Big Ben Says “Don’t Count Me Out!”

Ben Pointing

Ben Roethlisberger had the game from hell last week. He had the worst game of his illustrious, all-pro career.  He had a career-high five – count ‘em – FIVE INTs. That’s five interceptions in one game. And that’s not good.

But Ben Ben’s not done yet.  Today Ben bounced back and beat the previously undefeated Kansas Chiefs on the road at Arrowhead Stadium in KC. 

Last week, Ben threw too many interceptions and was ready to throw in the towel. Two of those INTs Jacksonville returned for touchdowns in a 30-9 loss to the Jaguars. The bitter, biting, baneful loss left the Steelers frustrated and the most prolific passer in franchise history struggling to put a finger on how things went so wrong, so quickly for a group that was expected to be among the league’s best.

Last week, just five weeks in, Big Ben and the Pittsburgh Steelers were (3-2) and decidedly average. And then there came this from Big Ben himself:

 “Maybe I don’t have it anymore,” Roethlisberger said.

The 35-year-old was kidding. Mostly. While he tried to chalk it up as simply a bad day at the office, in reality this one was different than most. No Steelers quarterback had thrown it to the other team five times in a game since Mark Malone did it against Cleveland 30 years ago. 

https://apnews.com/79913b5d9488456bb21494f36aa1b17c/Roethlisberger%27s-rough-day-paves-way-for-Steelers%27-loss

 That was last week.  And as they say, that was then, and this is now.

Now is a 19-13 win over previously undefeated Kansas City. And this week Ben had help; big help. Pittsburg’s Steel Curtain defense regained its former, famed glory and held Alex Smith and the high powered, league leading offense to six first half yards. That would be six, as in comes after five and right before seven. And KC had one first down in the first half. Just one.  It was total domination by the Pittsburg “D” for 3 ½ quarters.

Now the Steelers are 4-2 and looking one hundred and eighty degrees better than they did in last week’s loss. That’s quite the bounce back. That’s quite the turnaround. That’s quite the statement game. And this is why we love sports. And this is why sports and faith are not foreign; nay, sports and faith are famously familiar BFFs and bosom buddies. 

Everything we do is spiritual.  Everything. Including what happens on the field, on the court, on the ice, on the track, in the pool and in the gym.   And once again, Big Ben gives us a reason to believe, a reason to hope, and another reason to get back up and get back going, again.

So take it from Big Ben. Don’t count yourself out.  Say it over and over and over again.  You can make it. And tell your enemies and your foes the same thing. Tell the naysayers and the bogus soothsayers to take a hike too. Tell them emphatically, “Don’t count me out!”

Which Way Are You Trending?

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We have heard this and we have seen this sit-com before; “The Eagles are for real!” The Eagles are for real.” Yeah, yeah, yeah. But this time we mean it, right?

My Eagles have a penchant for “being for real” at the begging of the season. In fact, last year this time, we were all screaming, “the Eagles are for real” when they began the season 3-0. But they ended the season 7-9, Doug Pederson’s first year in Philly as head coach. And the year before that, we began the season with high hopes, but also finished a disappointing 7-9. And thankfully, that was Chip Kelly’s last season in Philly (I MEANT that thankfully thing).

The Eagles tend to start hot and end cold. They tend to fly high and then land hard. They tend to raise expectations to heaven and then dash hopes to smithereens. But this year is different, right?

All of Philly is hyped, amped, excited, and overjoyed. Why? Because the Eagles are 5-1 and looking good doing it.  Yes, you gotta believe that my Eagles Are For Real! This time.

Carson Wentz and the Eagle “D” stood up to Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers 28-23 in Carolina, and they looked good doing it (for the most part). Except for too many penalties (do I hear the conspiracy theorists crying foul) and a few missed reads by Wentz, the Eagles looked great on both sides of the ball.

So all of Philly is hoping and praying that this year is different. Because you tend to follow your tendencies, right?

What about you? What are your trends and tendencies? What are your propensities and predispositions? Are they good or not so good? Either way, let’s all work or how we trend. Let’s work on which way we lean. You want to trend up, not down. You want to trend the right way, not the wrong way. You want to continue to progress, and not regress.

So, we all have work do. Let’s all work on finishing, and not just starting.

Stop Dancing With Your Demons: Aaron Rodgers Shows Us The Way

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Aaron Rodgers doesn’t think he can win, he knows he can win. And I dare say he knows he WILL WIN, especially late in the fourth quarter, with the game on the line against the Dallas Cowboys in Dallas.

Aaron Rodgers is 6-2 lifetime against the Dallas Cowboys.  But more importantly, he’s undefeated in late game heroics against the Boys in Big “D”. For the second time in nine months, the Cowboys scored 31 points against the Packers … and lost. And for the second time in less than a year, Aaron led a last-minute, last gasp, last chance, game winning drive, and led the Green Bay Packers to victory in fantastic fashion.

Rodgers ruined what could have been one of Dak Prescott’s best moments — a 17-play drive that covered 79 yards and lasted 8:43. Dallas led 31-28 with 1:13 left in the game after the last Dallas score. And Dallas was in complete control of the game at the start when Prescott threw three touchdown passes on the Cowboys’ first three drives.

But once again, Aaron Rodgers has buoyed us and begged us to turn our bogeys into birdies (How’s that for a mixed sports metaphor?) Once again, Aaron Rodgers has shown us that we can bounce back from our blunders and come back and perform wonders.

Yes Rodgers did it again.  And the lesson is clear: you can win with little or next to no time left on the clock. You can beat back the bastions you’re battling and the strongholds you’re struggling to defeat. You can.

So stop it; just stop it.

Stop dancing with your demons. Stop saying what you can’t do. Stop whining and start worshiping. Stop pouting and start praising. Stop complaining and start clapping your hands and leaping for joy.  Stop the mindless madness of missing miserably and start the anticipatory gladness that leads to triumphing gloriously. Just say it and believe and achieve it. Just do it. 

You can make, if you just believe.

Cam Newton On Female Reporters: “I Guess The Joke’s On Me”

cam-newtons-video-apology-for-seWhat’s wrong with Cam’s comment about females? Everything.

This is what Cam said after a female reporter asked him a question about his receivers running their routes:

“It’s funny to hear a female talk about routes.” Wait, what?  Really? I mean, seriously?  Cam?  Do you realize what you’ve done?  

Cam belittled a female reporter commenting on and complementing Carolina Panther receivers running good routes.  Please note: it was a COMPLEMENT!  It wasn’t a criticism or a critique. So it shouldn’t matter who it comes from. Cam, Cam.

Sometimes we all say dumb things. Sometimes the male chauvinist in men still comes out. Unfortunately for Cam, his comments were stated on camera but were off-color and now his overreach is under scrutiny.

Cam Newton has, after a little over a day that has almost felt like weeks, issued his apology for remarks made to Charlotte Observer reporter Jourdan Rodrigue at a Wednesday press conference.

http://a.msn.com/02/en-us/AAsXNh1?ocid=se

“After careful thought, I understand that my word choice was extremely degrading and disrespectful to women,” he said. “And to be honest that was not my intentions. If you are a person who took offense to what I said, I sincerely apologize. I’m a man who tries to be a positive role model in my community and tries to use my platform to inspire others. I take ownership to everything that comes with that and what I did was extremely unacceptable.”

Newton continued, saying that he’s a father to two daughters, and tries to inspire them to be whomever they want to be.

So what’s the lesson Cam needs to learn? Don’t down women.  Don’t do it.  Putting down someone or anyone and especially an entire segment of the population is not a good idea. It’s not funny and it’s no joke. 

The Politics of Sports, a.k.a., Who Wants To Be Uninvited To The White House?

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“You could see the end to this awkward dance between the NBA Champion Golden State Warriors and President Donald Trump coming from 140 characters away.

Less than a day after so many prominent members of the Warriors reiterated their stance that they didn’t want to visit to White House to celebrate their title, and just hours after Trump’s inciteful rally in Alabama where he took aim at NFL players who protest the national anthem, he wasted no time in taking to Twitter – again.

‘Going to the White House is considered a great honor for a championship team.Stephen Curry is hesitating,therefore invitation is withdrawn!’ Trump tweeted.”  https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nba/2017/09/23/donald-trump-rescinds-white-house-invitation-stephen-curry-warriors/696136001/

Wow.  

Much could be said, but here I yield to another writer, Michel Wilbon.

The following article is from “Wilbon,” (as Tony Kornheiser calls him), co-host of ESPN’s PTI, Pardon the Interruption, sports show.  Michael Wilbon hit the nail on the head.  In light of the ongoing media feud between the President of the United States, who rules from the White House, and athletes in the NBA and the NFL, I could write my own thesis or treatise on the subject, but Wilbon beat me to the punch.  Thanks Mike. 

“It was just before 3 a.m. Saturday, and I could hear the phone buzz from the incoming text. It was from Rex Chapman, a friend of many years now after I’d covered a lot of his college and NBA basketball career. For those who don’t remember Chapman, he was the sweet-shooting guard from Kentucky — white kid who could jump out of the gym — about to turn 50 this October. The despair he was feeling was coming right through the cellphone screen.

The text, in part, read, ‘I’m sorry about Trump. I’ve never been more ashamed. I hope you knew this before, but in case you didn’t I need to say it now. Love you Brother. Rex.’

This was an American man — white — feeling compelled to reach out to another — black — to make perfectly clear he didn’t support any of the garbage coming out of Donald Trump’s mouth. Not in the president’s Friday night Alabama speech, not in any rantings on Twitter. That Chapman didn’t think taking a knee during the national anthem meant a black football player was a “son of a bitch,” that he didn’t want any part of the hideous racial divisiveness that Trump was instigating.

I texted Chapman back to tell him I’ve known him well enough and long enough to know the only thing he has in common with Trump is race, and I already knew what side of any divide he was on … and that I loved him for composing and sending that text.

Chapman’s 3 a.m. communication was also a forecast of the storm coming right back at the president. Trump was either clueless about the blowback he’d get from the brotherhood of pro athletes, particularly African-Americans, or he’d seriously miscalculated the willingness of an industry of powerful people, most of them white, to stand with those “sons of bitches” who Trump demanded be fired for expressing the most fundamental American right.

Whether Trump was oblivious or misguided, I doubt he expected LeBron James to stand up for rival Steph Curry on Twitter. Could he have had any idea that white teammates would rally around black ones in locker rooms and on sidelines Sunday? Or that the team owners he wanted to fire those black protesters would link arms Sunday with those very players during the anthem? And the last thing he could’ve expected was New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, his friend, saying in a statement, “I support their right to peacefully affect social change and raise awareness in a manner they feel is most impactful.”

The beginning of Kraft’s statement, that there is “no greater unifier in this country than sports and nothing more divisive than politics,” might as well have been the NFL’s official position going into the day’s games. It even one-upped the statement from the measured NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who also called Trump’s comments “divisive.”

Those who thought Trump would fire back at Kraft and Goodell personally were left waiting. The president doesn’t waste his nastiest insults on white men, even those who disagree with him, when he has black men such as Curry and Colin Kaepernick to attack. And few, if any, African-Americans were surprised that the man who led the Obama birther movement and called Mexicans rapists said during an Alabama speech that a football player taking a knee during the anthem is a “son of a bitch.”

For a great many of us who find Trump and his actions somewhere between objectionable and loathsome, this latest episode illustrates once again that he is what we think he is. Black men taking a knee during the anthem enraged Trump, but a Charlottesville, Virginia, rally of white nationalists, neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan members carrying torches also included, in his words, “very fine people” who were just there to protest the removal of Confederate statues.

This isn’t lost on anybody paying even scant attention. As Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr said, “These are … probably the most divisive times in my life, I guess since Vietnam … our differences, I’m speaking in terms of values, are so dramatically different. I’m talking in terms of inclusion and civil discourse and dignity. I thought his comments about NFL players are as bad as anything he’s said to this point. You’re talking about young men who are peacefully protesting, hallmarks of our country.

‘How about the irony of, ‘Free speech is fine if you’re a neo-Nazi chanting hate slogans’ but ‘Free speech is not allowed to kneel in protest’? No matter how many times a football player says, ‘I honor our military but I’m protesting police brutality and racial inequality,’ it doesn’t matter. Nationalists are saying, ‘You’re disrespecting our flag.’ Well, you know what else is disrespectful to our flag? Racism. And one’s way worse than the other.’

There’s an old adage in sports that conveys: You are what your record says you are. We know what Trump’s record is regarding race. And in taking on two leagues, one (the NBA) with some of the most famous people on the planet and another (the NFL) that features the most popular form of sports entertainment in America, Trump emboldened a population that is often reluctant to rally or take risk. Suddenly, with public backing from owners and leagues, players aren’t feeling their careers are at risk to the same degree as before.

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban wondered aloud during a television interview Sunday whether Trump is ready for the blowback from a community of people with so much national and global influence. And now those people, even the anthem-kneelers, find themselves being patted on the shoulder by sympathizers if not allies.

I texted Rex Chapman later in the afternoon to ask permission to share his thoughts publicly. Like millions of us, he was watching and listening, hoping to see definitive signs that we had progressed as a nation in our lifetimes, hoping that a choir of voices could overwhelm Trump’s.

I’m going to forward to Chapman the Facebook post of Dan Rather, a man who knows the sweep of American history. Toward the end of an eloquent and stunning rebuke of Trump, Rather sounded a note of cautious optimism that I’m certain Chapman was also getting at with his Saturday morning text.

‘We are not a nation of majority bigots,’ the former CBS newsman wrote. ‘The strident ranks of the intolerant can be overwhelmed by enough people agreeing that this is not who we are or who we want to be. Mr. Trump’s cheers can be drowned out by a chorus of justice.’ Even if that chorus is built one voice — or one text — at a time.

——-

Michael Wilbon is one of the nation’s most respected sports journalists and an industry pioneer as one of the first sportswriters to broaden his career beyond newspapers to include television, radio and new media. He is a co-host of ESPN’s Pardon the Interruption.

https://theundefeated.com/features/donald-trumps-nfl-comments-inspired-a-response-he-didnt-see-coming/ 

Survival of the Fittest

NFL: New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles
Sep 24, 2017; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles kicker Jake Elliott (4) is carried off the field by outside linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill (54) and outside linebacker Mychal Kendricks (95) after kicking a game winning 61 yard field goal as time expires for a victory against the New York Giants during the fourth quarter at Lincoln Financial Field.                                           Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports    

Jake Elliott is now a hero in Philly.  He got carried off the playing field after a thrilling, comeback  win in the Eagle’s home opener. But first, let’s talk about Penn State’s equally stunning win.

Penn State pulled off one of the most improbable, implausible wins of the season and maybe of Coach James Geoffrey Franklin’s career. His young guns came through in the clutch as the No. 4 Nittany Lions survived their trip to Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City, Iowa.  Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley found Juwan Johnson for a seven-yard touchdown as time expired — beating Iowa 21-19 on Saturday night.

It was a final drive to remember. Penn State had just 90 seconds to go 80 yards to overcome the 19-15 deficit. It got to the 7-yard line thanks to seven McSorley completions and a 12-yard McSorley run. With four seconds left, on fourth-and-goal, McSorley audibled and found Johnson over the middle to complete the last-second comeback.

And to top off the weekend, my Eagles beat the New York Football Giants in epic fashion. Philly’s rookie kicker hit a record-setting, 61-yard field goal as time expired. Elliot’s longest previous kick had been 55 yards.  Elliot, who just joined the team two weeks ago, set up for the kick with one second on the game clock. The snap and the hold were all good, and as all of Philly watched with bated breath, the ball just barely nicked the right upright and sailed over the crossbar with no time left on the clock.

Both Penn State and the Eagles had the game in hand but seemingly let their victories slip away as Iowa State and the Giants both grabbed leads late in the game. But both victorious Pennsylvania teams had enough gumption and gusto to march down the field and win their games in walk off style.

The term “survival of the fittest” is a Darwinian term referring to “those traits best suited to perpetuate the species that endure to be passed along indefinitely from generation to generation. Conversely, those traits most detrimental to the good of the species will be phased out after a few generations.”  While we do not subscribe to evolution, we can borrow, repurpose and re-apply this term  to sports teams and players appropriately.   

In sports, fitness means you have work out your kinks and worked on your game and have survived the tests and the trials and the sufferings and the pains that come part and parcel with every day of practice and every game of the week and every season of your career. And the same goes for life. Your survive the tests and trials  of life and emerge intact; you may be battered  and you may be bruised, but in the end your spirit is unbroken and you’re no worse for the wear. 

So, even if you’re not a fan of the Nittany Lions or of the Philadelphia Eagle’s, you have to love how these two teams emerged and evolved through their games and survived.  It’s a lesson for us all.

Always remember, it aint over till it’s over. Even with 0.4 seconds or 0.1 second on the clock, you too can survive.

Colin Kaepernick Deserves A Second Chance

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Right now, Colin Kaepernick is looking down. His prospects of playing again in the NFL are looking down too. And his outlook and the current outcome of his nationally known protest against racial injustice are looking about as good as he is. But there’s always hope, right? I mean, everybody deserves a second chance, right? It’s called redemption. It’s called restoration. It’s called revival.

The truth is, 2nd chances are the foundation of our faith. Getting another shot is the backbone of our belief system. And coming back from the dead is the hallmark of our hope and peace. Upsets, comebacks and turnarounds are on every page of God’s Playbook.  And who on earth couldn’t use a little rejuvenation every now and then?

This is from the Undefeated.

“On the day Colin Kaepernick said he still wants to play in the NFL, five-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback Tom Brady said the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback is qualified to play and he hopes to see him back on the field.

Former New York Daily News reporter and Fair Punishment Project writer-in-residence Shaun King posted a picture of himself with Kaepernick just after 11 a.m. Sunday, and less than 30 minutes later, quote tweeted his post explaining that he had asked the free-agent quarterback whether he wanted to continue playing in the NFL.

Less than an hour later, Brady threw his support behind the Super Bowl quarterback in an exclusive interview with CBS Sunday Morning.

‘I’ve always watched him and admired him. The way that he’s played he was a great young quarterback,’ the New England Patriots quarterback told CBS News’ Norah O’Donnell. ‘He came to our stadium and beat us and took his team to the Super Bowl. He accomplished a lot in the pros as a player. And he’s certainly qualified, and I hope he gets a shot.’

Kaepernick started a national conversation about the injustices black people and people of color face in America and at the hands of police by sitting and eventually kneeling during the national anthem last season. He also has donated $900,000 of the $1 million he pledged to give to charitable organizations and advocacy groups last October.

Kaepernick opted out of his contract in March. Two weeks into the NFL season, he has visited with only one team, the Seattle Seahawks in May. The Baltimore Ravens discussed bringing in Kaepernick in July after starter Joe Flacco suffered an injury. Thirty-seven quarterbacks have signed with NFL teams since Kaepernick became a free agent.

Pro Football Talk reported Sunday that some Cincinnati Bengals players would like the team to consider signing Kaepernick. The Bengals have not scored a touchdown in their first two games, and starter Andy Dalton has struggled. A.J. McCarron is Dalton’s backup. The Bengals’ front office has not expressed interest in Kaepernick.

Last month, Super Bowl-winning quarterback Aaron Rodgers said it would be ignorant to believe Kaepernick is being held out of the league for anything other than his national anthem protest.” By Rhiannon Walker @InstantRHIplay; https://theundefeated.com/features/colin-kaepernick-says-hes-ready-to-play-tom-brady-hopes-he-gets-a-shot/

Amen Brother.

So whadaya say? Let’s start a national campaign to get Kaepernick back in the saddle. Because in sports and it life, everybody deserves a 2nd chance.