedoes that come their way on knowledge that that‘s your duty. With numbers like Tony has put up in his ten years riding Cowboys‘ point, even as his clutch capability has been questioned (127 GS, 74-49, 65+ C%, 247t-117i), he holds ample depth-charges to drop any naysayer’s way. Ka-boom!

How would rookie Dak respond to clipboard duty? Like a trooper, I’d suppose, making the standard pitch to play but having wherewithal to accept the switch (demotion), tune out the nincompoops captured in his moment, know his day will come again soon enough and even appreciate the reduction in pressure. Consider DP still has alot to learn, much of which Tony Romo can teach.

A key to success in Romo’s return (and giving him the choice essentially tabs him to start) is that Dak is fully supportive. That helps keep the junior media in check when Romo has an off game and the squawking ensues for their new fantasy fave and lessens likelihood that socially-driven teammates will take to brood.

As to those teammates, if possessing of a champion’s heart they’ll take to Tony’s return like a professional and play with gusto. That’s the Cowboys’ way. If not, Jerry knows where to ship-off a sour-puss. Somewhere with lots o’ snow.

cherries-wc-cca-b-kua-6-1-08-3-3mCherry Picks Week 7: Tussle in Twickenham

NYG (3-3) @ Rams (3-3): 10.23 (L) NFL 9:30a: LA wins
Saints (2-3) @ Chiefs (3-2): Fox 1:00: Kansas City wins
Vikings (5-0) @ Philadelphia (3-2): Fox 1:00: Eagles win
Washington Redskins (4-2) @ Detroit Lions (3-3): Fox 1:00: Detroit wins
Buffalo Bills (4-2) @ Miami Dolphins (2-4): CBS 1:00: Dolphins win
San Diego Chargers (2-4) @ Atlanta (4-2): Fox 4:05(GTW): Bolts win
Seattle Seahawks (4-1) @ Arizona (3-3): NBC 8:30 (GTW): Cards win
Houston Texans (4-2) @ Denver (4-2): 10.24 Disney 8:30: Texans win

Record: 30 – 33

......NFL-symbol.wikiproject.6kbSteven Keys
NFL HunchLine
Photo credit: T.Romo, ProBowl, wc.cca, EV.Gonzales, USN, 2.10.08; Romo, hat, wc, K.Allison, 12.7.15; Man-in-hammock, Bjorn-Som-Tenger, 9.13.07, wc; D.Prescott, wc, K.Allison, 9.18.16; B.Favre-Dugan, wc, 11.15.09, MN-NG; Favre, wc, M.Morbeck, 10.24.10; J.Jones, wc, 12.7.15, K.Allison; T.Romo, wc, bigcatsliar, 10.13.10; cherries, B.Kua, 6.1.08, wc; NFL-symbol, wikiproject;
Posted: 10.19.16 @ 5:38pm, edit @ 7:50 EST; Copyright © 2016

NFL16 Cherry Picks W6: ‘Dr. (Dart) or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying & Love the (Pocket)’

13 Oct prescott-9-18-16-k-allison-point-wide-1-5m

Rabbit Test

With most amateur coaches today nixing the quarterback model that’s play-oriented, teaching intensive and preparatory for pro-style pocket-passer, opting instead for Coach-Lite®, i.e., chisel on the job specs in relying on the make-it-up-as-you-go run-QB to execute his mini-playbook and whatever offensive scheme there is, NFL inventories on savvy signal-callers have dwindled to a dangerously low level not seen since the pre-Otto Graham days (1930s) when single-wing tailbacks were running wild.

Think of a car-pool analogy: NFL Coach and the cufflinks are cruising along at a pretty good clip, having just stuffed at a nearby Golden Corral® (“How’s the fricassee?“), window cracked to air-out the Cuban cigar smoke and the QB-fuel light begins to blink. A warning they’d better pull over soon for some field general premium to fill a current or anticipated void created when their well-decorated QB (Brady, Big Ben, Brees, etc.) soon hangs up his cleats for retirement to slide into that gig at Disney or NFLN (ugh).

Fuel options:

1) Run-QB ethyl

Supplies are endless. Disclaimers: 1) This grade needs miles on the meter before engine knock smooths, aka, a project, and 2) other grades (ball-handlers) must subjugate their need for possession counts which will be impacted downward (ball-hog QB) with correlating drop in team morale.

Flash-QB’s been changing the football landscape since Mike Vick tore up the turf in Atlanta in 2001 and then helped feed the Cheese-eaters their first ever home – playoff loss (1.4.03 (27 -7)).

newton-9-28-14-668k-wc-k-allisonKaep Krusader ran wild over that same Green Bay tundra (Vince was spinning) in two playoffs, getting San Fran to the cusp in SB47, but only after the lights came back on to swing momentum. Yet when it appeared Ravens collapse-for-the-ages would be realized in game‘s final moments, Colin got the “red-zone blues.”

Camster-the-Hamster took the 2015 MVP and his Cats to their 2d Super Bowl, cruising through a pedestrian NFC playoff field, then proceeded to lay an egg in the big game (0 TDs) in falling to the Broncos in Peyton Manning’s finale.

Lacking advanced field comprehension and wherewithal (hit-takes), run-QB (8-10 attempts per) will never be a great one, not unless flash becomes omnipresent.

Flash-QB will one day hoist a Lombardi. Supply makes it a certainty (Wilson’s a mobile-manager who left the pocket just three (3) runs en route to SB48 win (v DEN)). But it’ll have to come against a title opponent who scores lite with a D that can’t stop the scamper. How such a foe makes it to February is hard to imagine but then NFL’s road to a title is an E-ZPass® highway, i.e., two wins, you’re in.

2) Defense high octane

Instead of digesting the QB-lemons Drafts keep serving, it’s time for NFL teams to start dictating their own agenda, shape their own destiny and turn sour citrus (run-QB Ltd.) into sweet lemonade (WRs & TEs) instead of desperately seeking quarterbacks that continue to disappoint with under-developed skill-sets.

kuechly-128-14-sgt-a-martinez-wc-thmWith the pro-ready pocket passer fast becoming an endangered species, a commitment to defensive fundamentals, including de-emphasis on glory stats guys (sacks, close-down corners, etc.) who rarely go the distance, then utilization of the mgr-QB system and the shortage of elite passers becomes largely irrelevant.

And if that elite defense comes to fruition, it may also afford the time needed to develop that quarterback project who possesses a modicum of pocket poise and read-ability upon which to build.

3) Pocket Passer premium

He’s endangered but not extinct, down but not out.

With every year that passes the proficient pocket-passer will become harder to find, but if you do draft a dandy, the possibilities can be stupendous (See; Brady, Manning, Rodgers, Montana, Brees, Moon, Marino, etc., etc.). And then, good defenders aren’t exactly growing on trees themselves. So there’s that.

You‘ll need two things to troll-in that golden-arm: 1) Keen scouts who can spot ’em (See; Ron Wolf (Favre)), and 2) if you do, better hope he’s under-the-radar or be prepared to fork out the bullion in bushels.

But whatever you do, don’t ever deceive yourself into thinking you can convert run-QB into the pro-set passer. “Forget about it.”

brady-8-28-09-k-allison-dc-wc-cca-thmBeing a pro quarterback is not a whim nor a simple ego-trip. It’s an avocation, an artist’s craft, requiring as much mental finesse in instinct (audible), wherewithal (pocket poise), synergy (coach – teammates), as it does physical prowess, maybe more.

It’s a tough call for today’s young football aspirant.

Learning pocket poise is a trial (& error) that will last for years, taking much patience and no small amount of pain.

Rabbit-habit and its concomitant ball-hog trait is instinctive to some, especially those not inclined to leadership. Touch that pigskin and it’s only a man’s mind that can give it up to another for sake of the team. Sharing is not instinctive but must be taught at an early age.

Run routine will serve one well in school where Coach Chisel rides it to victory. But there’s a price the player (and his future OC) must pay, for once partaken a rabbit-habit’s impossible to break, while the toughness-training (Jr. high) needed to ascend the QB ladder with behind-the-line hits cannot be replaced. ‘No pain no gain’ is no popular proverb in 2016 (concussion) but it’s never been more fitting in QB development, or non-development, as the case may be.

En Vogue

tarkenton-wc-themiaminews-1-9-74-320kQuarterback design still trends heavily towards those of the CliffsNotes® class, i.e., run-QB, but a new breed of field general is appearing on the football plain with more frequency and producing fruits for his labor (Ws): Pocket passer with mobility. He may be the best of both worlds.

In truth, he’s not so new a breed as a return to the signal-caller popularized in 1960-70s by the likes of Fran “The Scrambler” Tarkenton and Roger “The Dodger” Staubach. Former holder of most career passing marks, Tark spent half his time in zig-zag behind-the-line to extend vision (Listed 6’0,” looked closer to 5’10”) and wear pursuers ragged (Deacon Jones (d.2013) was livid!), while his NFC nemesis in one of the Super Bowl’s GATs in Roger had more moves in open-field than did Mr. James Brown on stage.

Leading the list of today’s MPP is Packers 3-star field general, Aaron Rodgers.

Next in line, Russ Wilson (49-19), then Colts’ Andrew Luck. All cucumber cool in the red-zone, capable of threading the needle for a score but swift in leaving the pocket to avoid pressure or move up-field, not for fear or read-funk but because sometimes the pass just ain’t there and 1st-down marker is an easy scamper.

On the newcomers it’s Tyrod Taylor (BUF), Blake Bortles (JAX), Jameis Winston (TB) and Cowboys controversy-causing (See; T.Romo) 2d-year quarterback, Dak Prescott whose biggest challenge in mid-season may be beating the Sports Illustrated cover-curse. ‘Damn!’

cherries-cloth-picdrome-6-2011-thmCherry Picks Week 6

Denver (4-1) @ San Diego (1-4): 10.13 CBS 8:25: Bolts win
San Fran (1-4) @ Buffalo (3-2): 10.16 Fox 1:00: Bills win
Philly (3-1) @ Washington (3-2): Fox 1:00 (GTW): DC wins
Pittsburgh Steelers (4-1) @ Miami Dolphins (1-4): CBS 1:00: Dolphins win
Bengals (2-3) @ New England Pats (4-1): CBS 1:00 (GTW): Cincinnati wins
Kansas City Chiefs (2-2) @ Oakland Raiders (4-1): CBS 4:05 (GTW): KC wins
Atlanta Falcons (4-1) @ Seattle (3-1): Fox 4:25 (GTW): Seahawks win
Dallas Cowboys (4-1) @ Green Bay (3-1): Fox 4:25 (GTW): Packers win
Indianapolis Colts (2-3) @ Houston (3-2): NBC 8:30 (GTW): Texans win

Record: 23 – 31

......NFL-symbol.wikiproject.6kbSteven Keys
NFL HunchLine
Photo credits: D.Prescott-point, wc.cca, 9.18.16, K.Allison; C.Newton, wc, 9.28.14, K.Allison; L. Kuechly, 1.28.14, Sgt-A.Martinez, wc; T.Brady, wc, 8.28.09, K.Allison, DC; F.Tarkenton, wc, The-Miami-News, 1.9.74; cherries-cloth, 6.2001, picdrome, wc; NFL-symbol, wikiproject.
Posted: 10.13.16 @ 5:29pm EST; Copyright © 2016

NFL16 Cherry Picks W5: Fine Lines in the Trench

6 Oct thomas-whitner-wc-11-m-e-drost-4-14-15

Men in the Midst

Stoppers who plug the drain,
Orange cones that close the lane,
Coach banks he’ll make the run stop,
Signal-caller trusts he throws timely block,
Men in the midst are not nameless in fact,
So big a Steinway could balance on back,
It’s the sack that’ll pull in the fantasy views,
But it’s battle of brawn to decide win or lose.

— — —

In pro football where nearly all the guys are a 3XL (even most the kickers are pumped today), they are the biggest men on the block, bar none. And that’s BIG.

They are the offensive and defensive linemen, the men in the trench, each hovering around 300 pounds. A mass of rumble and wrangle, they’re the ground troops manning the line of demarcation, that “dividin’ line” as “Lonesome Rhodes” would’ve called it, separating both teams at the snap. And whomever controls that ebb n’ flow will, more than likely, control the battle’s tenor and then the outcome of the war.

thomas-wc-4-14-15-6-6m-e-drost*Though highly valued by teammates, coaches and cufflinks, linemen work for the most part in anonymity, shunning the spotlight that naturally swings onto the glory-stat guys handling the pigskin for pass, province (rush), picks and put-downs (sacks).

A lineman, either side of the ball, will not win the NFL’s most valuable player award for the 2016 regular season. You can take that to the bank.

The Minnesota Vikings Alan Page (DT) was the first defender and lineman to cart home the award in 1971. He remains the last lineman and only one of two defensive stalwarts (Lawrence Taylor (‘86)) to win it since the Associated Press (AP) began awarding its version in 1958 (J.Brown).

The chance of another lineman winning the trophy are about as poor as a pro-choice candidate winning the Republican party’s presidential nod, or vice versa (anti-abortion Democrat winning their party‘s delegate count…): < 2 percent.

Quiz time: What’s the most valuable skill on the defensive side of the ball?

A) Interception – fumble finesse
B) Pressure on the quarterback
C) The art of tackling, or
D) Stopping – slowing the run

page-wc-ebony-1-1970-342kIf you answered ‘C’ you’re a football aficionado, possessing a broad understanding of the game and ample appreciation for what makes it tick.

Interceptions and forced-fumbles are terrific. They stop opponents dead in their tracks and flip it all around, i.e., you get the ball back. But they’re rare and too much focus on their fruition takes your game away from the major tasks at hand: Stopping momentum by more practical means in tackling and pass disruption.

Sacks too are sweet and give an emotional boost but again, they’re a rarity. The high is fleeting and the effort afforded in their unlikely event is better spent elsewhere, hello Mr. Linebacker (Matthews, etc.). It’s why J.J. Watt was a better player when his tackles began trending upward, regardless of the sack count.

How do you know a good rope? Personal stats won‘t do ya‘ much good. There aren’t many. A fine line more than any other aspect of football is a team effort.

That takes you to the team league-leader tallies to rate the top lines.

For offense the categories of concern are as follows: 1) Total offense (yards gained per game), 2) passing ygpg, 3) rushing ygpg and 4) QB-sacks allowed.

mangold-wc-nycmarines-11-13-09-554k-sgt-r-clintonAt Week 5 the Falcons, Cowboys and Raiders’ lines are faring pretty well and it shows in the W-L. See the sacks-allowed so far (NFL average = 8+): CIN (13), IND (15), JAX (12), KC (13), CHI (11), DET (10), TB (10), CAR (13), AZ (12); NYJ (6), HOU (7), DC (7), OAK (2), PHI (4), DAL (6), NYG (6), MIN (6), NO (7), SF (3).

The 49ers and Saints are conundrums.

One statistic for a team or player by itself won’t tell the whole story. Put all your prognostication chips on one number and you’re bound to lose the farm. But they do give clues. Of their three (3) losses, New Orleans, beset by injuries already, two (W1-2) were by a total of only 4 points. They may not be as bad as their won-loss purports.

And the best defensive lines? You take the same route: Total defense (yards allowed per game), passing yards, etc. (See: and

When rating the individuals, the team experts know best (coaches, GMs, scouts, players, favorite press), but Pro Bowl selection, even as the game itself has devolved to a dangerously dull level (Rice v. Irvin), still offers some standard.

Active NFL linemen with five (5) or more Pro Bowl selections: Joe Thomas (CLE), Dwight Freeney (ATL), Jason Peters (PHI), Jahri Evans (NO), Nick Mangold (NYJ), Vince Wilfork (HOU) and Haloti Ngata (DET).

cherries-hispalois-spain-wc-thm-7-2-12Cherry Picks Week 5: “Sufferin’ succotash!

AZ (1-3) @ SF (1-3): 10.6 CBS 8:25: 49ers win
NE (3-1) @ CLE (0-4): 10.9 CBS 1:00: Pats win
Eagles (3-0) @ DET (1-3): Fox 1:00: Lions win
Bears (1-3) @ Colts (1-3): Fox 1:00: Indy wins
Tennessee Titans (1-3) @ Dolphins (1-3): CBS 1:00: Miami wins
Washington Redskins (2-2) @ Baltimore (3-1): Fox 1:00: Ravens win
Houston Texans (3-1) @ Vikings (4-0): CBS 1:00 (GTW): Texans win
Falcons (3-1) @ Denver Broncos (4-0): Fox 4:05 (GTW): Atlanta wins
Cincinnati (2-2) @ Dallas Cowboys (3-1): CBS 4:25: Bengals win
Buffalo Bills (2-2) @ Los Angeles (3-1): CBS 4:25 (GTW): Rams win
San Diego Chargers (1-3) @ Raiders (3-1): CBS 4:25 (GTW): Bolts win
New York Giants (2-2) @ Green Bay (2-1): NBC 8:30 (GTW): GB wins
Tampa Bay (1-3) @ Carolina (1-3): 10.10 Disney 8:30: Panthers win

Record: 18 – 23

......NFL-symbol.wikiproject.6kbSteven Keys
NFL HunchLine
Photo credit: J.Thomas-Whitner, wc.cca, 4.14.15, E.Drost; J.Thomas, wc, 4.14.15, E.Drost; A.Page, Ebony, wc, 1.1970; N.Mangold, wc, NYC.Marines, Sgt-R.Clinton, 11.13.9; cherries, Hispalois, Spain, wc, 7.2.12; NFL-symbol, wikiproject
Posted: 10.6.16 @ 12:58am EST; Copyright © 2016

NBA17: Colin Curries Conflict, Lego® LeBron Builds Legends and Lives

3 Oct james-k-allison-4-27-8-smile-2-7m

Caring to Coalesce

It is our task to provide the nation of Turkey with the match to inflame the people against Russia.”

Words of Nazi “Colonel Robinson (Sydney Greenstreet)” in the George Raft – Brenda Marshall wartime drama, Background to Danger (‘43), summarizing for his provocateur charge their sinister plan to draw the neutral nation into war.

— — —

You knew it was gonna’ happen. Colin Kaepernick would become a GTG, aka, go-to-guy. For the junior media, anyway.

Now they’re going to the Krude one for political insights. The dude with the prison-yard tattoos and, before he got benched and started sitting out the national anthem, seemed to always be tuned out to the world and tuned into his headphones (Beats-by-Dre).

kaep-10-27-13-wc-cca-d-hartwig-thumbSo what does Kaep Krusader think of Dollar Don and Capital Hill? No likey (“lesser of two evils”). The “evil” is a bit harsh but I can’t argue with the “lesser (We get what we ask for, or don‘t, as the case may be).” ‘But even a blind pig will find an acorn.’

On the gridiron is where Kaepernick should’ve been a GTG all along, i.e., tight-end. But Jimbo’s offensively-challenged so he decided to bench Alex Smith, who’d gotten ‘em to the cusp of Superduperville (NFCC11 (NYG)), missing out for a teammate with fumblitis, and went with improvisation-on-the-run, i.e., flash-QB.

As for mining for socio-political nuggets from the mind of Colin, you could add his intellect to his personality and it wouldn’t fill up a shot glass. So there’s that.

Once the 49ers reserve QB (might get a start soon), decided to spark controversy with his national anthem sit n’ stew, then tapped into hate with his racist mock-socks (white cops (“pigs”) only), an incendiary that leaders Roger Goodell, DeMaurice Smith and President Obama did not see fit to condemn, you knew the Boys & Girls who run our media would take the strike-match Krudesader tossed their way and “inflame” the masses, about 16%, anyway, then paint with broad stroke as racially hostile, anyone in the populace who dared criticize the headphone promoter turned “provocateur.”

belafonte-dc-wc-8-25-63-655k-nara-usiappAs if Mahatma, Martin or Bobby would’ve used racist mockery to foment change, and then never get called on it. But those guys were old skool, their problems couldn’t compare to ours today, right (ugh)? Wrong. Goof-think 2016.

Iconic status was never in the cards for Kaep, not like a Rosa Parks or tireless civil rights advocate of 89-years, Harry Belafonte.

For one, it was a whole different ball-game back then, before desegregation took hold with help of federal courts and National Guard units, before southern Democrat President Lyndon Johnson (TX) convinced majority of white America to back his strong-arm of Congress into passing civil rights & voting legislation, and before Affirmative Action made the other two changes worthwhile. We’ve made real progress in the past fifty years that’s as permanent and part of the American fabric as the Stars n’ Stripes that grace the flag that Francis Scott Key immortalized in poetry & song.

And two, while Colin’s boycott does not come without some risk to his career and probably his person as well as there have been reports of threats, and will most certainly test his mettle as not many things before ever did, it’s also probably safe to write that the burden he bears, lightened somewhat by ensconcing effects of a very supportive, almost coddling media, pales in comparison to those which many civil rights volunteers in 1950s – 60s bore in their efforts to bring about change, especially in the South (See; Chaney – Goodman – Schwerner (d.1964)).

gandhi-wc-pre1942-155kKaepernick, like all of us, is subject to the era in which he lives. He is shaped by its events and mores, enabled and limited both by time-space continuum, choosing to alter or satisfy his surroundings . Short of super-human state (Gandhi, King, RFK, etc.) or an H.G. Wellsian “Time Machine,” Kaep has little control over his circumstances. What he can control is his message: Content, delivery and desired end.

His non-conformity in refusing allegiance to what Colin claims is hypocrisy in our national anthem was bold enough, but had he kept his protest constructive, conceding the progress we have made as a nation that for 350 years sanctioned slavery and its deformities (Jim Crow, etc.), showing courage and vision in dialoguing, inviting response and actually listening-for-content at the words of his rationally-minded detractors, rather than lobbing grenades (mock-socks), the Milwaukee-native might’ve been impactful in a culturally substantive way.

Enter LeBron James. He’s another GTG, for cub reporters and their betters.

When LeBron speaks, people listen, not because he’s the eloquence of a Mahatma (“I want to change their minds, not kill them for weaknesses we all possess“), but because he’s the biggest sport celebrity on the planet who sometimes appears to have a mind of his own.

So what does King James of Akron think of the two major candidates for the White House? See no “evil,” not in Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton, anyway. He endorsed the former First Lady on Sunday.

james-sing-home-e-drost-8-8-14-wc-506kWith a net worth of over $250 million, the NBA champion Cavaliers main-man carries considerable clout. It’s not in league with Oprah Winfrey ($2.9B), but it’s sizable, maybe exceeding that of President Obama whose pathway to power appears not so fraught with serious hardships, never having met an issue he couldn’t or wouldn’t appease.

Unlike Michael Jordan’s slightly less-than-challenged rein of success on the Finals hardwood, most with the Bulls (1985 – 03), James has had to persevere through painful periods of unfulfilled great expectations in his pro journey that began in Cleveland (Phase I) 2003, expectations heaped mostly upon his shoulders alone (See; Wilt-the-Stilt).

Money alone won’t buy happiness but battle-scars build character and James persevered, meeting his two prof’l objectives: First, fashioning a title with his 2nd team, the Miami Heat, then in return of the prodigal son to the Forest City in 2014, leading the way for their own long awaited championship, defeating a Warriors team (73 wins) many in the junior media had pre-maturely crowned the greatest of all-time (GAT, not GOAT).

Descending from his well-earned place in 7th- heaven last week to field questions, James broke ranks with some of his people and peers, those who are hell-bent on hate and finger-point in maligning America‘s police forces. He responded to a query on the Kaep case, uttering at some point the phrase, “All lives matter.”

It was a big moment, catching the media off guard. So they did what normally they’ll do when free speech gets too free and pushed his response to the margins.

legobausteinevon-gnufdl-5-28-14-roletschekSuch generosity and hope conveyed in speaking to “all lives” is never well received by those who’re steeped in blinding, egotistical anger. And those who sign-post the way to a better, more progressive place, a destination we never reach without some self-sacrifice and compromise along the way, put themselves in precarious position, risking popularity and drop in sales receipts, among the lesser vitals of life.

James also declared that he won’t be boycotting any national anthems.

Lending credence to James’ words is the fact that he has not been one to sit on the sidelines when it comes to social issues. Earlier this year Lego® made statement on the very issue of police tactic and, by some, its postulated misuse.

In wearing a t-shirt that read “I can’t breathe,” referencing to a typical choke-hold law enforcement can employ to immobilize a dangerous suspect but which can also inflict what some deem unnecessary harm, may have been a facilitator to Kaepernick’s sit-statement, but at very least puts the basketball player’s motives well beyond the reach of reproach.

Different strokes for different folks. When it comes to social engineering, maybe a little social change ($), too, that’s Colin Kaepernick and LeBron James.

All lives matter, and all prejudice stinks. And all that LeBron James has done in three little words is more than our sitting President has done for race relations in nearly eight years.

Who says sports don’t “matter?”

net-wc-1995-88k-staticSteven Keys
Nothing But Net
Photo credit: L.James, wc.cca, K.Allison, 4.27.8; C.Kaepernick, wc, D.Hartwig, 10.27.13; H.Belafonte, wc, 8.25.63, NARA-USIAP&P; M.Gandhi, wc, pre-1942; L.James-sing, wc, E.Drost, 8.8.14; Lego-BausteineVon, wc, gnufdl, 5.28.14, Roletschek; L.James, wc, K.Allison, 4.28.7;, wc, 1995, static.
Posted: 10.3.16 @ 2:22am, edits @ 4:18pm and 10.4.16 @ 12:30pm Eastern Standard Time; Copyright © 2016

MLB16 Chin Music: Angels Weep But Gods Still Favor Pujols & Trout

29 Sep trout-2m-wc-7-23-11-k-allison-md

It won’t be the question that keeps Anaheim Angels’ braintrust fidgeting when their 2016 season ends with conclusion of Sunday afternoon’s game against the visiting Astros. More likely it will be the implementation, whenever that might be, of the painful answer they already know: Mike Scioscia has gotta’ go.

Mike’s a pretty brilliant baseball mind. No doubt on that point (.541 (17)). And in his day, a pretty nifty ball-player, too. A two-time All-Star and champion (1981, ‘88), he was a mainstay backstop with Southern California rival, the Dodgers.

scioscia-wc-12-9-15-a-pardavilaiii-5-2m-wintermtgJim Fregosi (1979-81) and Gene Mauch (1981-82, ‘85-87) made the Anaheim Angels of Greater Los Angeles Metro respectable but it was Scioscia who finally molded and managed them to that brass ring, the 2002 World Series title (v. SF). To date it’s the Angels only pennant and championship.

But if it’s not working, and it hasn’t been for six of the last seven seasons, it’s gotta’ be fixed, that is, if you (owner) still have designs on winning again.

It’s not just ‘not working’ at Angel Stadium, it seems to have slipped into reverse. From 98 wins (‘14), to 85 (‘15) to 70-whatever this 2016.

Apart from that well-meant but somewhat ill-advised Josh Hamilton signing, you can’t really lay much blame at the doorstep of Angels’ owner Arte Moreno.

scioscia-wc-4-7m-7-23-11-k-allisonNumber one, he’s forked out the moolah in massive amounts to top talent in recent years in hopes of re-capturing the glory of the early 2000s, stars enough to make a tiny All-Star team, contract-money enough to fund a tiny space program but results so small the hardware would barely furnish the mantel in a “Tiny House (ugh).”

Two, Arte’s loyal, especially to dedicated employee who brought a long suffering franchise their first championship. That’s a rare thing today, in big business or small. And then how was Moreno to know Vlad Guerrero would turn out to be post-season pedestrian (17g (‘05-08): 1.rbi,, 7r).

The ouster of Scioscia is a move many in baseball have probably pondered at each season’s end since 2012. That year marked the Halos third consecutive absence from the post-season after having made the grade in six of eight seasons prior in that successful span from 2002 (WS) thru 2009.

Since that well-deserved World Series victory in 2002 the Angels have been ignominiously bounced from six of those playoffs, going 1-12 in four divisional series, just slightly better in the two American League Championships at 3-8.

Point being, the Angels post-title decline has been clear n’ steady. There have been respites by way of playoff appearances, some in bunches (‘04-09), one set-apart (‘14), none of them at their opening having conveyed a strong sense of World Series Wherewithal (See; Above).

morenofan-wc-j-miller-6-9-7-188kIn his defense, the Pennsylvania native (11.27.58) has had his share of untimely injuries (Hamilton, Weaver, etc.) and line-ups somewhat lacking in both pitching (starters – mid – close) and hitting, particularly contact men (.300), though, such bats are at a premium today in free-swinging MLB and Angels 2016 team-BA does trend well (.260 (6-AL)).

Current Halos’ GM Billy Eppler, a sabrmetrics adherent, has only been on the job a year and can’t be expected to shoulder much blame for current malaise, though, his number fixation (WAR, OPS, etc.) does not invite hope. Any administrative blame to be doled out must be born by Bill’s predecessor, Mariners current GM in Jerry Dipoto (2011-15), along with farm-system (Mike LaCassa) and scouting (Ric Wilson) directors. Get the big bucks, you get to bear the brunt.

But line-up deficiencies, whether they be in All-Star caliber or utility players, those workaday guys that can fly under-the-radar yet meet important team needs that don’t necessarily get quantified in sabrmetric – fantasy reports, plague nearly every team in both loops.

Even baseball’s 2016 version of the NHL’s Presidents’ Trophy winner (regular season’s best) in the Chicago Cubs (Did I just write that? Good sign, Bruins-backers), have an Achilles heel or two which Joe Maddon and Theo Epstein must lose a wink or two fretting over every nite they hit the hay (Zzzz).

pujols-4-14-12-laawc-1-26m-m-olearyTwo men you can’t fault for Angels “free-fall from ecstasy (Skowron)” are Albert Pujols and Mike Trout.

In four full and one partial season (99g / 2013) with Halos, Albert, finishing his 16th MLB run and a likely 1st-ballot HOF’er when he hangs up his spikes, has clubbed 490 (+/-) ribbies and 146 taters, 29 per, on average. Pretty terrific production for a man in his mid-30s.

How many more runs of bountiful the Sporting Gods afford Al is hard to predict.

He turns 37 in January but is seems a well tuned machine and wouldn’t surprise if he produced for 2-3 more years. But one thing this fan, and AP himself most assuredly, would not want to see is that career BA dropping below the .300 mark. It currently stands at .309 but he’s been well off that average since exiting the Gateway City and will likely fall below the hallowed marker with 1-2 more full seasons of play. It’s something to ponder, anyway.

trout-wc-7-24-11-501k-md-k-allisonMike, a fan favorite due to his easy adjustment to the majors, daring style of play and, though seems in need of work on driver attentiveness (“CHP Says…” / ocregister / 9.1.16 / Schwebke & Sudock), shows a spirit for the game and concern for others, finishes up his 6th season in Anaheim and stands as a strong AL-MVP candidate, leading the loop in OB% (.441), BBs (113), likely to reach the 30 and 100 plateaus in HRs and RBIs respectively and has surpassed the 100 mark in runs-scored for the fifth time in his relatively short MLB career. He’s presently leading in that latter category (122) in a year when it‘s a good chance that 20+ players will reach the century mark in runs.

It would not be hyperbole to write that the rise of Hamiltonism (See: Billy (198 runs in 1894)) is in no small measure due to the corresponding rise in Troutonics.

Back to Mr. Scioscia. He is an Anaheim legend and will have his number or name retired. But Mike and his betters should keep in mind that all good things come to an end and change, too often today instituted haphazardly for no good reason but to keep the pay-checks coming, can in fact work a real benefit, for the franchises and legends in question (See; Curly Lambeau, Tom Coughlin, Casey Stengel & Mike Babcock whose Red Wings record compares to Mike‘s own).

What the contract between Scioscia and Moreno states in its particulars (term, payout, etc.), this writer need not know. Such agreements, if wisely drafted, contemplate the multitude of circumstance, including the above postulated.

.....canned cornSteven Keys
Can o’ Corn
Photo credit: M.Trout, wc, MD, K.Allison, 7.23.11; M.Scioscia, 7.23.11, wc, MD, K.Allison; M.Scioscia, wc.cca, 12.9.15, A.Pardavila, WinterMeet; Moreno-Fan, J.Miller, 6.9.7, wc; A.Pujols, wc, 4.14.12, M.O’Leary; M.Trout-Fan, 7.24.11, MD, K.Allison; Canned-corn
Posted: 9.29.16 @ 4:40pm, edit @ 10:17 EST; Copyright © 2016

NFL16 Cherry Picks W4: Presidents, Field Generals & Super Chiefs

28 Sep cleveland-1903-loc-wc-f-gutekunst-411k

One down, two to go. Phew!

With the first presidential debate of Election 2016 now in the books* and media spin-cycle on full-tilt, this NFL fan got to thinking about the prestigious prize Dollar Don and Capital Hill are both eyeing, the Commander-in-Chief job (adjustable hat included), and then what it takes once you’ve been voted the reins of leadership to make it a memorable tenure.

This phase in the Oval Office Chase is a little like the playoffs in sport: The TV camera test for the candidates is a whole ‘nother season, with both contenders starting over at 0-0.

On a gaffe (Ford, “No Soviet domination of E.Europe,” Carter using Amy as a “nuclear arms” standard (76), Dukakis playing opossum in failing to dress-down question-poser Bernard Shaw (CNN) for needlessly making Mike’s wife Kitty part of a crass death penalty hypo (“raped and murdered“) (‘88) and Papa Bush checking his watch (‘92)), a lead in the polls can evaporate faster than a fat NFL lead at the half (Swing Time), just as the candidate who tosses a tight, talking spiral for TD can make-up a poll deficit quicker than Tom Brady finds pay-dirt.

ford-851k-wc-grfl-1933-umFootball forensics aside, an NFL quarterback won’t bear near, nor near beer, the burdens of our Chief Executive, to be sure. He is, however, often referred to as a field general, empowered to muster his offensive troops in a Ulysses S. Grant-like forward-thrusting campaign to gain territory and vanquish an opponent. That’s the plan, anyway.

On the other hand, it’s also fair to say that while Presidents can sadly suffer the greatest of physical harm (Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley, JFK (JV squad Harvard), Reagan wounded), rarely, if ever, must they bear the weight of a 200+ lbs, muscled-out, charging defender landing on his person as does Joe Quarterback.

In truth, QBs and CICs are pretty much worlds apart in the duties department. They do, however, have one thing in common: As Big Kahunas, both get the credit in victory, nearly all the blame in a loss.

So with that as backdrop, it’s a champion time to honor all those who bear lonely burden of leadership, in whatever endeavor, but here in particular, today’s top NFL field generals teamed with our nation’s finest Presidents over these past 240, both who’ve supped the champagne yet most certainly “suffer(ed) the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune (Hamlet (de Vere)).”

Note: No QBRs have been referenced (I can read a stat-line) and no greenhorns considered (R -> 2y). As in politics, top candidates must be vetted and the highs & lows assessed with a dispassionate eye in order to gain a substantive read.

America’s Best Signal-Callers

brady-8-28-9-k-allison-wc-cca-2m-dc1) Tom Brady: New England Patriots, pocket-passer;

FDR: The only Commander-in-Chief besides the Cherry-chopper who could’ve been king (4x), his economic vision (New Deal) prescribed emergency medicine in seriously Depressed times, taking federal policy beyond simply feeding the greed, then he and his wife Eleanor undertook to save the world (WW2);

2) Ben Roethlisberger: Pittsburgh Steelers, mobile-PP;

Lincoln: Made the union whole, more human and gave his life in the process;

3) Aaron Rodgers: Green Bay Packers, mobile-PP

Washington: Iconic leader who led world’s first revolt against Imperium slavery since Spartacus (d.71 BC), gave the new office stature and nation a good start;

4) Drew Brees: New Orleans Saints, pocket-passer

Jackson: Old Hickory was the first non-elitist President who fought Indians, British invaders, banker thugs and brought the people and democracy to DC;

wilson-edithbolling-galt-wc-11m-6-1920-harrisewing-loc5) Eli Manning: New York Giants, pocket-passer

Wilson: Professor President (1856 – 24) with steely resolve to make America a world leader in war (WW1) and peace (LoN), whose 2nd wife Edith (Ellen) co-ruled after his stroke (1919) making her unofficially the first female U.S. President (1872 – 61);

6) Joe Flacco: Baltimore Ravens, pocket-passer

JFK: He saved planet Earth (CMC (’62)) and then lost his life in the risky battle against entrenched power;

7) Russell Wilson: Seattle Seahawks, mobile-manager

Cleveland: Should’ve been first 3-term Prez, designing the template for modern-era “government of the people, by the people, for the people;”

8) Phil Rivers: San Diego Chargers, pocket-passer

Jefferson: Crafty Purchase (Lou.) doubled nation’s size decades after he drafted America’s Declaration of Independence (‘76) and our first public college (UV);

lbj-fdr-allred-5-12-37-wc-259k-nara9) Alex Smith: Kansas City Chiefs, manager-PP

LBJ: Mis-policy in foreign war (Vietnam) did not derail efforts of this legislative juggernaut in making civil rights reality and honoring America’s seniors;

10) Matt Ryan: Atlanta Falcons, pocket-passer

Polk: Pragmatic, fiscally sound and productive, James was Mr. Manifest Destiny, adding thirteen (13) States in whole or part to America’s family of stars. Worn to the bone, he died 3 months post-term;

11) Andy Dalton: Cincinnati Bengals, pocket-passer

Truman: Plain-talking, former farmer, WWI major, haberdasher and pianist (Bacall) proved critics & premature press-men (Chicago Tribune, etc.) wrong with a strong, spirited & common sense administration;

12) Tony Romo: Dallas Cowboys, pocket-passer

Teddy: “Big Stick” policy boosts US clout, trust-bust sent checks monopoly-greed and initiates our national parks system. Celebrity turned progressive;

teddy-wc-loc-thmRounding Out Top 15

13) Cam Newton: Carolina, run-QB / James Madison;
14) Carson Palmer: Arizona, PP / Andrew Johnson;
15) Andrew Luck: Colts, mobile-PP / William McKinley


cherries-ripe-chirak-wc-605k-6-24-7Cherry Picks Week 4: “Nothing to fear but fear itself”

Miami (1-2) @ Cincy (1-2): 9.29 NFLN 8:25: Bengals win
Seattle (2-1) @ NY Jets (1-2): 10.2 Fox 1:00: ‘Hawks win
Bills (1-2) @ New England (3-0): CBS 1:00: Patriots win
Carolina Panthers (1-2) @ Atlanta Falcons (2-1) (GTW): Panthers win
Oakland Raiders (2-1) @ Baltimore Ravens (3-0) (GTW): Ravens win
Denver Broncos (3-0) @ Tampa Bay Bucs (1-2): CBS 4:05: Buccaneers win
Los Angeles Rams (2-1) @ Arizona Cards (1-2) (GTW): Fox 4:25: AZ wins
New Orleans Saints (0-3) @ San Diego Chargers (1-2): Fox 4:25: Saints win
Kansas City Chiefs (2-1) @ Pittsburgh (2-1) (GTW): NBC 8:30: Steelers win
NYG (2-1) @ Minnesota Vikings (3-0) (GTW): 10.3 ESPN 8:30: Giants win

Record: 14 – 17

* No clear winner from Monday night’s dialectic (WU in STL), though, there was little debate in the contest directly South in the Big Easy (ATL 45-32). But as Ms. Clinton, pre-debate poll leader, former White House decorator (1992-00) and of a much lengthier political résumé than her veritable newcomer opponent in Mr. Trump, her failure to deliver a haymaker of sorts might give the Don the win on points. But there are more rounds to go and whomever claims victory in this first foray had better not rest on their laurels and come out swinging-with-style in the next. Like NFL16, it’s still anyone’s fight to win or lose, i.e., wide open.

......NFL-symbol.wikiproject.6kbSteven Keys
NFL Hunch Line
Photo credits: G.Cleveland, wc.cca, 1903, Library-of-Congress, F.Gutekunst; G.Ford, wc, GRFL, 1933, UM; T.Brady, wc, 8.28.9, K.Allison, DC; W.Wilson, Edith-Bolling-Galt-Wilson, wc, Harris&Ewing, 6.1920; Edith-Bolling-Galt-Wilson, First-Lady, 1915-21, wc, LoC; FDR-Allred-LBJ, wc, 5.12.37, NARA; T. Roosevelt, wc, LoC; cherries-ripe, wc, Chirak, 6.24.7; NFL-symbol, wikiproject
Posted: 9.27.16 @ 9:22pm, edit @ 11:38 EST; Copyright © 2016

Yore Movie Swells: Frédéric, Feb.19 and 21 A-1 Race-Chases in Film

25 Sep ben-hur-1959-wc-r-brown-mgm-256k-half

Not many movie scenes can glue you to your seat like the riveting race-chase. A staple since the Keystone Cops (1912) were on the case, road-rage is the usual format but planes, trains, boats, chariots, horse-buggies (Friendly Persuasion 1956), even foot pursuit can fuel the fleet.

Automobiles to me are kinda’ like classical music, I don’t know the details but I know what I like. So on that note (♫), here then are listed the 21 best race-chase scenes in yore movie history (< 2000), the Antonio Vivaldis, Claude Debusseys, Felix Mendelssohns, Erik Saties, Frédéric Chopins, the Beethoven and Bachs of cinematic speed. Va-room!

Bullitt (Directed by Peter Yates 1968): Think you need city hustle & bustle to sauté a sense for cinematic speed (Frankenheimer (NYC), D‘Antoni (NYC), Friedkin (CHI), Hickman (LA))? Think harder. McQueen (1930-80) was born in Beech Grove, IN and grew family farm in Slater, MO. Rated by some as moviedom’s best race-chase, it’s hard to dispute. The story can confuse but the R/C, including its build-up (seat-belts, mirrors), bad guy shots (Bill Hickman (The Seven-Ups, Patton & TFC) at the wheel, Paul Genge shot-gun), cool cars (Mustang GT (SM & B.Ekins) / Dodge Charger (BH)), film (W.Fraker (Le Mans)), frame (F.Keller), sound and music-lite (L.Schifrin), all make it a work of art that even a car novice and gun-control advocate can appreciate.

am-grafitti-32-ford-5-windw-coupe-wc-sicnag-2-5m-2012American Graffiti (George Lucas 1973): This most famous of movie drag-races pits “John Milner (Paul Le Mat)” vs. “Bob ‘Nobody’ Falfa (Harrison Ford)” to close out a perfect movie packed with stars, songs & style (“Rome wudn‘t burnt in a day (Bo Hopkins)”). Lucas never made a better film, and made a pretty penny, too ($777,000 > $140M Box (Wikipedia)!).

Ronin (John Frankenheimer 1998): Having cut his racing teeth 30 years prior on Grand Prix and then FC2, it’s no wonder John’s behind what is arguably the most breathless car chase scene in all of film history. Any wonder a woman (Natascha McElhone (“Deirdre!”)) with an enchanting “Irish lilt” is at the wheel of the lead car (+ Rob De Niro (CIA “Sam”) & Jean Reno) in this action-thriller? Nope.

The French Connection (William Friedkin 1971): Another top contender for that #1 spot in race-chase, it may be the best known, not just on the near misses (eek!), but the closure (satisfaction) it affords viewers. Gene Hackman (Jim ’Popeye’ Doyle) and Frenchman Marcel Bozzuffi (“Pierre”) are the principals, making use of a myriad of means in car, subway and finally on foot.

French Connection II (Frankenheimer 1975): In Marseilles with no driver’s license, passed-off policeman-on-probation “Popeye Doyle” foots it in movie’s finale to apprehend his nemesis, heroine wholesaler “Charnier (Fern Rey).” My personal favorite, after the horse flick (See; Below). Feel the wheeze, then the breeze. Does he get his man? It’s why shooting-range time can pay off.

ben-hur-1959-mgm-chariots-873kBen-Hur (William Wyler 1959): Other versions exist (1907, 1925 & 2016) but nothing to match, let alone surpass the pageantry & thrill of a chariot race between Charlton Heston and Steve Boyd, nor its gripping aftermath when ground-round “Messala,” with one foot in the grave, gut-punches his former-friend-turned-foe in dying declaration: “It goes on, it goes on, Judah, the race.” Don’t we know it.

The Seven-Ups (Philip D’Antoni 1973): If Frankenheimer is Emperor (b.NYC 2.19.30 (d.‘02)) of movie metro car chase, Phil’s gotta’ be its Big Apple (b.NYC 2.19.29), directing or producing three of the best R/C scenes in the genre (See: Bullitt (P) & TFC (P)). Something about coming into the world via New York on February 19th that calibrates the DNA? In the 7-Ups it’s Roy Scheider’s turn behind the wheel with resident bad-asses in Bill Hickman (See Also: Bullitt & Patton) and Dick Lynch in his sights, for awhile, anyway. Head down! Ouch!

Grand Prix (John Frankenheimer 1966): Too much grease-opera (prurience) for this fan but the track scenes in cinematography (Lionel Lindon & Saul Bass), sound (Frank Milton) and actors-actually-driving are superbly done and now even more appreciated. In reflection on TCM, John was amazed at the audacity and courage of the actors, and permissibility of the makers. Different days.

Le Mans (Lee Katzin 1971): Unlike Grand Prix, here the female allies are truly in-waiting, not surprising given nearness of death’s door, and attractions between the opposite sexes compliments, rather than competes with the task at hand, racing. It’s a Steve McQueen flick, i.e., focus. This one also gets an edge on script (SP: Alan Trustman & Harry Kleiner) but like its predecessor in GP the driving scenes (cinematography: William Fraker) are a testament to the racing gestalt. Rivalry between the circuit stars in “Delaney (SM)” and “Stahler (Siegfried Rauch)” is credible and pleasing in its respect (closing gestures). ”

captainscourageous-mgm-wc-1937-1-9mCaptains Courageous (Victor Fleming 1937): After testy tadpole Freddie Bartholomew is rescued, read the riot act and finally earns his keep, by the patient, sage & lyrical guidance of his Portuguese charge “Manual (Spencer Tracy),” the fishing vessel “We’re Here” races to be first in port. You’ll feel the sea-mist, the danger, then the heartache and finally begin to understand.

On the Beach (Stanley Kramer 1959): Powerful subject matter (nuclear aftermath) parlays pointed passion as a fleeting tonic, it is OTB where Hall-of-Fame hoofer Fred Astaire takes to race-car and drives for victory through a minefield of mangled wrecks in the truest if most dangerous spirit of sport. Fred’s grittiest role.

Viva Las Vegas (George Sidney 1964): Stars Elvis Presley, Ann-Margret and Cesare Danova. The music and melodrama give way to one of the most frightening and furious road races on film. Yeah, an Elvis flick. Go figure. Just hope the real drivers came out okay (gulp). Holy Hound Dog!

The Fast and the Furious (John Ireland & Ed Sampson 1955): A kidnapping was never so kooky. Criminality, romance and racing all in the same vehicle. But Dorothy Malone revs with radiance, even under stress, the cars are classic cool and the pros behind the wheels, including John, all take their curves like an ace.

The Bank Dick (Edward Cline 1940): Unlike the shortened pursuits in Bonnie and Clyde (‘67) (“I‘m not driving into Oklahoma!”), in TBD the California cops stay on the hunt when bank guard “Egbert Sousé (W.C. Fields)” gets heisted along with the loot, calmly currying laughs n’ gasps that you’d come to expect.

nationalvelvet-mgm-jan-1945-nborm-745kNational Velvet (Clarence Brown 1944): This spirited tale of the Grand National doesn’t have cool cachet of a Bullitt, nor will it have you clutching the couch as would Ronin. What this “bit of a girl” Elizabeth Taylor and her saucy steed “The Pie (“marauding pirate (R.Owen)”)” will do for a viewer, if they’ve a heart bigger than an acorn, is to give reason to laugh, to cry, to cheer and then give thanks that they were lucky enough to take in the show. Hands down the most inspirational race in movie history. The rest of the flick is a bit of alright, too. Ms. Taylor’s best.

Mad Max (George Miller 1979): The only good flick in the series, Mel Gibson, with help from an inventive mechanic (Dave Cameron), runs the “Night-Rider (Vince Gil), his leggy lady (Lulu Pinkus) and the “Toe-cutter (Hugh Keays-Byrne)” into.. how do I put it without giving it away (?), into a different dimension. Glad they all missed the creeping kid crossing the road (Matt Constantine). Phew!

The Terminator (James Cameron 1984): The concept was fairly unique, “Sarah (Linda Hamilton)” and her time-travel bodyguard “Kyle (Mike Biehn)” must out-race their steel n’ circuit pursuer (T-800 cyborg robot (Arnold Schwarzenegger)) intent on their demise but which cannot be stopped, not by conventional means. The bookend chase scenes are gripping with music – sound scores (Brad Fiedel) that raise and then retain the tension.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day (Cameron 1991): “Sarah” now has family (Ed Furlong) (Guess who‘s Daddy?), two feisty robots on her tail who this time have savoir faire, one defensive (Arnold), the other destructive yet advanced (“T-1000 (Rob Patrick)”), able to replicate (“liquid metal”). Tanker spill late, freezing the bad-bot temporarily is F/X gold, but the Mall exit chase putting a tractor in LA’s aqueduct in early computer-enhancement struck the perfect balance no longer sought in today’s digitalized deluge of dull.

sullivans-1941-wc-109kSullivan’s Travels (Preston Sturges 1941): Early in his journey of enlightenment, movie-maker “John L. Sullivan (Joel McCrea)” hitches a harrowing ride with a young lad (Payne B. Johnson?) in his custom-made jalopy through haystack and assortments, pursued by a bumpy busload of entourage that includes William Demarest, Margaret Hayes and another Chicagoan, Charles R. Moore in an unforgettable kitchen catastrophe. ‘Safety first’ was never so missed but you’ve gotta’ admire the kid’s pluck.

To Live and Die in L.A. (William Friedkin 1985): It’s not just New Yorkers with keen sense of cinema speed, the City of Big Shoulders produces its share, too. Bill may’ve topped his TFC chase with this West Coast hair-raiser, starring fellow Chicagoan in William Petersen who takes a wheel. Box office boom ($6M / $17), ‘To Live’ rarely gets aired but you‘ll never forget the California cruise.

F/X (Robert Mandel 1986): Hi-jinx is a common commuter on the car chase caravan and F/X, though not without poignancy (“Ellen (D.Venora)”), does its part to keep the line running. Creative minds Bryon Brown & Martha Gehman lead police pursuer and PVC sufferer Joe Grifasi on the heart-stopping hunt. Money-chase and a Swiss bank bonanza make this a top treasure film too with a nice tune in close to top it off (“Illusion (Imagination)”).

Steven Keys
Photo credits: Ben-Hur poster, MGM, R.Brown, wc.cca, 1959; American-Grafitti Ford 5W Coupe, wc, Sicnag, 2012; Ben-Hur chariots, MGM, wc, 1959; Captains-Courageous poster, wc, MGM, 1937; National-Velvet, wc, MGM, 1945, NBoRM; Sullivans-Travels, wc, 1941;
Posted: 9.24.16 @ 11:02pm, edit 9.26 @ 5:06pm EST; Copyright © 2016