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Yore Movie Swells: Tasty Love Triangles and Bad Triangle Art In Celluloid Cinema

4 Jun

The Movie Love Triangle

The number three (3): It’s not just holy (Trinity), the tres is a basic element in life’s periodic table of circumstance. It’s found almost as often as carbon, chlorophyll and car chase scenes. Alot more fun than the number one but without all that pressure that can come with two.

What has three sides, fills with equal parts love, hate and confusion, shakes-out quicker than you can say Jack Robinson but takes an hour to drink in its full, rich flavor? A bad banana daiquiri? Take another swig. It’s the movie love triangle!

There’s something about having three of whatever it is that makes it a force to reckon with, the third adding balance when two gets a bit wobbly (The Quiet American (58 / 02)) or necessary tension to give the ride more spring (Kelly + Reynolds + O’Connor (Singin’ In the Rain (52)).

Some notable trios:

A good place to start is the nursery rhymes in the Three Little Pigs, Three Blind Mice and Goldie Locks and the Three Bears;

The bejeweled triple crowns in baseball and horse-racing;

Three strike (MLB – 1888) and three strike rules (crime convictions = life jail);

Early 20th century trio of bear Cubs in Joe Tinker (SS), Johnny Evers (2B) and Frank Chance (1B) (hot-corner Harry Steinfeldt forever in the shadow) who were the tar & nails that held their champion-ship together;

Memorable NHL scoring threesomes in the Punch (40s Habs Toe Blake, Elmer Lach and Maurice “Rocket” Richard), the Production (post-WW2 Red Wings in Gordie Howe, Frank Mahovlich and Alex Delvecchio) and Party lines (80s Blackhawks Al Secord, Dennis Savard and Steve Larmer);

Famous film trios The Three Musketeers (35), The Three Stooges (34), Paradise for Three (38) the Three Amigos (86 (ugh)), “Tuco” – “Blondie” & “Angel-eyes (The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (66))” and The French Line with gorgeous Jane Russell, handsome Gilbert Roland and dedicated Arthur Hunnicutt (1954).

The New England championship triumvirate in current quarterback Tom Brady, head coach Bill Belichick and owner Robert Kraft.

Pop music loved the tres: The Three Degrees, Three Dog Night, songs “Knock Three Times“ and “♫ once, twice…three times a lady ♫.”

The big three Allied powers in WW2: Soviets, British and Yanks;

Our constitution-based government works its check and balance through the three branches of judiciary, legislative and executive powers.

There were the three bucks (4-6 pointers?) that showed-up in our backyard last summer just for a brief look-see.

And the tastiest lunchtime triad ever served up in the hot dog (uncured), bean soup & potato chips (mustard & pickle preferred, paper napkin a must).

The pointed passion circle is not as certain as death and taxes in life’s journey but it’s definitely in the top five, “definitely!”

A cinema staple since before the Swingline® started holding it all together, the love triangle fastens fans to their seats as sure as drama and mad-cap adventure, its popularity from the fact that the tricky triad holds a chapter in most biographies, whether you knew it or not (gulp).

But it’s on the silver screen where the crowded state of affairs takes on a curious, usually pretty interesting aura of angst.

The Hollywood pros in front and behind the camera can make almost anything look glamorous, from bad deeds (Bonnie and Clyde (67)) to something as simple as turning down bed sheets in prelude to a lustful encounter (This Sporting Life (63)). So why wouldn’t the love triangle translate too?

They began in the silents and ran strong well into the 1960s providing plots and pushing viewers to pick a side. By the polyester period (70s) the triangle had, for the most part, been shelved with the occasional re-appearance (Working Girl (88) / Titanic (97) / Amores Perros (00)), for old times sake (?).

The listing herein is not exhaustive of movie love triangles by any means, but examples of some of the worst, the best and how in spite of a terrible triangle a good time can still be had by viewers.

Three points to keep in mind: 1) There are good and there are bad L/Ts. Geometric juxtaposition is no guarantee for a good watch, unless Seiko’s keeping time; 2) The bad are not necessarily bad movies, in fact, some are good enough to keep you glued, with the tacky triad usually stemming from non-believability and a normally strong male lead (Lancaster, Mitchum, Garfield, etc.) written as a sap, and 3) Not all three sides need be of the human species, for included here is a big ape, Alien pods and even something as intangible as duty, the tangible kind found in the “Bushwood Country Club” pool (Caddyshack (80)).

The Bad Triangle

Baby Doll (56): Either kiss her (“Doll”) or cut her free, “Archie,“ but why you never gave “Silva” a swift kick in the pants I never understood.

Casablanca (42): Neck n’ neck with Citizen Kane to take vintage cinema’s Over-rated Cup (contemporary field is crowded) which explains why two of its three (+Bogart) leads in Paul Henreid and Ingrid Bergman never bought the hype. That she’d end up at his café to cheat on her Nazi-pursued husband is about as believable as Rita Hayworth a blonde (The Lady From Shanghai (47)).

Champion (49): Real-to-life in its portrayal of how brash boys (Douglas) always get the girl over the nice guys (Kennedy), buy a really, really bad boxing and babes movie. Was first big hit for film giants Stanley Kramer and Kirk while Ruth looks splendid in her white, one-piece swimsuit. And any pre-development shots of the California Pacific coast are always way, way cool.

Cleopatra (34 / 63): Don’t trust me, go ahead and watch. Pack a lunch (4h+).

Criss Cross (49): Only the marvelous mood-setting L.A. locales (Bunker Hill district, downtown, etc.) were believable.

East of Eden (55): All’s hunky-dory between “Abra (Harris)” and “Aron (Davalos)” who props his odd-ball brother “Caleb (Dean),” the later who turns their world upside down with wartime profiteering, stealing the girl’s heart, driving the jilted into the War to cause their father’s stroke. One bad triangle.

Gilda (46): Top tune (“Put the Blame On Mame”), copper Calleia at his best, Ford (fists) and Macready (cane) impress in the clutch but like Casablanca (42), former flames reuniting where they do is complete balderdash, this time down Argentina way, then add in Hayworth’s kooky choice in Nazi-sympathizer spouse (“Mundson”), all make this L/T…T/L (totally limp).

Holiday Affair (49): Cute film with judge Harry Morgan snapping off wisecracks like fireworks. A good Ajax scrub for bad-boy toker Bob Mitchum. But single-Mom Leigh dumping oxymoronic likable lawyer and long-time suitor Wendell Corey (“Carl”) for fly-by-seat-of-his-hobo-pants “Steve?” C’mon, “Connie!”

Humoresque (47): After she (Crawford) finally wins his heart and he (Garfield) finally makes up his mind, she takes the long walk into the sea of love.

It Came From Beneath the Sea (55): Shameless display of flirt and emasculation. Only wish the NMO (normal man out) Curtis (“John”) had taken the short, chain-smoking smart-ass Tobey character (“Pete”) and Howard Hughes’ girlfriend (?) Faith Domergue (“Les”) and clunked their heads together at close. So awkward even Ray Harryhausen’s typical top-tier SMA couldn’t save this bad boy…girl.

Out of the Past (47): This one is a love rectangle (square) where Jane Greer (“Moffat”) had allure in spades but like Burt Lancaster in The Killers (46) when the love-sick “Swede” practically commits suicide in letting tough guys Charles McGraw and William Conrad (“bright boy”) blow uncontested into his room to empty their revolvers, Robert Mitchum (“Bailey”) too plays the super sap.

Pal Joey (57): Even Sinatra’s voice can’t fuel this clunker.

Red Dust (32) (Mogambo (53)): Gable never runs out but adulteresses in both (Astor – Kelly) are so poorly scripted you wonder why they bothered.

Sabrina: (54) Paramount tabbed “terrific triangle” but usually sharp-as-a-tack Holden is scripted an idiot and Bogart’s bored until final smackdown.

Sleepless in Seattle (93): After respective hits When Sally Met Harry (89) and Big (88), Hanks and Ryan’s likeability ratings were higher than the Empire State Building, even as this triangulated affair (+ Bill Pullman) is too cute, too much kid (Malinger) and constitutes two too many remakes of a grand original, Love Affair (39) (See also; An Affair to Remember (57)).

Song of India (49): Triangle makes some sense (Sabu > Gail < Bey) but its resolution and laughter in final scene is preposterous…and cold.

Sunset Boulevard (50): Triangle again is believable enough (Swanson > Holden < Olson) but Bill’s bail on “Norma,” she not just a pretty face, is bogus.

The Cat People (42): French beauty Simone Simon can get catty but new hubbie Kent Smith (“Oliver Reed”) turns wolf with ‘friend’ “Alice (Randolph)” before honeymoon ends, leading this viewer hoping the feline feasts.

The Graduate (69): Mommie Dearest and vampish motives aside, “Benjamin (Hoffman)” was in clover with the “Mrs. (Bancroft)” but then got greedy to graze in posted pasture (Ross) to turn pathetic post-grad.

The Las Vegas Story: A marriage on the brink (Price + Russell) pushed over by an ex-lover (Mature) who investigates the husband. Guess who wins?

The Pace that Thrills (52): Vintage, daring motorcycle footage in neato-keeno but once again the bad boy (Williams) gets the gal (Carla Balenda).

The Painted Veil (34): Nice ending but Brent’s advances on Garbo feel forced. A build up to the love from happenstance would‘ve worked fine.

The Philadelphia Story (40): Kate’s not that likeable, harebrained haughty we loved so in Bringing Up Baby (38). She’s the other kind.

The Postman Always Rings Twice (46): Garfield plays out of his typical, strong, savvy persona into another unbelievable L/T super sucker for a fairly typical, scheming blonde (Turner). The ‘Crime Never Pay’s’ road-sign is posted early and makes for a long, painful drive (113m) on Sleeper Highway.

Two Guys From Milwaukee (46): Fun movie turns uncomfortable when once likable “Prince Henry (Dennis Morgan)” turns hound-dog (cad), made worse when the lady on point, Joan Leslie (“Connie”), proves full o’ fickle.

Vanessa, Her Love Story (35): Early talkie where the odd man out (Krueger) goes insane, then dies. That’s one sure way to break a triangle (ugh).

The Good Triangle

Amores Perros (00 / Mexican): Octavio y Susana y Ramiro.

An American Tragedy (31) (A Place In the Sun (52)): Triangulations are quite effective. In #1, Sydney’s smile, and other assets, captures your heart like the dark-haired radiance, among other assets, of rich girl Liz who “wow(s)” in #2 version. But on the whole, both drag out and sink themselves with identically absurd (prejudicial) courtroom boat re-enactments.

Black Narcissus (47): Nepalian nun noir.

Born Yesterday (50)

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (69)

Creature From the Black Lagoon (54): Another monster angle but this time a square that includes gill-man (x2). Though friendship replaced love, triangle took shape when Peter Benchley and Steve Spielberg turned Creature into Jaws (75).

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (88): Love (Caine) > con (Headly) < lust (Martin)

Doctor Zhivago (65): Ubiquitous “Yuri” is everywhere. Never know whose wife he’ll turn up in. First you admire, then hate him, cry and finally smile.

Fallen Angel (45)

Flowing Gold (40)

Gaslight (44)

Gone With the Wind (39): First you think of the greatest love triangle in cinema history (“Rhett > “Scarlett“ < “Ashley”), and you’d be right, then you remember big-eyed, big-hearted Melanie and the love rectangle (square) takes shape.

Great Day In the Morning (56): Love rectangle

Homecoming (48): Gutsy Gable, Turner and Baxter but Hodiak steals the show.

I Can Get It For You Wholesale (51)

I Know Where I’m Going! (45)

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (56): Most Pro-McCarthy (anti-Red) films were awkward & obvious (Dan diss on “faith”) but IOTBS is a masterpiece of metaphor & emotion with an ending all can embrace: Kevin > Dana < Pods.

It Happened One Night (34)

King Kong (33): Cabot > Wray < Kong

Knife in the Water (62 / Polish): Triangle like only Polanski could forge.

Love Affair (39)

Miller’s Crossing (90)

Mr. & Mrs. Smith (41)

Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (48): Husband, wife and lawyer.

Norma Rae (79)

Rain Man (88): “Charlie” > “Raymond” < “Dr. Bruner”

Raw Deal (48): Marsha Hunt, Claire Trevor and Dennis O’Keefe star.

Roman Holiday (53): Anglo-Roman fairytale (D.Trumbo) of checked and triangular love: Anne, Joe and Duty

Scarlet Street (45): “Lazy Legs” messed with the wrong bank clerk who had heart of an artist (Ed) but still had a Little Caesar (31) inside (Ouch!).

Song of Love (47)

Spartacus (60): “Spartacus” and “Varinia” and “Crassus”

Sudden Fear (52): Joan still rode crest of the wave churned up by Mildred Pierce (45), proving equal to the challenge anted-up by slinky Gloria.

The Best Years of Our Lives (46): Nobody ever scored on the rebound (“Marie” > “Fred” > “Peg”) like “Captain Fred.” And I don’t care that it’s just a movie, that closing scene with Dana and Teresa pulled together like magnets is pure love.

The Big Country (58): “Jim” and “Julie” didn’t know it, but they were squaring-off with “Pat” and “Steve” just after they did the “deed”…for “Old Muddy.”

The Big Sky (52)

The Blot (21 / silent)

The Earrings of Madame de… (53): Surname excluded to protect the innocent.

The Kid from Texas (39)

The Macomber Affair (47): Tale of a troubled twosome on African hunt with a guide in the middle. Self-discovery comes at the highest price while question of intent remains as open with Hemingway as it did with Theo Dreiser.

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (62)

The Man With the Golden Arm (55): Sinatra’s best as under-rated Eleanor bravely plays the part that no dishy dame wanted.

The Night of the Iguana (64): Maybe the most psychologically instructive and then ultimately heartfelt love triangle in cinema history.

The Pope of Greenwich Village: “Paulie” > “Charlie” < “Diane”

The Red Shoes (48): One a troubled triangle of personal love (“Boris” > “Vicky” < “Julian”), inter-locking with a 2nd that, for a time, formed a perfect triad of artistic expression in dance, composition and production. TRS is in that larger-than-admitted group of movies (100 +/-) in consideration for greatest all-time.

The Seventh Veil (45): Not surprising that the sensuous, soft Ann Todd (“Francesca”) could command a pentagon of love.

The Sheepman (58)

The Spy In Black (39)

The Third Man (49): “Holly” > “Anna” < “Harry”

Trader Horn (31)

Witness (85)

Working Girl (88): Two triangles for Melanie Griffith and Harrison Ford, one each for Sigourney Weaver and Alec Baldwin, I think. At this point I’m getting a little geometrically opposed, if you know what I mean.

Steven Keys
Photo credit: JamesCVanTrees, 1922, Mitchell-camera, wc.cca; pizza-triangles, 4.5.15, sunny-mama, wc; three-deer-illuminated, Haifa, German-colony, wc, Yuval-Y, 12.18.10, CC-GFDL; Cleopatra, 1963, 20CF, wc, R.Harrison-E.Taylor; Sabrina, 1954, Paramount, W.Holden-A.Hepburn, wc; DoctorZhivago, 1965, O.Shariff-J.Christie, wc, F.Young, MGM; ScarletStreet, cop-E.Robinson-J.Bennett, wc, UP, 1945; TheRedShoes, Ballerinailina, 1948, wc.cca, TheArchers, ADA; popcorn, T.Bresson, wc.cca, 6.15.16
Posted: 5.25.17, re-post 6.4 @ 6:36pm (photo) EST; Copyright © 2017

NCAAF16: Bad Karma Behind the Brian Kelly – Notre Dame Blues?

22 Nov

Karmic Backlash

It’s become standard operating procedure today for many in the mainstream and social media, that when a public figure makes a misstep or puts them self too far ahead of interested others, that judgment is passed quickly and with teeth.

So when current Notre Dame football coach Brian Kelly bid his then employer the University of Cincinnati an unexpected sayonara in December of 2009 before conclusion of their football campaign (Sugar Bowl), one would’ve expected his dubious departure to’ve received the same testy treatment.

kelly-wc-j-meier-7-25-12-356kInstead, sport observers turned a collective blind eye to the move: No big deal.

Why the kid gloves then for Kelly and his new employer, the University of Notre Dame? South Bend clout? Chicago clout? Boston clout? Catholic clout? The Pope’s a powerful pontiff. No lo sé.

When Kelly, who, on taking the job in northwest Indiana, was in his 3rd season with the Bearcats (‘06 (1) – 09), a tenure that began when he left C. Michigan to take the reins from Mark Dantonio (MSU) to coach UC in the International Bowl and compiled a 33-6 mark, undertook in-season negotiations with ND to fill the void created by Charlie Weis’ firing and left Cincinnati (#3) before their Sugar Bowl (UF), this observer expected negative reverberations for the opportunistic act. But outside of maybe southwest Ohio, nary a peep was heard from sporting types on what could be termed, at best, exploitive, at worst, unethical behavior on Brian’s part who apparently lets nothing so trifling as loyalty and spirit-of-contract stand in the way of what looks to be the perfect job (cha-ching!).

In fairness to the Everett, Massachusetts native (10.25.61), the slightly seamy game of coaching musical chairs has become as standard of a practice in college football as has that rush to judgment in the world of scribblers & gossips.

Nevertheless, Brian Kelly and his Notre Dame cohorts might now be getting their comeuppance for their crass contract play some seven years back. Maybe Mark Dantonio and his Michigan State handlers, too (MSU 3 -8 (2016)).

notredame-logo-wc-nduBut not from mainstreamers and social gadflies. Uh uh. The media are as captured and compliant as an FDA new drug approval committee. Eek.

Rather, Kelly might be getting his just deserts from the Sporting Gods, those spirited entities in charge of that immeasurable force called karma. In his case, bad karma. Specifically, the karmic backlash.

As of last Saturday’s contest, a 34-31 loss to Virginia Tech, his record with the Fighting Irish stands at a modest 59-30 (.662), 3-3 in bowl action. Brian did as early as his third season get the green & gold to a BCS title game (12-1), then got steam-rolled by the Crimson Tide, 42-14. Since then it’s been fair-to-middling.

“Was you ever bit by a dead bee?”

Last January Notre Dame and Brian Kelly inked a 6-year extension. While other terms such as salary were not made available, the coach’s haul is estimated to be $4 million a year (coacheshotseat.com).

AD Jack Swarbrick (2008), Trustee Chair John Brennan and Board members chose to re-invest in Kelly in a signing just weeks after the team took another PS shellacking, this time in the BattleFrog Fiesta Bowl from the team coached by the other half of the two-coach dominated FBS system, the Ohio State Buckeyes and Urban Meyer, 44-28 (See Also: Saban (CBK: Krzyzewski & Calipari)).

Their basis: Swarbrick cited the word “foundation” and it having been laid with knowing care by Brian Kelly in key facets of a strong college football enterprise.

Also factoring into their decision may’ve been the fact that his coach’s win-% (.705 (55-23 thru 2015)) ranks better than Weis, Willingham, Davies and Faust, all four who came in just above or below the .550 mark. Terrific.

notredamestadium-wc-1930-bpl-tichnor-3mBut “foundation” and ‘better than Charlie, Ty, Bob & Gerry’ ain’t gonna’ cut it when it’s Notre Dame football, where Rockne, Layden, Leahy, Parseghian, Devine & Holtz forged a standard that became bigger than life, a regal reputation admired by sport fans from coast to coast.

Like Dallas (1996) in the NFL, the Fighting Irish are still top dog nationally. When they do well, the world seems right with money-makers and fans alike. But with Nick and Urban building legendary programs in their respective schools, that top spot gets more tenuous with every season sans national title #16, the last coming as far back as 1988 (Holtz), the longest drought since Knute arrived (1918).

With the Irish falling at home to Virginia Tech their 2016 record sinks to 4-7.

The Irish had five players go pro after post-2015, but all the top factories lose most of their rated workforce to the NFL draft come declaration day. Michigan, Ohio State, Alabama, Washington, PSU, they all cope with the talent drain.

Brian Kelly represents that growing element in college sport where personal opportunity becomes the “foundation” of that individual’s coaching career, ergo the Cincinnati play. Coaching legend Larry Brown is their poster-boy. And it’s a mind-set that always has an eye open for NFL possibilities (BK- Eagles 2012).

Notre Dame Trustees would be wise to adopt a similar approach. Re-read its football coach and athletic director contracts, in good faith, but in a light most favorable to its University and in perpetuating its champions legacy. Then, when they find their new candidates, make them reasonably generous offers but only AFTER the college football season ends. Oy vey.

macroecono-lamcasinoroyal-2011-wcSteven Keys
MacroSport
Photo credit: B.Kelly, wc.cca, 9.171.2, Andyohsbass09; Kelly, wc, J.Meier, 7.25.12; ND-logo, wc, UND; ND-Stadium, wc, BPL, TichnorBros, 1930; macroecono, lamcasinoroyal, wc, 2011
Posted: 11.22.16 @ 3:17pm, edit @ 5:17 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

Coaching Lite®: What’s Killing College Football

31 Aug

August is packing it’s bags and September’s ready to move in. That means college football’s 2015-16 season is about set to kickoff.

For the big boys (FBS), 127 schools by Wikipedia count, the start date is the 3rd of this month that nationally recognizes honey, Hispanic heritage, California wine, potatoes, mushrooms, bacon, labor, cancer awareness and religious observances in Hindu (Kumbh Mela), Judaism (Rosh Hashanah & Yom Kippur), Islam (Hajj) and Chuseok in Korea.

.......College.TxTech.K.Mericle.wc.6.7.07.thm

But college football is like a jock on steroids: looks fit as a fiddle on the outside, rippling & raucous, makes all the plays, pulls in the cash, cuties & camera, but inside, the joints are inflamed, electron transfer chains are askew and the flora – motility all catawampus.

The campus hoedown, where American football is rooted, will draw in 30 million TV viewers each weekend through December (50M CFP) and likely somewhere in the billions ($) for schools and ancillaries at the networks, merchandisers, snack & beverage, travel industry, etcetera. It’s egg-in-the-beer. Cha-ching!

But it’s fast losing the feel & flavor of sport, spiritually and in substance.

Sure, part of the student body get jacked-up for Saturday’s or Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday‘s game, depending on Disney’s (ESPN) fat schedule, and gamblers (+ fantasy) have their eyeballs peeled and pesos parlayed, but it’s like that routine romp in the hay, fine fun but not much heart & soul. An expectancy.

And it’s not the pretense of amateurism that’s killing the mood, either.

The student-athlete charade has been sold to the public ever since the rah-rah-sis-boom-ba began to bring in the big bucks (1910s). The athletes are the actors in a pretty predictable play directed by coaches, co-eds, cut-men and cufflinks.

Coaching Lite® or Do Your Thing!

Watch the experts on the plasma and it won’t take long to spot the problem.

Example: Back in July (7.24), Arkansas football coach Bret Bielema was making the rounds and appeared on Disney (ESPNU, bumped my Classic into oblivion) and gave his 2-cents on this query: ‘What’s the mark of a great college QB?’

His reply: “What he does when the play breaks down.” And there it is in a nutshell, what’s killing college ball: Coach don’t coach anymore.

His quarterback is a free-lancer with license to flash, anywhere, anytime. I wouldn’t say the “break down” is by design, not necessarily, but it’s viewed in a whole different, more accommodating light than it was the 60 years prior.

......Bielema.Woodcock.wc.2.18.11.Firstbrook.thm

Brett didn’t say, ‘a QB who can execute the playbook.’ Neither did he say ‘a strong, accurate arm w/mobility’ nor ‘a quick-thinker who can lead, audiblize and wherewithal to hang tough in the pocket. No he did not.

He didn’t specify “does,” either, but he didn’t need to.

Today’s college QB rabbits at the drop of a hat, then runs again and by season’s end Johnny Run-Around’s got 1000 yards on the turf. And it pays dividends.

Because amateur defense is not equipped to handle today’s typically big, fast, athletic flash-QB, he will run-at-will. And when he does the wins & titles come in bushels, not to mention a big salary for coach who finds his award-winning lepus.

Young, Newton, Tebow, Manziel, Mariota, Jones are all part of a new generation of college signal-caller, what they used to call a single-wing tail-back in the 40s.

Names like Staubach and Douglas (KS) tore it up in the 60s but were anomalies when run-backs still ruled the roost (See; Brown, Sayers, Cappelletti & Griffin).

But if you like a diversity, variety, a little surprise, some dimension, like a good “Vegan (“functioning on multiple levels and in multiple dimensions (“Hadden (Contact ‘97)”),” run-QB and his one-dimensional game can leave you wanting.

The synergy – symbiosis that normally flows from sharing-of-pigskin with your typical ball-carriers (RB / WR) will dissipate, while the element of surprise in play-call becomes an after-thought. And it all cuts into entertainment value.

Sure, handoffs still happen, passes get thrown, but appears only to give Sir-Runs-Alot time to catch his breath. And when he runs off campus for greener pastures (NFL), he’ll leave one big void in the program and coach scrambling for answers.

Continuity, sustainability of success (Alabama) are hard to come by. Ask the folks at Texas, Auburn and UF who saw programs nose dive, though, Urban “Renewal” Meyer seems to have a knack for finding the next great single-wing ball-hog.

I’m not alone in my disdain for college football‘s direction.

Jon Gruden spoke on College Football Live earlier this month (8.6) and a young analyst (?) made this comment: “The (high) level of coaching is off the charts!” Jon seemed not too impressed. His reply: He sees alot of “the same plays,” mostly run plays, even if initiated or disguised as pass.

Lost in Translation or Johnny Can’t Read

The run-QB conundrum is not confined to college. His draft dominance and then failure to easily translate to the pro game is a mushrooming problem, leaving the NFL with a dearth of pocket-passer prospects and excess of pro-style trainees.

Their success can vary as the rabbit-habit has been a vice of every highly-touted but unfulfilled run-QB that’s burst onto the NFL scene, including Camster-the-Hamster, RG3, Tebow, Vick, Young, Kaep Krusader and Johnny Renaissance.

For a time the novelty gave advantage in the pros.

......Newton.9.28.14.wc.wc.K.Allison.thmb

Newton ran for a record 14td his rookie year (‘11), Vick made All-Pro (x4) and handed the Pack their first ever home playoff loss (‘02) while Colin “(ran) to daylight” versus that same GB franchise in two legendary PS performances (SB47-L).

But while they work mass muscle to Schwarzenegger state, the mind muscles, less applied in youth, respond slow in the NFL.

The so-called read-option is biggest misnomer going, after reality TV. Coach who relies heavily may be giving fleet-footed defenders carte blanche to wreak havoc with their QB, and tag themselves ‘gimmick-guy’ in short-order (Kelly (PHI)?).

You’re an old dog by the time you go pro, habit-wise, and new tricks, like a new language, don’t come easy, not for QBs having to learn to eat the fear and find pocket poise. And then there’s the ego that, for some (TT), won‘t change (TE).

The pro game, no matter what sabrheads claim, is no engineering schematic or 1+1 = 2. You can fool ’em once but rarely twice (See; GB). In time, NFL catches on. Short-lived successes aside, SWTB went out with Joe Kapp (See; KC SB4)).

GMs are finding that while run-QB garners wins and sells lots o’ jerseys, it works as a double-edged sword for those who seek championships. Kaep, with a top D and run-attack (Gore), did lead 49ers to threshold of greatness in SB47 but his (and Jim’s) foible was exposed in game’s critical end: red zone funk.

And those would might tag Seattle’s Russ Wilson a run-QB are mistaken. Like Tarkenton, Randall Cunningham, Roger Staubach and Steve Young, Russell is not flash per se. He’s a mobile manager with a great guiding guru in Carroll.

Flash QB ain’t going way of the dodo bird or 2-way player. Amateur coach banks on him which means NFL pipeline will be jammed with the lot of ‘em for years to come. But without the right accoutrements he’ll turn flash-in-the-pro-pan.

One Big (NCAA) Family

If on-call coach and ball-hog QB aren’t deflating enough, Boards of Trustees and college presidents who preside high above the tumultuous merriment and raucous rabble are smooshing out what little spirit is left in the pigskin.

.....NFL.Lokal.Profil.Astrokey44.thumb

Playoffs, championships, they’re fun, if you can get ‘em. But being rare commodities it is rivalry & regionalism that stoke fan’s fires, amateur and pro ranks alike.

Knowing this, or not, MBA’s in Suit & Skirt bust-up the conferences, kill-off generational rivalries and move memberships around like it were a game of musical chairs (b-ball, too). And alumni sit back and take it like it’s no big deal. Then it’s no big deal.

Soon the college landscape will show just three conferences: The Pac-Something, the Big-Something and Southeastern Something. It‘s “Something” those mop-topped lads from Liverpool, who appreciated a good football match themselves (rugby), would‘ve advised, “♫ get back to where you once belonged ♫.”

Removable Decals

To the same school identification topic, uniforms & logos have taken on the same feel of ephemeralia as conference alignments which seem to change yearly.

.....Nike.1.23.12wc.cca.JorgeCR7

Big names like Adidas, Champion, Nike, Majestic, Reebok & Under Armour cuddle-up w/college Cufflinks & Heels and are fueling the fleet: 1) in the drive to youthenize the consumer market in the misguided belief kids have attention spans of a gerbil; and 2) agency-for-change to validate their own position in a volatile job market.

Like patience, appreciation is a judgment capability acquired in time. Youth can find it if given half a chance. Today it’s more like fat chance of it ever happening.

Though some new designs shine, the touchstones that had been familiar are now as changing & uninspired as each new season of Law & Order and The Simpsons.

Change has trumped continuity and it’s cousin, history, fares no better.

Ignored and under-fed, when history is finally called to the table it’s often only to be dressed-down and find fault in hope of removing traits / blemishes the finger-pointer in high-hat finds unappealing to its own limited historical sensibilities.

Change (refreshment) can be good, just as history can use a dusting-off to clarify. But not primarily to delete that which we dislike, to feed ADD or merely for the sake of change ($$). Then it’s not history, it’s profiteering & propaganda.

CFP: There’s a Heartbeat

Even though strategy, diversity & rivalry have all been taking it on the chin in today’s college football slugfest, there have been some bright spots.

Social progress has been achieved by mandates in desegregation of scholarship and employment (coach / admin) since the 1960s, while the long awaited college playoff format (CFP) finally arrived in January 2015 when The Ohio State Buckeyes defeated the Oregon Ducks for the inaugural championship, 42-20,

My own preference was the old duel polling system (AP & UPI-Coaches).

....College.UTx.wc.cca.Johntex.05.thum

The method pre-BCS, after bowling had concluded, as each group awarded their #1 ranking that, on occasion, differed from the other‘s, giving us two national champs. Where else could that’ve happened? The only comparable might be the winners of the respective NL – AL batting titles. If you didn’t have a dog in the hunt or were fan of a #1, you were content and that meant about 99% of college football fandom.

But schools with top marks who hadn’t climbed the polls enough and then missed out on a favored bowl slot were sometimes left out of the balloting altogether. Alabama (11-0) & MSU (9-0-1) in ‘66, ASU in 1975 (12-0), Auburn in ’93 (11-0) and Penn State twice (11-0 (’69) & 12-0 (’94)) were memorable overlookees.

The appearance of bias, prejudice or being uninformed in an age of exactitude (replay) made the duel polling highly vulnerable. But in ditching it for BCS and playoff we gave up the beauty of randomness and occasional spreading of the championship wealth to nearly all’s contentment. And who needs that, eh?

As close to fairness as any championship system would seem to be, the CFP is, nevertheless burdened with the same problem as prior polling in that seemingly deserving schools will still be left out of the playoff-by-poll mix, as we discovered in it’s inaugural season (’14) when toppers Baylor and TCU failed to get an invite.

Is a playoff the surest way to find the best team anyway? The professionals have shown us the answer is clearly, ‘no, it is not.’ As spunky a bunch as were the 2012 and 2008 Giants, no NFL fan in their right mind would attest either team the best team of their respective seasons. Opportune (hot), yes, but best, “maybe no.”

Playoffs, like bowls, are, to the fat-cats, mostly about money. Fans seem fine.

But expansion from a 4-team format to no-brainer 8 will fix one foible in a jiffy. You might have 6 top dogs but 8 makes it work and 10 will never be an issue.

...brass.thumbtack.J.Dalton.wc.cca

Steven Keys
Brass Tacks
Photo credits: Meyer, wc, 11.13, Glanzman; Tx-Tech, wc, 07, Meircle; Bielema-Woodcock, wc, 2011, USMC, Firstbrook; Newton, 9.14, wc, Allison; Regions-NFL, Lokal.Proil.Astrokey44, wc; Nike, 1.12, JorgeCR7, wc; U-TX, 05, wc, Johntex; brass.thumbtack, Dalton, wc.
Posted: 8.31.15 @ 3:48pm EST; Copyright ® 2015

Major Sport in Las Vegas? Dicey Move

14 Jun

Seems just a matter of time before we hear the news that an NHL or NBA investment group has reached agreement with the Commissioner, player’s union and City officials to locate the first major professional sports franchise in Sin City, Las Vegas, Nevada.

If and when that notable event happens it will mark a watershed moment in American spectator sport.

.........LasVegas.4.19.05.wc.D.Vasquez.thmb

Not the memorable kind the likes of Jackie Robinson breaking color barrier (‘47), passage of Title IX legislation or the first broadly administered blood draws taken in the never-ending, uphill fight against PEDs (MLB ‘13).

No, this momentous occurrence will be more in the nature of the disconcerting variety.

Locating such a franchise in Las Vegas, gambling Mecca of the Milky Way, could possibly be the worst decision ever made in the history of sport planning.

Why? Three reasons to seriously ponder:

1) Early experiment rolled but came up craps

The first run at a semi-major sporting endeavor in the Las Vegas Valley was the men’s college basketball team at the University of Nevada – Las Vegas, the Runnin’ Rebels, coached by Jerry Tarkanian (d.2015). It was a top-tier program for much of the 1980s and 90s but the results were mixed.

.........UNLV.T&M.Ctr.10.19.11.G.Skidmore.thmb

Oh, the Rebels won plenty of games, produced some All-Americans and took a national men’s NCAA title in 1990. But the closing act on that show ended with photo of some of Tark’s players from the title team taking a bath (hot-tub break) with a known game-fixer.

So much for team spirit.

2) Standard & Symbolism

Consumers of sport, the people of Las Vegas, they are as good & gracious, greedy & gaudy as people in every city & hamlet around the globe. They’re not the issue.

It’s the serious symbolism that a major pro sport in Nevada will convey to ‘entrepreneurs’ who might decide they’re tired of “anarchy (Miller‘s Crossing (’90)),” i.e., gambling on the up & up, and seek a sure thing, a “fix (“If you can‘t count on a fix, what can you count on (“Caspar”)?”). It’s a message of relaxed standard at a time when they seem to be crumbling all around.

........Paulie.T.Sirico.4.1.10.CJCS.wc.M.Mullen.thmb

Locating a major pro franchise in Vegas is an engraved invitation to trouble. And the Feds don’t have enough on their hands, eh, boys?

Just imagine guys like “Paulie Gualtieri (T.Sirico / Sopranos)” saying something like this down at the “Bada Bing:”

Paulie: ‘Hey, did ya’ hear, theys gonna’ finally do it, put a pro team in Vegas! Imagine that?
Patsy Parisi (D.Grimaldi): Yeah.
Paulie: Never thought I’d live to see the day. Christ is King!
Patsy: Neither did I (chuckle).
Paulie: Hey, watch yourself, tough guy.
Patsy: Lighten up. It’s good news.
Paulie: Say, we know anybody in that operation?’

Yeah, just imagine, Mr. Commissioner.

Rather than moving closer to gambling interests or giving that impression, professional sports should be doing everything in their power to keep their enterprises a good, safe distance away from gaming activities (miles), especially with integrity so scarce a commodity these days (See; PEDs, wet-deliveries (MLB), ball-flation (NFL), fantasy shenanigans (Jones-Drew (Jags‘10))?).

........Landis.wc.underwood.MilwJourl.11.15.20.CHI.thb

The top dog in America’s sporting show, the NFL, seems of the later approach while the new leader of #2 MLB in Rob Manfred is a bit of an unknown at this point, though, red-flagging as a cooperative Commissioner with a lifting of the Pete Rose lifetime ban looming.

If or when the fixing begins, we, the public, will likely never know about it. Too much trouble. ‘What we don’t know won’t hurt us’ may be the boardroom line. The monopoly ‘powers that be’ will keep the lid on so tight you’d need a jackhammer to pry it off.

No jackhammers today. There never were many (Woodward & Bernstein, Bart Giamatti, Kenesaw Mountain Landis, Lane & Garrison, Oliver Stone).

3) Like a bump on the head

Staying in the “Bing” vernacular, the NHL and NBA need more teams in their fraternities like they need a bump on their figurative, collective heads.

.......Bettman.wc.6.14.07.captcanuk.thmb

If anything, both Gary Bettman (NHL) and Adam Silver (NBA) should be selling retraction in their respective, oversold operations, as opposed to the ill-conceived belief in an expanding universe of franchise ownerships. The quality of competition.

Glendale’s recent reject of funding for a new Coyotes’ arena may press the point, though, Portland is being floated as a top contender for a franchise shift.

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

And then, another hockey club out in the bone-dry West? That may be pushin’ it, fellas.

Of course, that obvious contradiction hasn’t stopped their brethren in the golf world from building more & more water-guzzling, herbicide oozing operations.

Sure, a franchise in Las Vegas will make money for a handful of manicured mitts. They wouldn’t undertake if they weren’t guaranteed at least double back on their investment ($1.5B?). But for the mass majority of fandom it’d be pure dilution.

.......sunset.wc.8.13.12.J.Eastland.HighdesertCASo there you have it, the most compelling reasons why locating a major sports franchise in Las Vegas would be a bad move.

But it‘s realization seems to be in the wind. If a Nevada franchise does come to be, the new team’s tag & tint will quickly become topic of much talk around town. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em?

......dice.N.Morberg.wc.cca.2.22.09My personal preference, whether an NBA or NHL club, would be a sundown theme. Day’s end in the wide-open West can be a sight to behold. The name then: Sunsets, with sun-burst design and hues of orange, yellow, pink and red. That’s the artistic take.

But a more typical tack would be a name like Rollers with dice in the design. Gold, silver, green are obvious color choices but might work with the right detailing. A gaming table combo of green, red, black & white. There are possibilities.

......macroecono.lamcasinoroyal.wc.2011Steven Keys
Macro Sport
Photo credits: Vegas.Vic, wc.cca, 5.1.10, J.Gauder; Las.Vegas, 4.19.05, wc, D.Vasquez; T&M.Ctr, UNLV, wc, 10.19.11, G.Skidmore; T.Sirico (“Paulie“), wc, 4.1.10, CJCS, M,Mullen; Kenesaw. Mountain.Landis, wc, underwood, Milwaukee-Journal, 11.11.15.20, Chicago; G.Bettman, wc, 6.14.07, captcanuk; A.Silver, wc, 11.21.14, K.Allison; sunset, wc, 8.13.12, J.Eastland, high.desert, CA; dice, M.Morberg, 2.22.09, wc; macroeconomo, lam-casinoroyal, 2011.
Posted: 6.14.15 @ 7:10pm; edit @ 11:46 EST

Rivalries That Rock the Sporting Scene

4 Jun

What, with all the Brady bashing going on these days, it’s gotten this sport fan to thinking: Why all the hostility?

Because America won’t abide a cheater? That’s cute.

First, think of the on-going PED plague and no small number of ‘fans’ who shrug shoulders in apathy. Couple that with recent of rash of MLB pitchers (Smith / Matusz) who’ve suddenly become SPF conscious as they grease their deliveries. Then, add in the opposing, yes, opposing, players & managers (Girardi) who barely bat an eye, and it’s safe to write, cheatin’ ain’t too high up on most folks list of derelictions in 2015.

.........Favre.thumb.M.Morbeck.10.24.10

People weren’t exactly sprouting pitchforks and filling the streets in days following the 2000 Presidential ballot when State of Florida and its electoral votes suddenly flipped from Al Gore to Gov. Jeb Bush’s brother, George W. and what should’ve been a fairly simple re-calculation of castings that turned chaotic, only to have the highly dubious result validated by our skittish Supreme Court (Bush v Gore).

And next time you hop in the automobile, fail to conform with posted speed limit and choose to not ease up on the gas pedal, make sure you turn yourself over to the local authorities lickety-split. Fine.

Okay, so forget about some silly notion that America puts premium on integrity.

Maybe you are one of those that has a moral compass with a directional functionality (there’s a few), disdain Flop NBA and have decided to vest your faith in the Wells Report and NFL’s draconian response.

But if you bank your belief that Brady et al (Deflategate: Tom‘s appeal hearing with Cmsr Goodell is set for 6.23) did “circumvent” NFL rules on ball-mgmt based on the highly speculative Wells (“hunch-a-bunch-a-Fritos® corn chips”) Report (51% std), well, then you can’t possibly be a fan of due process.

Same old story: if it’s your process, ‘long live the Constitution, Magna Carta, yada yada!’, but if it’s the other guy’s right to fundamental fairness, no biggie, right?

........Brady.wc.cca.mongomez93.thmb

So if it’s not integrity or a strong case of culpability against the Pats that’s driven the demagoguery on Deflategate, that leaves one plausible explanation: prejudice.

That would include NFL haters or arsonists, always fueling football fires, i.e., non-sporting types (anti-Redskinites, anti-Rice bandwagoneers, etc.) & grudge-holders (Bounty-gate, etc.), and Patriots’ rivals.

Rivalry fires the furnace. Celebrity’s big, but like “glory, is fleeting (Patton ‘70).”

Rivalry has substance. It’s what collegiate Presidents & Trustees simply refuse to concede in their dinero-driven game of Conference musical chairs.

Players and coaches will come & go, but teams and their familiar foes will, by & large, always be there with it’s raucous rivalry evident in times of feast or famine.

But while these long-running regional rivalries may constitute the bread & butter of sport, they do have their downside.

Besides the knucklehead fan contingent that are regulars at rivalry meets, piling on a rival who’s feeling the heat (Patriots) is another bad by-product.

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

You won’t hear new Bills (former Jets) coach Rex Ryan mouthing about Deflategate.

Rex tends to play the clown but is a savvy customer who knows full well the high caliber of competition he’s been facing in New England during his NFL coaching tenure.

The same sensible tack can’t be said for former intra-division rivals in Jim Kelly (“He (Tom) didn’t need to do it (Tell us something we didn’t know, Jimbo (See; 2H v Indy & SB49 (SEA))”) and Don ‘Get Me Some Ginkgo Biloba’ Shula (“we didn’t deflate”).

With that in mind then, listed herein are what can be called sports best rivalries.

It’s not an all-inclusive listing.

History won’t by itself qualify a rivalry here, nor intra-City / Division versions (CWS v CHC). And the Patriots adversaries, while possibly helping to fuel their media frustrations, have just not had the opponency-value worthy of mention. None of New England’s AFC opponents has been able to keep up with NFL’s premiere team of the past 20 years. Colts did for a time (Peyton) and then Pitt settled for mediocrity with Tomlin treading water (See; Babcock DET >>TOR).

Michigan v The Ohio State (NCAAF)

I put “The” in as pure mockery. An institution as valuable as OSU need not preen.

.......JimHarbaugh.12.30.14.wc.E.Upchurch.thmb

Aside from that silliness, this college football rivalry is USA’s best, hands down. Sorry Auburn – Alabama, USC – UCLA, Texas – Oklahoma, Yale – Harvard, this is the big one. It’s been suffering a bit of late but Jim Harbaugh’s return to his alma mater will restore it’s relevancy right quick. “Urban Renewal” Meyer has done a tremendous job in the State of his, and Jimbo’s birth, and Harbaugh’s likely to do the same.

Duke v North Carolina, Louisville v Kentucky (NCAABK)

Great traditions at these standard-bearer college b-ball programs but the current coaches are, as in the OSU – UM football version, what make ‘em all rock n‘ roll.

Pitino (UL) v Calipari (UK), Krzyzewski (DU) v Williams (UNC). Now, UCLA’s gotta’ get back in gear to rekindle a rivalry out West it had going with Arizona.

NHL – NBA

I got nothing here.

In hockey, the originals will always be terrific rivals. But when one is up these days (DET ‘97-09, NYR ’94 or MON ‘93), the other is down (TOR), and then vice versa (CHI ‘10 & ‘13, BOS ‘11). Rangers / Bruins, Blackhawks / Red Wings might be on the verge of a rebirth but time’ll tell.

As for the Association, a truly sad state of affairs when a shoe battle between rival reps (Curry (U-A) v James (Nike)), who rode the EZ-Pass® highway to reach the promised land, becomes media’s focal point of a Final.

MLB (Cubs v Cards; Yankees v Red Sox and Dodgers v Giants)

The sabrmetric (anal-ytics) surge in MLB has altered baseball in some not-all-too-pleasing ways these past few decades (A‘s fans are still scratching their heads about their measured & minor dividends), but thankfully, it has not killed-off the rivalries that are still aflame in America’s national pastime.

The most marketed, though, not necessarily MLB’s best rivalry, Yanks v Red Sox, may in fact pre-date Ban Johnson’s formation of the American (Chicago 1901) in form of other leagues and different monikers, and is going stronger than ever.

.......Rizzo.wc.ben.grey.8.1.12.thmb

With Giants & Dodgers taking Horace Greeley‘s advice to “go West” in late 50s (St.Louis Browns (Orioles) move East (BAL)), they transplanted their monumental opponency into California soil. There have been lulls but the fun & frolic ((?) See; Marichal v Roseboro (’63)) has returned. Reigning champion San Francisco is head & shoulders above the Dodgers in recent World Series wins (3 in 5y), but Los Angeles’ owners seem committed to finding former glory and the contests are heating up again.

And that’s all great stuff, but the biggest rivalry, not by book of east coast biased Disney-ESPN (CT), of course, is the oldest in professional baseball and all of major American sport: Cubs v Cardinals.

These two clubs, in one form or another, have been at loggerheads since Albert Spalding, Cap Anson (White Stockings) and his National Leaguers (also birthed in Windy City (1876)) took on St. Louis owner Chris Von Der Ahe’s Browns club (AA) for the informal championship of professional baseball clubs in the 1880s.

While Redbirds have gotten best of the Bruins in the World Series tally, something like, 10 to 2, the head-to-heads never lack for fire and the fandom come out in droves.

NFL (Vikings v Packers)

It’s not the bare cupboard that is NBA’s short stock of riveting rivalries, but pickins is pretty slim these days, even in the high-falutin’ NFL.

Cowboys v Redskins, Chiefs v Raiders and Packers v Bears still take place but have lost their zip, largely because one franchise just can get back the magic.

Falcons v Saints have dominated NFC South and look to rekindle the fire in 2015 after some years on the canvas. Other grudge matches thrive for a time but seem predicated more on cult of personality than teams, i.e., NE v NYJ (Rex to BUF), Seahawks v 49ers (JH to UM) and KC / SD v Denver (gutsy but aged Peyton).

Giants and Eagles, Cardinals and Seahawks and any pairing of Steelers (Ben’s good), Bengals or Ravens can all be donnybrooks, but one rivalry seems to retain it’s intensity, no matter the team’s present W-L states: Minnesota v Green Bay.

.........Peterson.1.28.12.wc.Arvee5.0.thm

This one won’t sound too imposing to fans outside the Upper Midwest. Packers have been a formidable force since Wolf, Holmgren, Favre & White worked a rebirth in Wisconsin’s Fox Valley, while the Vikings seem the ultimate snake-bitten franchise.

I don’t know if it’s the common cultural and historical threads that run through these two old Northwest Territory terrains, making ‘similars distract,’ or the fact that one’s championship pedigree has, traditionally (pre-Rodgers), had little or no effect in the usually competitive nature of their frothy head-to-heads, but the rivalry still rocks.

And it should get rockier as All-Pro Adrian Peterson has returned to Vikings fold (OTAs) after a brief stand-off following his tumultuous 2014-15 that involved criminal charges involving a child discipline matter and League suspension.

Apparently seeking a trade that didn’t come as Mr. Jones seems would rather miss out on another Super Bowl (20y) than take chance that he might get “fuzzy end of the lollipop” this time (See; MIN ‘89 (Walker)), ‘All-Day’ and his agent have nonetheless changed the narrative from criminality back to football as the future in Land of 10,000 Lakes looks brightest it’s been since Brett Favre hit the Minneapolis tarmac back in ‘09.

While today’s opposing players are so cordial on the field you’ve gotta’ believe they‘re holding inter-team family bar-be-cues the Friday nights preceding Sunday‘s action, the fans share no such cutesy comradery. Look no further than the switch-a-roos (Favre MIN; Boggs & Damon NYY, etc.) to understand it’s all business for most these dudes.

The mutual dislike between GB and MIN faithful runs so deep it’s safe to say, at times, a loss by their hated rival sings sweeter than hearing news of their own team’s victory. That’s major malice.

And that’s Packer-backers v Purple People, NFL’s biggest rivalry going.

......macroeconomc.lamcasinoroyal.wc.2.5.11.thb

Steven Keys
Macro Sport
Photo credits: B.Favre, wc.cca, 11.15.09, MN-NG, Det; Favre, wc.cca, M.Morbeck, 10.24.10; T.Brady, wc.cca, mongomez93; R.Ryan, wc.cca, M.O’Leary, 10.23.11; Jim.Harbaugh, wc, 12.30.14, E.Upchurch; A.Rizzo, wc, bengrey, 8.1.12; Peterson, Adrian, wc, 1.28.12, Arvee5.0; macroeconomics, wc.cca, lamcasinoroyal, 2.5.11.
Posted: 6.4.15 @ 3:37pm; edit 11:56 EST

A Favorite Patrick Willis Moment

14 Mar

.......Willis.8.30.12.wc.cca.thmb.S.Bowles

There are three kinds of sport fan:

1) The ‘means to an end’ers,’ i.e., gamblers, fantasy fanatics, saberheads, most brass and I suspect more than a few writers and media personalities;

2) The family fan, as in spouses, parents (drive & attend), anyone close to an athlete or sportician who gives support in friendship; and

3) The bona fide fan (BFF).

The BFF is likely indoctrinated into the faith by a parent, older sibling or a teacher at school, participating in both the organized and pick-up forms of play, attended major sporting events if Mom & Dad had the loot and watched it on the tube with regularity.

They’ll often display their passion for the games in wearable team merchandise and can be engaged easily on the sporting topic.

This scribbler falls under #3.

My dad played rounders, as most boys did in the 20th century, but hung up his glove early, the kind of mitt that had a leather string for a web.

My mentors were a grandfather who followed the likes of Sisler (Browns) and Hornsby (Cards) in St. Louis’ golden age of baseball when the two were spittin’ out hits like Gatling guns, and an older brother who lived the life, whether it be baseball, b-ball, football or any form of “folly,” i.e., Tudor® Electric Football.

.......Tudor.football.johnmaxmena.wc.cca

My brother Kev coached my first football team when I was nine and we then formed our own league: Tudor® Electric Football. He painted the players himself with a great eye for detail: helmets with logos, sock’s had stripings. In today’s lingo, it was awesome.

Why the stroll down memory lane?

On Tuesday, the San Francisco 49ers announced that their 8-year, All-Pro linebacker Patrick Willis is retiring from the game. It’s an event that requires a different reflection than the typical numbers-crunching and all-time ranking.

When you consider that Pat has probably played the game since he was 9, giving and getting bone-jarring hits most the way, stepping down at 30 seems A-okay.

But an 8-year career for a player the caliber of Mr. Willis, arguably the best linebacker, heck, best defender in the NFL from ‘07-10, feels a bit premature, especially since the NFL is not exactly brimming over with tackling talent in 2015.

It’s not hard to fathom why Pat decided to exit the game, considering he suffered game-altering injuries in recent years, physical changes that’ve taken toll on that proverbial step, coupled with the changes that’ve been going on in miners-land this off-season, including notable roster moves (F. Gore to Indy) and a new head coach in the promoted Jim Tomsula (’07) to replace Jim Harbaugh (UM).

......SF.Levi.wc.usbduong33.thmb.8.4.14

San Fran stalwart NaVorro Bowman, the man who was heir to Willis’ linebacking throne but who sat out all of last year’s campaign after a torn ACL suffered in the 2014 NFC title game, will be returning shortly but may not recognize his own team.

Willis has his reasons, and we’ll have our memories.

Having been a resident of the Midwest and South during Mr. Willis’ career, I didn’t catch most of his games as did NFC West fans. But I do have one special remembrance that is indelibly etched into this writer’s mind. And curiously, it involves another fairly recent retiree and star of note, Brett Favre.

It happened in Minnesota’s Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome on the afternoon of September 27, 2009.

Vikes were sporting their new signal-caller in Favre, were 2-0 and hosting the Mike Singletary coached 49ers with Shaun Hill under center (recently signed with MIN for 2015) and Willis leading the defensive charge.

With Minnesota trailing 24-20 and just 1:30 remaining in the 4th, Vikes started from their 20. Nine plays later had them on 49ers 32 with just 12 ticks left on the clock. On 3rd and 3, Favre lofted a rainbow pass into back of the end zone where receiver Greg Lewis performed one of the greatest tight-rope acts in history of the NFL to haul it in for what would prove to be the game winning score.

......Favre.thumb.M.Morbeck.10.24.10

But it is not Minnesota’s 27-24 victory, one which set them on path to play to the NFC title game (v NO) and which may be the Mississippian’s most exhilarating game-closer in his storied career, that has deposited Willis’ image in my memory bank.

Sometime midway through the second half, Patrick was involved in a play that was the epitome of sportsmanship and a display of the best that football has to offer.

Some of the details are sketchy, but the Vikes were in possession, driving, and Favre threw a run-of-the-mill short out pass to his left side, which the receiver (?) caught and ran downfield for a somewhat sizable gain, if I recall correctly.

After connecting with his receiver, Brett decided to give his new owner Zygi Wilf more of his money’s worth ($25M) by laying a downfield block. The recipient was none other than All Pro stick-man, Patrick Willis.

And what a block it was. Favre laid the linebacker out flat. It was a sight to behold.

But did Patrick jump to his feet, cry foul in wounded pride and feign anger at the wily QB for putting him on his keister? Heck no, he took it like a pro.

The defensive star clearly respected the effort, and along with the referee, helped the slightly dazed-in-disbelief QB to his feet, straightened out Brett’s disheveled shoulder pads, gave him the customary pat and sent the signal-caller on his way.

It was terrific, and it was pure football.

A simple, rather routine play that is long forgotten by 99.95% of those who watched, but beautiful in its encapsulation of the spirit that on occasion can make the sport special.

As that mythical Le Mans (’71) endurance driver “Johann Ritter (Fred Haltiner)” once said to his gorgeous, supportive wife “Anna (Louise Edlind)” when contemplating his own decision to exit the death-defying racing profession, “It’s the right time to stop.”

.......Revere.wc.cca.1947

Apparently, it’s the right time for Patrick Willis to hang up his cleats and “go onto the next thing (A. Revere)” in his life. “Mrs. Brown” would wholeheartedly approve.

Steven Keys
Macro Sport
Photo credits: Willis, Rodgers, wc.cca, M.Morbeck, 9.9.12; Tudor.football, wc.cca, johnmaxmena; Willis, 8.30.12, S.Bowles, wc.cca; Levis.Stadium, wc.cca, usbduong33, 8.4.14; Favre, wc.cca, 10.24.10, M.Morbeck; A.Revere, wc.cca, 1947, 20th-Fox.
Posted: 3.13.15 @ 11:56pm EST