Sunday, November 29, 2015

YOU'RE FIRED! IT'S SILLY SEASON IN COLLEGE FOOTBALL



It's the silly season in college football.

Athletic administrators and presidents who have nothing but dollar signs in their eyes
and monster egos are contemplating firing coaches who've had tremendous success.

The University of Georgia which is still living off the Herschel Walker-driven national
championship team of 1980, just showed Mark Richt the door after a very successful 15-year
run where he won 75 percent of his games and led the Bulldogs to 14 bowl games. Richt
was a class act all the way and represented the university with great character and integrity.

Trouble was, he just didn't win enough. Richt only had one losing season, but in this day
and age of the college playoff and huge payoffs, Richt just wasn't getting it done.


How sad. How very sad.

LSU contemplated firing Les Miles despite the 'mad hatter' having the best winning
percentage of any coach in Baton Rouge in the modern era. He won a national championship,
two SEC titles and 78 percent of his games.

Yet, that wasn't enough to satisfy the real power brokers at the school who are obsessed
with making the "Final Four" of college football. They tune into ESPN every Tuesday night
and were crushed to find their good ole Tigers were not among the four best teams in the
country. How could that be, they asked. We are LSU! It must be the head coach.
He's got to go.

LSU caught themselves at the right time, saving themselves national embarrassment for
firing a coach who has been successful.


I find it funny, not to mention hypocritical, these administrators ask these coaches to win
a lot of games, keep the program clean, and uphold the reputation of the university  and
when they do, it's suddenly not enough.

These administrators always think they can get someone better, as if it's so easy
to wave a magic wand and plug somebody who can do better than winning 78 percent
of the team's games.

Nebraska thought it could do better than Bo Pellini. He went 9-3 just about every year
in Lincoln but it wasn't good enough. You know how many schools would take 9-3
every year?

However, the power brokers found Pellini hard to work with and grew
tired out his outbursts on the sidelines. Nobody seems to have a problem with Brian
Kelly going postal on the sideline for Notre Dame, but Pellini is a bad, bad guy
because he yells at the refs and a few of his players.


Nebraska couldn't wait to get rid of Pellini and they thought they got something
better in Mike Riley. He's a nice guy, that Mike Reilly. Doesn't yell and scream and
says, "yes, sir" to his bosses. How'd Nebraska do this year? Not good. A 5-6 record.

Man, I'm sure 9-3 with Pellini looks pretty good to the diehards in Lincoln right about
now. 5-6!? That's not the Nebraska we know, is it? Oh, right, Mike Reilly is a kinder,
gentler, more behaved coach than Reilly!

It's absurd.

The San Francisco 49ers hired Jim Harbaugh to win games and turn the franchise around.
He did that immediately, leading the franchise to three NFC championship games and
a Super Bowl appearance. It wasn't enough, though. Management didn't like the way
Harbaugh acted,  rubbing their satin-soft feathers the wrong way. They all but
showed Harbaugh the door.

How are the 49ers doing this day after hiring Jim Tomasula, a kinder, gentler coach
than Harbaugh ever was? Yes, they are a mess.


It's too bad these college administrators and NFL executings are so badly influenced
by boosters, Twitter, sports-talk radio, and the media. They should just look at the record,
the person, and be thankful what they have. As we've seen in places like Nebraska and
San Francisco, the next best thing is not even mediocre.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

ESPN SHOULD CUT RAY LEWIS NOW



ESPN made one glaring error when they laid off nearly 300 staffers in October: They didn't
include Ray Lewis among the cuts. Doing so would've saved the World Wide Leader of Sports
significant money and further embarrassment.

During Monday nights pre-game show in Foxboro, the former All-Pro linebacker proved once
again his brain can't keep up with his mouth or that he should really be a case study for the
effects of violent collisions on the cranium after playing 13 years in the NFL.

When talking about Rex Ryan and Belichick and whom he'd rather play for, Lewis dropped
some knowledge that had many people, including co-analyst, Steve Young, rolling their
eyes and laughing out loud.



"I'm not choosing nobody else but Rex Ryan," Lewis said. "If you're asking me Bill Belichick
or Rex Ryan, I'm taking Rex Ryan all day because Rex relates to players as well as myself
more like a father."

Good, Lord.

ESPN needs to put Lewis on irrevocable waivers, trade him for a lug-nut to be named later,
or just flat-out cut him for conduct detrimental to the team.

The only thing more comical and downright inconceivable than that statement, was watching
Lewis promote his book a few weeks ago. Lewis writing a book is akin to Anthony Weiner
curbing his addiction to sexting with every version of the iPhone in his hand with a stable
of porn stars at his side. The autobiography must've set the record for number of pictures
or translations of the codes Lewis 'writes' or talks in.


Laughable.

I get that Lewis played for Ryan while the two were in Baltimore and might want to show
his fierce loyalty to the Buffoon of the Bills, but Lewis showed nothing more than his true
ignorance with that statement. Perhaps, he felt that if Tedy Bruschi can drool over his
former coach and team every time he gets on SportsCenter, then he should get equal time
for effusing praise on Rex even if it's as transparent as Saran-Wrap.

Ryan over Belichick? That topic isn't even worth anyone's time.

The statement about Lewis taking Ryan over Belichick "all day" was almost as absurd as
the one former Raven made when discussing the Ray Rice situation during September of
last year.

"We're here because we saw a friend of mine brutally hit his wife in the face in an elevator.
There's some things you can cover up, and then there's some things you can't."

Yep, because Lewis is an expert in cover-ups. You may remember Lewis was charged
in the deaths of two men after a melee in Atlanta in 2000. Those charges were eventually
dropped but the obstruction of justice charge stuck to his record and police said Lewis
lied to them during the investigation. As for the full-length, white fur coat Lewis was
was wearing that night, you know that was allegedly spotted with blood,  it was never
found.


Cover-up? Yep, if Bo knows sports, then Ray knows cover-ups.


Ray Lewis is a time bomb of stupidity. Every producer and executive holds their
collective breaths when it's Lewis' turn to speak. He is a Bill Buckner waiting to
happen every single time the camera light turns red. I just wonder why ESPN has
never included the stupidity of Lewis in their NOT Top 10 plays of the week.

Man, it's bad enough the sports world has to listen to Stephen A. Smith and Skip
Bayless. ESPN needs to address Ray Lewis with the "Coors Light Cold, Hard Facts:
He needs to go. Now.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

NOTRE DAME GOES GREEN, RUINS PERFECT NIGHT


Saturday's setting for a college football game was nearly perfect. Notre Dame and Boston
College, two of the most powerful Catholic schools in the county, squaring off on the sacred
grounds of Fenway Park, the oldest baseball stadium in the major leagues. Throw in a
world-class city that wreaks of history and you had the makings of an unforgettable night.

I just wish Notre Dame would forget about wearing those nasty green uniforms ever again.
The uniforms the Fighting Irish wore for the Shamrock series were a sham and actually made
the ones the Jacksonville Jaguars wore Thursday night look good!

 
The decision makers inside the walls of South Bend should have their head examined for
approving those uniforms for public display. All-green uniforms topped off with a helmet
that looked like Christmas ornament is just not a good-look. They are Notre Dame, not
North Dakota State. It's too bad Notre Dame got sucked into the bad uniform craze, choosing
to chase Oregon instead of standing pat and being proud of its history.

Oh, I get it. Many high school stars pick their schools based on how many and how cool
the uniforms of their prospective schools are. (I kid you not). Notre Dame has sold its souls
to Under Armour (their apparel provider) not to mention tradition for the sake of trying to
influence a star recruit.

All those prospective recruits were part of national audience Saturday night and to them,
those nasty green uniforms probably looked cool.  Not sure how cool Brian Kelly felt he
looked wearing those nasty green pants on the sideline. The perpetual grimace on his face
probably came from watching his team turn the ball over five times, but looking at those
uniforms may have contributed to it.


I am glad schools like Alabama, Penn State, and USC never succumbed to the stupid
uniform craze. Tradition means something to them. I'm thrilled Michigan chose to
return to a uniform that nearly everyone identifies with. I'm elated my alma mater,
North Carolina, came to its senses and went back to their classic uniforms.

Notre Dame, in many ways, are the New York Yankees of college football. They
have great history, tradition, and like the Yankees, have many people who love to hate
them. What they don't have is a classic uniform like the pinstripes. The franchise
never gave in to having names on the back of the jersey or alternate ones. It works
for the Yankees. It works for the Chicago Black Hawks. It works for the Montreal
Canadians

Change is not always good.


I don't even know which uniform is the one Notre Dame wants people to identify
with and that's too bad. I do know they should trash the ones they wore Saturday
night forever.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

NFL SHOULD FINE ITSELF FOR 'UNIFORM VIOLATIONS'


OK, let me get this straight. The NFL fined Clinton Portis in 2012 more than $15,000 because
of 'uniform violations'. The former running back of the Washington Redskins wore striped
socks and black shoes and the big, bad shield threw down the law and forced Portis to write a
check for 15 large because his uniform didn't fit league standards.

We've seen the NFL fine  countless players over the years because they wore their socks too
low, had a jersey hanging  out, or scribbled a tribute to a father on their eye black.

Petty and ridiculous to many, the violations are considered blasphemous by the NFL.

Yet on Thursday night, as part of its ingenious creation called "Color Rush" uniforms, the
league forced the Jacksonville Jaguars to wear the most god-awful outfits in the history of
sports. (The San Diego Padres brown tacos uniforms of the 80's, included).

 

Taking on the Tennessee Titans, who looked like the Blue Man group on steroids, every player
on the Jaguars, a squad masquerading as a real NFL team, was decked out in the ugliest shade
of mustard. Think Grey Poupon meets the brown in Cleveland's color scheme.

Who designed these uniforms, the same woman who sketched Tom Brady in a New York
court room looking as is he were on crystal meth?

The person at NFL headquarters dreampt up and created the uniforms of the Jaguars should
be forced to stand in front of Donald Trump while the Republican presidential candidate
screams, "You're a loser!," at him for three consecutive hours.

What the hell was this person thinking? What the hell is the NFL thinking for that matter?
How could Roger Goodell or any of the other 150  employees in the office look at the mustard uniforms and say, "Hey, this looks really good."

Does Goodell, the man who spent seven months obsessing over "Deflategate" while waving
his "integrity of the game" banner, really think the "Color Rush" gimmick is good for the
game? Oh, that's right! The league can make a few more millions selling these uniforms to
all those ding-bats who want to drop down $150 on a jersey  just so they can take a selfie and
post them on Facebook, Twitter, and any other time-wasting social media vehicle this world is obsessed with.

Perhaps, the league wanted to become "trending" on Twitter or simply wanted people to
be screaming at the top of their lungs on sports talk radio come Friday morning. Yep, the
NFL knows all about marketing itself, that's for sure.

The mustard-stained uniforms of the Jaguars and the all-powdered blues of the Titans, comes
on the heels of the Jets-Bills game where the all-green and all-red uniforms of the respective
teams had color blind folks who tuned into the game going bat shit. The league said it would
look into the matter. Somehow, I don't think they are going to use the same high-powered
microscope one they employed during its investigation of deflated balls. Nor will they
pontificate over the uniforms like they did over PSI levels for nearly seven months.

I reckon the NFL figures they have to give people a reason to turn into a Jags-Titans
game because nobody was doing so because of the talent-level on the field.

Can't wait to see what the Dallas Cowboys and Carolina Panthers wear next Thursday
night.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

A LITTLE 'MAGIC' IN MY LIFE


As a general assignment reporter, you don't often get to choose the stories you cover. An
assignment editor hands you information detailing when, where, and what subject  you
have to file a story on for the evening news and you're on your way.

More often then not, the story will have to do with a shooting, murder, robbery, or anything
else that has to do with crime and punishment. Unfortunately, in the world of broadcast news,
these kind of stories, no matter how demoralizing, depressing, and downright despicable, are
the ones that generate the most 'interest' among viewers.

However, every once in a while, you get to cover a story that is special, one that puts a
smile on your face and confirms the reason why you chose to get in a business that,
sadly, often let's a big dose of negativity get in the way.

I was handed that 'story' after a long and tough week where nearly every emotion was
tapped and I was completely drained. My assignment editor handed me a piece of paper
and directed me to cover a a cheerleading team in need of support (money) in order to
travel to Florida for a national cheering championship.


At the end of the sheet, a single sentence jumped out at me, confirming this story would be
a beautiful one: Team Magic, a cheerleading team made up of special needs kids.

I traveled to Monroe, New York,  a small town about 45 minutes north of the Tappen Zee
Bridge. Almost as soon as I walked into the gym where Team Magic was practicing, a huge
smile came over my face. I was practically engulfed by unmistakable love, joy, and
the overwhelming happiness radiating from the faces of the girls competing on the team.

They were the special needs kids of Team Magic who were about to practice their routines
they'd be performing at the national championships in December if they get the money
needed for travel expenses.

Team Magic was invited by the competition committee as the first team made up of
a special needs children to take part in the event which will be broadcast on ESPN.


The smiles on the faces of the kids could melt the coldest of souls and most jaded of
people. They were real, sincere, and so magical. After the girls performed their routines
with the help of their mentors, a group of junior high school cheerleaders who sacrificed
their time to help Team Magic with their routines. "Sacrificed" may not be the right word
because it was so apparent this was a privilege for them that they truly cherished. 

When the routines were done and my photographer captured the determination and
resiliency of Team Magic, I anxiously waited to interview them. I became so engrossed
in the moment. It was so pure and so heartwarming.

Many of the girls were born with down syndrome. Yes, they looked a little bit different
and their struggles are those that many of us cannot even comprehend. It all seemed so
unfair that these beautiful children had suffered such a cruel fate, born into a harsh and
sometimes insensitive world with imperfections that unfairly tags them as "special needs"
people for the rest of their lives.


These kids were so sweet, so innocent, and in many ways, so very fragile. While I
interviewed them, some of the girls, paused, lost their train of thought, then looked
into the crowd for some of the answers. They didn't need to look very hard or far
because I was right at their side, whispering the answers in their ears. The look on their
faces was priceless and made an indelible mark on my heart.

Many of us, including myself, have a tendency to become unsettled when things do not
go our way. Complaining about a hardship becomes routine and walking down the "woe is
me" street can occupy more time than ever should be allowed. Imagine being in the shoes
of a special needs kids where things can be really, really difficult for not only the children,
but parents, as well.

I loved doing this story and that is captured perfectly in the selfie I took with Team
Magical.  These kids were truly magical. So innocent, so happy, so excited to just being
given the opportunity to compete and be on television. Spending an hour with these kids
was like a cleansing, wiping all the dirt, grime, and negativity that often comes with covering
stories about death and destruction so often.


This was real. This was genuine. And stories like these are the reason I love television.
I was more than happy to make a contribution to their cause and I reached out to the
audience in New York to do the same. These girls deserve to go. They deserve their
moment in the sun and spotlight. Their team is truly magical.

Help Team Magic get to Florida.  (https://www.gofundme.com/gq973fak)

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

ONE DAY IS NOT ENOUGH FOR OUR VETERANS



The nation honors all those who served our country fighting wars with their own special
day. We pay tribute to the men and woman who put their lives on the line against faceless
enemies in countries far, far away. There will be a few parades and a lot of pictures
flooding Facebook of the American flag and our heroes who did so much for us. They
helped attain what we all enjoy today: freedom.

It's not enough.

For all the bravery, courage, determination, and sacrifice these veterans made, giving
them a day pales in comparison to what they truly deserve. And how our government
treats them is downright right embarrassing.

A 'thank you' will not do.

These men and woman leave the comforts of their home and the love of their families to
spill blood and sweat on foreign soil. What they return to is almost beyond comprehension.
Soldiers who had limbs blown off, their spirits shaken, and in many cases, their psyche
shattered forever, often have to wait long periods of time to get the benefits they earned
and the professional help they desperately need.

Instead of letting them go to the front of the line and take care of them immediately,
our government sometimes doesn't take care of them at all. President Obama may give
them a pat on the back or weave together a few words of praise, but when the cameras
are off it becomes something barely more than a, "hey, good job, thanks for playing."

According to CNN, the average wait for those who served in Iraq and Afghanistan to
get their benefits is between 316 and 327 days. Almost a year!  That's absurd. All
the money the government spends keeping Guantanamo Bay open for terrorist
prisoners ($450 million a year) would be better served taking care of our own instead
of all the ones who tried to destroy our country.

After the soldiers return home, turn in their weapons while trying to tune out the
horrors of wars, there is little waiting for them in terms of a career. They don't have
jobs waiting for them or counseling provided by the government to at least
help them find one.

A few corporations like Wal-Mart have pledged to hire up to a 100,000 veterans, but
it's not enough and the government should be doing a lot more. They ask soldiers
to make tremendous sacrifices, fight for our country, put their lives on the line, and
they don't have their backs when they return home.

Professional sports teams produce special Army fatigue uniforms which they wear
and sell for a nifty profit. The message is a great one: support our troops and veterans.
But what do they actually do for them? They, along with their families, should never
have to pay for parking, concessions, and tickets to the game. That should mandated
across the board by our government

According to a report in the New York Times, there are 22 suicides among veterans
every day. Yes, every day! One is too many. 22 is a terrible tragedy that can be
prevented. These men and woman need help. Sure, you trying going to war for
three years and have to kill or be killed. Is your job that stressful? I think not. These
soldiers have to come home, decompress, and then blend into society as if
nothing happened.

It's silly, absurd, and doesn't really make any sense. The government's motto should
be: "We take care of all those who take care of us." That's how it should
be, no questions asked.

Too bad it all can't be that simple. With our government nothing ever is.

Monday, November 9, 2015

MEETING MS. HENRIETTA


I crashed a party on November 6th and it's one of the best things I've done in awhile.
During the midst of reporting on a story about the temperatures in New York shattering
a mark that stood since 1885, I happened upon a petite lady whose years, 85, seemed to
match her bodyweight.

Ms. Henrietta, as she introduced herself, was sitting on a park bench on a near-perfect,
sun-splashed afternoon. She was the center of attention as her son, daughter, and two
grand children surrounded her, joyfully trying to make her birthday, a special one.

There was a small cake drenched with vanilla frosting and a few gifts already unwrapped,
resting against the concrete base of  a bench that had little trouble supporting her. There
was something about Henrietta that fascinated me. It may have been the big smile or the
deep grooves in her forehead which were like the rings of an oak tree. There were many
which indicated she had been around for awhile. Henrietta was born in 1930 and her
soulful eyes with a tinge of sadness, screamed out loud that she had seen a lot in her
lifetime, not all of which was good.

 
 
I sat next to Henrietta on the park bench, microphone in hand, ready to capture a few
wordsthat would certainly give a little more joy to my story. There were moments when
Henrietta would just stare out at the small ripples on the Hudson River, the only things that
could smudge an otherwise, Chamber of Commerce day.
 
I asked Henrietta where she was from. "I was born in Poughkeepsie," she said. Then
after a long pause, Henrietta said, "but I moved around to a lot of different places before
settling in Nyack." She made "a lot of different places" sound like "a lot of tough times."
 
Born in the Great Depression era, I couldn't imagine the things Henrietta and her family
may have gone through. As a teen, she lived through a brutal period where blacks in
this country were heavily discriminated against. No, Henrietta didn't need to write
a book with pictures to let the world know life had not been easy. You just knew. She
didn't wear her heart on her sleeve, it covered every inch of her face.
 
 
Henrietta became a big part of my day and I needed to find a way to make her part of my
story. She was a true gem and one of those people who can put a smile on a face without
saying a word. Not a single one.
 
It was 78 degrees on November 6th, a spectacular day to celebrate an 85th birthday. I asked
Henrietta if she had ever experienced a day like this one on her birthday.
 
"No I haven't," Henrietta said. "It's a beautiful day. A really beautiful day."
 
And Henrietta is a beautiful person. A really beautiful person.


Thursday, November 5, 2015

EX-CON CONS BRIDGEPORT AGAIN



'Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.' 
                                                                               -George Santayana Italian philosopher

The people of Bridgeport, CT.,  have short memories or perhaps, they have no memory at all.
Joe Ganim, the mayor they elected for a sixth time, was sent off to prison in 2003 after
being convicted on federal corruption charges.

I'm guessing good ole' Joe figured he was worth far more than the $52,000 salary he was
being paid to clean up the crime-ridden, heavily underemployed city he was in charge of.
So, he did what many politicians seem to do: he got dirty.

According to the FBI, Ganim used his power over a six-year period to 'supplement' his
income. He shook down city contractors for more than $500,000 in cash, meals, fine clothing,
wine, and renovations.

Yes, Ganim lived the good life---until he got caught.



Ganim spent seven years in the Big House for padding his lifestyle and betraying the city
he worked for. After all his crimes, who could possibly like, trust, or even think about putting
Ganim in office again?

If you said Bridgeport, you are absolutely correct.

On Tuesday night, Bridgeport elected Ganim mayor of the city once again. It completed
the most stunning of comebacks and validated Bridgeport as one of the most ignorant cities
this country has ever seen.

It's almost akin to investors giving all their money to Bernie Madoff after he stole everything
from his former ones. It's kind of like the next wife of Tiger Woods trusting him in a room
full of strippers and porn stars after seeing what he did to his former wife. It's almost like
thinking Anthony Weiner won't sext anymore after giving him a cellphone and a chat room
filled with women even more wacky than him.


Bridgeport voted in a man who couldn't even vote for himself because as a convicted felon,
Ganim lost that privilege. But while he couldn't vote, Ganim could run and hold office again

Only in Amercia and most definitely, only in the Bridgeport, CT. Oh, wait a minute. I should
include Washington D.C, because after its mayor, Marion Barry, was caught on camera in
1990 smoking crack with a few escorts, he went to prison only to be re-elected after he served
his time in a federal prison.

Perhaps, Bridgeport is just the most forgiving city in America. Maybe they just believe in
second chances. (That could happen since so many in Bridgeport have been arrested just like
Joe Ganim).

Or perhaps, the people of Bridgeport felt they had nothing to lose because they don't really
have much at all except high-crime rates, high-unemployment, and a lot of folks who get
high a good majority of the time.


Joe Ganim is truly one of them and it could be Ganim and Brideport are just made for each
other. To them, Ganim is their inspiration now. A man who has proved that impossible
is nothing.

But if history does, in fact, repeat itself, will anybody really be surprised? Nope, and most
of all, not the people of Bridgeport, U.S.A.