Tag Archives: Vince Lombardi

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

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

NFL16 Cherry Picks W2: New Digs, Old Scores to Settle in League’s Fiercest Feud

18 Sep

Bad Blood

The date: October 22, 1961.

The place: Metropolitan Stadium (d.1984), Bloomington, Minnesota.

The weather: Overcast, mild (55°), breezy and humid (72%).

The event: The Green Bay Packers take to Minnesota tundra for the first time to face-off against the fledgling Vikings in the Norsemen’s inaugural NFL campaign.

The head coaches: Vince Lombardi (GB ‘59) v. Norm Van Brocklin (MIN ‘61).

starr-wc-cca-gb-1956-71-301kSome of the more notable players: Green Bay: Bart Starr (QB), Paul Hornung (HB), Jim Taylor (FB), Boyd Dowler (E), Herb Adderley (CB/KR), Willie Wood (S/PR), Ray Nitschke (LB), Willie Davis (DE), Jim Ringo (C), Forrest Gregg (T/G), Jerry Kramer (G) and Henry Jordan (DT); Minnesota: Francis “The Scrambler” Tarkenton (QB), Hugh McElhenny (HB), Tommy Mason (K-PR) and Hall-of-Fame Overlookees Jim Marshall (DE) & Grady Alderman (T/G).

I was around at the time but what you might call, highly dependent.

A fetus, was I, though, in using contemporary Supreme Court standard, given Mom’s stage of pregnancy, I would’ve been adjudged well into viability (24th week (+/-), lungs working) and fully vested with all Constitutional rights and protections appurtenant.

Nonetheless, awareness was not one of those rights, or senses, more accurately, and I literally could not have cared any less than I (probably) did as to outcome of this opening act between the Vikings and Packers in the early 60s. That (caring) would come ten years later as I invoked my right to choice and began siding with one of the two teams at issue. Hint: Brett Favre was one terrific QB.

And I was the better in amniotic fluid, having missed this earliest engagement.

tarkenton-wc-themiaminews-1-9-74-320kThe first encounter between these two Northern rivals, arguably the most hateful rivalry in today’s NFL, not so much amongst players who, like most jocks in 2016, schmooze plenty (ugh), but rather, acrimony in the stands amongst the fans, wasn’t much of a contest.

The Pack, who’d go on to take the 1961 NFL title, Vince’s first as a head honcho, in trouncing Allie Sherman, Y.A. Tittle and Sam Huff’s New York Giants, 37-0, gave a like lesson in prowess to the Purple People, 33-7 on that mild, late October day. Vandy Commodore and ’62 Pro-Bowler Tom Moore ran wild in Bloomington for 159 as Tark threw three to the other team and benched for George Shaw late.

In a funny quirk of scheduling (It was a time that allowed for inexactitude), Green Bay would give the Vikings another spanking the next Sunday (It was a time that allowed for discipline), though, not so firmly, in besting their new rival, 28-10 at Lambeau, then known as City Field (It was a time that allowed for succinctness).

Things would get better for the Norsemen.

By 1964, having been thoroughly thumped by the Acme monsters for six straight, the Vikings, who almost became an AFL original in 1960 (Oakland), finally got off the schneid and beat the Packers 24-23 in the Fox Valley en route to their first winning season (8-5-1).

peterson-1-28-12-wc-arvee5-0-309kIn time, tables would turn in favor of the Minnesotans with Lombardi’s move upstairs (‘68), then to DC and Bud Grant’s long run of success from late 60s into the 1980s. The W-L tally between the two would hover around the .500 mark even through the Favre era (including his Minnesota sojourn (’09-10)) but swing heavily back to the green & yellow with coming-of-age of Mr. Rodgers.

What to expect this Sunday as the Packers fly to Minneapolis to help break the seal on the Vikes new digs, US Bank Stadium? We know Mike & Aaron will matriculate and Coach Zimmer’s men will play some defense. Keys: Can the host muster enough offense in backing their QB, whomever it be (Hill / Bradford), and the visitors make enough tackles late to make those points Rodgers does put on the board, sufficient.

cherries-cloth-picdrome-6-2011-thmCherry Picks Week 2

Dallas (0-1) @ DC (0-1): 9.18 Fox 1:00: Redskins win
Bengals (1-0) @ Pittsburgh (1-0): CBS 1:00: Cincy wins
New Orleans (0-1) @ NY Giants (1-0): Fox 1:00: Saints win
Miami Dolphins (0-1) @ New England Patriots (1-0): CBS 1:00: Miami wins
Kansas City Chiefs (1-0) @ Houston Texans (1-0): CBS 1:00: Houston wins
Tennessee Titans (0-1) @ Detroit Lions (1-0): CBS 1:00: Tennessee wins
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-0) @ Arizona: Fox 4:05 (GTW): Cardinals win
Atlanta Falcons (0-1) @ Oakland Raiders (1-0): CBS 4:25: Atlanta wins
Indianapolis Colts (1-0) @ Denver Broncos (1-0): CBS 4:25: Indy wins
Packers (1-0) @ Minnesota (1-0): NBC 8:30 (GTW2): Green Bay wins
Philadelphia Eagles (1-0) @ Chicago (0-1): 9.19 Disney 8:30: Bears win

Record: 4-4

......NFL-symbol.wikiproject.6kbSteven Keys
NFL HunchLine
Photo credit: B.Grant, wc.cca, 1.10.77, Eugene-Register-Guard; B.Starr, wc, GB, 1956-71; F.Tarkenton, wc, The-Miami-News, 1.9.74; A.Peterson, wc, Arvee5.0, 1.28.12; cherries-cloth, wc, 06-2011, picdrome; NFL-symbol, wikiproject
Posted: 9.18.16 @ 1:04am EST: Copyright © 2016

NFL16 Cherry Picks W1: “Winning Isn’t Everything” ..Seriously

7 Sep

You’ve gotta’ hand it to little Sherry Jackson. The girl knew her football.

In the 1950s, the precocious child actress starred with such film greats as John Garfield, Phyllis Thaxter, Patricia Neal, Donna Reed, Marie Windsor, Anne Baxter, Jean Hagen and Steve Cochran just to name a few, then moved to TV where she’d co-star on Make Room For Daddy, aka, The Danny Thomas Show (1953-64) (Dan a co-founder of the Dolphins (‘65)) and later blossomed into one of the most recognizable, beautiful TV starlets of the 1960s & 70s.

jackson-thomas-wc-abc-71k-makeroomIn one of her early, more notable films, Trouble Along the Way (‘53), Sherry (“Carole”) teamed with former USC man John Wayne as “Steve Williams,” a divorced, single-parent football coach whose rule-bending ways have him building back at a struggling Catholic college (Notre Dame‘s poor relative) run by the lovable Charles Coburn (“Father Burke”). In it she speaks one of the most famous lines in sport history, often mis-credited to the incomparable Vince Lombardi of Packers fame: “Like Steve (Dad) says, winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.” “You know it, kid (J.Van Fleet).”

Don’t misunderstand the title. Winning’s great, especially when you haven’t had much. Vince seemed to win just by walking his persona onto the field, and barking a bit (“Where’s the tacking out there! Just alot a’ grab grab!’”).

But when losing becomes routine you can go one of two ways, either wail like a banshee about it or try to find the good where you can.

With that in mind I present the ‘goods.’ Four (4) up-sides to keep in mind for you and the team if those Ls happen to start overtaking the Ws this NFL16 season. Not everyone can live up-stream (NE, GB, PIT, DEN..). I didn’t make the rules.

stethoscope-wc-8-11-8-stethoscopes-thm1) Good health: When you’ve got it, you’ve got ‘everything,’ it’s been said. A bit of hyperbole to be sure, but when you don’t have it, getting it back will become “the only thing.” Once you’ve settled-in to losing (W6?), the BP will settle down. Oh yeah, exercise 4-5 times a week (walk, don’t run) and get off the sugar, ASAP.

2) PRV (Pressure Release Valve): Is your team in the toilet? Relax, now the pressure’s off. Like the political party that loses the White House bid. Being the out-of-power / minority sect can have its advantages as critic and deal-buster. Think Bill & Tom don’t get frazzled with all that pressure to maintain the Patriot Way? You bet they do (See; Lombardi to DC (‘69)).

And those wise-cracks about your team’s futility that’ve grown as tired as another Law & Order episode, unless your nemesis, Sir (Madam) Wisenheimer, boasts a team who hoists in February, you’ve plenty of time now to stock your verbal ammunition for when their ‘contender’ moves next door into Bust City.

3) More face-time: The more your men stumble on the turf, the more time you have on social-media to get the latest on your greatest celebs like Kaep Krusader, Johnny Matriculator (A&M) and Timmy Baseball-Until-the-Next-Schtick.

4) Feel the Draft: The more games your guys happen to lose, the more likely that prized college pick will come your team’s way in May. But no danger of tanking in the National (See; NBA), not for draft picks anyway (See; fantasy stats), just thinking glass half-full.

cherries-hispalois-7-2-12-caceres-spain-wc-4-4mCherry Picks Week 1

NFL 2016-17 presses the point again with that Thursday nite opener (Zzzzz) while Sunday offers the real deal with the fuller slate of football smorgasbord.

2015-16: 105 – 101 (.510 (DEN))
2014-15: 97 – 55 – 1 (.634 (NWE))

Minnesota Vikings @ Tennessee Titans: 9.11 Fox 1:00: Vikes win
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Atlanta Falcons: 1:00 Fox: Falcons win
Cincinnati Bengals @ New York Jets (GTW): 1:00 CBS: Cincy wins
San Diego Chargers @ Kansas City Chiefs: 1:00 CBS: Bolts win
Miami Dolphins @ Seattle Seahawks: 4:05 CBS: Dolphins win
New York Giants @ Dallas Cowboys: 4:25 Fox: New York wins
New England Patriots @ Arizona Cardinals 8:30 NBC: Cards win
Pittsburgh Steelers @ DC Redskins: 9.12 Disney 7:10: Steelers win

......NFL-symbol.wikiproject.6kbSteven Keys
NFL HunchLine
Photo credit: DenverBroncosMascot, Thunder, J.Beall, wc.cca, 8.20.16; S.Jackson-D.Thomas, MakeRoom, 1953, wc, ABC; ; stethoscope-hand, wc, 8.11.8, Stethoscopes; MD-stethoscope, wc, Peru, A.Proimos, 3.25.12; NFL-Draft-Shop, wc, 4.28.16, Fless13; cherries, wc, Hispalois, 7.2.12, Spain: NFL-tag, wikiproject
Posted: 9.7.16 @ 12:41am; photo-reload 11.23 @ 10pm; Copyright © 2016

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

26 Aug

Le voilà! Frozen Assets

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NFL16: Is There Really a Clutch Gene in the Strands?

14 Jun

Clutch Cargo

‘NEWS FLASH!

Roxanne Vivid (anchor): This just in. Some curious news from the science bunch. Craig, what do you have that’s exciting?

Craig Wherewithall (field reporter): Yes, Roxanne. Exciting? Possibly. Just a bit un-nerving? Oh yeah.

Biochemist researchers are preparing to make announcement today on what they claim is the first identification and isolation of a unique human gene tagged officially as CLT1 but more commonly known as the clutch gene.

Who’s likely to have such favored DNA nucleotide has not yet been determined but water-cooler scuttlebutt amongst genies, that’s slang for genetic engineers, Roxy, says a good, healthy appetite for turnips or radishes are, inexplicably two preliminary indicators of a person who may bear this curious gene.

What do ya’ think of that, Rox, turnips?

Roxanne Vivid: That’s why they pay you the big bucks, Craig.’

— — —

*........ClutchCargo.team.smIt’s not so far-fetched.

There’s a smoker’s gene, a breast cancer gene (BRCA1), a fat gene, a thin gene, a hair (loss (ugh)) gene, there’s gotta’ be an insatiable-gene that keeps us grabbin’ for more pop & chips and a longevity gene that may invite one to fully embrace that smoker’s gene. There’s even a Gene Simmons, a Gene Shalit, a Gina Lollobrigida (89 on 7.4) and a clutch of black-billed magpies.

So why couldn’t there be a clutch gene in amongst all of those co-mingled and cooperating chromosomes?

If epigenetists ever do pinpoint one’s clutchness you can expect corporate / government recruiters, with Constitutional case-law in hand, to dive head first into job applicant gene pools. NFL draft boards too would get into the act with cooperative agents and NFLPA Suits approval, drawing blood samples pre-draft in search of my mythical CLT1. Future Shock (‘70)? Future freaky, for sure.

Until that disturbing day arrives we’ll have to satisfy ourselves with assessing clutch capability the old-fashioned way: Game film, practice (yes, Allen) & play.

Why all this biochemistry blue-sky? To get kicking about the quarterbacks, of course. It’s summertime and you’ve gotta’ find NFL topics where you can, unless you like to vest heavily in the OTA stuff: Sweat City.

........DNA.11.21.11.wc.Spiffistan.thmThere are coaches, defensive stalwarts, even some of those who practice the oldest profession in football…on the field, the kickers, that should on occasion have their genes tested for stress and durability (What have they done to my Levi’s®?!).

But it’s the field generals who’ll have their moxie under a microscope and clutch credentials scoured from start to finish in NFL16, some of them well-est’d starters, others just getting their first taste of battle with no ribbons yet on their chests.

Veterans of the gridiron like Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, Eli Manning, Russ Wilson, NaVorro Bowman, D’Qwell Jackson, Lavonte David, Paul Posluszny, J.J. Watt, Adam Vinatieri, who is 43 when NFL16 kicks off (12/28/72), and coaches Belichick & Carroll will have no queries made on their clutchness. They all got it.

Those signal-callers still a bit green, early in their NFL journey or who labor on teams that are regular cellar-dwellers will not be subject of clutch speculation here either, even as ‘bad team’ is relative to quarterback play, of course.

But those quarterbacks who, even holding of impressive résumés that may include a Super Bowl ring, well established skill-sets but fair-to-middling post-season marks, will necessarily open themselves up to the clutch query: Do such players possess the clutch chromosome or merely performed a fortuitous catch of the proverbial lightning-in-a-bottle?’

........Rodgers.McCarthy.9.9.12.wc.Morbeck.thmThe list of names could include Andy Dalton (CIN), Joe Flacco (BAL), Andy Luck (IND), Phil Rivers (SD), Carson Palmer (AZ), Cam Newton (CAR), Matt Ryan (ATL), Matt Stafford (DAL), Jay Cutler (CHI) and Tony Romo (DAL). Every one an All-Pro with an impressive playoff victory or two under his belt, some having even drunk from the goblet of champions but waving a red-flag by recent and regular failures in finishing the job, making observers wonder whether they still have clutch capability or ever really had it in the first place.

And there’s one more top QB sporting a small flag as well that stands out from even that select group of starry signal-callers: Packers’ Aaron Rodgers.

Quarterback spot holds a special significance on every football squad, multiplied ten-fold in NFL circuit, bestowing a special cachet and no small amount of stress for its holder in locales like New York City (Giants / Jets), Dallas (America’s Team) and now on return to USA’s largest metropolis in Los Angeles (Rams).

But no command post is as pressure-packed (no pun) as that of NFL’s most successful franchise in Wisconsin’s Fox Valley, City of Green Bay (13 titles).

One of the League’s oldest members (1921), it’s been a std-bearer for most of its near 100 year existence and showcased some of the best at the QB spot with the likes of Arnie Herber and single-wing tailback Cecil Isbell in 1930s and 40s and then modern pocket passers in Bart Starr, Brett Favre and now Rodgers.

.......McCarthy.wc.cca.8.11.7.TJ.Grant.thmThe grinning guy in green & yellow and State Farm spokesman hoisted the Lombardi in just his 3rd season out of UCB (SB45 PIT) and has garnered two AP – MVP trophies since taking reins from the legendary Brett Favre in 2008. The passing numbers and weighty win-% keep piling up for Mr. Matriculator while a playoff appearance is practically a given with AR at the helm.

But Rodgers career playoff mark is a middling 7-6 with the infamous (not to Seattle fans) Cheese-Melt of 2015 still weighing on minds of Wisconsinites as the one that got away, leaving a lingering, bad taste in their mouths only to be rinsed clean by guzzling nectar from the cup of a champion (SB). Burp.

The drop-off in Aaron’s production in 2015-16 was short of glaring (60.7 C%, 3821py & 6.7 ypa, the latter #s career lows on 15g+) but noteworthy nonetheless. It’s common knowledge that the injury exit of GTG receiver Jordy Nelson was a factor in the drop but it’s also a known maxim that great QBs are possessing of the ability to raise the level of play of their teammates, when that surrounding cast is generally capable (See; Brady, Peyton, Big Ben, Brees, etc.).

With an earlier than expected exit from 2016 playoffs and the Purple taking the Black & Blue title, Packer-backers have been looking to scapegoat, someone other than a well decorated player with field citations: Hello, Mike McCarthy. It would have to be a coach, go figure.

.......Packers.Cheer.8.26.10.M.Morbeck.thmMike has coached Green Bay to eight winning seasons in his ten at the helm at Lambeau, seven double-digits, posts a .653 regular W%, has but one losing run, has managed the Pack to three NFCCs and won an NFL title in 2011 (SB45). But like his star QB in Rodgers, his post-season W% is an unremarkable 8-7.

That just passable PS mark, plus memory of Seattle still festering, has some Packers’ fans, most too young to recognize the name Chuck Mercein, comparing MM to the demigod Lombardi. That would be like judging The Searchers (’56) by today’s PC code. “Scar” would have to lose the snarl and drink tea with the Duke:

Scar: ‘More sugar, Broad Shoulders?
Ethan: Why yes, thank you. Nice teepee.’

Were Vince alive today (102) he’d understand the days of dynasty are over, the true form, anyway (’61, 62, 66, 67, 68) and that putting your team in position to play for the Conference title, something Mike has done his part to achieve consistently (’08, 11 & 15), is credentialing aplenty to be spared what’s become a yearly issue over his coaching caliber. Pack needs to energize in 2016? Sure. Mike needing to make his case? Nyet. Vince wouldn’t play that game. Wise man.

There’s little doubt these two GB gents possess a gene at least akin to the clutch variety. At worst, they’re certainly not clearly lacking in the nerve nucleotide.

Maybe everyone has a clutch gene, differentiated simply by the quantity or quality of histone protein that encircles our DNA strand (I did a smidgen of research), empowering one to seize the moment and perform in crunch.

Hooray for histone!

......NFL-symbol.wikiproject.6kbSteven Keys
NFL HunchLine
Photo credits: A.Rodgers, wc, M.Morbeck, 12.7.8; Clutch-Cargo; DNA, 11.21.11, Spiffistan, wc; Rodgers-McCarthy, 9.9.12, M.Morbeck, wc; McCarthy, wc, 8.11.7, TJ.Grant; Packers-cheer, wc, M.Morbeck, 8.26.10; NFL-wikiproject.
Posted: 6.14.16 @ 5:32pm; Copyright © 2016

NFL15 Cherry Picks W13: “Importance of Folly”

3 Dec

Go With Mojo

Sport fan that I am you’d think on turkey day I’d be glued to the tube (we’re not on the plasma-screen, yet) devouring the Cats-Cowboys contest before it got gamy (33-14), which was before Romo suffered a re-break of his clavicle. Poor guy. But like “Chet” said (Monte Walsh ‘70), “no one gets to be a Cowboy forever.” Ain’t it the truth.

Instead, I was tuned to TCM where they were running a family festival of flicks.

.......Taylor.1956.Giant.611k.thmThe players: 1940s #1 box-office draw Mickey Rooney (“Mi”) as ex-jockey wayfarer turned trainer, adorable Liz Taylor as wisp of a girl (“Velvet Brown”) who rides “the Pie,” blossoming beauty Angela Lansbury (“Edwina”) and veteran character actors Reginald Owen, Arthur Treacher (race patron), Arthur Shields and Anne Revere and Donald Crisp as the sage & certain “Brown” parents. Oh yeah, and least I forget, little Jackie Jenkins (“Donald”), the bug collector.

A movie with more wit & wisdom you will never find. If you’ve of a warming heart and sporting blood, this one’s for you.

Clarence Brown (director), Pandro Berman (producer) and Helen Deutsch (writer) packed this 2-hr beauty with enough practical proverbs, humor and heart-tugging tension to hold the interest of everyone but especially those who have ever lovingly engaged a “folly” in the dream to become a champion.

Not one to spoil an ending, suffice to say that Velvet and her “Sussex” stallion-in-spirit, the “Pie,” short for “murderous pirate,” an off-the-cuff remark made by its frustrated prior owner, give viewers what is arguably the greatest race in all of moviedom, chariot (Ben-Hur (‘59)) and car cruises (Bullitt (‘68)) included.

.......Revere.1947.wc.thm.Gentlemen'sVelvet personified the best of sport: An unflinching dedication, respect for the time & effort needed to achieve a champion’s end and most important of all, a full vesting of emotions, including an unabashed admission of the need for “glory” that only “folly” fulfills, this last trait inherited from “Mrs. Brown” who was herself imbued with spirit to compete, having swum “the Channel” in her youth.

If you don’t think emotion, heart, is central to sport, you don’t belong, not on the field, anyway. Probably wouldn’t do to have you in with the Suits & Skirts, either.

Lombardi said it, when you enter the world of sport you “bring your emotions with you.” Include in there having a good “cry” sometimes, too (Time 3/70).

Others don’t see it that way.

To them, the spectacle of sport is viewed through eye of an actuarial, calculating gains and risks as an insurance agent drafts a policy. Emotion? Only as necessary.

Enter Chuck Pagano, the Indianapolis Colts’ head coach. The Chuckster is in a bit of a sticky-wicket.

......Pagano.wc.8.20.09.K.Allison.thmHis starry young QB Andy Luck (35-20 (’12); 3-3 PS) struggled (2-5) this topsy-turvy 2015 and is set to return from a kidney hurt sometime soon, likely displacing veteran Matt Hasselbeck (205-156 (’99)), even as the former Super signal-caller (40: SEA (L v PIT)) has steadied the listing ship that was Indy earlier in the campaign by leading Colts in four victories and back into the mix.

If those numbers weren’t enough to get you behind Matt Hasselbeck, read on:

1) Nothing alters Luck’s status as Colts’ future, not even were Hasselbeck to lead Indy to SB50. Matt’s playing superbly but at 40 is playing out his string;

2) Andrew can be inserted anytime, if Matt loses the magic or suffers injury; and

3) Don’t mess with mojo. ‘If it works (and current guy got the machine running) don’t fix it.’ This had been a prevailing maxim and seems so in Denver where the Brock v Peyton debate rages. But then today’s drive to youthenize can work a double-std: Matt will likely be benched, Brock will play on.

Becher’s Brook

Soon into National Velvet the viewer learns of a hazard of hedges & trench in the handicap steeplechase known as “Becher’s Brook.” It can make mice of men and break beast of body & mind. As such, Mickey does his best to prepare his charge and her ride for the tough test that lies ahead. Both prove up to the task.

And it’s at this holiday stage in NFL’s course that every contender team should be asking themselves, ‘What Becher’s Brook lay ahead in our own pathway to glory?’ What major obstacle must each team overcome to get their ticket punched for that trip to Santa Clara (SB50) come February?

Fine lines: Every contender aught gage & wage the men-in-the-trenches. All good things come to those who control the line of scrimmage.

Split-the-Uprights: Grand National (1839) pre-dates US ‘ball (1869 (Wikipedia)), but the kicking-game’s been key from get-go, preceding forward pass by 30 years. Many a game comes down to a FG and practice makes perfect

Green Bay: Fill Jordy Nelson void. Not since 1930s could a 7-4 GB squad be underdog vs 4-7 Lions team. Worm turned? More like, Back to the Future..Shock.

Chicago: Sporting gods are having a ball in 2015, inviting Halas to join the fun (GB), yet wouldn’t take the founder’s call vs Denver (failed 2-pt’er (17-15)). Bears, like Vikes, need to score more points (21 (#24)) and hope Forte has another gear

......Viktor.11.7.10.wc.thm.MN-NG.2Minnesota: Seattle is a Certified Mettle Match but Green Bay (@ 1.3) is the Vikings’ litmus test

Indianapolis: Luck-on-return v. Hotter-than-pistol Hasselbeck

Denver: Brock v Peyton: Mustangs were 7-2 under Manning. The 2 Ls, nail-bitter (@ IND) and hobble City (KC). 7-2 this sorry NFL season is near champion

Seattle: Don’t scoreboard-watch (AZ), just keep doing what you’re doing

Arizona: Keep protecting Carson (17sk), blocking for David ‘Stiff Arm’ Johnson who’ll need to step up and try to get kicker Catanzaro more tries from 50+ (0-1).

Tampa Bay: Giving up too many points (25.4 (#25))

Atlanta: Getting next win (@ TB) could turn tide, Ryan avoiding INTs (12), return of healthy Freeman and the kicker spot settled are all brooks to breach

.....Stafford.wc.8.20.15.K.Allison.thmb.Detroit: Must send Green Bay packing (12.6), again, and the mojo will mushroom. More run-game would help.

Carolina: Tune out the naysayers, believe it’s earned (11-0) and Camster-the-Hamster needs to cut down on the rabbit

NFC East: Giants, Redskins and Eagles all must work to find consistency…somewhere, somewhere, sometime.

Kansas City: Like Lions, besting their long time rival (@ OAK) is a booster, QB Smith keeps playing his game and like many clubs, get more from the RBs

Oakland: Tough slate, and like TB, defense needs to catch-up to the offense

Houston: QB carousel (Hoyer+) and need more run (5td), but if Texans win 2 of next 3, chances for playoff slot are good

Cincinnati: Don’t look to the playoffs, spell Dalton’s arm with more run-game and try to get Nugent (K) some 50+ tries (0-0).

.....Roethlisberger.9.9.12.J.Beall.thmb.wcPittsburgh: Big Ben’s health overrides all which makes DeAngleo Williams contribution a key component

New York Jets: Another rival match-up (@ NYG) that sets the tone for the stretch run in a season where playoff spots are there for the taking

Buffalo: Like the Falcons, a win this Sunday could improve the outlook greatly for the remaining slate is not the toughest

New England: Protect Brady (25sk), catch his passes and hope to see NYG

The Human League

As November turns to December the whine-fest continues. Burp.

....ref.NFL.Cheffers.wc.2013.royalbroil.WI.thmThe bash of NFL officials goes on as the bullies get drunk on sour grapes & self-love. And sadly, NFL knee-jerks scramble to appease (“Report: Officiating Crew“ / SI.com / 12.1.15).

NFL referees, like baseball umpires, are the go-to whipping boys (now a few girls to feel the pain) for faux-fan scribes & sportscasters who groove on the gripe and fans who drink it in till their bellies fill, neither knowing when to say ‘when.’

Between the cry-babies, Chicken Littles and cluckheads who fear for profits, none of ‘em will cork-it until the human element is removed entirely from our tumultuous merriments and turned into video games where software kids decide the fates, who wins, who loses. Then they’ll gripe some more. Ugh.

..cherries.Hispalois.Spain.wc.cc.thmb

Cherry Picks Week 13

Pack (7-4) @ Lions (4-7); 12.3 CBS 8:25: GB wins
Jets (6-5) @ NYG (5-6); 12.6 CBS 1:00: Giants win
Cards (9-2) @ Rams (4-7); Fox 1:00: Arizona wins
Atlanta (6-5) @ Bucs (5-6); Fox 1:00: Falcons win
SEA (6-5) @ MIN (8-3); Fox 1:00 (GTW): Hawks win
49ers (3-8) @ Chicago (5-6); Fox 1:00: Bears win
Texans (6-5) @ Bills (5-6); CBS 1:00: Houston wins
Bengals (9-2) @ CVD (2-9); CBS 1:00: Cincy wins
Chiefs (6-5) @ Raiders (5-6); CBS 4:05; Kansas City wins
Denver (9-2) @ Chargers (3-8); CBS 4:05: San Diego wins
Eagles (4-7) @ New England (10-1); Fox 4:25: Patriots win
Carolina (11-0) @ New Orleans (4-7); Fox 4:25: Saints win
Colts (6-5) @ Pitt (6-5); NBC 8:30 (GTW2): Steelers win
Dallas (3-8) @ Redskins (5-6); 12.7 Disney 8:30: DC wins

Record: 62 – 63

...NFL-symbol.wikiproject.6kbSteven Keys
NFL HunchLine
Photo credit: National-Velvet, MGM, wc.cca, 1945, NBoRM; E.Taylor, 1956, Giant, wc; A.Revere, 1947, Gentlemens-Agreement, wc; C.Pagano, 8.20.09, K.Allison, wc; National-Velvet, MGM, wc.cca, 1945, NBoRM; Viktor, 11.7.10, wc, MN-NG; M.Stafford, 8.20.15, K.Allison, wc; B.Roethlisberger, 9.9.12, J.Beall, wc; NFL-referee, Cheffers, 2013, WI, royal broil, wc; Cherries, Hispalois, Spain, 7.2.12, wc; NFL-symbol, wikiproject
Posted: 12.3.15 @ 6:03pm EST; Copyright © 2015