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

3 Oct

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; b-ball.net, wc, 1995, static.
Posted: 10.3.16 @ 2:22am, edits @ 4:18pm and 10.4.16 @ 12:30pm Eastern Standard Time; Copyright © 2016

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

28 Sep

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

NFL16: Kaep Krusader Sitting Tall In Anthem Boycott? Better Guess Again

30 Aug

What lives in a man’s heart, who can really say?

Sometimes even he won’t know, not until Father Time brings it all into focus, that is, if that man (woman) finds enlightenment along the way. ‘Some grow older and wiser, some just older.’

That’s the question (♥) football fans around the nation are asking themselves following Colin Kaepernick’s decision last weekend to sit down during the national anthem in a 49ers’ pre-season, pre-game (v GB) show of defiance and determination over the on-going issue of racial inequality in the United States.

.........Kaep.9.9.12.GB.M.Morbeck.wc.cca.291kGotta admire one who advocates for justice. It’s the motive, method and then level of sincerity behind the overt act(s) that’ll peak the curiosity, cue debates, set media scrambling and strain the sensibility of more than a few commentaries.

I’ve never been a big fan of forced conformity (one reason I‘ll never be rich), though, it has its place (HOA covenants, compulsory education, military service, immunizations, speed limits, etc.). That’s where one’s judgment capability, even surrounded by advisers, will come into play.

Francis Scott Key’s Star Spangled Banner (1814) is not the ♫ toe-tapper ♫ the former Super QB (47) has come accustomed to hearing when filling his cranium with music from the ever-present head-muffins he wears (Beats-by-Dre). But its inspiration is honorable (War of 1812), its cadence easy and makes no religious test in the version of which I‘m familiar (See; God Bless America (Berlin)).

.........Key.wc.8.9.48.USPS.BE&P.378kMaybe, just maybe, Kaep has other motivations in mind as he keeps up his sit-down strike for as long as San Fran brass keep him in uniform, which was a somewhat tenuous proposition before his pessimistic statement on the nation’s racial state.

And one has to wonder exactly how tuned-in to any issue of social merit could be the Milwaukee native, Cubs draftee (‘09-R43) and Runnin’ Rebel alumnus (2010) (Wikipedia) if that issue does not emanate (w/wisdom) from lips of his favorite balladeers, given the head-gear routine and the world of NFL accoutrements in which he and every pro player is ensconced: Limited library.

As such, I have a few guesses as to what else might be driving Kaepernick’s display of social conscious and non-conformity, and why now:

1) Never Stop Caring…or Careering

With his NFL gig appearing to be in fade-mode and possessing of a business background (UNLV), pumping-up your political credentials can enhance post-NFL marketability. On the issue of racism, one on par with the national jobs outlook (always assailable), Colin can’t miss.

But that’s too risky a tack, no, Stevo? ‘Au contraire, Esteban,’ might say his agent. ‘The folks who’re characterizing Colin’s gesture as un-American were likely not in his corner before nor target-market to buy his pitch today.’ What Colin’s boycott will do is solidify a favored position with his peers that may include the SAS’y one (Disney), Black Lives Matter and many in the Democratic Presidential nominee‘s campaign who’re all too eager to remind America just how much work is yet to be done on the racial fronts, at least one of ’em, and energize a base in the process.

Key, of a different note (♫), you have gotta’ protect & promote the product ($), whatever your commodity may happen to be. Roger Goodell, DeMaurice Smith (NFLPA) and Rich Sherman know it all too well.

2) Doing the Sam-Sham

.........Sam.wc.8.23.14.ED.Drost.380kLike Mike Sam before him (2014) whose deficiency in NFL talent did not stop him from receiving ample opportunities (Rams, Alouettes, Dallas, Vet Combine) after his pre-Draft disclosure of having a homosexual orientation, a social notoriety seemingly worked as leverage, Kaep too is, intentional or not, putting his 49ers team in a rather precarious PR position where his release / trade could give, to those of a bully bent, cause to attack the club in claim of racial insensitivity when, in fact, such postulated roster move could be rationally-based entirely on talent, or the lack thereof.

Theoretically then, Kaep could, like Sam before, use his new civil rights notoriety, as leverage to, in his case, forestall any roster move.

Much speculation on my part. But two (2) points on which I am certain:

[1] While Kaep’s intentions may be just, if not entirely free of self-interest, choosing to diss the national anthem is a bad play. Mixed messages and half-measures (unilateral racism) make for poor social statement. Indifference to such can suggest impure motives; And [2], when juxtaposed against actions of others in sport (Ryan Lochte), Colin’s call deserves at the very least a modicum of patience and consideration from his critics.

.......Lochte.Phelps.Et.al.wc.Rio.8.9.16.F.Frazao.5mWhen you think of the string of wrongs that Lochte perpetrated, all working a taint upon the Olympics, Brazil, team USA and then boyish dismissiveness of taking responsibility once the bad was exposed (“I exaggerated that story”) and following favoritism afforded by many in the media and entertainment worlds (Dancing With the Stars), in a comparative sense, Colin can be fairly characterized as Walking Tall (‘73 / 04).

And “this (calculated confrontation) too shall pass.”

The San Francisco 49ers, if they don’t release / trade CK soon will seek, then demand his cooperation as preferential treatment and actions viewable as un-patriotic cannot stand, no pun intended. The NFL will then assert policy directives while NFLPA will back its member regardless of the merits or non-conformity (CBA) of his actions (See also; PEDs).

When tackling issues that sweep across the social plain, the bravest people are often the loneliest (See; Trumbo & Abbey). They count their profits in common coins of community breadth, substantive gesture and the few but sincere conversions that may come. In weight-room lingo, it’s called no pain, no gain. True progress exacts a steep price in self-sacrifice, all around.

If Colin’s cause is sincere, largely unselfish and informed (again, the ♥ thing (?)), I wish the man well. Lacking in any of those and the Sporting Gods should, in time, exact their revenge, i.e., ex-QB.

......NFL-symbol.wikiproject.6kbSteven Keys
NFL HunchLine
Photo Credit: C.Kaepernick, wc.cca, M.Morbeck, GB, 9.9.12; Kaepernick, 10.27.13, wc, D.Hartwig; F.S.Key, wc, 8.9.48, USPS, BE&P; M.Sam, wc, 8.24.14, ED.Drost; R.Lochte3-M.Phelps4, 4×200, wc, Rio, 8.9.16, F.Frazao, Agency.Brazil;
Posted: 8.30.16 @ 12:25pm, edit 9.1 @ 11:26am; Copyright © 2016

NFL16: Longing For Lambeau Largesse & Reciprocity In a Consolidating World

26 Aug

Le voilà! Frozen Assets

The 2016 college football…hold on…, 2016 FBS Division I NCAA college football season and campaign for an invite to compete in the College Football Playoff (12.31) and place in the national championship game in Tampa Bay (1.9.17) (Phew!) is almost officially underway with Friday night’s opener (10pm EST) down under in Australia that pits Hawaii versus California (Saturday in Sydney).

...........Packers.Cheer.8.26.10.M.Morbeck309kNext week various other Big School openers will join the kickoff parade, including a match in Dublin, Ireland (GT v Boston College (9.3)), the Georgia Dome (Chick-fil-A Bowl: UNC v Georgia (ATL 9.3)), one at a top NASCAR site in Bristol, TN (VT v UT) and that great college football mecca (?!), Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin (LSU v UW (9.3)).

The famous but now nearly never frozen tundra that carpets the stadium by the bay which French fur-trapper and New France explorer, Jean Nicolet discovered (oops!), mapped in 1620, is of course football holy ground ensconced in history. Those fans then who’re lucky enough to be in attendance for this classic college kickoff will upon exit find within general vicinity a plethora of museums, souvenir shops, cheese-curd carts and fine eateries with brats n’ brew of all varieties to please the pallet and wet the whistle. Hot diggity!

Lambeau Field: A great facility to visit and enjoy a game.

.........Lambeau.1940.wc.32kNevertheless, what’s irksome to this sports fan on the choice of the Lambeau locale for this bayou – badger battle, rather than venerated Camp Randall in Madison, is that it seems just one more act in consolidation of major Wisconsin football and its concomitant financial benefits ($) into the hands of Packers’ elite (Board of Directors (EC)), a clique that in 1994 decided, once that Favre money was flowing like gold into the till, to pull up stakes and cut ties to its southern base in the state’s largest city, Milwaukee, where Pack had played from 2-4 games per since 1950s and forged a pretty spiffy history of their own (1960 >).

The traveling tradition began in a decade when green & yellow were struggling mightily for an extended period from the late 40s through most of the 50s, a first dry spell in their storied history to that point (1921), all of it under the guidance of founder, player and head coach Lambeau.

But even as Vince quickly got the Packers ship righted (‘59 (7-5)) and had his own opinions about playing field preference, the Milwaukee games continued on with the team’s heightened and sustained success throughout the 1960s.

........BuckyBadger.12.1.07.S.Cain.wc.138kI wish the Badgers, their visiting Tigers contingent and all connected to the September game a happy, memorable experience. It should be a wing-dinger wherever it’s held.

In the bigger picture, however, consolidation of top games at Lambeau, a site imbuing in aura and appreciably adding to benefits that accrue to local and ancillary interests, does in fact work a real deprivation on two fronts: 1) Upon Milwaukee and Madison area supporters of the Pack, fans & merchants both, who stuck with the guys through thick n’ thin and are now denied their chance to participate in the praise-a-thon on their own sui-generis tundras, and 2) On the stronger, more substantive sense of former unity that’s been dismissed as trivial, a spirit of ownership, so to speak, that the dual-home system had worked throughout Wisconsin for forty years and went well beyond simply buying Packers merchandise online or at the local Kohl‘s and Walmart.

By spreading the joy and playing even just two regular season games in Milwaukee, Green Bay Packers, Inc. had facilitated a tremendous display in community sharing that was truly unique amongst NFL’s family of teams.

........Wisconsin.wc.7.19.16.A.Peterson416kA message to the Green Bay Packers’ General Manager Ted Thompson, the Executive Committee and electing Board: Start thinking reciprocity, folks.

In lean times the people of America’s Dairyland supported the Packers statewide (Devine family might take issue (’74)). Now back in clover (1992 >), it’s time for Ted Thompson & Board to spread joy and share wealth in re-establishing the City of Milwaukee, maybe adding in the State capital of Madison, as Packers game sites, pending the NFL’s approval of course.

It’s time to reflect, reconsider the consolidation of Packers assets and start fashioning a broader purpose in statewide comradery (Packers at Miller Park and Camp Randall (Brew Crew in Green Bay?)), a move appreciable today and then especially when these halcyon days in continuum of Hall of Fame caliber QBs, i.e., Rodgers and Favre, come to an end, as they always do.

......NFL-symbol.wikiproject.6kbSteven Keys
NFL HunchLine
Photo credits: Lambeau.Field, wc.cca, JL1Row, 4.18.11; Packers.Cheer, wc, 8.26.10, M.Morbeck; C.Lambeau, wc, 1940; Bucky.Badger, wc, 12.1.7, S.Cain; Wisconsin State, wc, 7.19.16, A.Peterson; NFL-symbol, Wikiproject
Posted: 8.26.16 @ 1:49pm EST; Copyright © 2016

Yore Movie Swells: The 25 Best Westerns in Filmdom

15 Aug

Vintage Varieties

The American movie Western: As genres go there’s never been one bigger. Not the rat-a-tat-tat of the gangster, surreal sci-fi, hairy horror, animated adorables, action packed drama, marvelous musicals, cockeyed-romance, screwball comedy nor mad-cap adventure. None has measured up to the Western wherewithal.

..........HighNoon.wc.1952,112k.UA(SB2)It had a great run spanning most of the 20th century, from the silent era (“Inceville”) lasting well into the 1980s, generating reliable revenue for all the studios from big dogs like MGM to pesky pups in Monogram (Allied Artists), not to mention the jobs created in the thousands in costumes, stunt-work, catering, cattle-care and the like.

Horse-opera was a celluloid staple, so big King Kong loaded the Swingline®.

From the days of the nickelodeons (How cool were they!) to Main Street cinema and well into TV time, Western heroes, darling damsels, dastardly villains, loyal sidekicks like Gabby Hayes, Pat Brady and Smiley Burnette and trusty steeds, together pulled in fans and ruled ratings from coast to coast, driving many to vacation destinations West in dude ranches and National Parks to capture a little of the sunshine & adventure seen on screen.

With a few exceptions (The Big Valley (Stanwyck) / Westward the Women / Calamity Jane (Day)), the quick-draw artist was a man and focus of the fable.

......Bonanza.Blocker.1960.nbc.wc.87k(SB3)He could be a sheriff (The Tall Man / Gunsmoke) or Federal man (The Wild Wild West), a rancher (Bonanza / The Rifleman / High Chaparral), scout (Hondo), card-shark (Maverick), gun-for-hire (Have Gun Will Travel / Wanted dead or Alive), cattle-driver (Cheyenne) or roaming Robin Hood (The Restless Gun / The Lone Ranger / The Cisco Kid) promoting pistol justice whenever the need arose.

You think today’s celebrity slurp is awesome? Practically peanuts compared to the star-power emitted by the sagebrush set. Oh my darling!

Even as the Babe topped Hoover in 20s salary rank, the chaps chaps, stars like Tom Mix, William S. Hart, Will Rogers, Harry Carey, Richard Dix, later marquee mojos Tim Holt, Randolph Scott, Joel McCrea, Bill “Hopalong Cassidy“ Boyd, Glenn Ford, Jim Stewart, Robert Taylor, Audie Murphy, balladeers Gene Autry, Roy Rogers & Dale Evans, Ken Maynard, Dick Foran, numbered so many they’d fill the ‘house Ruth built’ and needed a crane to haul their loot, all the while keeping kids debating merits of their favorites and Mom & Dad the value of merchandise in toys n‘ such branded with likeness of the heroes.

Which all helps explain why America’s most popular team in it’s most popular sport is named the Dallas Cowboys. Coincidence? I think not, Packer-backers and Pats-rats. Over 20 years since Dallas saw a Super and they still out-sell all. That should tell ya’ something about the motif because it sure ain’t the football.

......CowboysHat.wc.5.16.8.DukeHa.109k(SB4)I caught the tail-end of the trend on TV, back when it was as free as the air you breath. Really.

Nearly all of silver screen big-shots rode the range at least once. There were Bing Crosby & Francis Farmer (Rhythm on the Range), Charles Ruggles & Laughton (Ruggles of Red Gap), Shirley ‘I know I‘ve been here before’ MacLaine (Two Mules For Sister Sara), the “Maid” Olivia de Havilland (They Died With Their Boots On) and even The Public Enemy turned Yankee Doodle Dandy, James Cagney, starred in a Nicholas Ray horse drama, Run For Cover.

What made the Western so popular? They made people feel good. Course, The Simpsons and The Walking Dead do the same for some people.

Maybe it was the independence, bound to no one but a cowboy’s code, one that city dweller and farm folk alike could dream about in their workaday. A fictional world fraught with dangers & corruption but where brains, brave soul and trusty amigo could together find a bright-line solution to save the day in a simpler world than the complicated, ever-changing one of their own times. What’s new?

....Gulager.NBC.Hill.282k.wc.1960-62It was a standard most every Western espoused, not just for fans to admire but maybe one to emulate, aspire towards or one that might simply buck the spirits in a life where getting a fair shake is never automatic.

A cowboy ideal promoting virtues in courage, calm in crisis, sagebrush savvy, trust, comity (sidekick), though, non-conformist man alone was typical, confident but humble, apostle of due process (anti-mob, i.e., Fonda-Morgan The Ox-Bow Incident), reasonable risk and rangy romance but forgoing that if duty dictated (The Searchers). Aces, they were natural born leaders who took all in stride, could be contemplative (♫) and had the rare capacity for self-sacrifice (“Ask not what your country…(JFK)”), a trait you won’t hear touted this 2016 Presidential campaign on either trail.

With success will come the comical treatments. Joe E. Brown (The Tenderfoot), crooner Dick Powell (Cowboy From Brooklyn), Red Skelton (Texas Carnival), Dustin Hoffman (Little Big Man) and Mel Brooks (Blazing Saddles), all using the genre as a backdrop for laughs, romance & song. “♫ Yippee-yi-yo-kayah! ♫”

But the glory days of the saddle stars have long since passed.

......Duvall.wc.S.Quigley.AFPS.WRAMC.9.25.7.63k(SB6)As the public clamored for themes in realism, war drama, soap opera, sex, social change, sci-fi-fx, teen-topics in music (Elvis et al) and the anti-hero like The Wild One, Bonnie & Clyde and Billy Jack, all whose genesis could be traced to the cowboy chromosomes, the Western’s moral play proved incongruent with the Fast Times at Ridgemont High and there abouts.

Excepting that rare Western that appears on the movie plain like a stray steer separated from the herd (Lonesome Dove / Dances With Wolves / Brokeback Mountain / The Unforgiven), it has for the most part ridden off into the cinematic sunset.

And as long as the classics remain, the Western legends and the pros who gave them life will remain too as benchmarks n’ beacons for those spirited souls who seek to come in from the cold reality that blows from today’s typical fare.

Best Westerns*

Lonely Are the Brave (1962 – Universal)

Directed by David Miller, written by Ed Abbey & Dalton Trumbo and stars Kirk Douglas, Gina Rowlands, Michael Kane, Walter Matthau, Carroll O’Connor and George Kennedy. “Jack Burns” is a man with a horse (“pretty little fuzz tail”), an anachronism who won’t change to suit the time. He’s two friends in a jailed brother whose wife can’t understand either. Monte Walsh had he lived to see Mantle & Maris. Part of the realism wave, it’s tension-filled and a tear-jerker. The good guys are real good, including Sheriff Matthau, the bad oh so bad, i.e., George (deputy) and one-armed force of fierceness, Bill Raisch of TV The Fugitive fame who, had he met up with Tracy’s tenacious character in Bad Day at Black Rock, the outcome would’ve been anybody‘s guess. Ouch!

Shane (1953 – Paramount)

......Ladd-Arthur.wc.Shane.Paramount.1953.39k(SB7)Directed by George Stevens, written by A.B. Guthrie, Jack Sher & Jack Schaefer and stars Alan Ladd, Van Heflin, Jean Arthur in her finale, Ben Johnson, Jack Palance, Elisha Cook and Emile Meyer as “Ryker” the cattle king who’s a story to tell. Masterfully works a dichotomy of duel between good & greed (not evil), cowardice & courage. Panoramic back-drop highlights young Brandon de Wilde’s call to stranger turned family friend “Shane.” Heartfelt and haunting, Ladd’s film noir pedigree is well-suited to this genre crossover (See; Ending).

Red River (1948 – United Artists)

Directed by Howard Hawks, written by Borden Chase, Charles Schnee and stars John Wayne, Monty Clift, Walter Brennan, Noah Berry, Harry Carey (& Jr), John Ireland, STB wife, Joanne Dru, Paul Fix and cattle crew that put on one hellacious stampede. Better is pretty Coleen Gray’s early passion plea to corral the Duke: “Sun only shines half the day, Tom, the other half is night.” Zowie! Often talked about as Clift’s 1st flick (released after The Search), this Western’s most notable for its strong cast, memorable music (D.Tiomkin) and survey of cowboy life in the heyday (1820s – 90s), here, figuring on the famous Chisholm Trail that drove doggies north to Kansas cars, then to Chicago stockyards.

The Big Country (1958 – UA)

Directed by William Wyler, written by Rob Wilder and stars Gregory Peck, Jean Simmons, Carroll Baker, Charlton Heston, Chuck Connors, Burl Ives & Charles Bickford. Full flavor flick: Opening tune (J.Moross) will set your spurs a spinnin’ to a feature with strong-willed men, equally determined women, a moonlight fist-fight, good natured hazing, clever horse (“Old Thunder”) and insightful ranch-hand in veteran actor A.Bedoya (“A man like him (Peck) is very rare”) making his finale (d.1957)). Grudge and non-conformity are over-riding themes but water rights and intoxicating nature of the West are under-currents.

Dances With Wolves (1990 – Orion)

......Dances.wc.Juhijbljb.324k(SB8)Directed by Kevin Costner, written by Michael Blake and starring Costner, Mary McDonnell, Rodney Grant, Graham Greene, Wes Studi, Bob Pastorelli & Maury Chaykin in two brief but strong supportives. Next to Kev & Stone’s follow-up flick in JFK (91), Dances remains the great movie of our time, smoothly blending realism, romanticism and humor to depict culture clash that defines the inevitable human expansion into the Western Hemisphere. The Sioux bison hunt, the following feast & trade (Dunbar hat), another smart horse (“Cisco”), playful wolf (“Two Socks”), Pawnee angst (“He’s gonna’ get us killed”) all make indelible marks. The opening Civil War scene is as poignant as it is exhilarating while the river raid and goodbye at closing (“You are my friend”) tie this epic masterpiece up nicely.

The Last Picture Show (1971 – Columbia)

Directed by Peter Bogdanovich, written by Larry McMurtry & Peter and starring Tim Bottoms, Jeff Bridges, Ben Johnson, Cloris Leachman, Cybill Sheperd, Clu Gulager & Ellen Burstyn. Peter knew what Billy knew and convinced Monroe of (Some Like It Hot), that some scripts must be shot in black & white for full desired effect. The effect was an armload of Academy nods, receipts and critical acclaim for both. Tale of a year in the lives of a small, fading Texas town centering on two school seniors and the knowing adults who shape their lives. Think of a dustier, relaxed, more interesting version of Peyton Place.

Lonesome Dove (1989 – CBS – Motown – Pangaea – Qintex)

Directed by Simon Wincer, written by Larry McMurtry & Bill Wittliff, stars Bob Duvall, Tommy Lee Jones, Ricky Schroder, Danny Glover, Diane Lane, Angelica Huston, Bob Urich, Frederic Forest, D.B. Sweeney, Barry Corbin, Glenne Headly & Steve Buscemi. Four-episode TV mini-series recounting the tale of a troop of ex-Texas Rangers who embark on an ambitious cattle drive to Montana, battling assortment of foes on the way, notably an Indian bandit “Blue Duck.” Wildly popular and, excepting the awkward “Clara” sidetrack (Neb.), the story and characters are so engaging you’ll probably last the entire 6 hour trek.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966 – PEA – UA)

......Eastwood.wc.S.Leone.1965.428k.AFDM(SB9)Directed by Sergio Leone, written by Agenore Incrocci, Furio Scarpelli, Luciano Vincenzoni, SL, Sergio Donati & Mickey Knox, stars Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef & Eli Wallach. Third in Clint spaghetti trilogy (A Fistful of Dollars / A Few Dollars More), GBU had biggest budget and it paid off as best of the bunch. Trouble today is too much epic with DVD add-ins of three needless scenes (“Tuco” cave / “Angel Eyes” CSA camp / lead to monastery). Lesson: Editor cuts (theater) are to be respected (choisis). Best Civil War treatment ever done, and by an Italian, The Good is that rarity where the finale of a series is the tops, typically it’s reversed (Terminator 3, Aliens 3). Emerging Tuco – Blondie alliance pleases while the music (E.Morricone) camps on the lips for days.

Monte Walsh (1970 – National General)

Directed by William Fraker, written by David Zelag Goodman & Lukas Heller, stars Lee Marvin, Jeanne Moreau, Jack Palance, Jim Davis and Mitch Ryan. Like Lonely, this one flies under the radar. Not to be confused with fine TV remake (T.Selleck ‘03) that lacks depth of the original. The vehicle is a late 19th c. liquidation of the ranching business, demise of the cowboy life and the harm absentee ownership and “capital” consolidation can wreck on workers. Lee tries to hang on without “spitting on his life,” Jack makes adjustments and Jeanne concessions. The humor’s subtle but warm, the love stories moving and the message on change is potent. Marvin’s best movie.

True Grit (1969 – Paramount)

Directed by Henry Hathaway, written by Charles Portis & Marguerite Roberts and stars John Wayne, Glen Campbell, Kim Darby, Jeff Corey & Robert Duvall. Again, not to be confused with the remake (2010 (Aughta’ be a law)). Quirky dialogue delivery takes getting used to but like GBU dubbing becomes endearing. Also like GBU, friendships forged in the long journey satisfy. Stagecoach was good, The Searchers and Liberty Valance toppers but Grit is Duke’s best, where his full acting range flows free like a wise old owl on the prowl.

Winchester ‘73 (1950 – Universal International)

......Winchester73.wc.1950.52k.Winters(SB10)Directed by Anthony Mann, written by Borden Chase & Rob Richards and stars Mann regular Jimmy Stewart and Steve McNally, Millard Mitchell (“High-Spade”), Dan Duryea, Shelley Winters & Will Geer as “Wyatt Earp.” Classic: Big stars, top support (Jay Flippen, John McIntire, James Best, Steve Brodie, Charles Drake) and future top-bills in Rock Hudson & Tony Curtis. Family feud is focus between “Lin” vs estranged “Dutch Henry” and how the new Winchester repeat rifle, won in contest, then stolen, serves as connector, passing through sets of hands. Hate displayed by brothers is intense (Need more Oscars®). Another nice call on B&W, it’s the ricochet of bullets (Sound: Leslie Carey – Richard De Weese (Western Electric mono)) that authenticates this beauty and leaves its mark on your mind.

Little Big Man (1970 – National General)

Directed by Arthur Penn, written by Tom Berger & Calder Willingham and stars Dustin Hoffman, Chief Dan George, Faye Dunaway, Dick Mulligan, Martin Balsam, Cal Bellini & Carole Androsky. Big budget ($15M), no Oscars® for this tour de force. Dustin’s best. Tootsie was tops but it’s blue-ribbon apples to gold-medal oranges. Support in Faye (“Mrs. Pendrake (“Poor Jack”)), Martin (“Meriwether (“There’s element of risk in every profession”)), Carole (“Men!”), Dan (“Sometimes magic works, sometimes it doesn’t”) and Cal (“Next time I can kill you without becoming an evil person”)” is super. Noted for its comical yet harsh portrayal of Custer, the truth may fall in between Boots and LBM. Age make-up (“Jack”) could not be better today while creator’s refusal to sanctify the Sioux brilliantly brings out the “human“ in the “beings.”

Some of the Rest of the Best of the West

The Searchers (1956 – Ford – WB): Wayne’s doorway exit at end onto the panoramic plain is the greatest visual close in American moviedom, just edging out Pierce’s ‘can’t-get-away-from-that-crazy-brat-finally-behind-bars-fast-enough’ exit from L.A. Gothic City Hall in sun streaks of the Mildred closing.

Jeremiah Johnson (1972 – S. Pollack – WB): Sound of prying that Hawken rifle from the frozen, dead grasp of “Hatchet Jack” was special, as too was the “Swan (D.Bolton)” unveiling (“Dear Lord!”).

.....Grapes.Fonda.1940.Zanuck.wc.thm(WP.USA11)The Grapes of Wrath (1940 – John Ford – 20C-Fox): Evolution of the genre. Now the Westerner (“Tom”) has a family, forgoes the pistol, drives an old truck, picks fruit and still will never abide a bully.

Rio Bravo (1959 – Hawks – Warner Bros.): Story’s a bit thin but sure beat’s El Dorado (Caan: “Mississippi”). What was Bing Russell thinking anyway, hassling Claude Akins? But its likeability n’ lyrics (“♫ My Rifle, My Pony and Me ♫”) will hit your high notes and bring you back for more.

Blood on the Moon (1948 – Robert Wise – RKO Radio): No “Joey” nor off-limits married woman (“Marian”), but before Ladd cleared the Wyoming “valley” of guns, Bob Mitchum did the same in AZ. Cinematography by Nick Musuraca.

Hud (1963 – Martin Ritt – Paramount): A persona reprised by his Butch Cassidy & Sting partner in “Little Fauss & Big Halsy.” Filmed by J.W. Howe.

.....Misfits.1961.wc.MacfaddenPub.608k(SB12)The Misfits (1961 – John Huston – UA): Clark Gable is 100% cowboy in this tense, tearful drama marking his and co-star Marilyn Monroe‘s final films and arguably best showings on screen. Monty makes the grade as well, matching his Red River role in quality if not character traits. Marilyn gives her best line: “If I could be anyone, a child who could be brave from the beginning.” Amen.

High Noon (1952 – Fred Zinnemann – UA): Too tall to remake.

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948 – Huston – WB): Down Mexico way. Tenacious ticket hawk little Robert “Bobby” Blake nearly steals the picture when early on he takes a bath in failing to heed Bogart’s warning (“I’ll throw this glass of water”) to the irritant, but hangs tough and melts “Dobbsie’s” heart.

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962 – Ford – Paramount)

The Outlaw (1943 – Hawks – UA): Russell, who’d become a fine actress, was ill-suited and subject of an absurd ad-campaign at benefactor Hughes behest, but Tom, Walter and under-rated lead Jack Buetel were terrific, the later looking the quintessential Kid, skillfully selling a clever persona central to Billy legend.

.....Walsh.1.1.18.wc.thm(WP.USA13)The Big Trail (1930 – Raoul Walsh – Fox): Over-looked, under-loved but billed as “most important picture ever produced“ and that wasn’t far off.

City Slickers (1991 – Ron Underwood – Columbia): Comedy-drama, “Norman” scenes choke me up. But like Vince said, “If you’re gonna’ get in this business (NFL) you better bring your emotions.” Veteran cowboy (WW2) Jack Palance hoists an Oscar® and delivers best line: “I crap bigger’n you (BC).” The #2: “Colorado, it’s always the last place you look.” Not for Lombardis, it ain’t.

Author’s Addendum: This “Western” perspective is of course relative to my own land (USA) with exceptions in The Treasure, set in Mexico, and Italian-made TGBU.  Another, more informed version could go global to include greats like Seven Samurai (54) set in 1500s Japan but with a Western flavor in themes of tumult, weapon-play and community, where the relevant region in need of justice (or ♫ song ♫) might instead be known as Eastern, North or South.

....brass.thumbtack.J.Dalton.wc.thm(WP.SB.USA14)Steven Keys
Brass Tacks
Photo credit: L.VanCleef, wc.cca, PEC-UA; G.Cooper, wc, 1952-HighNoon, UA; D.Blocker, Bonanza, NBC, wc, 1960; Dallas-Cowboys-helmet, wc, DukeHa, 5.16.8; Clu Gulager-M.Hill, wc, TheTallMan, 1960-62; R.Duvall, wc, S.Quigley, AFPS-WRAMC, 9.25.7; Ladd-Arthur, Shane, Paramount, 1953, wc; K.Costner, DWW, wc, Juhijbljb; Clint-Eastwood, wc, 1965, S.Leone, AFDM; Winters-Stewart, Winchester73, 1950, wc; Henry.Fonda, The Grapes, wc, Zanuck, 1940; Monroe-Gable, TheMisfits, 1961, MacFaddenPub, wc; R.Walsh, wc, 1.1.18; brass.thumbtack, J.Dalton, wc.
Posted: 8.15.16 @ 6:15pm, edit 8.22, 6.28.17; Copyright © 2016
Asterisk (*): Random order
Sources of reference: Wikipedia and IMDb

NFL16: Uff Da! Vikings Have ‘Miles to Go’ in Frosty North

4 Aug

Home Sweet Home

There’s nothing like getting new digs.

As school gets under way across America, that’s just what alot of folks are doing before the rains come and the snow flies.

It’s alot of work getting settled in but once you unpack, make the connections, fill in the familiarities it’ll feel like home again. Course, it’s a little different for renters (moi): Fewer commitments but sometimes more surprises.

“Chris Stevens” explored the topic in Northern Exposure: There are two kinds of people, he said, “owners” and “renters.” The “Morning” man came into a small inheritance and tried the proprietor thing for a spell to help a friend (“Holling”) but soon discovered such was not the life for him. He bailed on the venture and let Vincoeur keep the stake. A truly inspirational TV show if there ever was one.

.........Favre.11.15.09.wc.1.2m.NG.MNThat vision on people aught not to be confused with the “Blondie” version (The Good the Bad and the Ugly): “There two kinds of people, my friend (“Tuco”), those with loaded guns and those who dig. You dig.” But I digress.

The Minnesota Vikings have new digs.

US Bank Stadium is built. It’s big, bodacious, glassy, steely and it recently held a 2-day grand opening for the public (7.23-24). Uff da! That’s Norwegian for booyah or wow!

Nixing a return to open-air design of Black n’ Blue rivals Green Bay (Lambeau), Chicago (Soldiers) and their own Metropolitan (d.1981) that saw so many wins in the 60s & 70s when Bud Grant’s teams were undisputed rulers of the Northwest Territory, the powers instead chose a fixed-roof (Ford) in an abstract expression that’ll keep bodies cozy and revenue rolling in (SB52).

I know what you’re thinking, are the Wilfs (Zygi) renters or owners of this brand spankin’ new stadium? Sure you are.

Though team owners and other investors covered 52% (+/-) of construction cost while tax dollars from State residents and Minneapolis visitors (“hospitality tax”) pick up the rest of the tab (48%), more or less, the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, a body created by State legislature and comprised of government-selected membership will own, “control and operate (SMG)” the whole kit n’ kaboodle (Wikipedia). Purr-fect.

.........USBankStdm.wc.7.24.16.Darb02.2mNo longer laughing stock of the League as when the having-let-fall-into-disrepair Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome (1982-14) roof collapsed on Vikings’ sad 2010 season (HHH’s memory deserved better), then relegated to semi-welcome guests at TCF Bank the last two seasons as University Regents pitched a PC fit right on cue when Purple hosted the Washington R-Words…oh, wait, aboriginal Americans are fine with the name (“9 of 10”), Redskins, the reigning NFCN champs (11-5) are ready n’ willing to make this season the start of a new era of championship play.

Question is, are these 2016 Norsemen able…to fulfill that mission?

They may have a ways “to go” before forging a destiny and own even their North division, one the Pack dominated for most of these past 25 years beginning with Hall of Fame inductee (8.6) and former Viking, Brett Favre’s GB tenure (‘92), and then which the Vikes had owned for most of 70s (Grant) and 80s (Burns).

Black & Blue Betters

No surprise then that NFL schedulers picked Vikings’ arch-nemesis the Packers to do the honors of helping break-the-seal on the new USB (interface) Stadium in W2 action (9.18) after the Minnesotans return from Tennessee (Pack @ Jax) to open divisional play and begin the trek to SB51 in Houston (2.7.17).

No surprise either that both Minny & Heebie-GB were saddled with juggernaut-caliber schedules, or, as our friends the Brits will soon be pouring into the frothy football colloquy, ‘That‘s one bloody tough sed-jewel, mate!’ I look forward.

........Rodgers.wc.cca.M.Morbeck.12.7.8.73kIt’ll be a good early test for both Northern toppers. And the Bears and Lions, like the quick-learner said, ‘fool me once, shame on you, fool me (10x), shame on (my sorry ass).’ Two tougher customers with zip you won’t find than Misters Cutler & Stafford but “forget about it.”

Pack hopes to right the ship after earlier-than-expected PS exit (@ AZ), due to an atypical middling offense (#23 ygpg / 15 pspg) led by Mr. Matriculator Aaron Rodgers who suddenly looked average, missing, maybe too much, his GTG in Jordy Nelson, along with the typical (since LeRoy Butler retired) just-good-enough D that ranked in middle-of-the-NFL-pack, again (#15 yapg / 21 papg).

For the host team, of primary importance is re-establishing divisional dominance not held since 2009-10 season when Brad Childress and All-Pros Jared Allen, Adrian Peterson & Favre, who gets Cantonized (OH) on Saturday and whose NFL story contains a brief but memorable closing chapter written in purple ink, bested their regional rival in both meetings leaving no doubt on top dog.

And that’s just what any aspirant need do if seeking to unseat a sitting juggernaut like Green Bay, New England or Pittsburgh. Winning ain’t enough and it certainly ain’t everything, “Steve (J.Wayne).” Eking out a win by a field goal won’t cut it, not as the competition stiffens, meaning, even had Blair Walsh not hooked it to close out a playoff loss (SEA), Vikes short-comings were sure to roost in what‘s become a snake-pit NFCC setting (’98 / ‘10) for the Minnesotans.

Minnesota’s road to titletown must go through…Titletown, whether in Brown County (WI) or the traveling version come to pay respects at USB.

........Zimmer.9.20.14.1m.wc.MN-NGThink GB’s offense was near-anemic in 2015? Purple people came in just under green & yellow in points scored per game (#16) and a pathetic 29th in yards gained. It was of course the defense that made Vikes playoff contenders, ranking #13 in yards allowed per (344.2), just 4y behind #10 Tampa, and a stellar #5 spot in points allowed (18.9), besting NFC winners Carolina (19.2) and a mere four-tenths (0.4) behind eventual Super champs, Denver.

If you follow pro ball you know the NFL’s a quarterback League. Field generals need not pile numbers like Misters Moon, Brady or Favre but he’d better enjoy airing-it-out as habit to build leads and be Eveready® to claim it back when behind, willing to take reasonable risks, i.e. eye for threading needles, or your team will too often have to rely on the foot of a kicker, a key cog but which is no good way to blueprint a championship run.

The names Trent Dilfer, Brad Johnson, Doug Williams and Jeff Hostetler don’t conger up images of bronze busts, not so far, but they’re all deserving champions who had the physical ability and collective wherewithal to put up big numbers in big games when it mattered most.

And ‘where’ exactly Vikings’ Teddy Bridgewater will end up and ‘with’ whom when his story is written, only the Sporting Gods know for sure.

Bridge Work Ahead

The second of Vikes two 1st rounders in 2014 (32) (Bruin backer and 2015 Pro Bowl selectee Tony Barr #9), QB Bridgewater (LOU), pegged by head coach Mike Zimmer and OC Norv Turner to lead Minnesota to the promised land, appears still seated firmly at the drafting board as yet unable to translate that blueprint into an easy on-field matriculatory style and scoring scheme.

......Bridgewater.8.4.14.wc.M.Deery.6.5mTeddy, a Pro Bowl selectee himself (Who wasn’t? Oh right, “Johnny Red-Flag”), TB sports a fine career C% (65) and keeps the picks to an acceptable quantity, averaging just over ten each campaign.

But when you won’t venture forth, take calculated risks, your picks can remain few. You gotta throw ‘em to make ‘em (TDs). The Miami native throws about as many TDs (28) as INTs (21) and the sticky-gloves aren’t helping much (8f ‘15). In his one playoff appearance last January versus the Seahawks, Ted again had that nice C% (71%) but only threw for 146y and zero (0) TDs.

Safe & simple won’t get ‘er done in the elite class of competition. I put Ted (5 (1-10)) just a notch below Mr. Mariota (5.5) and the set-for-life ($$) Mr. Osweiler (6 (HOU)) in the PPP assessment: Pro potentiality and progression.

Again, I know what you’re thinking (It’s the ginkgo biloba): ‘Hey, AOTC, TB’s receiver crew was definitely not too awesome in 2015. That will change in 2016. With 1st-rounder (23) Laquon Treadwell (Ole Miss) a deep threat, Stefon Diggs (2y) taking the next level, Kyle Rudolph (TE) present n’ accounted for and Jarius Wright filling the slot, the Bridge is gonna’ start extending the field, dude!’

Maybe, but a so-so receiver corps is no good excuse for mediocre matriculate.

Top QBs, even the younger version (Luck / Wilson / Winston), make players around them better. It’s why the Nelson void does not entirely explain the Rodgers downturn in 2015. You’ve gotta’ challenge your receivers, yourself and set the bar higher, encouraging coaches to show faith and communicate (listen) all along the way. On a different team, Mr. Gronkowski is good but I doubt he‘s gronksome minus Tom Brady.

.......Peterson.1.28.12.wc.Arvee5.0.309kWith Nick Foles now in Chiefs’ fold, I say is it’s a damn shame a very capable, proven matriculator like veteran Shaun Hill who could teach a thing or two by example and was still rostered at this posting, must sit idle, only getting a start if someone goes down with injury.

And then there’s the indomitable Adrian Peterson.

All-Day had a terrific comeback season, leading NFL with 1485 yards (92.8) after sitting most of 2014 on susp’n. In 2016 he enters his 10th run. Gas left in the tank? Good guess says, yes. But big-time backs don’t often carry clubs to titles, not since John “loosen up” Riggins, Joe Morris, Ottis Anderson & Jamal Lewis were carrying the loads with capable QBs under center.

When the Vikes can turn one of those 4-team division title trophies into genuine, jewel-encrusted NFC Halas hardware and trip-to-the-Super-Bowl titles (‘77), I’ll sit up and take note. Hell, if Purple just get to an NFCC more than once a decade (98 / 10) the new digs will be worth it, even if monster trucks are the top tenant.

......NFL-symbol.wikiproject.6kbSteven Keys
NFL HunchLine
Photo credit: Viktor-Spc.M.Mecuk, wc.cca, 11.7.10, MN-NG; B.Favre, 11.15.9, wc, MN-NG; USBankStdm, wc, Darb02, 7.24.16; A.Rodgers, wc, 12.7.8, M.Morbeck; M.Zimmer, wc, 9.20.14, MN-NG; T.Bridgewater, wc, 8.4.14, M.Deery; A.Peterson, wc, 1.28.12, Arvee5.0; NFL-symbol, wikiproject
Posted: 8.4.16 @ 4:45pm, edit @ 11:15 EST; Copyright © 2016

NFL16: Red-Doggin’ the Media’s Roger Goodell Ruse

1 Aug

Ensconced in Boom

He’s become the whipping-boy of nearly every online editor & scribe in the land, a terrain now populated with more apps, acronyms (sabrmetrics), video & mock drafts than you can shake a latté stir-stick at, or, put another way, than there are sleazy storylines in a Taboola – Outbrain booby box that blight the bottom of every endless page.

Who‘s the poor chap? NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, that’s who.

With the 2016-17 kickoff slated for early September (9.8), matching February finalists Carolina and Denver, the Jamestown, New York native and Paul Tagliabue successor (‘06) will embark on his 2nd decade at the helm of America’s most popular & profitable wingding value (1920), not including vacation – conference destinations (Las Vegas / Chicago) and gastro-addictions (sugar).

.........Clifford.reddog.4.1.6.DoD.thm.wcAnyone who fancies him / herself to be that hip, happening kinda’ sportswriter, the one who loathes greedy owners but imagines a special kinship with the jocks as if in another life they’re more likely to be a 1st-round draft choice slingin’ TDs than hangin’ out on the yacht with the blue bloods, rags on Roger with a regularity rivaling today’s Pavlovian hand-held habits.

Which is funny because most of the higher paid scribes in pursuit of that journalism B.A. probably pledged on the same Greek row as did most of those money-maniacal NFL owners. Oh well, who’s always consistent anyway?

When that idea well runs dry, when you’ve already posted your position and all-time greatest rankings for the week or when you just want to release some pent-up frustration, not to worry, there’s always good ol’ smiling Roger Goodell to “kick around” in your column.

So why all the hate for just another rich guy, one of the 2% who run the world and keep us gerbils running on that consumer treadmill?

Maybe because Roger’s standing in the way, i.e., the friends (RG) of my enemies (Snyder) are my enemies, you might say.

Most of the griping on Goodell, which invariably leads to the feeble claim his job is in jeopardy and what a fine replacement so-n-so would make, is illusory, likely a ruse to cover the real purpose: Get a new Commissioner, check-mate Dan Snyder and get his beloved Redskins motif bounced outta’ the League.

A kooky call? The best heist is always an inside job.

Business As Usual

Nobody really expected that the NFL would make a determination on whether or not Peyton Manning actually used PEDs that were reported last fall to have been subject of a home delivered parcel to his wife Ashley a few years back.

.........Manning.wc.thm.3.1.13.Sgt.B.Peterson.USO.USMCUnless the lordly one had been giving blood samples in a testing protocol at the time of the package’s believed arrival (nyet) and that every molecule of said PED supply was tagged, tracked and accounted for, there was no possible way for any inquiry to make a sustainable determination, fact finding or certain conclusion on whether Pey-Dirt did or did not in fact partake in the prohibited performance enhancers his wife was reported to have received by mail.

That the Manning household did or did not receive the package in question was easy enough to establish by parcel company records which questioning (under oath?) could verify. But the usage question, i.e., who, how much and when, if such package was accepted, would necessarily remain open-ended, a dark cloud hanging overhead the SB50’s winning QB.

So when the League released statement earlier this week (7.27) clearing Peyton, claiming to’ve concluded, found that Manning did not use subject PEDs, it threw most of us for a loss, throwing a flag on the play.

On that day Roger finally does hang up his Commissioner’s key, this funny finding will rank near the top as one of his poorest calls and should rightly earn him a small, swift kick in the shin (figuratively speaking) like the one little Kurt Russell gave Elvis Presley (It Happened At the World’s Fair (‘63)). Ouch!

.......package.emojione.12.21.15.wc.thmThe special handling shown Peyton, Broncos & GM John ‘I ain’t playing in Baltimore’ Elway and the League (SB validation), in opposite of a just but max penalty meted-out in Deflategate, smacks of favoritism, standard dilution and no small amount of arrogance for thinking fans would swallow the ‘strange brew.’

Should this awkward result and curious Commissioning work a black mark on Goodell‘s record? As it would’ve been nearly impossible, were Peyton to have in fact engaged the suspected PED supply, that any evidence of their use could’ve been obtained (short of a Manning admission), NFL’s silly extension of that state to a finding of innocence speaks more to misguided policy than corruption. If we fired everyone for making a bad call, 90% of the nation’s jobs would come open within the week.

65 Clifford Red Dog Trap

Because last May’s Washington Post poll (90% of aboriginal Americans are not offended by Redskins’ motif, < 10% answered yes) has not swayed the bully bunch to the side of public opinion, even as that revelation makes any sort of vote seem likely to just amplify its findings, and then that the legal process can only end up in one place (SC) where its current moderate but conservative-leaning majority bodes well for Dan Snyder’s embattled trademark, it’s now imperative for the anti-Redskins side to create a turnover.

When the PC playbook flops (nobody likes a bully) what’s the Coach to do? Call the old red dog (blitz), that’s what, and take out the QB. Hello, Roger.

.......Clifford.reddog.wc.WH-L.Bush.4.9.7.S.Craighead.thmThe media mantra to oust Goodell actually began taking discernable shape in 2012 (See; Nike NFL) and might just be masquerading under a different banner as another ‘means to an end’ to get that Redskins logo retired.

Readers might say (I‘m an optimist), ‘Stevo, c’mon, remember Bountygate, the Rice – Palmer incident and Deflategate? Those are the reasons why Roger Goodell is in bad with most everybody.’ Wrong.

I remember the 2010 NFCC, subject for Bountygate. Still cringe at the over-unders Saints defenders laid on Brett Favre, the most exciting QB since Namath & Staubach laced ‘em up, the 2d ambush perpetrated post-Warner the week prior. In truth, most ‘everybody’ was fine with the bans Goodell handed those sorry Saints in question, excepting the homers and a federal jurist, of course.

The knockout punch Rice put on fiancée Palmer in 2014, it’s etched in the mind, thanks to the sleazoids at TMZ whose video drop inflamed the story to a state where Roger, who hit no one, took more flak than the crook. And while I’m on the topic, why does SAS’y still have his job (“don’t provoke”)? Right, it’s Disney.

And if there was an 11th Commandment it could’ve read like this: Thou shalt not impede an on-going investigation, even if thy sandals hurt or the sheep & sand are driving you crazy. Tom Terrific destroyed his cell phone in the Deflategate audit. Not so terrific. Penalty fits the misdeed. Besides, real Pats fans aren’t losing sleep. They know Tom benefits from the extended R&R (18y).

.......Silver.11.21.14.K.Allison.wc.thmbThe dubious effort to remove Roger stands about as much chance of success as the Vikings’ new US Bank Stadium does of going the entire 2016-17 season without a glitch. Why make the lines simple and construction cool (outdoors) when you can complicate it and beg for problems? Ask the rich guy (Zygi Wilf).

One can’t really think a Commissioner should be treasured anyway, unless one has just ‘fallen off’ that proverbial ‘turnip truck,’ or favors an asylum, so to speak, one that’s run by the trustees (players).

As for the NBA Commissioner, the standard is gold, not Silver.

Ousting an owner in dementia (Sterling) whose babble is secretly taped in-home and moving an All Star game that pulls in about as many viewers as Lone Ranger re-runs from a State whose political majority has gone “extreme,” well, those aren’t exactly tough calls. Add in what appears a lack of concern over the dicey co-mingle of sport & gambling and you’ve got nearly no standard at all.

Back to Roger.

They don’t pay the man enough. Big money must be great ($40M) but you can’t take it with you. Oxidative stress is America’s #1 health concern.

Other jobs are stressful but even the President of the United States, with all the important hats the Chief Executive must wear, does not suffer the vilification from press and army of anonymous trolls as does this Commissioner.

But Raja’s got some backers:

......Nooyi.wc.1.23.8.thm.Davos.WEF1) Owners: Roger’s been so good for the Big Wheels, growing buyers & revenue sources, that he’s moved into Rozelle territory, the man who made the NFL America’s #2 religion and the only one showing a growth spurt;

2) Fans: Put aside grudge-holders (NE, NO, etc.) and online nasty-boys and 9 of 10 fans (all genders) are practically jumping outta’ their skin for September kickoff. That’s called customer satisfaction;

3) Sponsors: Their resilience in face of anti-Redskins flash-mob has been nothing short of amazing. Usually as skittish as a major sportswriter, the Suits & Skirts (Indra Nooyi (PepsiCo)) have backed Dan & Roger to the goal-line, show no sign of buckling and have absolutely no interest in validating a racist logo.

And the players, their opinion on Goodell will turn on who asks the question, how it’s framed, respondent’s length of NFL tenure and assurance of anonymity.

NFLPA members are naturally suspicious of those sitting across the table in CBA negotiation. But they’re no dummies and make their choices, i.e., assumption of risk (concussion) for big benefits incurred. Most appreciate the challenges RG faces in his many duties, including DD greeter and disciplinarian who must enforce rules to ensure NFL viability and their own job success as rosterees.

The red-dog tactic will not take down Roger Goodell. He’s got a stout offensive line and even with a furious on-rush he won’t rabbit. No run-QB, Goodell’s a mobile-manager who matriculates with the best of ‘em and likely will remain under center, suffering the “slings and arrows” of a petulant and perfidious press as long as he enjoys suiting up for the action.

......NFL-symbol.wikiproject.6kbSteven Keys
NFL HunchLine
Photo Credit: R.Goodell, wc.cca, 8.30.12, SSG-T.Wade, USMA; Clifford-RedDog, wc.cca, 4.1.6, DoD; P.Manning, USO-USMC, wc.cca, 3.1.13, Sgt-B.Peterson; package, emojione-project, wc.cca, 12.21.15; Clifford-RedDog, WH-L.Bush, 4.9.7, S.Craighead; A.Silver, wc.cca, 11.21.14, K.Allison; I.Nooyi, wc.cca, PepsiCo, 1.23.8, Davos, WEF; NFL-Wikiproject.
Posted: 8.1.16 @ 10:53am, edit @ 4:45 EST; Copyright © 2016