Tag Archives: football

New York City: More than Just the Jets (Fortunately!)

New York's Times Square

In the spirit of full disclosure, let me point out that I was born in New York, and though my family moved to New England when I was only a boy of four, I have fond memories of many visits there, over the years, to visit my relatives.  My boyhood memories include great times at Coney Island, the Bronx Zoo, the Statue of Liberty., and later the New York World’s fair.  As we grew up here in Massachusetts, my younger brother and I always selected Mickey Mantle and Whitey Ford to emulate when we’d play baseball.  We sang along with Frank when he belted out “New York, New York” at countless weddings and Bar Mitzvahs.  I remember admiring John Lindsey and John Rockefeller, even as I became enamored of the Kennedy brothers.   I appreciated the Giants and Bill Parcells, even before he came to the Pats.   And even though I am a rabid Red Sox fan, I have always appreciated and applauded Yankees from Thurman Munson to Graig Nettles to Andy Pettite to Derek Jeter to Mariano Rivera who have played the game with both grit and class.

“So what?”  you ask.  So, there is no way you can accuse me of being a Big Apple-hater!  In fact, I just got back from a few days of delightful New York sight-seeing where I visited the Bronx Zoo, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, Times Square, the Brooklyn Bridge, and the Top of the Rock.  You can check out my photos at http://mrgrosky.wordpress.com/ and at http://www.flickr.com/photos/mrgrosky/ .

That is why it almost pains me to say that the New York team which is visiting Gillette Stadium in Foxboro tomorrow–the New York Jets–is one which is unworthy of its fans and unworthy of the great city of New York.   Yeah, I know all about the Patriots and the great Snowplow controversy and Spygate ………The former was no big deal to anyone except Don Shula and some disgruntled Dolphins, and the latter was nearly identical to what many other NFL coaches have routinely done.    For that, they were justly penalized a total of $750 THOUSAND  dollars and a first round draft choice—the toughest penalty in NFL history.   But these two events are the sole blemishes on a team that for much of the 90’s and the first decade in the new millennium has represented class and the highest level of skill.  Since 1994, the Pats have the best record in football.  They have continued their extraordinary record even after Spygate in 2007, when many were hoping and waiting for them to fall on their faces.

Now the Jets, on the other hand, have long been a team that has fallen far short of expectations.   Many say that the first three words that a new Manhattan daddy hears his baby utter are “Same Old Jets.”

This year the Jets have notched new lows in outrageousness and lack of class.  Hmmmm…….where do I start?   There are so many examples that I’d better take them chronologically.  Way back in August there was the HBO Hard Knocks display of profanity by brash Coach Rex Ryan.  Then in September, a reporter complained that she was subjected to catcalls and jokes by players as she covered practices.    Jets owner Woody Johnson had to not only apologize, but was forced to pay for an NFL training program to improve the workplace environment.   Also in September, we had the allegations of driving while intoxicated against Jets receiver Braylon Edwards.  Then, in December, the Jets were forced to suspend their strength and conditioning coach when he instructed inactive players to form a wall on the sidelines before he tripped a Dolphins special teams player during the game.  Then in December and January, we continued to deal with the behavior of Brett Favre, back when he was a Jet–serious allegations of sexual harassment by this famous quarterback, who also happens, by the way, to be a married man.  In recent days we have arrogant Coach Rex Ryan trying to get inside Tom Brady’s head by saying that Brady studies—but not as much as Peyton Manning, and that Manning would have been watching the Jets instead of watching the Broadway show Lombardi, a la Brady.  Finally, this week we have Antonio Cromartie profanely attacking Brady with words that can not be reprinted here (because this blog is read by adults and children of all ages).   For that reason among others, I will not even tread into the dirty waters surrounding the Ryan/Ryan foot issue.

And what have the Pats done during all this time?  Kept their mouths shut, respected their opponents–including the Jets–and played tough, smart, great football–even while having one of the youngest teams in the league.  The Jets would do well to remember that words are cheap, and that it is action and results that count.

For tomorrow’s playoff game, I hope that the Jets leave the trash talk in the locker room, and come out to play some good clean hard-nosed football.  It’ll be the only way they have a chance.   If they get carried away with their own hyperbole, as they did the last time they met the Pats, it’ll end up being another blowout with the Pat winning 38-10.  If the Jet can play up to the level and quality of the city they represent—with class and with heart—it’ll be significantly closer.

Still, I’m predicting a Patriots victory 31-27.

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Super Bowl XLIV–A Review

I can’t remember any non-Patriots Super Bowl in recent years that I have enjoyed as much as Sunday night’s game between the Saints and the Colts.  And no–it wasn’t just because I had predicted the upset a week earlier right here on my blog.  There were a number of reasons that I had a great time at my good friend Arthur’s Annual Super Bowl Party—great company, tons of munchies, a delicious half-time feast, and a game that was worthy of the title SUPER Bowl.

Now as my second-ever YouTube video (and the first one featuring Yours Truly) I also reviewed this game at http://www.youtube.com/user/mrgrosky1.   I’m trying out an idea that I’ll call “Just Three Things” where I’ll focus on three major points.  In any case, a little of this may look familiar if you have already seen my video on You Tube.  If not, I’d appreciate your checking it out, and telling me what you think.  I know I look excessively serious—but hey, it was my first time on You Tube, and I was really nervous!  I know, pretty strange, considering my dramatic background. 

Anyway, back to the Super Bowl!

I guess I was rooting for the Saints because I felt that the city of New Orleans would really be uplifted by a Saints victory.  After all, Hurricane Katrina’s effects continue to impact nearly everyone in the city–their homes and their families.  Secondly, I had read a lot about Drew Brees and all that he and his teammates had done for their adopted home city. 

Speaking of Brees, what an amazing clutch performance!  32 completions in 39 attempts for 288 yards–tying Tom Brady’s Super Bowl record for completions!  Two touchdown passes and NO interceptions.  He spread the ball around to EIGHT receivers:  Marques Colston caught 7, Devery Henderson another 7, Pierre Thomas 6, and Reggie Bush pulled in 4, along with some nifty running.  In the go-ahead touchdown drive, he even hit seven in a row to seven different receivers–absolutely Brady-esque!  But what impresses me most is that he’s not only a great quarterback, he’s also a good man–a kind and decent man, and even (dare I say it?) a good role model.   Look, he came back from a serious injury four years ago when San Diego didn’t want him, when nobody wanted him, except for the Saints.  And he won over them AND the city of New Orleans!

Now what about Peyton Manning…?  Well, from everything I hear—another really decent guy—-BUT—he’s got two problems:  1. He’s the nemesis of my favorite player and team (Brady and the New England Patriots) and he’s a bit overexposed as far as commercials go.   I really wasn’t eager to see him win the game and hear all those Colts brag about how he had won two Super Bowls and was just one behind Brady.  So how did he do?  All things considered, pretty well overall–just not good enough in a game where Brees was better.  Manning was 31 for 45, 333 yards’ worth of completions, with one touchdown and (oh, yes) just that one KILLER interception.  He had a couple dropped on him, but then again, so did Brees!  So, I guess that mean that he’s now just 50 percent lifetime for both the playoffs (9 wins, 9 losses) and for the Super Bowl too (where he’s now won 1 and lost 1).  Now, sorry about that Colts fans, but that just doesn’t cut it when you compare that to Tom Brady 14 wins and 4 losses in the playoffs and his 4 wins and 1 loss in Super Bowls.  I give Manning his due:  he IS a great quarterback, but “Quarterback of the Decade?”  THAT would HAVE to be Tom Brady.

Before I wrap up, I’ve got to give a huge amount of credit to two coaches:  first of all, to Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams.  Hey, anytime you can hold Peyton Manning to 17 points, you know that you’ve devised a great defensive game plan.  Secondly, kudos to Coach Sean Payton for an extraordinary job overall.  He had his team ready to play hard–with emotion–but also with control.   He also took the game right to the Colts with three gutsy decision.  First of all, he went for it on fourth and one early in the game when the safe call would have been a field goal.  At the time, especially since they were stopped on the fourth down try, it looked like it may have been a huge mistake.  But then, the Saints defense stopped the Colts offense cold, forced them to punt, and took advantage of a short field to score a field goal just before the half. 

The second gutsy call was the shocker of an onside kick to open up the second half, with the Colts leading 10-6.  Sure it worked, but if it hadn’t (and let’s face it, it usually DOESN’T) then Manning might very well have brought the Colts in for a quick score, a 17-6 lead and an avalanche of second-guessing the coach’s decision to go for the onside kick at that point.  “What in the world was he thinking? all the experts and pseudo-experts would have proclaimed.  Instead of a goat, he’s a genius—because they made it!

The final gutsy decision was to go for the two extra points (instead of the nearly-automatic one point)  after their go ahead touchdown.  Two point is tough to make, but those two points meant that even if Manning had been able to rally his troops for another score (plus a Colts extra point), the game would be no more than tied–possibly heading for the first overtime in Super Bowl history.  So Congrats to the coaches–as well as the players.

Finally, as I think about all the problems that we have in our country at this time, I can’t help but wish that more people thought and spoke as Drew Brees did after the game on Sunday night.  If you missed the interview, think about what he said for a moment.  Maybe we can all learn something from Drew Brees:

“Four years ago, who ever thought this would happen?  Eighty-five percent of the city was under water, all the residents evacuated all over the country, people never knowing if they were coming back or if New Orleans would come back,” Brees said.  “But not only the city came back, but the team came back too…When the players got there, we all looked at one another and said, ‘We’re going to rebuild together.  We leaned on each other.  This [the Super Bowl victory] is the culmination of that.'”  From the ashes, the Saints and the city that loves them, have arisen.  May they both continue to prosper.

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Super Bowl XLIV–Saints Vs. Colts

   

Monday Morning's Headline Shows New Orleans' Victory Over Indianapolis

 

Those of you who remember and loved Super Bowl XXIX with its record 75 points are going to be thrilled with this year’s clash of two high-octane offenses going at each other full-tilt.  This year’s classic will set a new benchmark for high scoring championships with a total of 77 points to be scored, with the Saints taking home the Lombardi trophy 42-35.  

As good as Peyton Manning has been, he’s still no Tom Brady in the big ones.   Still, I expect he’ll come out firing and generate some good scoring drives.  Unfortunately for the Colts and Manning, however, I expect that Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams’ warriors are going to make good on his promise to lay some “remember me” hits on Manning, particularly in the form of Defensive Tackle Sedrick Ellis.  Ellis will have a career game applying pressure on Manning–much like the Jets were able to do in the first half of their battle against the Colts.  The usually untouchable and unflappable Manning will be harrassed all game long by the Saints defense, much like they did to Warner and Favre.  Still, because he is Peyton Manning–a very talented quarterback—he’ll get his points—just not quite enough of them.  

On the other side of the field, there is Drew Brees, and this is Drew Brees’ year!  As great as his numbers have been this year, however, he’s not a one-year wonder; he has thrown for a total of more yards over the past four years than any other NFL quarterback!   The Colts–having faced the likes of Joe Flacco and Mark Sanchez–are finally facing the kind of prolific QB that they have in Manning—but this time–Folks–he’s playin’ for the other guys!  And Drew Brees has some great receivers that he knows just how to utilize!  He’s been throwing to most of these same guys for 3 or 4 years now, so they are at the point where they can read each other’s minds.  Marques Colston had well over a thousand yards receiving and nine TD receptions.  You’ve got Devery Henderson and Robert Mechem who will be grabbing the deep balls, and Lance Moore who will do damage in the slot.  Tight End Jeremy Shockey is looking to this game to make a statement, and he might very well do so.  I look for Reggie Bush (47 catches in the regular season)to have a good game too–breaking at least one catch for major yardage.  With all these weapons and Dwight Freeney’s ankle still far from 100 percent, there is no way that the Colts defense can contain Brees and Company.  

All things considered, and giving Manning his due, 42-35–Saints–is my prediction, though it could be an even longer night for the Colts if Manning gets frustrated or knocked out early.  Get ready for the Super Bowl of Mardi Gras on Bourbon Street!  The Saints will come marchin in—Big Time!

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Scott Brown, Haiti Relief, and Football

Election of Scott Brown in Mass. Illustrates Voter Anger and Frustration

This week’s election of Massachusetts relatively obscure State Senator Scott Brown to the U.S. Senate was a wake-up call to all politicians in Washington that the Americans are fed up with business as usual in the Beltway.  Martha Coakley may not have been the strongest campaigner, but after all–this is Massachusetts–the true-blue state that voted over 60 percent for Barack Obama just over a year ago!

Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I do have to admit that my adult son and I spent almost three hours alone on a downtown corner in an election-day snowstorm holding signs for Martha Coakley.  We recorded 52 thumbs-up from passing motorists vs. only 29 thumbs down during about a thirty-minute time period when we were making our strictly unscientific poll.  Since our town and the whole state voted strongly for Brown, the only thing we were able to confirm was the complete unreliability of these unscientific polls!

So, what does it all mean?  Well, first of all, it means that the people are unhappy with the slow pace of the recovery and the higher-than-ten percent unemployment rate (9.4 percent here in Massachusetts).  Secondly, they seem to be angry with both Democrats whom they view as trying to spend our way out of the recession by using huge amounts of taxpayer money (adding to the deficit) with additional government programs like health care.  Although many people in Massachusetts support the idea of health care for the 30 million Americans who do not have any health care (and the elimination of prior conditions as a rationale for rejection ), they are incensed with back-room deals and a perceived lack of transparency in developing a health care bill.  While this looks like good news for Republicans, it is clear that they should not be licking their chops just yet.  Surveys and interviews with voters show that the people are  also not happy with Republicans who seem to be refusing to compromise, and are now beginning to be known as the Party of “No.”  Many people I spoke to point to the fact that Republicans and Conservatives  like Sen. Jim DeMint or Rush Limbaugh seem to WANT Barack Obama to fail and are, therefore, doing everything within their power to be obstructionist and confrontational–refusing to work with the President or to offer realistic compromises.

For those who pay attention to history, it is clear that this financial crisis does not belong to any ONE political party.  After all,  Democrat Bill Clinton left a $237 billion surplus for Republican George Bush and a Republican Congress.  President Bush and his policies caused that surplus to disappear largely through unfunded wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, leaving  Democrat Barack Obama (on entering office)  a $1.3 trillion deficit.

The general view seems to be that Scott Brown–an attractive and energetic campaigner–was able to tap into all of that voter frustration.  Running a smart campaign, he is the beneficiary of all of that voter anger and angst.  His job now is to  prove that he is, in fact,  the independent thinker, shaker and mover that he purported to be.  In the spirit of good government and true bipartisanship, I wish him all the best.  Our country needs it; our democracy demands it.

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NOW,  ONTO  SOME  OTHER  CONCERNS  OF  THE  WEEK:

Kudos to the American people who have rallied to the cause of disaster relief in Haiti by donating over 377 million dollars in the past two weeks.   As an American and an educator for nearly 37 years, it makes me proud to see how average citizens–many in financial difficulty themselves–have dug deeply to help friends in the world community who have been stricken by the disaster in Haiti.  While so many countries–including the U.S., Mexico, Venezuela, Israel, Spain, and China–have sent doctors and/or rescue squads, many are also contributing huge amounts of money.  Based upon the percentage of amounts donated and/or pledged and on the per capita contributions (which takes the population of each country into account), it seems that the leading contributors are the United States, Canada, Spain, Great Britain, France, the World Bank, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and the European Commission.  I hope the contributions continue to flow in –even as Haiti fades from the nightly news reports, and the media focuses on other areas of the world.

Since they often are ridiculed for the causes they espouse, I also want to thank those celebrities who were involved as performers or phone handlers in the telethon for Haiti relief which was on all three networks yesterday.   Sure, our society rewards superstar celebrities with nearly obscene salaries for their singing or acting, but it behooves us to point out that a large number of these celebrities really do seem to have genuine social consciences that cause them to go into action to help in the worst of times.  Thanks to celebrities such as George Clooney, Madonna, Sting, Alicia Keys, Stevie Wonder, Bruce Springsteen, Taylor Swift, Keith Urban, Kid Rock, Neil Young, JayZ, Beyonce, Shakira Wyclef Jean, Bono, Sheryl Crow, and Rhiana who all performed (partial list).  Thanks also to those who manned the phones:  Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert DeNiro, Julia Roberts, Jack Nicholson, Denzel Washington, Matt Damon, Clint Eastwood, Halle Berry, Ben Stiller, Stephen Spielberg, Ellen DeGeneres, Brad Pitt, Tom Hanks, and Reese Witherspoon.  As of this morning, their efforts had already raised 67 million dollars.  Quite a few of these celebrities have also made major contributions from their own personal fortunes to Haiti relief. Just a few of the heavy contributors:  Sandra Bullock (1 million dollars), Leonardo DiCaprio (1 million dollars), Madonna (250,000 dollars), Clooney/Pitt and others (1 million dollars)..

Just a few words on the NFL playoffs……..I am writing this just as the AFC Championship game begins.   As I think of the millions of fans who are diverted by football for a few hours from their financial or personal problems, I am reminded a bit of my Shakespeare classes at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine.  It seemed that even in the midst of a classic tragedy like Macbeth, Shakespeare  managed to introduce some comic relief—just to allow the audience to breathe a bit–before the worst to come.  One hopes that we have already seen the worst, but it is nice–nevertheless–to be able to take a breath, watch the Jets, the Colts, the Vikings, and the Saints–and be concerned only with yards per carry, interceptions, quarterback sacks, and the like.  If only the problems of the world could be so simple.

My Predictions:

Colts defeat Jets 24-21;  (Jets’ defense not enough to stop Manning) and Saints defeat Vikings 31-27  (Bret Favre is good (and Adrian Peterson could help), but Drew Brees is better.

Until Next Week………….

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