Tag Archives: sticky-gloves

NFL17 – SB51: Lombardi’s Legend Lives But It’s Bill Belichick’s Trophy Now, Vince

27 Jan

When the Big Game (SB51) is over n’ done, when all the “whohoopers” have blown and “tartookas” have bung, when the champions raise the Lombardi as a prize they’ve just won, serious discussions should begin at NFL Central about the prospect of re-naming the Big Trophy, after he hangs up his headset, of course, for the New England Patriots head football coach Bill Belichick who has for the better part of two decades mastered the sport like no other before.

— — —

It is Vince Lombardi’s name that is etched onto each Super Bowl trophy since 1971 (SB5), the year after the great NFL coach, teacher and cultural icon died from colon cancer in the nation’s capital city, Washington, D.C.

belichick-wc-d-shankbne-4-24-12-m176Vince’s pro journey began as the offensive coordinator on the 1950s Jim Lee Howell Giants (Landry as DC), then on recommendation of the Packers first choice, Iowa’s Forest Evashevski, was offered and accepted the project of resurrecting the greatness that had been Green Bay football under its founder, Curly Lambeau. When he was done in the Dairyland (‘68), having piled up five (5) NFL titles, including Super Bowls I & II, the Brooklyn-born taskmaster (Thurston: “He treats us all the same, like dogs”) was the standard of excellence in coaching and then started to tackle a new project in Washington, D.C. in guiding the long-suffering Redskins to their first winning season since Harry Truman’s first year as President in 1945 (7-5-2 (69)).

Lombardi’s Packers dominated much of the 60s, became the pride of Wisconsin football fans once again and, in its earlier days, the source of no small joy for the #1 Catholic and Vince’s friend in the White House, John Fitzgerald Kennedy.

With his winning ways and confident, at times arrogant air, his legend grew to colossal size, so big that the name Lombardi become sacrosanct in sporting circles. All of which means a call to replace the name on the Silver Swag would lead Packer-backers and media friendlies to just about freak.

But the Vince Lombardi brand of ball is as old as a pair of Johnny Unitas high-tops. Not lesser in its importance, just older.

His style of coaching (“Captain Ahab” to Mike Tomlin’s “cheerleader(ing)?”) and game plans that dominated the gridiron are long gone, unknown to younger fans as the NFL’s Network rarely showcases their vintage & voluminous NFL Films library, fixated instead on gab & top ten lists to bring in the teeny-boppers.

lombarditrophy-wc-safetycap-6-16-16-619kThe last remnants of the Lombardi / pre-pass game retired when his rival Bud Grant handed-in his clipboard (‘85). Though personalities far apart (See; MMQB – SI.com), Vince & Bud were like-minded in their passion and emphasis on ground-game, team-play and toughness: No gloves, warming or sticky, nor heaters on the Metropolitan Stadium (d. 1983) or Lambeau Field sidelines, no matter the frigidity (-13°). It was a man’s game, though, on occasion, brutish ball (See; Ice Bowl).

‘So what’ you say, ‘Lombardi’s name is a terrific tie to the NFL’s glorious past!’ Agree. Nobody loves history more than this scribbler but the trophy should be fairly current in name-plate, more representative of the National game as it stands. Not to cue a change every ten (10) years but when 2+ generations have spanned and a good candidate is present (BB), a renovation is in order. Frankly, the Tiffany-designed trophy needs an update, a new model to lose the tail-fins.

This pitch isn’t about pegging the best head coach in NFL history. We know who the best assistant coach is in Buddy Ryan (d.2016), Hall-worthy anyway, voting snobs, but trying to make permanent the best ever by etching a name is foolish.

There’s never been a better football coach, motivator, than Vince Lombardi. But then one could safely say the same about Chuck Noll, Tom Landry, Paul Brown, Joe Gibbs, NFL founder George Halas (NFCC trophy), Weeb Ewbank, Hank Stram, Curly Lambeau, John Madden and so on and so on.

sb-trophy-wc-2-5-12-l-tyrnes-s-lukeNot just any ol’ championship coach should be knocking the great Vince Lombardi off of his lofty, symbolic perch.

And Bill Belichick ain’t just any ol’ champion coach.

New England’s hoodie-wearing, gridiron guru is nonpareil and stands as the League’s new standard of excellence, a winning method as clear and consistent, as admired and feared by opponents as was the Green Bay Packers power-sweep in the 1960s. Success seems almost automatic.

What about Spygate? With ever-changing technologies there’s a corresponding rapid change in societal mores and then challenges in defining new boundaries.

His detractors might diss this on Bill, ‘Without Brady, Belichick is fair at best.’

But every great coach has his great player(s): Holmgren had Favre, Jackson had Michael, Huggins had Ruth…and Gehrig, Pop Warner had Thorpe, Riley had Magic, Bill has Tom and Vince had Bart Starr, who, if not the master-motivator behind the success was the master implementer of Lombardi‘s vision.

The difference? Some have a flair for innovation. In the Big Name group, men like Pop, Amos Alonzo Stagg, Sid Gillman, Hank Stram, Halas, Walsh, Lambeau, Paul Brown, Lombardi, Tommy Gorman, Bear Bryant, Nick Saban, Dick Irvin, Adrian “Cap” Anson, Pete Carroll, John Wooden, Red Auerbach, Knute Rockne and Belichick invent ways to win while putting an emphasis on fundamentals.

lombardi-starr-wc-cca-gbBeauty of Belichick is best illustrated, not in Pats 2016 regular season mark (14-2), almost ho-hum for a B&B team, but that even as Tom was out, NE went 3-1 (Ws v. AZ, MIA and HOU), guided by two quarterbacks who, though played with composure, had zero (0) starts prior between them in Jim Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett.

By the time Bill retires, probably not long after his #1 (Tom) hangs up his cleats, Lombardi’s name will have graced the Big Trophy for over fifty (50) years. That’s a long, respectful time.

When the Powers-that-Be named the trophy in 1970, it was about excellence, empathy & remembrance. Another naming (2020+) could be about excellence, remembrance and relevancy. But even if, Belichick, as was Lombardi, is proud and would likely refuse the honor. Great minds think alike. Vince wasn’t all too keen either about renaming City Field for the legendary Lambeau. But one can hardly imagine today the famous frozen tundra titled any other way.

Will Bill Belichick hoist his 5th Lombardi when SB51 comes to a close? That I have not yet decided. Whether he does or doesn’t, the name game will begin.

ford-851k-wc-grfl-1933-umSteven Keys
NFL HunchLine
Photo credit: NFL-symbol, wikiproject, Ixnay-Beao; B.Belichick, wc, D.Shakbne, 4.24.12; LombardiTrophy, wc, Safetycap, 6.16.16; SB-Trophy, wc, 2.5.12, Tyrnes, S.Luke; Lombardi-Starr, wc.cca; G.Ford, wc, GRFL, 1933, UoM
Posted: 1.27.17 @ 1:40pm, edit (+BW) 1.28 @ 9:42 EST; Copyright © 2017


NFL17 Division Cherry Picks: Chaff Aside & Eight Seeds Alive, Goddess Ceres Asks, ‘Who’s Got Destiny?’

11 Jan

Green Bay Packers
New England Patriots
Pittsburgh Steelers
Seattle Seahawks

They are the juggernauts of the oh-so sticky-glove era, winners of four (4) of the last eight (8), seven (7) of the last thirteen (13) NFL championships and almost half (13) of the last thirty (30) American – National Football Conference Super Bowl births. That’s alot of Bowl Babies, “by gosh by golly.”

ceres-wc-france-late19c-jlpc-9mThey are the haughty half of the eight remaining teams in the division playoff round, teams who have in recent times won their respective Conference hardware (Halas / Hunt) and are again in position to punch their ticket to SB51 in hopes of hoisting the vaunted Lombardi trophy, again.

The rich getting richer? It’s been the unaltered economic state going back to Nixon and will likely continue on with Trump directing the flow, so why buck the trend, eh? Ugh.

It’s in divisional play where the bye guys (no pun) in the Patriots, Falcons, KC and Dallas will now be tested under the brightest of lights and fiercest of foes. Simply stated, this is “the best of times,” for football viewers.

wilson-2-5m-11-11-12-l-maurer-wcUnlike the NCAA championships (March Madness) where Rd-1 of 34 games displays some of the most exhilarating and unexpected outcomes, NFL’s wild card stage is largely an exercise in separating chaff (hull) from the wheat (seed), i.e., threshing or thrashing, as it were. While Derek Carr’s presence would’ve had an impact, injuries plague every team and the WC is becoming semi-pathetic.

Did any unbiased, rationally-minded prognosticator truly believe that the Detroit Lions, Oakland Raiders or Miami Dolphins stood a snowball’s chance in Hades of advancing? And the one team some thought (moi) might put up a fight and make it interesting, the Giants, they too looked like they didn’t belong (13-38 GB).

Atlanta Falcons
Kansas City Chiefs
Dallas Cowboys
Houston Texans

They are the wannabes, the aspiring four remaining teams who’ve been out of the mix (Super) for so long (ATL, DAL, KC), or never in it (HOU), that they cannot rightly call themselves a standard-bearer, no matter the jersey sales (Dallas), and must earn their way back to where the big boys hang their hats (See; above).

kelce-wc-j-beall-9-14-14-1-5mThree of the four, Falcons, Chiefs & Cowboys, will play host to a juggernaut, boosting their chances a bit but had better bring their best game or next Monday they’ll be spending the day planning the next family cruise.

Winner’s Tale

1) Always able: Easy ability to matriculate (24+ pts);

2) Fourth-quarter defense that stops the scoring and bolts it down. Same holds true in college football and something that Alabama genius Nick Saban overlooked this time (“Clemson’s Dabo Swinney may have the nation’s best progression (75-27) since taking the Tigers’ reins (2008) and is a top candidate to topple cartel. Explains the raise ($5M) (9.2.16)”);

3) Fewest turnovers; and

4) Reliable kicking game (50 yd+).


Cherry Picks Division Grade

Seattle (11-5-1) @ Atlanta (11-5) 1.14 Fox 4:35 EST

Almost four years to the date (1.13.13) when in the divisional it appeared Pete Carroll’s building project hadn’t yet matured. Seattle played Swing Time in Atlanta to roar back for 21 points in the 4Q, only to lose on a late Matt Ryan-led FG drive (30-28). Falcons “Mighty (Dan) Quinn” was Hawks’ DC then and next year when Seattle hoisted (SB48). A-Birds are a scoring machine (33+) with best PS kicker in Bryant (92% (6-8 50+)) but DQ hasn’t built the top-stop (D) like he did in Emerald City. Awash in injuries, Seahawks’ defense still sticks while Rawls motors (6.ypc-DET). Earlier W6 battle is indicative (SEA 26-24): Close one where 4Q stoppage will decide it: Seahawks win.

Houston (10-7) @ New England (14-2) CBS 8:15

Osweiler battles Tannehill for ‘Rodney Dangerfield award (“no respect”)’ while facing maybe the best coach-QB tandem in history (Bill & Tom), in Foxborough, versus well-rested hosts with Tom in top form. Houston will need a Texas-sized shamrock to pull-off upset of the century. O’Brien has the defense clicking on all cylinders, even sans Mr. Celebrity (Watt), but the Pats, scoring experts they are, also play some D themselves, leading in all-important PPG rank (15.6), 2+ pts lower than next best, NYG (HOU 20.5), which goes to their W3 blanking of Texans (27-0). “Houston” would like to play for the crown in their NRG park come February but may have to satisfy still with the world’s Rollerball (‘75) championship (Ouch!). New England wins.


Pittsburgh (12-5) @ Kansas City (12-4) 1.15 NBC 1:05

Fans of this former AFL power hope Andy Reid’s plan gets Chiefs back where Hank Stram got ‘em when KC did “matriculate” all over the Vikes (SB4). Steelers defense is rated (342 ypg (12)) but KC bests their guest on PPG, 19.4 < 20.4. It’s former Chiefs guru Haley designing Pitt’s scoring scheme (24.9 ppg), a smidgen up on Chiefs OC Childress (24.3). Steelers have big weapons in Brown, Bell, Big Ben and SB coach Tomlin who wants desperately to prove he’s more than a “cheerleader.” No ICBMs in KC but QB Smith is cool customer, Ware aches (rib) but is all-purpose, Kelce a top TE and Peters a game-changer. Digits and W4 win (43-14) say Steelers favored but Ben’s gimpy (ankle) and Chiefs benefit from the home-field advantage: Kansas City wins.

Green Bay (11-6) @ Dallas (13-3) Fox 4:40

Packers get top TV slot, again, though, green & yellow would just assume face America’s Team sooner than later. Big Question: Will Dallas’ transplendent rookies in Prescott & Elliott hold up under bright lights or is middling GB defense (#22 / 21) enough to rattle their senses? Green Bay lit-up Vikes top D (#3 / 6) in W16 on a secondary that defected. No such discord in Dallas (#14 / 5). Boys W6 win at Lambeau (30-16) caught Pack in a state-of-funk, one since deodorized by a 7-game streak (sweet smell of success). GB still has a run void but Ramblin’ Man Rodgers is locked in. Long layoff helps veteran-led teams like Patriots but takes the edge off young Turks (Dak & Zeke). Nelson ribbed but was non-factor vs. NYG. Experience trumps exuberance. Packers win.

Record: 83 – 91 – 3

Steven Keys
NFL HunchLine
Photo credit: NFL-sign, wikiproject; Goddess-Ceres, France, late.19c., wc.cca, JLPC; R.Wilson, wc, 11.11.12, L.Maurer; T.Kelce, wc, 9.14.14, J.Beall; cherries, Hispalois, wc, 7.2.12, Caceres-Spain; Packers-cheer, wc, M.Morbeck, 9.26.10
Posted: 1.11.17 @ 11:14am, edit 3:35, pic-fix 1.13 @ 2:20pm; Copyright © 2017

NFL16 Cherry Picks W16: Holiday Pigskin, Christmas Songs & My Favorite Things

20 Dec

Minute Waltz – NFL Week 15

Sherman on TNF = “poopfest.” Classy, but what took ya’ so long, Dick?

LA – Seattle: Rams helmets rocked but the game, and Hawks uniforms, color that looked “a cross between piss yellow and puke green,” that was all fertilizer.

No tears for axed Jeff Fisher but cow-pies for Jr.-media who campaigned.

Mike Zimmer might wish he’d had patches over both eyes (Colts win!).

Pack peaks at perfect time (CHI) and showed shades of Chandler (Crosby).

Sooooo sticky-glove: Garment game-changers aid Odell’s TD grab (DET).

To NFL GameDay Live: No more on-air Michael Jackson “love”-fest.

— — —

My Favorite Things

No “raindrops on roses” or “whiskers on kittens” in this write. No siree, Bob. That kinda’ imagery is just fine when it emanates from the beautiful & talented Mary Martin and Julie Andrews as they nurtured their youthful yodelers in the pre-War Austrian Alps, but not from this blogisphere burgermeister.

Instead, fasten that imaginary seat-belt, tune in gold standard sounds of Xmas royalty like Perry Como, Tony Bennett, Vaughn Monroe, Sammy Davis, Sinatras, Jo Stafford, Al Hirt, Jack Jones, Barb Streisand, Doris Day, Rosemary Clooney, Bobby Vinton, Peggy Lee, Neil Diamond, Mel Tormé, Ella Fitzgerald or Gene Autry and page through this sport fan’s Yuletide album of holiday favorites.

Among those favorites, America’s greatest music genre that takes center-stage throughout the month of December, getting continuous playtime in nearly every faithful home & spirited store in the land. Though, for some, maybe those who Santa disappointed or have begun to see the season’s activity start to appear on their credit card bills, the season’s songs begin to overstay their welcome (grate on the nerves) by the month’s end. Ah.

And you won’t see Blue Christmas or Mele Kalikimaka here, either. Sirius favorites this 2016 holiday season, my song list is already jam-packed.

♫ Mix and a-mingle in the jingling feet ♫

belichick-wc-cca-k-allison-8-28-09-110kSport: Yule football, outside, daytime, cold (15°+), no promotions and won on a scoring bomb

Athlete: That baller who refuses (@ 20°+) to don cheat (sticky) gloves and realizes that his personal success turns, in measurable part, on team

NFL coach: New England Patriots’ Bill Belichick. A favorite press-conference retort in deflecting a cub reporter‘s criticism of Bill’s non-devotion to metrics strategy: “You (reporter) could attend Northeastern Analytics Conference, get your fill of it there”

NFL team: In the Black & Blue division (NFCN)

College team(s): Wildcats, Northwestern (Ill.) and Arizona (Tucson)

Christmas film: Holiday Affair, Mitchum – Leigh – Corey – Morgan (49)

Song: Winter Wonderland, Johnny Mathis (58) – Bernard & Smith

♫ Chestnuts roasting on an open fire ♫

soundofmusic-wc-salzburg-c-plummer-j-andrews-1964-20cf-831kVoice: White Christmas, Bing Crosby, Trotter Orchestra & Darby Singers (42),  Irving Berlin

Pop: It’s the Most Wonderful Time of Year, Andy Williams – Pola & Wyle (63)

Rock: Jingle Bell Rock, Bobby Helms, Hank Garland & Anita Kerr Quartet – Beal & Boothe (57)

Rockette: Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree, Brenda Lee, Johnny Marks (58)

Tribal: I’ll Be Home for Christmas, Jerry Vale (64), Kent – Gannon – Ram

Global: O Tannenbaum, Nat King Cole (60) & Army Band, Anschütz & Franck

Film song: Have Yourself, Meet Me in St. Louis, Judy Garland – Martin (44)

Duet: Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gormé, That Holiday Feeling album (64)!

♫ Tiny tots with eyes all a-glow ♫

armstrong-wc-2-76m-1953-nywt-staff-locKid: Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town, Ray Coniff Singers (59), Coots & Gillespie

Hymn: Joy to the World, Philadelphia Brass Ensemble (67), Watt – Handel

Orchestra: Sleigh Ride, Boston Pops (49), Fiedler – Leroy Anderson & Mitchell Parish

Jazz: Cool Yule, Louis Armstrong & Commanders – Steve Allen (53)

Blues: I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm, Billie Holiday (58), Berlin

Fun: You’re a Mean One Mr. Grinch, Ravenscroft & Geisel – Hague (66)

Warm: It’s a Marshmallow World, Dean Martin (66), Sigman & DeRose

Glow: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Lena Horne (66), John Marks

♫ Thumpety thump-thump, thumpety thump-thump ♫

charliebrown-wc-1-3m-j-flannery-usps-2015Hot: Santa Baby, Kitt – Javits & P.Springer (53)

Cold: Frosty the Snowman, Patti Page – Walter Rollins and Steve Nelson (50)

Hope: There’s Always Tomorrow, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (TV (64)), Janis Orenstein

Swing: The Little Drummer Boy, Count Basie Orchestra (15), K.Davis

Elvis: Here Comes Santa Claus, Presley (57), Haldeman & Autry

Beatles: Happy Xmas (So This is…), J.Lennon – Y.Ono – HCC (71)

Instrumental: Vince Guaraldi Trio, A Charlie Brown Christmas (65)

Chorus: We Need a Little Christmas, Percy Faith – J. Herman (66)

♫ Fire’s dying but we’re still good-bying ♫

tudor-football-johnmaxmena-j-mena-wc-1974Christmas toy: Tudor Electric Football

Holiday TV: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (64), A Charlie Brown Christmas (65) and Dr. Seuss How the Grinch Stole Christmas (66)

TV spot: André Champagne, “Ring in the holidays (1970-80s)”

Holiday snack: Salty, Pistachios & cashews; Sweety, dark chocolate & fruit

Dinner: Baked ham, twice-baked potatoes, corn niblets & chilled Chardonnay

Good Cheer: Retail: Baileys Irish Cream; Homemade: brandy spiked egg-nog

Date: The day Nike’s NFL contract terminates (See; Color Rush, Bucs, etc.)

cherries-ripe-chirak-wc-605k-6-24-7Cherry Picks Week 16: Lambeau hosts Bad Blood II

NYG (10-4) @ Eagles (5-9): 12.22 NBC 8:25: Eagles win
Miami (9-5) @ Buffalo (6-8): 12.24 CBS 1:00: Bills win
Titans (8-6) @ Jags (2-12): CBS 1:00: Jacksonville wins
Minnesota Vikes (7-7) @ Green Bay Packers (8-6): Fox 1:00: Pack wins
Washington Redskins (7-6-1) @ Chicago Bears (3-11): Fox 1:00: Bears win
Atlanta Falcons (9-5) @ Panthers (6-8) GTW: Fox 1:00: Carolina wins
Indianapolis Colts (7-7) @ Oakland Raiders (11-3): CBS 4:05: Colts win
Tampa Bay Bucs (9-5) @ Saints (6-8) GTW: Fox 4:25: New Orleans wins
Arizona Cardinals (5-8-1) @ Seattle Seahawks (9-4-1): Fox 4:25: Hawks win
Cincinnati Bengals (5-8-1) @ Houston Texans (8-6): NBC 8:25: Cincy wins
Baltimore (8-6) @ Pittsburgh (9-5) GTW: 12.25 NFLN 4:30: Ravens win
Denver Broncos (8-6) @ Kansas City Chiefs (10-4): NBC 8:30: Chiefs win
Detroit (9-5) @ Cowboys (12-2) GTW: 12.26 Disney 8:30: Detroit wins

Record: 68 -80 – 2

......NFL-symbol.wikiproject.6kbSteven Keys
NFL HunchLine
Photo credit: Sound-of-Music-play, Martin, wc.cca, 1959, T.Frissell; Belichick, wc, K.Allison, 5.28.9; SoM, Plummer, Andrews, wc, 1964, 20CF; Armstrong, LoC, NYWT, 1953, wc; Charlie-Brown-Christmas, J.Flannery, USPS, 2015; Tudor-Electric-Football, wc, 1974, J.Mena; cherries, wc, Chirak, 6.24.7; NFL-symbol, wikiproject
Posted: 12.20.16 @ 11:32am EST; Copyright © 2016

NFL15 Minute Waltz 17: Too Much Genius

29 Dec

Wow Bill Belichick

The setting: NFL15 over-time (20 all), Week 16, Patriots at the Jets.

New England wins the coin-flip.

....Belichick.wc.cca.D.Shankbne.4.24.12.thmbBut rather than choosing to receive the ball, you choose instead to give the ball to your opponent in hopes that your defense will prevent them from scoring, in order that you may get the ball back and score to win the game in the preferred manner of your choosing which was in this case kicking a field-goal (Gostkowski).

Wow, William.

That coin-toss call was kinda’ like ‘robbing Peter to pay Paul.’ Even though you had the jack ($) to pay Paul (Brady et al)) you could’ve left old Peter out of it.

Sporting Gods must be scratching their heads on this one. Even for Belichick, who’s well known to pull a rabbit out of his hat on occasion (“Belichick Effect”) and lives by his own dictates-in-strategy, this one was really pushing his luck.

...NFL-symbol.wikiproject.6kbNFL office is partly to blame for this sort of over-think on Patriots part.

The “tinker bells” should’ve left well enough alone in the overtime play.

But their modus operandi seems to be, ‘If it works, fix it,’ especially if it rings the register. Cha-ching (See; sticky-gloves)!

Sudden-death overtime worked fine. Kinda’ cool, too. A finality we were forced to face. Life lesson. Serious stuff. And not many cry-babies in the aftermath, either. Now they come outta’ the woodwork. First to score, be it by field goal, TD or safety is the winner. Simple. Clear. You’ve got a defense, make it work.

....tinker.bell.Wondercon.7731.wc.4.19.14.Mooshuu.tmbOvertime is a gift. And the newer form (NCAA form is an embarrassment to the game) may be fostering bad risk-taking.

In a tie at end of regulation, both clubs played not-to-win, so to speak. If you don’t get the pigskin on offense in the extra period, tough luck. You had plenty of chances to settle the score in the regular and now it’s time to go home, fellas.

The changes the NFL office worked (Competition Cmte?) are like an attractive nuisance in tort. If someone tinkering hadn’t left that darn ladder outside, that so-an-so wouldn’t have climbed up it, bumped his head and found negligence.

Bill’s got a little bump on his head from the Jets loss. He’s on such a lofty perch (4 SB wins (6)) it’s hard to see. But it’s there. And it’ll heal soon enough.

And I hope Wow Bill Belichick keeps taking chances, like that 4th & short from inside their own 30 late versus the Colts a few years back (Brady pass to Moss). It was gutsy call and rationally-based. And I still think Randy got the 1st-down, too.

But next time, Bill, give your noggin’ a break. ‘The shortest distance between two points is a straight line,’ big guy: Jets 26, Patriots 20.

.....macroecono.lamcasinoroyal.2011.wcSteven Keys
Macro Sport
Photo credit: B.Belichick, wc.cca, 8.28.09, K.Allison; Belichick, wc, Shankbne, 4.24.12; NFL-symbol, wikiproject; tinker-bell, wondercon.7731, wc, 4.19.14, Mooshuu; macroecono, lamcasinoroyal, 2011, wc;
Posted: 12.29.15 @ 4:07pm EST; Copyright © 2015

NFL15: Why Goodell Goofed in Patriots Penalty

12 May

Update: Shortly before this write was set to post on Monday, the NFL announced that Tom Brady would be suspended four games and the Patriots penalized $1M with the loss of two draft picks for their role in what the League believes was a rules violative effort to deflate game balls below acceptable standard.

* * * * * * * *

I wouldn’t exactly call it karmic backlash but these past twelve months have been one, hellacious rollercoaster ride for NFL’s standard bearer franchise, the New England Patriots.

The 2014 season began under cloud of apprehension over the arrest, indictment and impending criminal trial of former tight-end Aaron Hernandez, eventually found guilty last April by the State of Massachusetts of 1° murder. Downward.


In February the Patriots took a tremendous Super Bowl win, their fourth under coach Bill Belichick, over Junior America’s favorite team, the defending champion Seattle Seahawks (28-24). Upward.

Now, the Foxborough franchise is beset, their starry signal-caller Tom Brady in particular, by one more of what’s becoming a long, continuous line of storylines (Sterling-Stiviano, Rice, Sam, etc.) that seem to suck-in the entire sports cycle like a black-hole and has come to be known as Deflategate, harkening back to that original ‘gate’ scandal of somewhat greater significance in Nixon’s Watergate (‘73). But don’t try selling that to the trolls.

Which makes this writer wonder why NBA’s Cleveland club got off easy with their in-game video (v CHI) that made light of domestic violence. Maybe the Tosh.0 effect: degradation for laughs. As long as the offensive display was “not intended” to offend, as Cavs’ brass responded, I guess it wasn’t protest-worthy, I guess.

The power of royalty (James) and near-monopoly (Nike®).

Since NFL began its inquiry into whether or not Patriots & staffers Jim McNally and John Jastremski (‘Frick & Frack‘) feloniously fiddled with 2015’s AFCC Wilsons (IND) by deflating psi without official OK, wrapped-up last week on Ted Wells issuance of his report (“more probable than not” that Patriots worked a “deliberate effort to circumvent (NFL) rules” and Brady was likely aware), the saga has come to a halt, waiting on Commissioner Roger Goodell’s ruling.


As popular today as a black-hole storyline is the new national tendency to kick a winner when they’re down. Maybe that’s not so new, but clearly a habit taken up with a passion by millennials and their kin. Course, Fox News has been awful popular since the 90s, so there’s that. Suffice to write, it‘s a lonely walk “On The Sunny Side of the Street (McHugh & Fields)” in 2015.

It helps explain why the last prior inquiry (Mueller) that looked into NFL handling of the Rice matter and largely cleared Goodell of wrong-doing was met with a fair skepticism, while the arguably over-reach conclusions of the Wells report have been widely adopted.

The common thread: Whether it’s jumping anti-Redskins bandwagon, screaming for Roger’s resignation (Rice-gate) or trashing Tom as “The Public Enemy (31),” those who seek the League’s downfall will keep trolling for topics.

The minutemen are clearly winners, NFL’s biggest since America’s former Team, the Cowboys, were ropin’ Lombardis (mid-90s), and certainly down. So if you polled sport news followers (not fans, necessarily), most believe Brady “circumvented” and should then be punished by the Commissioner with fine and/or suspension.

That attitude makes the ‘How’ question (What sort of penalty should the All-Pro quarterback be handed?), the query of choice amongst non-footballers.

But given that, 1) There’s no good evidence a suspected “circumvention” was a long-standing ploy in Foxborough; 2) the Wilson’s slightly deflated state had any measurable bearing on the outcome of contests (See: AFCC (Colts) & SB49 (SEA)), unlike the harm that was Bountygate (See; Favre & Warner ‘10-PS); and, 3) that if the expected penalty, whatever form it takes, is assessed on New England, it will, as some speculate, be source of legal challenge and most “likely” voided on appeal (See; Vilma ‘13), the better question is this: Should Patriots and Brady be punished at all?


The answer: No.

While I trust Attorney Wells & staff acted in good faith, they appear to’ve over-broadly interpreted their duty as one that, if at all possible (‘reasonably’ omitted), should come to a conclusion as if in a civil court property-divvy.

But in Deflategate there’s no property dispute, no necessity for a determination.

More probable than not” or a preponderance of evidence (51%) is a standard used in civil trials across the land everyday when property & rights are put at issue and a decision must be rendered to settle a dispute. Loosely stated, the court says to the trier of fact, ‘You don’t have to be certain but we need a decision, so decide, one way or the other.’

Never written into law or formally instructed, the 51 percentile is a generally accepted understanding of the application of the standard by triers of fact.

Simply stated, in civil cases where a decision must be made up or down, one side or another, the ‘preponderance / more probable’ standard provides an easier deciding point from where the subject property can be divvied without the greater mental, emotional investment required in meeting the clear & convincing (75%) and criminal BRD (90% +/-) benchmarks.

But a preponderance being equal to a likelihood, the conclusion that Wells and media reports so haphazardly toss around in claim of Brady knowledge of a supposed deflating scheme, well, that’s pure gobbledygook. Since when does 2% (51 – 49 = 2) create likelihood of anything?


If Wells investigators didn’t have evidence to make firm findings, which appears the case, and questions on intent to tamper / deflate are left unanswered, so be it.

The Wells Report feels like conjectured conclusion where a result was so strongly sought that it would not be denied regardless of its “basis.” It suggests wrong-doing by Patriots even as it’s probabilities go largely unsupported by direct evidence.

It reads like an educated hunch that clumsily leaves one of the League’s standard-bearer franchises open to petty, endless criticism and mockery even as the findings fall far short of being definitive or even likelihoods on numerous issues.

Inconclusive’ should’ve been the drafter’s opening rather than setting out front the legal standard MPTN as motif unfairly creating public impression of a likelihood of misdeeds.

Maybe fearing public backlash, claim of bias, Wells played it safe and tried to have it both ways in stating there was probably a circumvention by New England, but we lack the “basis” to definitively state it with any degree of certainty. Ugh.

It would’ve served Wells, fandom, NFL and the general public much better had the attorney followed that physician’s creed (Inman): First, do no harm.

One fact that is well established apart from the Wells Report is that enhancing football-grip is only permitted in conjunction with NFL/PA approved (sticky) glove contracts.

The Report is, however, an official hunch so it’s impact per likely League punishment will be outweighed by its blemish on Patriots’ legacy that’ll resonate almost entirely with their and the NFL’s rivals.


Goodell can, firstly, suppress that erroneous motif, digest the report, consult, ponder and then, barring any clear evidence showing Brady or other investigatees failed to cooperate on material matters germane to the discovery truth, give Tom and the Patriots a punishment pass.

But Roger’s got a problem.

The Rice matter and the misdirected, somewhat self-serving public outrcry that arose post-TMZ video drop, has emotionally neutered the Commissioner, taken from him the verve & vigor that had been defining his leadership and left a man who’s now always looking over shoulder and gauging winds, not unlike politicos who live by the polls.

Goodell must find his inner Landis (Kenesaw Mountain), his greater Giamatti (Bart), and lead with the same wisdom and courage he showed in Bountygate.

My own hunch is that Patriots engaged in some extra ball management outside strict adherence to generally accepted practice and/or rules (J&M texts appear not much more than worthless drivel). Not so much because Belichick & Company like to bend the rules but because the Patriots Way believes in testing the limits, an ambitious approach that, in other venues, can be highly praised.

But whether or not Tom likes to bleed a little psi from his pigskins, investigators aught not engage in official hunchery. They have a higher standard to meet. As I can be wrong in my suspicions, so too could they even in an official capacity.


Absent firm findings on claims of non-cooperation (one (TB) could refuse to turn over phone records for reasons that have nada to do with hiding supposedly damning information (privacy & principle)) and tampering that go beyond mere face & bearing, the facts that New England dispatched Indy with ease in the fully-inflated 2nd half of the AFCC that triggered the inquiry, bested defending champ Seattle (SB49) and that ball-control was clearly not well regulated by NFL (unattended official‘s locker-room), all go a long way in ranking this possible rule violation in same class with a player who adds extra uniform padding but below NED (noise enhancing devilry): very low.

Given how Roger’s lost his hutzpah since Rice-gate firestorm charred NFL landscape, a blind obedience to the tenuous tenor of the Wellsian Hunch would not surprise with a Brady suspension to follow (2g). If so, as mentioned above, Brady suing the League in response with NFLPA support, no matter what penalty may be levied ($1 or 1 day), is real possibility. He’d seem to have the meritorious grounds to sustain such an action.

If you’re a fan of due process (fund’l fairness), NFL and capable of subjugating a prejudice, be it team / QB rivalry or NFL policy positions, you’ll support a cautious read of Wells and a ‘no punishment’ ruling by Goodell on Deflategate.

As to the loosey-goosey nature of ball management by NFL officials who‘ve gone mostly unscathed in Deflategate reporting, that state goes to the issue of clarity. In a legal venue, claiming unawares of the law works no defense, but an unclear law as written or in enforcement can give an accused a pass to walk out the door.


But best of all, Goodell taking a punishment pass would go a long way to putting this boring little mystery novella called Deflategate up on the shelf for good, and bad.

“Brady, Brady, Brady, Almighty!” The man from Milwaukee may’ve been a prophet (Inherit the Wind (‘60)).


Steven Keys

NFL HunchLine

Photo Credits: T.Brady, wc.cca, 9.14.14, A.Campbell; T.Brady, wc, 8.28.09, K.Allison; football.Wilson, extreme, wc, 2010, HordeFTL; R.Goodell, wc, 8.30.12, SSG.T.Wade, USMA; B.Belichick, 8.28.09, wc, K.Allison; R.Goodell, wc, 7.10.08, Sgt.B.DelVecchio, Afgah; T.Brady, wc, mongomez93; S.Tracy, F.March, screenshot, Inherit, 1960, wc; NFL-wikiproject.
Posted: 5.11.15 @ 9:39pm EST

NFL14 Cherry Picks W13: Clingons Invade NFL

27 Nov

“Hail, (Isotoner®)!”

The clingons have arrived and they’re every bit as ugly as we imagined.

No, no, not the Star Trek variety (“Klingon“). Not exactly a handsome race but then look who’s hooked on The Walking Dead. Ugh.

These particular clingons hail from planet Earth: manufactured glove wear. All made in the USA? I wouldn’t know and don’t expect any reporter to brave the question, either.

They’re good for keeping your digits dry in rain and alive when the thermometer read falls below 32°. But as far as the game of football goes they’re a plague of such sissified proportions they make me wonder whatever happened to the visceral sport I once knew.

And they’re a force so financially formidable now it’s pretty much assured these landing-pad, oven-mitts will unfortunately be around “as long as the grass grow, the wind blow and the sky is blue,” or the Lambeau leap and sack-dances keeping rolling our eyes.

I don’t recall exactly what year it was when the first all-season, sticky-glove received player / League approval and then appeared on the gridiron, but I image it went largely unnoticed by the gaze of fandom and uncommented upon by compliant media.

But with Giants’ receiver Odell Beckham making the one-handed grab “heard ‘round the (sporting) world” against the Cowboys Sunday night (DAL 31-28), hailed by those more impressionables as “the greatest grab in NFL history (“Odell” / King / SI.com / 11-24-14),” the controversial catching-aid is in the spotlight as never before.


Unfortunately we’ll never know how many truly great grabs football receivers will make in this era of high marketing, including Beckham’s now all-too-common catch, with aerial aiding sticky-gloves having changed the football landscape from high school to the pros.

Catching-aids (no pun) like gripper gloves and the banned adhesive that was known in the 70s as stick’em (Stickum® is a trade-name), constitute unfair play in league, if not class, with PEDs, making hand-action almost unnecessary and increasing surface area by 22%.

The percentage is a guess but I challenge anyone to prove a lesser figure. Fat chance.

And then I don’t remember feeling deprived or deficient in hellacious hauls by skilled & savvy receivers before the sticky-glove plague swept the football nation.

Soon, marketers, NFL brass and their pen-wielding allies-in-shill will have all America’s grade school kids wearing these ridiculous greed-grabbers and TD enhancers that hang in the aisle next to the mouth guards. And like we needed more scoring. Ugh.

There’s a practical place & time for skin-saving covers, from frigid cold (See; Ice Bowl ’67) to “wiwee“ wet weather. Last Sunday night wasn’t it. Beckham’s highlighted reception likely never materializes without NFL’s new clingon ally, the sticky-glove.

This is what happens when non-sport fans manage your game. Halas and Hutson must be spinning. “For the times they are a-changin.'” Cha-ching ($)!

But giving thanks this week for those few, independent-minded hold-outs who’ve not yet caved to the crass conformity in cover, men who still trust their hands, respect and simply just enjoy the game of football as it’s best played, clean and Cling Free®.

Clash of the Juggernauts

The day, November 30, 2014, 4:25 CST, Lambeau (City) Field. One you’ll be telling your grandchildren about? Ahhh, “maybe no,” but it should be a barnburner.

It’s the irresistible force taking on the unstoppable horde this late afternoon Sunday.

Coaching superstar Bill Belichick, led by his glamour quarterback and ring-laden, Tom Brady, takes on the rising coaching star from America’s Dairyland, stout guru Mike McCarthy and his QB, heir to the Favre throne, Discount Double-Checker Aaron Rodgers for what many are saying is a preview of the season’s upcoming Super Bowl 49.


Don’t know why, but the mythical “Connor” family (Roseanne) of “Lanford” Illinois comes to my mind here, something about turkey day and the pleasures of gobble & gorge.

But this battle of scoring-punch heavyweights ain’t about food nor family matters, it’s about something “Dan,” “DJ” and “Darlene” loved almost as much as dishing insults and warm, fuzzy make-ups, and that’s football. Though, their favored form just happened to be an entertainment entree served a little south on I-43 / 94 at Soldiers Field: da’ Bears.

Pack (8-3) overcame early season miscues and now stand alone atop NFCN after having slipped by struggling but spunkified rival Vikings last Sunday, while former co-leader Detroit fell with a whimper to these same New Englanders (9-2) in Foxborough.


Picking a favorite here is like choosing between bacon and chocolate: not easily done.

And given the Super Bowl feel that’s in the air and TV advertisers have no doubt been drooling about for weeks, maybe a friendly wager between the Mayors of Green Bay and Boston (Foxborough) should be riding on the outcome of this highly-touted tussle?

Mayor Schmitt can put up paper products (G-P / P&G), Usinger’s® sausage and Miller High Life® (Milwaukee), while Mayor Walsh might solicit some Dunkin’ Donuts®, Baskin-Robbins® and BBC (Sam Adams) beer from his regional corporate allies in an interstate gesture of good spirit and fellow-American fun.

Marty’s gonna’ love that summer sausage on a saltine. Satisfying.


Cherry Picks Week 13: “Dreams of Victory”

Bears (5-6) @ DET (7-4): 11-27 CBS 12:30 EST: Chicago wins
Eagles (8-3) @ Dallas (8-3): Fox 4:30: Philadelphia wins
Seahawks (7-4) @ San Fran (7-4): NBC 8:30: Hawks win
Browns (7-4) @ Buffalo (6-5): 11-30 CBS 1:00: Bills win
Chargers (7-4) @ Baltimore (7-4): CBS 1:00: Bolts win
Saints (4-7) @ Pittsburgh (7-4): Fox 1:00: New Orleans wins
Cardinals (9-2) @ Atlanta (4-7): Fox 4:05: Falcons win
Patriots (9-2) @ GB (8-3): CBS 4:25 (GOTW): Pats win
Broncos (8-3) @ Kansas City (7-4): NBC 8:30: Chiefs win

Record: 60 – 34 – 1

Steven Keys
NFL HunchLine
Photo credits: Klingons, wc.cca, 8.12.07, Eric; NFL-gloves, USMC, wc.cca, Iraq, 7.27.06, Cpl R.Lewis; Belichick, 8.28.09, wc.cca, K.Allison; McCarthy, wc.cca, 8.11.07, TJ.Grant; cherries, B.Kua, wc.cca.
Posted: 11.26.14 @ 11:54pm; 11.27 edit @ 4:36pm EST