I Have Just One Question For Blake Griffin: Why?

Blake-Griffin-Game-1

Why Blake? Why?

Why did your fist land on the face of one of the teams hired hands? Why did you lose your composure and loose your uncustomary, uncouth and uncalled for conduct upon the help? It’s unbelievable and unexplainable, and, dare I say, borderline unforgivable.
To get to the “why,” we must first deal with a few other clarifying questions. What happened? And who was involved? Well, at a Toronto restaurant, Blake Griffin, the Los Angeles Clippers’ All Star Center and his “friend,” the team equipment manager Matias Testi, got into a fight outside of a restaurant. Apparently that “friendship” unraveled to the point where Griffin repeatedly punched Testi to the point where Griffin broke his hand. I said he BROKE HIS HAND. On his “friend’s” face. Wow. I hope I don’t have any friends like that.

 

So with the who, what, when and where out of the way, that leads us back to why. And we may never know the answer. It was a random act of stupidity. It was a dumb and dumber, foolish and fatheaded, witless and doltish deed that deserves detention. And detention he will get because he’ll be out for 4-6 weeks because of his broken hand. Is that punishment enough? Maybe not. But it’s a start.

In a tweet, Blake apologized and spoke of working towards a “resolution.” Resolution? You have a broken hand and your friend has a broken face. What’s the resolution to that other than healing and soothing and restoration and . . . oh that’s it: restitution. Pay the flunky off and he’ll shut up and everything will go back to normal. Because punching someone out in any other world is called assault. Or did I miss something?

So, let’s hope that Blake will take the time to wash off the slime and grime of his crime. In the meantime, he needs to use his downtime to shake off this hopefully onetime offence. Hopefully, when and if any one of the rest of us commits a mistake the size of the one Mr. Blake just made, we apologize to and empathize with the one we offended, and quickly.

Wham, Bam, Thank You Cam!

cam-newton-slapping hands

Cam Newton is for real. I mean, for real, for real. He’s certainly not a one and done deal, or a one night stand, that’s for sure. They way things are going for him, Cam should shine in the NFL for a long, long time.

In the NFC Championship Game yesterday, he lead his Carolina Panthers to an annihilation of the Arizona Cardinals, the No. 2 team in the NFC, 49-15, and as they say, it wasn’t that close. The Panthers won by 34 points, and they didn’t let up in the second half like they did against the Seahawks to leave little to no question about how good they really are.

Cam is a ham. Yes he is. He runs the inside rim of the stadium after games and slaps hands with the fans, and he celebrates after touchdowns more than most.  But when you beat up and beat down your opponent like he beat Arizona, you feel that you have the right to flaunt and to taunt, even if you’re not supposed to. The domination was so bad that it was like a crucifixion, and as crucifixions go, it wasn’t pretty. But Cam the ham is the fruit of Cam being the sacrificial lamb.

At one point in his career, Cam was in a jam. Or two. He’s worked his way back from being kicked off of one team and playing for another unknown junior college team to winning the Heisman Trophy to being the No. 1 Draft Pick in the NFL to being on the verge of winning the Super Bowl. At age 26. So before you damn and sham Cam, walk a mile in his shoes.

On November 21, 2008, Newton was arrested for receiving stolen property after purchasing a stolen laptop computer from another University of Florida student. He was subsequently suspended from the team after the laptop was found to be in his possession.

In January 2009, Newton transferred to Blinn College in Brenham, Texas, to play for head coach Brad Franchione, son of Dennis Franchione. That fall he led his team to the 2009 NJCAA National Football Championship, throwing for 2,833 yards with 22 touchdowns and rushing for 655 yards. He was named a Junior College (juco) All-America honorable mention and was the most recruited juco quarterback in the country.

Then Auburn “came a calling,” and Cam went on to win the Heisman and the National Championship. The Tigers beat Oregon 22–19 to win the BCS National Championship in 2011. Newton threw for 262 yards, 2 touchdowns, and one interception. He also rushed 22 times for 65 yards, though he lost a fumble that later allowed Oregon to tie the game with limited time remaining. Once Auburn got the ball back, Newton drove the Tigers down the field to win the game on Wes Byrum’s last-second field goal.

One major story of the next two weeks leading up to the Panthers’ shot at a Lombardi Trophy against the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl L will be how much people hate him. That’s been the case throughout his career, from those who saw him as an inevitable bust to those who resent his “antics” and his celebrations. But guess what? That shouldn’t be a surprise to Cam.

In the game of life, we all have haters and helpers, supporters and detractors. Cam’s got critics and skeptics as well as backers and boosters. You can’t have one without the other. It’s just like that. So the lesson is, just get used to it. Cam recognizes that everyone is not in his corner, but that does not faze him or raze him or daze him. Good for him.

Cam has risen and rocketed to sports stardom after being kicked to the curb and thrown from the train. And as heroes go, he’s garnered faithful fans and frightful foes along the way. Yet through it all, he has not bowed to the pressure of doubt but has allowed the force of his faith, and the attacks of his allies and his antagonists alike, to fuel his fire.

Go Cam.

Note To David Blatt: You’re Fired But You’re Free

david-blatt

The bad news is that David Blatt got fired. The good news is that David Blatt got fired. That’s it. The Cleveland Cavaliers have the best record in the Eastern Conference. Yes, they lost to the Golden State Warriors last June in six games, but LeBron almost won without Love and Irving. Go figure. So it figures that this season, with Love and Irving back, they would have another shot at the title.

David Blatt is a winning coach. That’s why it’s hard to understand and comprehend why a winning coach would get canned. In the middle of the season. Yes, there was that Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday holocaust of a loss against the Warriors, where the Cavs were down by as many as 43 points, but that was a blip on the screen and a glitch in the matrix, right?

Some are blaming LeBron. Whether LeBron had anything to do with the actual firing or not is not the issue. Directly, LeBron may not have been involved with Blatt’s ouster, but indirectly, it’s clear that LeBron had everything to do with it. Everyone on God’s green earth knows that LeBron, not Blatt, was running that team. The coach was the figure head. Consequently, Blatt was not in a win, win situation. Whatever he did, he had to please LeBron, and apparently, that wasn’t happening. And that’s why leaving for Blatt is better than staying.

Blatt had an 83-40 record with the Cavs, and his .675 winning percentage ranks seventh in NBA history. It is not unprecedented, however, for a coach with such an elite winning percentage to be fired.

The Mavericks let go of Avery Johnson after their first-round exit in the 2008 playoffs despite his 194-70 record in three-plus seasons, a .735 winning percentage that at the time was the best in NBA history. Johnson coached the Mavs to the 2006 Finals in his first full season as coach, but Dallas failed to close out that series after winning the first two games and lost in the first round the next two seasons. The Mavs replaced Johnson by hiring Carlisle, who was fired from his first head-coaching job after back-to-back 50-win seasons with the Pistons.

Carlisle, who signed a five-year contract extension earlier this season, said he wasn’t familiar with the internal workings of the Cavs and couldn’t comment about the cause of Blatt’s firing. He did speculate that Blatt actually could benefit from leaving Cleveland.

“The other side of it is, a good man perhaps has been liberated and is now going to have some great options,” Carlisle said. “He’ll find a much better situation here if he wishes to, and a guy like him deserves that.” Wow. What a statement.

So let’s learn the lesson that David Blatt’s firing teaches us. Let’s not get all bent out of shape when we get fired or furloughed. Let’s not despair when people delete us from and cancel us out and remove us off. Others may not want us around them anymore. But no worries.

If you’re safe and secure in what you know and what you believe then your firing is not a demotion but a promotion to a better and a bigger opportunity that’s tailored made just for you.

Win Win

 

Win Win

I love sports movies. We all do, right? I mean, in a sports film, you have gripping drama, lighthearted humor, and sometimes there’s a love interest to boot. Sports and film go hand in hand because in most, redemption rings and rolls and rises throughout and the hero or heroine almost always comes out a winner, or is a winner of sorts, in the end. And so I’m proud to be an amateur sports film critic. I’ll let you know when I go pro. 

I’ve seen lots of sports films, but not all of them. There’s a boatload of sports movies out there, and I try to stick to the good ones and stay away from the bad ones. Well, I’m happy to report that I just stumbled across another little gem of a sports flic called “Win Win,” starring Paul Giamatti.

In “Win Win,” on the verge of bankruptcy, a struggling lawyer who volunteers as a high school wrestling coach skims money from the estate of an elderly client, but when the client’s teenage grandson, a gifted wrestler, comes to town, his chicanery comes back to haunt him as the teen comes into his life.

“Win Win” is solidly redemptive. It’s a film that purports this proverb: “Life is full of rules, now meet the exceptions.” It’s a story of redemption and reconciliation and restoration all rolled up into one funny, fanciful, feature that is all at once crass and complex, cute and caring and convicting and convincing. Yes it has language, but it also gives you a lift, and who doesn’t need a lift every now and again!

In sports films, you not only get a stellar story, but you sometimes stumble across actors that put in prize performances as well. Take Paul Giamatti. In “Win Win,” Giamatti  gives us a steady, footstompin, feel good finish which was surprisingly unworthy of note by other critics. In another role, he was the boxing manager for James Braddock, played by Russell Crowe, in the 2005 film “Cinderella Man.” His portrayal of a slick, sly deal maker was outstanding. Giamatti was rewarded for his solid performance with a nomination for Best Supporting Actor (an Oscar he should have won).

Not only is Giamatti an actor, but his dad, A. Bartlett Giamatti, was a college president. Of Yale. YALE! And if that wasn’t enough, Dad Giamatti was the Commissioner of Major League Baseball. The Commissioner of MLB! If that’s not sports pedigree, I don’t know what is. And to top it all off, I just learned that Paul and I share a birthday – June 6. He’s surprisingly younger than me, but I’m proud to share my birthday with this sports and acting icon.

http://www.fandango.com/movie-trailer/winwin-trailer/140586

So if you have nothing else to do, or you’re snowbound somewhere along the East Coast the weekend of January 22nd during this the blizzard of 2016, check out Win Win. You’ll be glad you did.

Let It Snow!

Snow-Mountains

For those of us that love snow, this weekend will be snow heaven. That’s the good news. The reality is that the storm storming our way will be more than a covering of the ground with  wavy, white, winter wool. The truth is that the weather will do more than make our woods a wintery wonderland. When it comes to snow, to use a basketball term, the flurry of fun soon turns to “one and done.” Snow may be majestic in the mountains, but in the city, it can get the opposite of pretty. After watching it all come down, the fury begins when we have to shovel it all up. But let’s focus on the positive.

So many life lessons can be learned from the snow. First, snow is God given. This may seem an over simplistic significance, but it’s a substantial sign, nonetheless.  The book of Job speaks of the “treasury of the snow” and traveling to where snow is made (Job 38:22).  Yes weatherman on the Weather Channel will tell us of the science of snow, but man can’t make snow in abundance like God can. The source and sum of snow’s beauty and bounty originates in high, heaven alone.

Snow is also symbolic and has spiritual significance. Snow has a mystical meaning and a sacred substance. Its’ purity and piety and innocence and intelligence are woven into every seasonal snowfall. God says that “though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.”  Snow, especially freshly fallen snow, reminds us of the purity and the surety we have when we give and surrender ourselves over to the Maker and Master of those teeny, tiny ice crystals. 

Further, each and every snowflake is different and distinct. Alone and apart, each one can’t do much of anything. But when they fall and flurry together, snowflakes can mass and mound and meat together to shut down a whole town. Snowfalls can be seismic. They can effect and endanger life and limb.

So let’s pray for safety and security during this mammoth, monstrous, behemoth of a blizzard. And let’s remember the meaning and the message of snow. It can deliver a powerful punch, both naturally and spiritually.  

Word To The Wise: Don’t Bet Against Brady

Brady SI Cover

Could we see this Sports Illustrated cover again this year? Don’t bet against it.

Some say that sports and life are polar opposites. In fact, sports and life are actually opposite sides of the same coin.  In both sports and life, there are some things that you thought would never happen and yet happen they do. In sports and in life, there are the improbable, implausible, almost impossible occurrences and incidents that no one, and I mean no one, could even dream up in a thousand years and yet “Voila!” – they appear and emerge and transpire right in front of our very eyes.

Such is the case with Tom Brady. He is headed for yet another AFC Championship Game, against his rival Peyton Manning, and perhaps the only thing that stands between him and another Super Bowl ring is a favorable coin flip or two.

Yes, Peyton Manning is the sentimental favorite. No, the New England Patriots aren’t as feared nor as favored as they used to be. Yes, Manning is playing at home in front of friendly fans. No, Brady isn’t superman or super human, but yet and still . . .

Brady has been protected by a stunning 37 different offensive line combinations this season. That’s unheard of. They have a patchwork lineup and a lot of unnamed and unheralded players, except for Rob “Gronk” Gronkowski, considered to be the best tight end in the game. And here’s another one for the books: Brady is the only member of the Patriots roster left from the 2005 Super Bowl Team. If there’s one constant in the Patriots puzzle, it’s Brady.

Sports science stipulates cohesion and consistency and comrade on any and every team. And yet, with all of the shuffling and shifting, the one constant with the Brady Bunch is, you guessed it, Brady. The Patriot Way is the Brady Way. Brady has won more than most. So it’s difficult, nay pert near impossible, to bet against Brady. So don’t do it. Don’t bet against Brady. Just don’t do it. You’ll thank me later.

Brady, the University of Michigan stud, was drafted by the Patriots in the sixth round (THE SIXTH ROUND!) of the 2000 NFL draft. In Brady’s 13 full seasons as a starter (he missed nearly all of 2008 with a torn ACL), the Patriots have earned six trips to the Super Bowl, winning four. Brady has won three Super Bowl MVP awards, two league MVP awards (2007, 2010), has been selected to eleven Pro Bowls, and has led the Patriots to more division titles than any other quarterback in NFL history, with thirteen. Brady is fifth on the all-time list for career passing yards and third for career touchdown passes. His career postseason record is 22–8; his playoff win total is the most in NFL history. Unbelievable.

Some players aren’t pegged or don’t seem to have the potential to pan out and prosper. Yet someway somehow, they seemingly, consistently and continuously find a way to win. We might not like them but we sure do respect them. They give us patterns and paradigms to follow. Whatever happens, and in spite of who comes and despite who goes, there stand players like Tom Brady, like a stone wall. He’s endured derision and disdain from everyone from Roger Goodell to me in this blog. But like the Bible says, Brady is steadfast and unmovable. So, like him or lump him, just don’t bet against him.

So, like it or not, Brady gives us our Bible lesson for today:

Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

1 Corinthians 15:58, NIV

Philly Cheesesteaks: Simply The Best

GenosLast night I  ate a Philly Cheesesteak and I was stuffed like a pig. Every time I’m in town I try to get a  hoagie or a cheesesteak and I’ve never been disappointed. As always, it was really good grub. And this is not a plug for Pat’s or Geno’s Steaks in South Philly. Growing up I NEVER went to either place, not because I didn’t want to, but because I didn’t have to. I could get a good steak from Pagonos or a dozen other places in my hood, if you get my drift. Now where were we?

Simply The Best. Philly Cheesesteaks  are simply the best. Period. Case closed.  End of discussion. There is no steak sandwich better. It doesn’t matter where in Philly I get my steak, it’s always good. Always. And that’s how we should live our lives. Especially if you profess to be a Christian.  Because Christ taught us that the best is what he expects of us.  And nothning less.

No one, and I mean no one outside of Philly, can make a hoagie or cheesesteak  like we make ’em here in the City of Brotherly Love.  So if you haven’t made the trip, do yourself a favor and plan the trek.

And speaking of the best, the Brady Bunch just did it again. Tom Brady and his favorite receivers, Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski, put in a very Patriot-like performance as they kicked KC clear out of the playoffs, 27-20, in a game that the Chiefs could’ve taken but the Pats just weren’t going to give away.

And that’s today’s lesson: there’s a nexus between God and sports and cheesesteaks. Philly cheesesteaks. It’s the same lesson that we learn in life day after day and in sports play after play. Give your best and nothing less.  And don’t make mistakes. At least not stupid ones. But if you do make a mistake or commit an error or get called for a foul you must overcome it, just like Martin Luther King, Jr.  taught us. We shall overcome – not necessarily overnight – but ostensibly overtime.

So come to Philly (you’ll thank me later).  Get yourself a real cheesesteak or hoagie and don’t settle for anything less than the best.