Tag Archives: New England Patriots

The Importance of Making Good Choices: The Recent Cases of Paula Dean and Aaron Hernandez –originally posted on June 26, 2013

“It all comes down to the choices you make!”  Over the past 40 years in education, I have made that statement or ones like it thousandsDesktop2 of times to students and to my own children as elementary principal, teacher, and parent.  I have said it to them in the classroom, in my office, in the cafeteria, out on the playground, and on the soccer field.  And I have had a great deal of company in saying that.  So many teachers, guidance counselors, paraprofessionals, school nurses, and parents have their own versions:  “Take your time and make the right choice”   or   ”Be careful not to make a bad choice” or “Life is all about choices.”  Sometimes I tell children (as my wife has always said that SHE was told) “When you have a choice to make, pretend that your dad (or mom) is perched right there on your shoulder” and think “What would my dad or mom want me to do?”  or finally “What is the RIGHT thing to do?”

These thoughts are especially relevant  and close to my heart this week as the news reverberates with reports on the cases of two very different media stars–one a darling of television’s Food Network–Paula Dean, and the other a New England sports hero–Aaron Hernandez.

In Mrs. Dean’s case, what has her food empire in hot water are the reports of her using the “n-word,” making racist and anti-semitic jokes, and singing the praises of a hypothetical plantation-style wedding with Blacks dressed up in tuxes and waiting on Whites.  Thus far, these reports have resulted in her having her contract with the Food Network terminated after eleven years.  She also lost her very lucrative contract as spokesperson for Smithfield Farms.  All of this from not thinking carefully BEFORE repeating a racist joke—from making a poor choice in what stories to tell or what words to use to describe a group of people.  It apparently doesn’t matter that many of these offenses may be years old.  Many people may believe that she continues to feel and/or speak this way.  Many more may wonder if there are still additional people to come out of the closet who can report on offensive language she has used more recently.  Choices have consequences.

The second case continues to unfold in the headlines today as the police have arrested Mr. Hernandez–star tight end for my own beloved New England Patriots who recently honored him with a five-year 40 million (yes, you read that correctly) 40 MILLION dollar contract.  As I gaze past my computer towards the television news at this very moment, I see that Aaron Hernandez has now been charged with first degree murder and five weapons charges.  Whether he is guilty or innocent of such charges, one does not have to wonder how many opportunities he had that evening to make a choice–either a good choice or a bad choice.  It seems that he must have made some incredibly poor choices that night–choices that have resulted in his being released from the Patriots and much more seriously, being charged with murder.

Unfortunately, these are just the two most recent cases of famous people making the worst possible choices—choices that impact their lives in the most negative and destructive of ways.  Dan Levy of Bleacher Report points out that just in the NFL,  ”Just this year there have been more than 30 players arrested for myriad offenses, ranging from driving under the influence to assault to carrying a loaded gun in an airport.”

The following is a very partial list of just some of the hundreds of famous athletes convicted of crimes in the past few decades: Ray Lewis, Plaxico Burress, Dexter Manley, Art Schlichter, Donte Stallworth, Rae Carruth, Thomas “Hollywood” Henderson, Ryan Leaf, Mercury Morris, Bam Morris, Lawrence Phillips, O.J. Simpson, Michael Vick, Marion Jones, Steve Riddick, Barry Bonds, Lenny Dykstra, Dwight Gooden, Denny McLain, Pete Rose, Daryl Strawberry, Ugueth Urbina, Allen Iverson, Charles E. Smith, Sly Williams, Trevor Berbick, Riddick Bowe, Esteban de Jesus, Mike Tyson, Tonya Harding, Craig MacTavish, Boris Becker, Roscoe Tanner, Oscar Pistorius (Wikipedia).  Most of these you recognize from American sports leagues, but there are many other names from countries and sports all around the world which are listed on this wikipedia site: Please feel free to check out crimes committed by athletes in soccer (world football), bodybuilding, Canadian football, cricket, cycling, darts, diving, figure skating, Greco-Roman wrestling, competition fishing, horse racing, rugby, motorsports, sailing, skateboarding, snooker, surfing, swimming, and martial arts.

Outside the sports arena, the list of celebrities who have had problems (some minor and some major) with the law goes on and on: Chris Brown, Kanye West, Roman Polanski, Joyce DeWitt, Phil Spector, T.I., Sam Shepard, Coolio, Katt Williams, Coutney Love, Amy Winehouse, Lil Wayne, Charlie Sheen, Britney Spears, Mel Gibson, Tobey Maguire, Soulja Boy, Andy Dick, Rick Springfield, and Big Boi (thanks to Wonderwall) R. Kelly, Kim Delaney, Yasmine Bleeth, Carmen Electra, Dennis Rodman, Barron Hilton, Robert Downey Jr., Jennifer Capriati, Daniel Baldwin, Mickey Rourke, Steve-O, Lil Kim, Ozzy Osbourne, Fifty Cent, Vanilla Ice, Axl Rose, Christian Slater, Marilyn Manson, Lindsay Lohan, Eminem, Hugh Grant, Kiefer Sutherland, Paris Hilton, Kobe Bryant (thanks to AllWomenStalk???)

Politicians making bad choices ( in the past decade) which resulted in charges or convictions or resignations included the following:  Mark Sanford, Anthony Weiner, Elliot Spitzer, Tom DeLay, Jim McDermott, Jim Traficant, Dan Rostenkowski, Buz Lukens, , Ronald Blackley, Scooter Libby, Jesse Jackson, Claude Allen, Jack Abramoff.  Of course, Bill Clinton’s choices in the way he conducted his personal life–while not resulting in a conviction or resignation–greatly tarnished his presidency and impacted society and families in inumerable ways.

What is my point here?  It is a simple one–or rather, simple to state, but much harder to put into practice.  As parents, teachers, guidance counselors, principals, clergymen….we need to continue to help children—from the time they are very young through adulthood–we need to continue to help them to slow down, to think, to consider the available choices, to weigh the pros and cons and possible consequences, and to make good choices–the best possible choice in every possible circumstance.  We need to consider hypothetical circumstances in which one might find himself or herself.  We need to dialogue about choices available.  We need to role-play.  If a student DOES make a bad choice, we need to make sure that the students recognizes the choice the child had available to him or her, the choice which the child made, and the possible choices which would have led to a much better result.  The problem?  Good schools—like those here in our Athol-Royalston District and in many other districts in our state– are already practicing all of these strategies.  So what is to be done?  Do we just throw up our hands and assert that children, teenagers, and adults will continue to make poor choices?  Hardly!  Giving up is not an option–can never be an option.   We need to dedicate more time to teaching both children and adults good decision-making skills.

How can we do that, however, when schools are already jam-packed with time on reading, language arts, math, science, social studies–as well as art, music, health, physical education, and other subjects?  How can we do that when we need to continue to stress academics and time on learning so that we can compete with school systems in other countries, in addition to being  competitive in the global market.   How can we do this in the same 180 days of school we have had for decades?

One solution is to extend the amount of time we spend in the classroom.   I have long been an advocate of significantly increasing the time that students spend in school to accommodate both the needs of students and the needs of a more complex and competitive world.  Either increase the school day by an hour a day, or increase the number of days in the school year.  Increasing the school day by one hour a day–every day Monday through Friday– adds 180 hours –the equivalent of  30 extra six-hour days to the school year.  On the other hand, school systems could simply begin to increase the school year by adding additional days every year to the academic year.  Next year would have 182 days, the year after 184, 2015-16 would have 186 days, 2016-2017 would have 188 days and so on–until we eventually reached 200 days per year.  It is important to note that currently China has 260 days of school per year, Japan-243, Germany-240, Zimbabwee-225, Austrailia-220, South Korea-220, Israel-216, Russia-211, Netherlands-200, Scotland-200, Thailand-200, Hong Kong-195, England-192, Hungary-192,  Switzerland-191, and  Finland, New Zealand, and Nigeria all with 195.  Of course, increasing the school day and/or school year definitely would require additional funding for salaries commensurate with the added teaching time, but that is another subject for another blog entry.

A very important final point, however:  all the names mentioned above–all those convicted of bad behavior at least and serious crimes at most–are famous individuals.  Of even more importance is the undeniable fact that every day, every month, every year there are people in our own communities–young people and adults–who make bad choices (all-too-often horrible and disastrous choices–with irrevocable consequences) and who end up in real trouble with the law-or even worse.  Sometimes these choices end in serious injury or even death.  Sometimes we see their names in the police news or the court news or the obituary page, and sometimes we may not.  They are–all too often–our neighbors, our friends–sometimes even our family members or relatives.   For their sakes and for the sake of our children and our society, we need to find a way to ultimately help children, teenagers, and adults to make better choices.  It is the smart thing to do, and–more importantly–it is the RIGHT thing to do!

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First Week of 2012: The Republicans, Tim Tebow, and Kim Kardashian

Tim Tebow Before Being honored at halftime during the Dec. 23, 2007 Jaguars/Oakland game

Welcome back to This Week With Mitch Grosky.  This week I’ll focus on three stories:  News, Sports, and Entertainment.

We lead off this week with a quick look at the results of this week’s Iowa Caucases,   What did I think?  Well, Romney’s win wasn’t very surprising, but by only EIGHT votes………that’s incredible–the closest victory in any major Republican or Democratic Party contest–a great example for our kids on how every vote counts.

Rick Santorum, the former Senator from Pennsylvania came in second, right behind Romney, but many people consider his virtual tie with Romney a moral victory since he was in single digits just three weeks ago.  So, now it’s Santorum who has the “big mo”–momentum—on his side.  Most political pundits, however, think that he doesn’t have the organization or the money to take advantage of that momentum. Time will tell.

In third place, also with a very strong showing, was Texas Congressman Ron Paul.   His libertarian philosophy is striking more of a chord with people this time around.  Still, most of the experts think there’s no way he can win.  What really hurts him is those 8-10 outrageous and bigoted quotes from the Ron Paul newsletter and his outright refusal to consider taking military action if Iran gets a nuclear weapon.  That’s a position virtually no Republican—or Democrat agrees with.

Former Speaker Newt Gingrich finished a distant third.   It’ll be interesting to watch him at this weekend’s debates up in New Hampshire.  It was really obvious that he was furious with Romney because of   Romney’s SUPER-PAC ads.  I’m actually surprised he’s not more ticked off at Ron Paul who called him a serial hypocrite in his ads.

Texas Governor Rick Perry almost dropped out this week after finishing way back in the Iowa Caucuses.  I personally think he should have stayed in Texas because I really don’t think that he can get people to forget some really bad debates, and especially that big Oops moment—when he couldn’t name the third agency of the three that he wants to eliminate.  That is just the kind of gaffe that will go down in history like Nixon sweating against Kennedy, like Romney’s father, George Romney, saying that he’d been brainwashed, or like Gerald Ford saying that there wasn’t any Soviet domination of Eastern Europe.

Michelle Bachmann………well, she joins Herman Cain and Tim Pawlenty as also-rans.  What about Jon Huntsman?  Well, since he chose not to compete in Iowa and only got 700 votes, we’ll have to wait and see if he can get any traction up in New Hampshire.  My guess, not so much!

Moving on to sports………. My New England Patriots have a bye this week, and I’ll have to keep an eye on this weekend’s games to find out if they’ll be playing Cincinnati or Pittsburg next week.  At least, I’m glad that Brady and his banged up team will get some rest this week.  Brady is having another fantastic year, but then again, so are Drew Brees and Aaron Rogers.  Matthew Stafford too!  Oh, speaking of quarterbacks, I have to get in a Tebow comment before it’s too late.  Look, the Broncos are going to lose to the Steelers this weekend……….after all the Broncos lost their last three games, and Tebow was 19 of 51 for a grand total—a grand total of 245 yards in those three games.  What about the Steelers?  Well, they’ve only been in 3 of the last 6 Super Bowls, and they won two out of those three.  They’re right up there with the Patriots since the new millennium started.  But what I really wanted to say about Tebow is this:  Give the kid a break, will you?  He is just a kid—just graduated—-and almost everyone says he’s a super kid–kind, decent, hard-working, talented–a great college quarterback if not yet a great or even good pro quarterback.  But he works incredibly hard, he’s a leader, and he’s doing his best.   Oh, and he’s religious, strongly religious………and that’s a good thing too.  He prays and gives credit to God.   He kneels down in prayer at the end of each game.  So what?  He’s not forcing you or anyone else to kneel down.  He’s not hurting anyone.  He’s sincere in his beliefs.  Since when is that a bad thing?   There are many people—Christians, Jews, Muslims—who admire him for that kind of dedication to his religions.  So, cut him the same slack as we do when we see countless sports interviews where the first words out of the mouth of the guy who’s getting interviewed is:  “I want to thank God …….or Jesus Christ…..or Allah for this victory.”   He’s a real good kid who may never be a very good pro quarterback unless he develops his arm and his accuracy, but he’s a kid that most parents would be proud to have in their family.

And finally, some entertainment news–admittedly a bit of fluff that maybe hasn’t yet reached your radar screens yet.   Kim Kardashian’s in the news again.  According to E-On-line, apparently there’s going to be a line of Kardashian Barbie Dolls—–based on Kim and her sisters Khloe and Kourtney. Just a guess, but it’ll probably hit the shelves by next Christmas. . . for no more than 72 days. It seems like a lot of people are pointing to the fact than even though Kim earned about 12 million bucks last year, she only paid one percent more in taxes than a secretary earning about 45 thousand dollars….. Only one percent more!  Does this seem fair to you?  Apparently not to some people in California who are trying to raise taxes on its wealthiest citizens.

Well, that’s all for today.  Join us again soon for more politics, sports, entertainment, and commentary.  This is Mitch Grosky for This Week with Mitch Grosky.  If you get a chance, please check out my photography website at www.mrgroskyphoto.com.  And if you like photography, please consider “LIKING” my facebook photography page at https://www.facebook.com/mitchell.r.grosky.photography.

To see the above blog entry in YouTube video form (or to see any of my other videos), please see my YouTube site at http://www.youtube.com/user/mrgrosky1?blend=1&ob=video-mustangbase. Have a great week, and keep in touch!

NOTE:  Photo of Tim Tebow (above)  is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.   This image was originally posted to Flickr by minds-eye at http://flickr.com/photos/36703550@N00/2133330966. It was reviewed on 15 October 2008 by the FlickreviewR robot and confirmed to be licensed under the terms of the cc-by-sa-2.0.

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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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