Tag Archives: Roman Empire

NFL17 Pre-Play: Triumvirate Intact, Patriots Grip On Power Remains Firm

1 Jun

Hail the New England Patriots’ Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and Robert Kraft!

Never in the history of sport has a tightly-woven triad of money (owner), brain (coach) & brawn (player) so effectively organized and implemented an operation of success over such a long period of time and with so little apparent friction as have these three, compatible personalities.

Historically, the triumvirate has shown mixed results.

The ancient Romans, building blocks to Western civilization, triumvirated a couple of times (Caesar – Crassus – Pompey 60 BC / Antony – Octavian – Lepidus 43BC), without much claim to victory, save brief respites from war.

Jumping forward to the North American pro sport scene, you’d be hard-pressed to find the same owner, coach (mgr) and top player remaining together winning titles for anywhere near as long as the Foxborough Three have been doing it.

There were the Habs (1944-79), Yanks (1923-62), Celtics & Lakers, dynasties we’ve been talking about for generations but none a triumvirate of top-level talent staying intact for as prolonged a period as these Patriots powerbrokers.

There were the Lombardi – Green Bay teams where ownership (EC – BoD), coach and key offensive player in Bart Starr, the way under-rated Bart Starr, won lots o’ titles but in a much more concentrated timeline (1961 – 68). Condensed greatness is potent (70s Steelers / 80s 49ers) and terrific in its own way but not of the championship continuum on topic here and special too itself.

It’s in the NBA where is found the only real comparison to the Patriots trio-of-time-tested-title-takers, that being the San Antonio Spurs.

The trifecta of Peoria native and current owner Peter Holt (1993), coach Gregg Popovich (1996 >) and recently retired center and championship nexus in Tim Duncan (1997-16) garnered five NBA titles (’99, 03, 05, 07, 14) in sixteen seasons, though never back-to-back (NE: 04-05), requisite for the dynasty.

But that was then, this is now, and wow, the Foxborough Three are defending NFL champions again after their Swing Time SB51 OT win over the ‘gotta’ still be stunned’ Falcons, having made the grade even as their starry starter in Brady had to sit the first four on his Deflategate susp’n. The red, white & blue bunch have been setting and maintaining a standard of sport excellence unlikely to be matched for a long, long time. Never say never, right?

Detractors will bemoan, ‘Hey dingdong, don’t forget Spygate, you fool!’ Always class-acts, and never redundant, the bemoaner boys. Rules violations are wrong, some even bad, i.e., failing to cooperate with an investigation (destroying a phone). But the general public, those with no serious rivalry axe-to-grind or having little interest in promoting their own brand of team who seek ’The Greatest’ award (Cowboys, Steelers, Packers, 49ers), just won’t be too bothered by black-marks on a team’s historical ledger that involve spying or stretching of the rules, outside game-fixing and PEDs. Spys have helped us win wars. A bit off-track here but that’s how the more rationally-minded fan will think.

Can they keep it going? Not forever, they can‘t, as hard as that is to imagine in 2017. Someday Tom will hang up his cleats, Bill hand in his headset one last time and Rob just won’t care anymore. All three have accomplished just about everything they can in the business of football, personally and as a team.

With Tom and Bill both having set the new standard in SB tandem wins with five and the team having set the record for Super Bowl appearances last February in Houston with their ninth (9) (5-4) (Pitt – Dallas – Denver all at eight (8)), about the only achievement unattained is to match and then surpass the Steelers league leading six (6) victories in the Big Game.

But as long as Brady stays healthy and the Foxborough Triumvirate keeps itself amused, an NFL bound to get more amusing, and lengthy, if not better, with Raja Goodell’s kow-tow in relaxing celebration rules, Pats should keep winning.

If you’re expecting to read here roster depth-chart chatter, draft break-downs and musings on New England’s 2017 schedule, forget it. Trust, in Belichick & Company’s judgment and future performance, has never been more earned.

Besides, who’s gonna’ stop ‘em? Anyone in the AFC?

Ben’s a trooper but needs sideline help; Denver & Houston have D but the Os are iffy; Colts & Titans have Os but Ds are doubtful; Raiders Las Vegas engagement came at a bad time for a still maturing Carr; Harbaugh & Flacco know how but is owner listening; KC will play out the string with Reid & Smith; Miami has a good QB in Tannehill but no good game-plan and Cincy, well, they’re Cincy.

In the weaker NFC the Cards turned conundrum; Wilson has D but needs a plan from Pete, not protest (CK); Rodgers needs a run-buddy and a D; Saints showed spunk late; Bucs are rising; Cats didn’t claw back in 2016; Eli is locked-in (‘20); Cousins may’ve peaked and that leaves Atlanta who need to shake off the shame.

Maybe it’s like those other eras with one, or two, dominant clubs, Pack in the 60s, Pitt – Dallas in 70s, 49ers in the 80s: Until the big dog (NE) loses its bite, everyone keeps focusing on the leader of the pack, tripping over their tail at the worst possible times. Course, having a defense that can close the deal is key, its absence to continue to be the biggest issue for most teams in 2017.

But in every NFL season there is the unexpected, that turnaround team where everything begins to click (Falcons / Raiders 2016-17), or sustained success sprouts from where no special tillage had been undertaken (Dallas draft).

As long as Robert Kraft, Tom Brady and Bill Belichick remain together in good spirits and keep “calm(ing) the envious spirit” in those sporadic challenges to their predominance, efforts that will require a charmed season aided in no small part by a capricious Sporting God set (See; Carolina ‘15 – Dallas ‘16), this 21st century will remain the Patriots Period, period.

Steven Keys
NFL HunchLine
Photo credit: NFL-wikiproject, wc.cca, Ixnay-Beao; Belichick-Kraft-Kerry, wc, US-Department-of-State, 4.25.15; T.Brady, wc, K.Allison, 8.28.09; W.Wood, Topps, 1970.
Posted: 6.1.17 @ 2:13p EST, edit 6.26; Copyright © 2017

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NFL16 Cherry Picks W11: Pax Patriotana, Caesar Trumpus, Mamarazzi & the Demigoths

15 Nov

I started cutting my political teeth way back in 1968.

I remember the year because it was an event, a national tragedy that began the process: The assassination of Bobby Kennedy (d. 6.6.68), younger brother and AG of slain President John Kennedy (d. 11.22.63), who, after that dreadful day in Dallas, would go on to become Senator from New York and then Democratic presidential candidate, at a rally in the Ambassador Hotel, Los Angeles.

I can’t say any news outside the home, no matter its import, could’ve shook my young world at age six. But upon hearing the shocking report, my older brothers had headed over to the Humphrey – Muskie headquarters somewhere on the North Shore of Chicago, to throw their support behind the next most viable opponent of GOP front-runner, Richard Nixon. When they returned they had a cachet of campaign buttons, a few of which ended up in my tiny hands, along with a bumper sticker which still reads: “McCarthy Supporters Now For Humphrey.”

kennedys-wc-1-29-61-c-stoughton-626kAs for the turbulent Democratic convention about ten miles south, a ruckus that started in the streets and probably sealed the win for Nixon, I didn’t have a clue. Tooth enamel’s tough stuff.

It’s funny how a single event or piece of political paraphernalia, as ephemeral as it may be, can shape one’s life. I’ve had an interest in politics bordering on passion ever since. And, by jove, still have the mementos from that oh-so sad, significant day.

When my baby teeth fell out, I started to cutting the permanents.

I devoured my share of “heaping helping(s)” of empty TV calories for sure (Josie and the Pussycats, Gilligan’s Island, etc.) but ate up good servings of brain food in The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, The Electric Company (1971), ABC Wide World of Sports and the evening news delivered by legends like Cronkite, Brinkley, Reasoner, Huntley, Walters and Chancellor.

And it was Parker Brothers and their board-game Landslide (1971) that gave me hands-on experience with the electoral college and how presidential campaigns must roll their own dice in strategizing on the States. My teeth were sharpening, though, my friend Tom who owned the board game must’ve had a Trump skill-set because he out-tallied me every time. Gotta’ romance those swing States.

But that passion turned downright frigid in lead-up to 2016’s election day.

Not a big fan of Donald or Hillary, I will, nonetheless, honor the November 8th win, respect the authority of Office and hope for the best, in opposite of that .00003174% of Americans, including LeBron James, Gregg Popovich (“sick to my stomach”) & Steve Kerr who’ve chosen to ‘take their ball and run home’ because they didn‘t like the result. Best advice for the Neo-Visigoths: Find a copy of Edward Everett Hale’s ‘The Man Without a Country (1863)’ and read in deep.

Clearly, the campaign to win and then keep basketball player’s “hearts and minds” is a never-ending effort for the NBA coach. So much for trust, eh? Ugh.

clinton-6-10-16-pp-wc-11-2m-l-shaullAnd Hillary Clinton is no loser.

Taking the popular vote is champion and aught win the White House in a democracy. But unlike Al Gore in 2000, whose loss of Florida’s electors constituted the biggest heist job in American history, with the DC Robes as accomplices after-the-fact (Bush v. Gore, 531 U.S. 98), Ms. Clinton never came close to taking the college kitty. In short, the lady blew her chance.

But that doesn’t make her a mascot to suffer the mamarazzi.

Reference to Margo Gerster who, with baby-on-back, cornered Hill on a nature walk two days after the draining election, thinking it proper to void Hillary’s (& Bill’s) privacy to solicit a Facebook moment (What’s HC gonna’ do, tell mom to take a hike?), an image widely disseminated soon thereafter, finding CBS (“Hiker Crosses Paths”), CNN (Erin Burnett) and whomever else feeds the faux pas. Bad play, ladies. And where were the Secret Service? But I’m not surprised.

At first blush the electoral college appears antiquated, anti-democracy and whenever it veers off from the popular vote, always ends in GOP hands.

But a historical tidbit unbeknownst to Demigoths and the normally insightful Bill Maher, the EC is a test the Founders necessitated that a deserving candidate must pass, a test still relevant. The winner must possess the savvy, the wherewithal in mastering the map to sway voters State-by-State, and in the process acquiring a healthy respect for the union that is this United (50) States of America.

The first black president seems now an entitlement, the first female Commander-in-Chief knowing she must, in famous words of John Houseman, “eeeearn it.”

obama-trump-11-10-16-jesusemen-oni-voa-119kThe former First Lady lost the election long before the elector test or her “deplorable” line and had nearly nothing to do with any FBI commentary. In failing to distinguish herself from her former boss, President Barack Obama, majority voters in key States made a statement: ‘Not tough enough, and not again, or for awhile, anyway.’

Most Americans had high hopes when the first minority took up residence in the White House in 2009. Obama was short on experience, seemed, apart from the birth certificate confusion, almost too perfect for the post and resorted to his own form of flippancy when topics got hot, but his ready smile gave assurance and he seemed eager to take on the big challenges that awaited.

Obama will be remembered for four actions: 1) Brokering the deal with America’s healthcare “monster(s)” to create Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (NFIB (2012)), costing greedmeisters next to nothing yet heaping much of the tax burden upon the middle-class (contra-FDR); 2) advising on capture / execution of 9-11 designer, terrorist Osama bin Laden (2011); 3) taking sides in the Trayvon Martin – George Zimmerman incident (2013) (“Martin could’ve been me 35 years ago”) after attacker Martin died of a gunshot fired by block watch volunteer Zimmerman who claimed self-defense, was charged and then acquitted, and 4) picking his NCAA basketball tourney bracket selections come March Madness.

Unfortunately, on the one issue that Obama was particularly well-suited to keep moving the nation forward, race-relations, he has instead presided over what can be called a period of race regression, a sorry state not seen since Reagan-Bush.

As for Donald, he’s sharp as a tack, has energy and an undeniable charisma, a pride in his person and nation and a certain maverickness that McCain the Senator never displayed, a trait lacking in Presidents for quite a spell (LBJ). But his anti-choice stand feels political, must check his habit to flippancy (global warming) and his disdain for regulation (Dodd-Frank), market-place competition and American jobs (monopolist) bespeaks of a boyish greed potentially more disastrous economically than Ronald Reagan’s trickle-down goof.

trump-wc-11-9-16-transition2017-450kMost troubling is that neither candidate exhibited the foresight, honesty, courage to put the voters to a test in self-sacrifice (“ask what you can do for your country (JFK)”), a national unifier if there ever was one. No measurable progress happens without it.

It’d be analogous to Roger Goodell having chutzpah to ditch pink-wear in favor of a field-friendly color for all cancer victims and research (dark green), to use his bully-pulpit to force NFLPA to institute serious PED-testing or to tell NFL fans and sport scribes who curry favor to stop the incessant whine on game officiating come each “Monday morning.” Ugh.

So what does Trump-the-President mean for the NFL and its fandom?

A President, no matter the political party, usually has little impact on League operations or policy. But if a particular Commander-in-Chief has a real interest in the gridiron game, any comments he makes will make news.

And this president-elect might actually have an interest.

President Obama put on a good show, giving warm congratulatory speeches in welcome to a steady stream of title teams that now visit the White House for one more pat-on-their-collective back. But while he’s a love for the links, Barack appears to have no interest in the combative sports (+b-ball). And though he lacks the competitive spirit that led the Kennedys to engage the pigskin for some lawn version touch-football, Don clearly has a curiosity for the National game.

Which toggles four sport topics on Trump: 1) The future of White House pep-rallies now that monarchial King LeBron has given thumbs-down with Trump-soon in residence; 2) What NFL team does Donald Trump favor; 3) how happy is Redskins owner Dan Snyder today, and 4) will the President-elect and his immigration blueprint alter future NFL – Mexico game plans?

redskins-chiefzee-wc-2-4m-k-allison-1-10-16Since the 1970s America’s seen a prodigious growth in sporting endeavors, champions of which nearly all seem to find their way to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. So was born a new tradition that’s become about as tired as the never-ending supply of Law & Order reruns, diverting CICs from pressing duties or the down-time that a President must take to keep sound in mind & body in the most stressful job on Earth. Time then the custom gave way to common sense and got terminated by the new Prez. As Trump doesn’t need another reason to tick-off female Dems in cancelling only the less-popular women’s visits, if it happens (sure), expect him to can the whole kit n’ kaboodle.

Who’s Trump’s top NFL team? A New Yorker, he may be a Giants, Jets or Bills fan. If his ties to Bill Belichick and Tom Brady are sincere, it’s good chance he’s Foxborough friendly. Like Barack, he’s always working an angle so it’s hard to get a read. If it is the Pats, Don’s hitching his wagon to arguably the greatest pro football dynasty in history. In 2016, the Cowboys believe, Carroll’s crew never quits, Big Ben’s 5-star field general, John Harbaugh mastered the pros and Bruce Arians coaches the Cards, but it’s New England, with their rare loss (SEA 11.13), that remains Empire’s standard.

To the Washington Redskins and their war-in-defense of their 82 yr. old moniker against a niche effort spearheaded by Oneida’s Ray Halbritter and taken up in 2012 by johnny-come-latelies in corporate kids-for-change, malleable media, Democrat elite, a smattering of celebs and the Washington Post whose polling reported “9 of 10” aboriginal Americans are not offended by the motif, a new President in Republicrat Trump will undoubtedly lead to a more sensible, honest directive given the Department of Commerce and its Patent & Trademark Office. Court cases are pending but it’s likely this and other PC-appeasing stands taken by Dems held some sway over mod-voters in swingers. It didn’t help, anyway.

As for the impact the recent American election will have on the NFL – Mexico business relationship, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will publicly downplay its significance but if a border-wall does become reality (doubtful), it’s hard to imagine its continuation. It will be interesting to see if Texans v. Raiders MNF game will out-draw the last record-setting NFLM meet in 2005 between Arizona and San Francisco which drew 103,000+ at Estadio Azteca.

cherries-wc-cca-b-kua-6-1-08-3-3mCherry Picks Week 11: Thank goodness for the spread

Saints (4-5) @ Carolina (3-6): 11.17 NBC 8:30: NO wins
Ravens (5-4) @ Dallas (8-1): 11.20 CBS 1:00: BAL wins
Jacksonville (2-7) @ Lions (5-4): CBS 1:00: Lions win
Tennessee Titans (5-4) @ Indianapolis Colts (4-5): CBS 1:00: Indy wins
Buffalo Bills (4-5) @ Cincinnati Bengals (3-5-1): Fox 1:00: Bengals win
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-5) @ Kansas City Chiefs: Fox 1:00: Chiefs win
Arizona Cardinals (4-4-1) @ Minnesota Vikings (5-4): Fox 1:00: Cards win
Miami Dolphins (5-4) @ Los Angeles Rams (4-5): Fox 4:05: Dolphins wins
Philadelphia (5-4) @ Seattle Seahawks (6-2-1): CBS 4:25: Seahawks win
Green Bay Pack (4-5) @ Washington Redskins (5-3-1): NBC 8:30: GB wins
Houston Texans (6-3) @ Oakland (Mex): 11.21 Disney 8:30: Houston wins

Record: 45 – 51 -2

......NFL-symbol.wikiproject.6kbSteven Keys
NFL HunchLine
Photo credit: B.Belichick, wc.cca, K.Allison, 8.28.9; Kennedys, wc, C.Stoughton, 1.29.61; H.Clinton, wc, 6.10.16, PlannedParenthood, L.Shaull; Trump-Obama, wc, 11.10.16, Jesusemen-Oni.VOA; D.Trump, wc, Transition2017, 11.9.16; M.Trump-M.Obama, theWhiteHouse, wc, 11.10.16; ChiefZee, Redskins-DC, K.Allison, 1.10.16, wc; cherries, wc, B.Kua, 6.1.08; NFL-symbol, wikiproject
Posted: 11.15.16 @ 2:34pm, edit @ 11:36 EST; Copyright © 2016

NFL16 Wild Cherry Picks: Veni, Vidi, Vici

8 Jan

‘I came, I saw, I conquered’

The NFL playoffs.

They mark a new beginning in the championship campaign of conquest, a whole new season, in fact (0-0), and you could even say afford an extension of the holiday season if your team happens to get its ticket punched.

....winter.wood.2007.wc.NinoBarbieri.thmIt’s when the crème de la crème get mettle tested by the fiercest foes and not infrequently the worst weather Mother Nature can doll out (See; SEA @ MIN (-0°?)).

For the player, his body tells him it’s time to settle for winter, catch up on sleep, reacquaint w/friends & family, read the mail, walk the dog, anything but more football. But the contract, bills to be paid and desire to be the best drive him onward in hopes of greater glory.

Which team can prove Julius Caesar, conqueror of the vast playoff landscape of combatants that lay ahead?

Some teams clearly have a leg up on the competition in weaponry, positioning and the art of field tactics & technique.

....RomanLegion.wc.StoriadItalia.1979.Mainz.tmHome-field and 1st-Rd byes, deserved as it they are, give a decided advantage. And while all 12 invitees are endowed with the spirit and physical skills to take the VLT (Vince Lombardi trophy), only a handful are cloaked in that garb of destiny.

Panthers at 15-1 and bye-ing time to polish their armaments and fine-tune strategy look best suited to wear the victor‘s laurel. But their lack of battlefield experience (1-2 Rivera – Newton – Kuechly) and atypical command tactic (Camster-the-Hamster (run-QB)) makes them a questionable conqueror.

In Mark Antony fashion, Seattle sent strong message to Arizona (36-6) that they are not ready to relinquish their tight hold on National Conference supremacy.

And Caesar Augustus that rules from New England always shapes the map.

Roll Call

Patriots: Coach (Bill), player (Tom) and sports success story of 2015, injuries all around are taking heavy toll on the Empire as the ranks are in depletion.

Seahawks: The thumping they gave rival & riser AZ, run-game modifications that work and 3-year playoff prowess all make them NFC’s team-to-beat;

....Rodgers.wc.cca.M.Morbeck.08.thumbPackers: Early loss of catch-machine Nelson was either underestimated or has proven a too frustrating fill-in. Mobility & quick-release are Rodgers’ keys.

Broncos: Pey-Dirt’s back in the saddle and will be given ample opportunity to work off rust and find the end-zone;

Steelers: Trademark Steelers D must’ve run afoul of Patent Office politics and been revoked because it’s been lesser in 2015 (#21 / 11). And with Williams hobbled, Big Ben must, as he often does, carry offensive load;

Panthers: Cats are 1-2 in recent PS and have not faced the toughest of slates. Keeping Cam pocket poised or letting him rabbit-at-will is Rivera’s big call.

Chiefs: Like Cats, another so-so slate but KC too balances like a top (O/D) and QB Smith looks for his first Super (10y) after 2012’s chance slipped away (SF).

....Dalton.wc.emeybee.9.17.13.thmBengals: The monkey on Cincy’s back is so big (PS 0-5 Lewis) it could buckle their collective knees if they fall behind in early going but this year’s squad has a cool confidence and determination that bodes well.

Vikings: “Baby It’s Cold Outside (Loesser)” is theme in Land of 10.000 (frozen) Lakes. Good thing it’s a 1:00 start. Will Peterson’s back injury warm and can 2y-QB Teddy move-the-chains and forge TDs to match a potent ‘Hawks offense?

Redskins: NFC Cinderella favorite for NFL’ers who appreciate commercial art and history (See; logo). Run-game quirky but hosting befuddled GB a blessing.

Texans: AFC’s underdog favorite for having turned injury-lemons into lemonade. Coach O’Brien, JJ Watt and their QB crew now seek February champagne.

Cardinals: Were on the march until Seahawks stymied. Bruce Arians is not one to panic nor placate his troops so expect a donnybrook in divisional.

....cherries.B.Kua.wc.cca.thumb.6.1.08

Wild Cherry Picks 2016

Chiefs (11-5) @ Texans (9-7): 1.9 ESPN 4:35: KC wins
Steelers (10-6) @ Bengals (12-4): CBS 8:15: Cincy wins
Seattle (10-6) @ Vikes (11-5): 1.10 NBC 1:05: Hawks win
Pack (10-6) @ ‘Skins (9-7): Fox 4:40: Green Bay wins

Record: 97 – 98

Steven Keys
NFL HunchLine
Photo credit: Julius.Caesar, wc.cca, AV.Domaszewski, 1914; winter.wood, wc, Nino.Barbieri, 07; RomanLegion, StoriadItalia, 1979, wc, Mainz; Packers.cheer, wc, M.Morbeck, 9.26.10: A.Rodgers, wc, 2008, M.Morbeck; A.Dalton, wc, 9.17.13, emeybee; cherries, B.Kua, wc, 6.1.8; NFL-symbol, wikiproject
Posted: 1.8.16 @ 3:06pm EST; Copyright © 2016