Tag Archives: Keeping Up Appearances

NFL17: A Patriots Peer, It’s Back To Top-Tier or These Packers Turn Flat-Beer

28 Mar

Pretendership: It’s an NFL station most Green Bay Packers devotees have never knelt before in prayer for guidance and delivery. Anyone rooting for the Acme club yet having no recollection of the play that made John Brockington and Lynn Dickey house-hold names in the badger state is probably in that blessed group.

But that’s for later.

For now, just imagine rooting for an NFL team, one that not only wins most of its regular season games but will have on display any given year a future Cantonese or two roaming the turf, that for most of your conscious life has been an NFL contender. Imagine that. Easy enough for New England Patriots faithful but for the rest of fandom it’s a little hard to picture even in the mind’s eye.

Twenty-five years of pretty much football bliss in Northeastern Wisconsin’s Fox Valley, thanks in large part to two men (GMs), four if you count the coaches (Holmgren / McCarthy), six if you include the QBs (Favre / Rodgers).

Sure, there were some struggles, a few 8-8s seasons, even a couple losing campaigns, but there was always an easy scapegoat to find (Ray Rhodes, Mike Sherman, Bill Schroeder) and soon enough the Good Ship Green & Yellow would find its contender course again and all was ship-shape.

The Ron Wolf and Ted Thompson Packers have never dominated the sport as did former Green Bay juggernauts under Vince Lombardi (60s) or founding father Curly Lambeau (20-40s) but playoff births have been nearly automatic since 1992 and the two Super Bowl victories (1997 & 2011) have given the period of prosperity a legitimacy that can only come with championships.

While the Patriots recent reign of championships is incomparable in this still newish century of play, it’s not hyperbole to write that it is actually the Packers, hang with me here, by way of a crafty continuity in success that’ve been the more impressive of NFL’s two most juggernautious franchises these past 25 years.

Sure, New England coaching genius Bill Belichick and his sure-to-be 1st ballot HOF quarterback extraordinaire in Tom Brady are likely the most terrific title tandem in the Super Bowl era (See also; Noll & Bradshaw, Landry & Staubach, Walsh & Montana), but the manners in which both Wolf and then Thompson engineered their respective coach – QB tandems-in-terrificness are the templates in ‘How To,’ 1) Acquire a diamond-in-the-rough bench-warmer (Brett (ATL)), and 2) draft a replacement (Aaron) for a living legend.

Just imagine, two consecutive GMs who respectively displayed an expertise in post-draft patience (Ron) and then prediction on player longevity (Ted), that player in Favre being, to Wisconsin sports fans, next to God, making it very risky business to draft any heir apparent in 2005 (Aaron).

Wolf’s persistence and then shrewd calculation in extracting Favre from Atlanta’s roster in trading a #1 pick (respectful enough to get their interest but not so generous to get ’em wondering) should be an example to every GM and fantasy fan, i.e., that post-draft follow-up can be of greater value than draft day doings.

And Thompson, in showing Brett the door by drafting the Berkeley Bear Rodgers in 2005, took one humongous gamble. To appreciate just how bold a move it was you have know just how popular was the man from Southern Miss.

Directly north up in Wisconsin, Favre was bigger than Lombardi had ever been, in part because every female sport fan in America’s Dairyland had become enamored with the dude. And that’s putting it mildly.

You think Tom Brady’s huge in 2017? He is, but Brett Favre was huger. Hell, Brett was bigger than the NFL. The Green Bay Renaissance that he and his team fashioned, back-to-back Super Bowls and plenty o’ playoff action, briefly put them in the America’s Team seat, after the Aikman Cowboys disbanded, a starry status that played no small role in facilitating formation of the still budding international game in the early 2000s (Mexico City (05), London (07)).

Consider that when “Onslow (Geoff Hughes)” dons Packers gear on the hit British TV comedy, Keeping Up Appearances (1990-95),” it’s not because of NFL rules changes or networks addition of female sideliners. It was Favre, plain & simple.

So if Rodgers doesn’t pan out when handed the offensive reins in 2008, Ted probably gets run out of paper-mill country on a rail, figuratively speaking, after hustling out the family dog first (See; Devine ‘74). But instead, the pan turned up gold and Ted will get a street named after himself, if he hasn’t already.

“Mississippi,” as Falcons Jerry Glanville referred to the rookie QB in smirk, had a couple good seasons left in the tank when he exited Lambeau: An injury-affected Jets campaign (10-6) and two seasons with arch-rival Minnesota, the first in 2009 which would be his best single statistical show and see the Vikes fall to the Bounty-gate Saints in the NFCC10-OT and finale when he dragged himself back for one more go before hanging up his Canton-bound cleats.

♫ Shades of Mediocrity ♫

Mercurial might aptly describe the 2016-17 Green Bay Packers.

Hovering around .500 to the midway, then going three (losses) in the hole, the Pack found some consistency the rest of the way (6 + 2PS) until getting stomped in the NFCC at Mercedes-Benz (Georgia) Dome (44-21 (24-0 H)).

The party isn’t over, not by a long shot, not while perennial MVP entry Aaron Rodgers has his legs underneath and maintains his pin-point passing precision. But some of the good-times have started to head for the exits and a few of those that remain are looking a bit green around the gills (gulp).

One of those always in attendance is the Green Bay defense. It’s a curiosity for even as they helped raise a Lombardi for head coach Mike McCarthy in 2011, it’s also a unit that’s looked wather wobbly since the Reggie White – George Koonce – Sean Jones – LeRoy Butler bunch broke-up.

Team ranks tell the tale. In 2016, the Green figured about where they usually do in the McCarthy era, 22nd in yards allowed per game (364), 21st in points (24+). In the NFCC17 those middling marks came home to roost as Atlanta feasted.

At the center of the defensive scheme has been The Hair, sack-minded linebacker Clay Matthews. Never a top tackler, perplexing for a middle-man, Clay’s numbers have been trending down since that Super season to the point where real value should be a real question for GB staff. He does make a fun soup commercial.

The run game, as party-goers go, hasn’t had much to say lately.

The weighty part of the ball-carry was spending most of its time at the buffet. But Lacy’s gone now and won’t find better eats in the greater Seattle metro, that is unless you really like salmon. And maybe that‘s the point. Bon appétit, Eddie.

Ty Montgomery (2y-SU) filled the void nicely in 2016, for a time, then faded late, 2010 draftee James Starks was not re-signed of , another 2d-yr. in big guy (6’1 255) Aaron Ripkowski (Sooner) will full-back just fine (4.4 – 2td), F/A pick-up Don Jackson (Nevada) had 10 carries last year while former Seahawk Christine Michaels was inked to a deal but has much to prove (9-GS from 2013 (4.3)).

Finding replacements, not mockery, is why the draft matters.

And then there’s Mike ‘What Have You Done For Us Lately’ McCarthy.

Coaching the Green Bay Packers, an early NFL entrant (1921) with accolades enough to fill a cruise liner (sink it along with its Captain in rough waters), is like riding a tiger: When times is good, everybody purrs, but when the champagne rarely flows, the big kitty pitches a fit and sometimes eats its own (gulp).

Mike’s got a monkey on his back clutching an NFCC runner-up trophy in symbol of GB’s disaster known as Cheese-Melt 2015. Packers 1st half lead frittered away and overtime nailed their coffin shut as the Seahawks returned to the Super.

Mike McCarthy has been suffering the “slings and arrows” of regional critics with no return trip to the Big Game. But the rather disappointing playoff runs, enabled by a rather terrific career regular mark (.651), is just part of a pattern he’s displayed since being hired to replace Mike Sherman in 2006. Some good years, a few pedestrian and patience, more patience.

There’s only one Bill Belichick, folks.

Mike’s big mistake was caving to pressure after the Melt to concede offensive play-call, a concession he…revoked (?) at last season’s midpoint. Trust then becomes an issue. But remember, MM turned Packers back into champions when all looked discombobulated, six (6) years after the guy who was prone to sideline temper tantrums left for the State of Washington.

It wasn’t easy filling Favre’s sizable shoes…wait…come to think of it, it actually was pretty easy for Thompson. But Brett was bigger than life and there’s only been one mobile pocket-passer the likes of Mr. Rodgers, a player who, as he will enter his thirteenth (13) NFL summer camp shortly, I’d give four (4) 1Rs in trade today if by some fluke he became free and I a GM in need.

Such a smooth succession in kingly QBs in Packerland in pass of the bejeweled scepter of signal-caller royalty, the Patriots (Belichick – Brady) have not yet displayed. Course, they haven’t had the need. When Tom retires, likely same time Bill hangs up his headset, we’ll see how they do it in Foxborough.

But the Pack are on the championship clock. They need to return to elite status in 2017 (12-4) or their royal carriage may turn pumpkin before anyone expects it.

Last season’s road to the Halas Trophy (NFCC) was not exactly strewn with pot-holes in serious contenders. It was more like the E-ZPass® highway.

The Atlanta Falcons were the real deal in 2016-17 yet may still feel the reel this upcoming campaign from their colossal collapse in SB51.

To write that the rest of the NFC was deficient would be an understatement.

Though much ballyhooed after a W1 loss to the Giants, the Cowboys much anticipated playoff turned Texas-sized soufflé in loss at home to Green Bay; G-Men and Lions proved pretenders, not because they lost in the PS which, by itself is no fraud, but in both getting shellacked; Seattle, never quite the same since losing SB49, gave one of those shellackings (DET) but then got one themselves (ATL); and while Tampa surged to respectability, Redskins never got rhythm, Vikes were extra-mercurial (6-0), Panthers licked their wounds all season (SB50 – L) and pre-season hopeful Arizona never got going.

Residence in the once vaunted North divsion, f/k/a Black & Blue, always boosts the Packers pre-season rank which sits just under Atlanta as NFC favorites, ahead of Seattle (Lacy ≠ Lynch), then Arian’s Cardinals sure to rebound, the Giants, Lions, Dallas who won’t surprise in 2017, D-Vikes, maturing Bucs and sometimes capable conundrums in Redskins, Eagles, Saints and Carolina.

Procuring a reliable run-game is not the challenge that is finding a top-flight, resilient pocket passer, but good ball-carriers don’t grow on trees, either.

Letting lunch-a-lot Lacy exit looks prudent now, but if McCarthy, Thompson and OC in former GB ball-carrier Edgar Bennett cannot in trade or late-April draft find that impactful runner(s) to spell Rodgers and give opposing DCs a ground-attack to diagram, and then the bodies to shore-up a defense that too often turns leaky in rough waters, Packers will continue to get bounced too early from playoffs, Mike will get pink-slipped with no contribution to anyone’s awareness and this era of exuberance will creep to a close, great QB, notwithstanding.

Steven Keys
NFL HunchLine
Photo credit: A.Rodgers-M.McCarthy, wc.cca, M.Morbeck, 9.9.12; Packers-print, wc, 1959; B.Belichick, wc, K.Allison, 8.28.09; A.Rodgers, wc, M.Morbeck, 12.7.08; Minnesota-Vikings-GreenBay-Packers, P.Loadholt-C.Matthews, wc, 11.14.11, M.Morbeck; M.McCarthy, TJ.Grant, wc, 8.11.07; NFL-symbol, wikiproject, Ixnay-Beao
Posted: 3.28.17 @ 11:39am EST, edit 11:01; 3.31; Copyright © 2017

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NFL16: London Calling, Best Pack a Toothbrush & extra Jim-Jams, Mate

16 Apr

Word came down recently from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell that the League is still desirous of and actively perusing the prospect of assembling a franchise for London Town, England (“Roger Goodell: ‘Realistic’ Possibility” / 4.5.16 / CBS.com / J.Breech). The schematics, so to speak, are being drawn for review and an owners vote sounds a likelihood in the not too distant future.

When speaking at a Jaguars’ ticket holder hoedown in early April the National’s top cufflink-in-management was queried about where the issue stood in terms of development and decision to plant an NFL team in the land of fish n’ chips.

Roger stated it in pretty plain speak, laced with some specifics and sufficient non-committal: “I actually believe that a franchise in London is realistic.” The two keys according to Goodell: “Competitive(ness)” and “logistics.”

.....toothbrush.paste.wc.thegreenj.9.6.8.thmSomething tells me once logistics get ironed-out (travel (Brits expect extended stay), scheduling, conversions (metric), language barrier (sed-jo͞oəl (schedule)), etc.) the competitive issue will find resolution as well.

Securing a viable and committed investment group goes a long way to satisfying performance potential of a planned franchise. If it comes to fruition, like any expansion club, London will be given ample time and then some to find its winning way with the added challenges they‘d surely face.

Two issues likely not to be discussed, not in public, anyway:

1) Oil to Burn?

Why now, to propose this distant addition to the NFL family in a call that flies in the face of a depleting worldwide energy reserve (don’t let the price plunge fool you), a problem looming large even as most everyone is hiding heads in the sand? With no major shelf discovery in 45 years, a squeeze on oil-shale that red-flags trouble, an ever rising demand (China, etc.) and nearly no movement on the alternative front (hydrogen, solar), less travel aught be the norm.

......Goodell.8.30.12.wc.thmb.SSG.T.Wade.USMA2) Mexico City

You can figure why Canada has not been a place for NFL expansion as it has with pro baseball and basketball. No real good comes from trying to topple the Canadian Football League (‘58). No such issue in the land of Moctezuma. Maybe it’s Mexico’s vast soccer set-up and love of baseball that precludes the possibility of NFL presence but it’s hard to imagine a franchise could not succeed South of the border. No hablan inglese?

Nevertheless, and thank heavens for ‘nevertheless,’ the idea of any city outside North America joining NFL ranks is a tantalizing thought, especially as the design is taking shape in the capital of the world-spanning British Commonwealth upon which the “sun never sets (Xerxes I).”

♫ Everybody wants to rule the world ♫ but will settle for wanting everybody else to want what they want. An affirmation of ideals as it were. I like football and like it when others join in the fun. Not exactly altruistic but human enough.

I can’t speak for our colonial forebearers, early adversary (1776 & 1812) and since long-time Anglo-American ally from across the Atlantic, but it seems a serious segment of the British consumer public is responding to the NFL presence at Wembley Stadium these past dozen years. Otherwise the League would not be feeling as chipper as it does about the prospect of a permanent presence in the land of Ivanhoe, the Virgin Queen and the Sex Pistols.

......SexPistols.wc.Riksarkivet.1977.TrondheimOne of America’s most notable contemporary pop culture contacts with London comes by way of HBO host John Oliver. John’s not so much a comedian as he is a testy traffic-cop on trends, some of which most certainly do need an accounting (greed). But Benny Hill, he ain’t, and that’s a bloody shame.

Birmingham-born John boarded the recently crafted anti-Redskins bandwagon (2012) as a critic of NFL’s 80-yr old moniker, making it unlikely he’d be among that group of Onslowians who are receptive to London joining the NFL club. “Onslow,” the lovable & lounging Geoffrey Hughes character (d.2012) on the 90s hit TV and long-time PBS syndicated series Keeping Up Appearances, was seen to sport a Packers shirt and personified UK’s version of ‘(Jeremy) Six-Pack.’

Oh for those racy days of when “Mrs. Slocombe (Mollie Sugden)” and junior staffer “Mr. Lucas (Trevor Bannister)” traded barbs at “Grace Brothers” department store (Are You Being Served (1972-85)) (before the politically correct bullies like Oliver were building shopping malls-in-the-minds), selling discounted (cheap?) laughs on bawdy display to a consumer public that had discriminating taste but was rarely imperious.

Count me with Judy Garland (“Esther Smith (Meet Me In St. Louis (‘44))”): “If there’s anything I hate, loathe, despise and abominate it’s a bully.” Hear, hear!

Once it’s in the hopper (London locale), next big question is, what to name the NFL’s hottest new prospect now that the Rams are back in the City of Angels?

......spank.VanityFair.thm.wc.6.6.1903Far be it for me to tell Britannia, that small but clouty cluster of islands & cliffs jutting out from that last major oil deposit discovery in the North Sea (’70), one that gave birth to Shake-a-Spear (de Vere) and Dickens, Newton and Darwin, Mick Jagger and Petula Clark, who for near 300 years ruled the Seven Seas, imprinted their language on every major consumer good and diplomatic dossier on the globe and have “150 magazines devoted to spanking (“Dr. Fiscus (St. Elsewhere)”),” what logo they should choose to adorn their NFL uniforms, if & when awarded said team.

But with a history background, decades of experience in the gridiron game (a word the Limey‘s will need work into their lexicon) by viewership and fun play, and descending from a parentage vested in the commercial art and advertising fields, I feel well qualified to advise on the subject, take it or leave it.

Forget-About-Its

The musings will start with the expecteds like monarchs (NFL Europe & WLAF), knights (of the Roundtable (Sir)) and probably wrap-up with the king of the jungle, the long traditional symbol in England, the lion. All terrific: Strong, relevant and about as common and non-inspirational as eagles and toothy mammals this side of the pond.

Possibilities

Montys

Not the “Full” kind like in the hit movie (‘97) but as in Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery, England’s most decorated and distinguished commander on land during WWII. “Monty” was winner of the decisive desert battles against Italian and German forces (Rommel) at both Alam el Halfa & El Alamein (2d), the Italian invasion and European theatre closing Battle of the Bulge (‘44). This one’d take moxie but then Nashville’s NHL franchise is called the Predators, so there’s that.

Admirals (Drakes)

.....Drake.bowl.wc.thm.J.Boehm.LobsterthermidorThere are the Admirals of Milwaukee (AHL) and Norfolk Admirals of the Eastern Coast Hockey League but the British admirals that ruled the liquefied waterways shaped the course of history and made Rule, Britannia! the song of the seas. Nelsons (Horatio (Vice – Trafalgar)), maybe not, but the Drakes might sail. Not in reference of the Canadian rapper, not necessarily, but Sir Francis Drake (Vice) who after lowering his privateer flag went on to scuttle the Spanish Armada (1587 (Cadiz)) and foil it’s invasion (’88): Raiders, Buccaneers & Drakes, aye, matey!

Dukes

A British title more suited to Walter Camp football than Sir (knight), “Duke” was nickname of our most famous movie cowboy (J.Wayne) and is currently burned onto the official NFL game ball (Wilson®), a tradition that began in 1941 at behest of Bears’ owner / coach Halas to honor Giants’ owner Tim Mara’s son, Wellington “the Duke” Mara who himself was named after Field Marshal Arthur Wellesley, the Duke of Wellington, most renowned for his victory over Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo (1815). No hazard in choosing the Dukes design.

Champion!

Post-war, outside the realm of science (TV (Baird), jets (Whittle), computers, economics (Keynes), fibre, physics, internet (Berners-Lee), lava lamp (Walker)), no persons, event, creation of British origin has had more impact on these United States than their greatest export, The Beatles. More than symbol of an era, their music and personas set the standard, sometimes went way-out & wild but were always in control.

The four ‘mop-top’ lads from Liverpool dominated the scene in the 60s and individually stayed relevant into the 80s. But their influence went beyond music even before they became social advocates. The hair, cloths, manner, it all worked into the cultural and commercial fabric, Sinatra / Elvis fans aside.

.....JFK.stamp.5.29.64.FBEP.tmUnpretentious (John only stated a truth: “bigger than Jesus (‘66)”), ever evolving, innovating, setting trends and never following, The Beatles were the quintessential non-conformists, a way that can exact the highest price (11.22.63), though, the foursome would freely discuss the strong influence American blues and early rock n’ roll had on their music. I sometimes marvel that any other music made it onto the radio, making The Kinks, The Seekers, Peter Paul & Mary, Spanky & Our Gang, Dionne Warwick, Herman’s Hermits, The Guess Who, Simon & Garfunkel, The Fifth Dimension, Burt Bacharach and the like, that much more amazing.

From their Hamburg days to the slim suits set by betters Epstein & Martin, Misters Lennon, McCartney, Harrison & Starr would lead the British Invasion in 1962 (Love Me Do), landing by air in a ‘64 campaign of music, money & merriment. From 1963 until their break-up in ‘70 they reeled off #1 hits like nobody‘s business to help a still grieving America (JFK) find comfort in a rocking new beat that both energized and waxed poetic. Through their transformations from leather jackets to chicken-slacks to hippie-hair, no other English good or services compares to their body of work and cultural impact.

Churchill inspired on USA tour post-WWII but Great Britain never had goodwill ambassadors quite like The Beatles, likely never will again. After comment controversy, fired mostly by organized Christian conservatives, their kids and hate-groups (Ku Klux Klan) in US South, the big band conducted their diplomacy almost exclusively in studio record and interviews but the sway held swag and the sounds still resonated with music lovers, media and corporate keens.

.....Lennon.wc.1969.thm.R.KerwoodAnd though resented by some music lovers in later generations for their talent, success, visceral vibes and ♫ feelings ♫ that are largely lacking from their own toe-tappers and angry rappers, the foursome’s relevance will last as long as humans make music or beam their broadcasts to worlds beyond.

Because of that it is a word / image in reference to The Beatles and their large legacy that should adorn the helmets and all appurtenant for any English entrant into the NFL field of frolic. Anything else would seem, so-so.

Their hint-on-helmet would also be the coolest thing since John Lennon worked distortion into the opening of “♫ I Feel Fine (‘64) ♫,” which was the coolest thing since Judy Garland sang “♫ clang, clang, clang went the trolley ♫.”

How then would The Beatles translate into the commercial design?

To the colors and logo the possibilities are many. And that’s for another day.

On the team name, your instinct has you pursuing Beatles vast library of songs hoping to find a perfect fit. You won’t, not for a football moniker. And then the copyright question comes into play. Some are fun to consider, impractical as they be: Day Trippers, Rocky Raccoons, Yellow Submarines, Nowhere Men, Eleanor (Rugbies), Revolutions, Paperback Writers, Walruses, Mean Mr. Mustards.

......Beatles.heads.thm.2.7.64.JFK.LOCThe name: London Beats

The band’s name itself is reference to the new ‘beat’ sound of the late 1950s and early 60s. Add in the football meanings and it works the triple entendre, i.e. beating / besting (there’s a pun, Pete) your opponent in score and into a bloody pulp, figuratively speaking, of course.

There is an Anglo-American band of some prominence by the name LondonBeat who scored a #1 pop hit in 1991 with “I‘ve Been Thinking About You,” and were the NFL – London group interested in the Beats name, might have a British copyright claim on the tag (See; patent lawyer (US), solicitor / barrister (UK)). Even if not, it’s likely contact would be in order and handshakes made.

.....macroecono.lamcasinoroyal.2011.wcSteven Keys
MacroSport
Photo credits: London-bus, wc, 6.26.12, BH.Spier; Toothbrush, wc, thegreenj, 9.6.8; Goodell, wc, 8.30.12, SSG.T.Wade, USMA; SexPistols, Riksarkivet, wc, 1977; Spanking, wc, VanityFair, wc, 6.6.1903; FrancisDrake-bowling, J.Boehm, Lobsterthermidor, wc; JFK-stamp, 5.29.64, wc; Lennon-guitar, 1969, R.Kerwood, wc; The-Beatles, wc, 2.7.64, JFK-NYC-UPI, wc; Macroecono-lamcasinoroyal, 2011, wc.
Posted: 4.16.16 @ 7:34pm, edit 4.17 @ 12:58am; Copyright © 2016