Wednesday, January 22, 2014

AN ARCTIC SUPER BOWL? IT'S MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING


At night. February. New Jersey. Super Bowl.

Just about everybody on the planet thinks all these ingredients will be frozen into one of the
most miserable events in NFL history. ESPN has featured Nate Silver, the stat-geek and
prognosticator to let us know it's probably going to be cold that night. Fox sent Terry Bradshaw
to the people at the Farmer's Almanac who pretty much said the same thing. Ridiculous.

I understand we live in a world where as soon as Al Roker tells us there is a snowstorm on
the way, people bolt to the supermarket and buy enough supplies to last for a month and fill up
the gas tank in their cars even though our local mayors and governors tell us to stay the hell off
the roads.

Do people really think there is going to be the Mother of all blizzards on Super Bowl Sunday?
And if it happens so friggin' what? I guarantee you it will make for a championship game that
none of us will ever forget.

I realize Super Bowl games have long been played in warm-weather places like Miami, San
Diego, Tampa Bay, and Pasadena, or in domed stadiums to make sure the elements are not a
factor.

Funny how nobody seems to care about the elements leading up to the Super Bowl, but it
becomes blasphemous to even think about playing it in the New Jersey wastelands in early
February.

The only people it should matter to are the 80,000 people who will actually be at the game.
The other 120 million  of us will be at parties in the comfort of their homes (or the homes of
others) polluting our bodies with nachos, pizza, hot dogs and poisoning our minds with alcohol.

I do think the NFL messed up for bothering to bring in Bruno Mars in for the halftime show.
By that time,  the fans will be frozen in their seats and will probably bolt to the concourse
to try to get some booze and warmth. Sorry, Bruno, you''ll be playing to a bunch of crickets. 

As for the quality of the game itself, don't worry about it. Three weeks ago, the San Francisco
49ers played the Green Bay Packers on a day that reached a wind-chill factor of 30 below.
It was a great game.


In 2002,  the New England Patriots played the Oakland Raiders in the 'Tuck Rule Game'.
It was freezing with four inches of snow covering the field. Adam Vinitieri kicked a ball
that must have felt like the one he sometimes bowls with, 45 yards to send the game into
overtime. It was one of the top-5 kicks in NFL history. The Raiders didn't have any problems
in the game. I must've been updating my Facebook status and missed the last time it ever
snowed in the Bay Area or the temperatures fell below 30 degrees. The Oakland players
weren't bothered by the conditions.

The frigid weather is not going to affect the players one bit. Obviously, they are wired a lot
differently than most of us.  Oh, sure, they may be juiced up on HGH, Winstrol, Testosterone,
Adderall, and probably a few of those 'gummies' A-Rod injested like Flintstone vitamins,
but cold weather isn't going to shrivel them up like George Costanza.


If there is a monsoon, the game will suck and I'm Peyton Manning will morph into the
2013 version of his brother, Eli.  Even Tom Brady can't throw a good ball in the rain.
Players will slip, fall, and drop a ton of passes. That doesn't happen in the snow.

Go back to 1967 and the NFL championship in Green Bay. The wind chill factor was
-45.  But the game between the Packers and Dallas Cowboys turned out to be one of
the greatest in NFL history. Bart Starr completed 14 of 24 passes, two of them going
for touchdowns. He wasn't bothered by the frozen tundra at all.



If the game is played in a snowstorm, so what? It will make it that much more exciting
and nostalgic. The players have to deal with the elements, not you. We see games played
in perfect conditions all the time. A little snow will just add to the drama.

I look back to December 3. There was a massive snowstorm in the Northeast. The
high school state championships in Connecticut were not cancelled. The fields were
covered with snow and huge flakes were falling. My alma mater, New Canaan High
School was slinging the ball around like it was 80 degrees and sunny. They scored
41 points to win the state title.



The best part came after the game when the team celebrated in the snow. The pure joy
on the faces of the high school kids was priceless. They will remember that day and
that game for as long as they live.

If it snows like hell on the night of Febuary 2nd in New Jersey at night, I"m sure the
Denver Broncos. Seattle Seahawks, and most of us will remember it,  too.

Monday, January 20, 2014

THE GENIUS OF RICHARD SHERMAN


Richard Sherman, Richard Sherman, and more Richard Sherman. I'm pretty sure we'll
be hearing about the All-Pro cornerback from now up until the Super Bowl. I'll bet that
outside of Peyton Manning, Sherman will be the most popular player at the circus known
as media day. While the squeaky-clean Broncos quarterback will be the star leading up
to the biggest game of the year, Sherman is on his way to being the biggest freak show.

But say this about Richard Sherman: He may be arrogant, obnoxious, and low-class, but
the Stanford man is a pretty smart guy because he's figured out how to feed the media
monster and become a household name in this NFL-obsessed country.

In Sunday's post-game interview, Sherman went on a rant and called Michael Crabtree of
the San Francisco 49ers a 'sorry' wide receiver. He supposedly said a few other things to a
few other networks, but I didn't hear them, because I hit the 'off' button on my TV clicker.
On Monday, Sherman's post-game hate-fest flooded the Internet, sports talk radio, and
every still-existing paper in the country. He even authored a column for SI.com on why he
said what he said about Michael Crabtree.



Yep, the media rewards people for being controversial, colorful, and often times, downright
right despicable. Television executives do it all the time as well. Heck, CNN gave Elliot
Spitzer, the former governor of New York who resigned after his scandal with a hooker, his
own television show! Is this a great country or what. Same thing happened north of the border
after Toronto mayor Rob Ford was outed for being a crack-smoking, foul-mouthed, near-
frat boy politician. (Although, Ford never resigned. )

The media nor television executives care that much about morality and character because,
after all, it's all about the ratings. Athletes who don't deliver the great sound bite or call
teammates or opponents out, don't usually get calls to be on "PTI", "Around the Horn"
or be the subject of ESPN's "Sunday Conversation", unless they are Manning, Brady, or
Derek Jeter, but there are so few of those athletes around in today's, "You-Face-Twit" world.
(that's short for YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter, if you're scoring at home.)


By Tuesday, I'm sure just about every significant media outlet in the country will have
called the Seattle Seahawks public relations department requesting Sherman for an interview.
It's how it works. Producers often feel they have to get someone who is colorful and
with an 'edge'. You know, that athlete who is "trending" or in the Buzzfeed.

Sherman knows how to play the media, that's for sure. He plays cornerback in Seattle, which
is pretty much non-existent to the people outside of, well, Seattle. Sherman wears dreadlocks
just like every other defensive back in the league and he's far from being happy with just
being an All-Pro. He wants to be an 'it' guy and get all the attention. And how may I ask is
he going to accomplish that without tooting his horn or yanking the chain of others?

Exactly.

Sherman's rant to Erin Andrews of Fox has made him Stephen A. Smith with dreadlocks.
He is a man most of the country loves to hate but man just about every producer has to
have in their sports television program.


Two weeks before the Super Bowl, Sherman is getting the attention he feels that he deserves.
There will probably be appearances on the Late Night talk show circuit, television commercials,
and a bigger contract down the line. That's how it works these days, doesn't it?

Sherman's behavior isn't exactly worth of being a role model, but I don't think he cares one
bit about that. I'm sure a lot of high school kids doing post-game interviews will feel inclined
to diss an opponent or thump his chest like a buffoon because after all, Richard Sherman
did it. He's in the NFL, so they can do it too.


Friday, January 17, 2014

FACEBOOK AND PAUL DEVLIN'S DIVORCE: IT'S OFFICIAL

I've never been married, but I recently finalized a divorce with something I spent an awful
lot of time with.  For the last five years, I had a love-hate relationship with Facebook, the mother
of all social media networks.

I love Facebook because it provided entertainment and the opportunity to re-connect with close
friends from the past that had taken their own path, as we all do,  on life's superhighway. I had
spent days, months, and years with a group of guys I had played baseball with at UNC and in
the Boston Red Sox organization that seemingly dropped off the map. Then, BOOM, they were
back in my life thanks to Facebook.


I had lived in such places as Rye, Lake Forest, New Canaan, Lynchburg, Erie, Binghamton,
Fort Myers, Sherevport, Boston, and Atlanta, making a lot of friends a long the way and
Facebook re-connected us. That part was really cool, and there is no doubt it, Facebook, is
an incredible creation, one that has changed the way we communicate.

But after a while, Facebook drove me crazy. I became like Bill Murray's character in "Groudhog
Day". Now matter what I did, I'd see the same things over and over. There were feet by the
ocean, pictures of food on a plate, and the selfies in the mirror.


Instead of waking up to "I Got You Babe", by Sonny & Cher, I was logging on to a picture
of a cheeseburger and fries and the world of a 1,000 selfies. Like Bill Murray's character,
I wanted to scream and sometimes put my finger in the toaster.

But like millions of people around the world, I just wasn't able to give up Facebook or even
curb my addiction just a little bit. I used it as a vehicle to promote my sportsblog and to offer
a quip and comment here and there. Facebook did make me realize how people like Bernie
Madoff and other scammers hookwinked their victims. People believe just about everything
they read and hear.

After Mike Rice, the basketball coach at Rutgers who got fired for using his players for
target practice, I wrote in a post that I had just applied for the vacant position in East
Piscataway, NJ. Responses like, "Good luck, you're the perfect guy for the job".  "Go for
it, you have what it takes," followed. This after never having coached a game in my  life.
Nor do I ever want to. I hate basketball.

I also found out how incredibly sensitive people are. If they didn't like a comment you
make on one of their posts, ZAP! You get de-friended. It's quite comically, really. One "friend"
from Boston waxed poetic about the coach of another team showing a lack of class for
not taking part in the traditional post-game handshake. I responded by writing, "Sounds
a lot like Bill Belichick. The guy heads for the locker room before the Super Bowl that
he lost is even over."

 Quicker than you can say Boston Chowda, I was "de-friended". Good, grief, I got "de-friended
there is no more reason to live anymore. Man, that was a really solid friendship.

I also ended my relationship with Facebook because of the conversations people would
start and their propensity to "check-in" from everywhere. It used to be that you didn't wanted
anyone to know where you were or what you were thinking. That changed with Facebook
where people wanted to let everybody know what they were doing and the thoughts they
had at that very second.

There were too many, "Why does the neighbor still have their Christmas decorations up
on January 10th? And I don't care if you are "checking-in" from Panera Bread, either.
You really took the time to tell everybody you were at Panera Bread?  Lord, help us.


Facebook gives a lot of people the  opportunity to be like Benjamin Button and age in
reverse. Adults closer to 60 than 16 post pictures as if they are a high school girl craving
for attention and adulation. There desire to get a "like" seemed to consume them.

I often asked myself, "Aren't you a little too old to be on Facebook" I know my father
never would've been anywhere near Facebook at my age, if ever at all. But there they are,
past middle age adults posting pictures to try to convince everybody how great there life
really is.

My relationship with Facebook ended abruptly two months ago when I de-activated my
account.. Like Kris Kumphries who got dumped by Kim Kardashian after 74
days of marriage, I can't back what was really valuable to me. His thing was a huge rock,
my thing was precious time.


All those valuable hours I won't be able to get back in my life were mostly wasted. Are
they as valuable as the $2 million engagement ring Humphries didn't get back? I don't really
know. We can't put an exact figure on time, but we do know, especially when you're on the
back nine of life, that it's pretty valuable.

Don't get me wrong, I'm guilty of a few of things I ranted it about. However, I never posted
pictures of my food,  "checked-in" from the "In and Out" burger joint,  or took a picture of
my feet by the sea. What does that mean, anyway? Your life is a success or cooler than mine?
I didn't crave "likes" or whatever. It just got out of hand.

I can honestly say  I have not missed Facebook for one second and have no regrets about
de-activating my account. Some of the clutter in my life is gone and the time I used to spend
on Facebook is being used in a more constructive way.

Will I ever re-unite with Facebook? I'm not sure. I've never gotten back with a girlfriend
after breaking up, so the chances of it happening are not that great.

But things in life change, that's for sure and I'll probably wander back into the madness
again. Facebook is great, don't get me wrong. But at this time,  I needed the break-up.

Monday, January 13, 2014

BILL BELICHICK PROVES HIS GENIUS ONCE AGAIN


Aaron Hernandez
Wes Welker
Vince Wilford
Jerod Mayo
Tommy Kelly
Rob Gronkowski

Name another team could lose all those players like the Patriots did before and during the season
and still make it to the AFC championship game.

You can't because there is none.

No team deals with injuries and adversity better than the New England Patriots. Ever. Aaron
Hernandez, an All-Pro, impact player gets charged with murder and the team barely blinks before
saying good-bye to him and moving on. It's like he never existed.


Bill Belichick lets Wes Welker walk over a couple of measly million dollars and the fans and
experts say that the Patriots won't be able to replace Welker's production. Really? Julian Edelman,
a former college quarterback and seventh-round draft pick catches 105 passes, just about the
same amount Wellker averaged during his career as Tom Brady's favorite.

During the season, the team loses three Pro Bowl players in Vince Wilford, Jerod Mayo, and
Rob Gronkowski and what happens? They finish 12-4 and are now just a win away from
going to the Super Bowl again.

It's all because of Belichick and his genius. Under his watch, the Patriots are strengthened by
adversity instead of coming apart. They are fueled by the doubters and all those who said they'll
come apart. It happens all the time. Remember when Brady went down in the first game of the
2006 season with a torn-up knee? Yeah, they finished the year at 11-5 record with a quarterback
Matt Cassell, who took about seven snaps in college as a back-up to Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart.

It's the genius of Belichick. It's his system, his way, and the Patriots have never crumbled
no matter what the circumstances. 11 straight seasons with 10 or more wins. That's an insane accomplishment in this day and age of the NFL's parity.


Few people cared when the Patriots sent Jeff Demps and a seventh-round draft pick to Tampa
Bay for running back LaGarrette Blount. He had some baggage like Corey Dillon once did and
Blount is carrying it for the Patriots like "Clock-killin' Dillon did for the team the last time
they won the Super Bowl. Blount has been a beast the last few games and he could be the
key to winning the AFC Championship game against the Broncos.

A 260 lb machine for a 7th-round pick? That's the genius of Belichick.

The Hoodie is head and shoulders about any coach in the NFL. It's not even close. I just wish
the Patriots fans would learn their lesson when Belichick decides to let a player go a year
too early rather than a year too late.

He was the guy who cut Bernie Kosar, the most popular player in Browns history outside
of Jim Brown, and replaced him with Vinny Testaverde. Belichick was the guy who told Drew Bledsoe, a franchise quarterback on his way to the Hall of Fame before Mo Lewis knock
him out, to take a seat in favor of an untested QB named Tom Brady.


I've heard people say that Belichick is just a .500 coach without Brady. That's totally
absurd, but if you want to believe that argument, then you can say the same thing about
Chuck Knoll, Tom Landry, Bill Walsh, and Don Shula. I'm sure if they didnt have
Terry Bradshaw, Roger Staubach, Joe Montana, Steve Young, Bob Griese, and Dan
Marino, there's a good chance they wouldn't have been the coaches they were.

The key is finding those franchise quarterbacks. Nearly every team passed on Brady
six, I repeat, SIX times before the Patriots drafted him. Belichick had a franchise
QB in Bledsoe, but saw something in Brady that made his say good-bye to Bledsoe.

He knew. That's the genius of Belichick. He knew that Edelman could replace the
production of Welker. Yes, he knew.  He knew the team could once again overcome
injuries to All-Pro players.

This is his team, his system, his way. Belichick had all those great assistant coaches
and  player personnel guys but once they went out on their own, they were nothing.
Eric Mangini, Charlie Weis, Romeo Crennel,  Josh McDaniels, and Scott Pioli were
supposed to be the next big things (and Belichicks), but they flopped when they
became the men in charge.

It's further proof of Belichick's genius. Coaches and players come and go, but Belichick
is the one constant, as well as Brady, the guy Belichick found and groomed for greatness.

It's the genius of Belichick. Pure genius.