Smokin’ Bert Cooper: A Hometown Hero Goes Home

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Bertram “Smokin’ Bert” Cooper: 1966 – 2019

I attended a funeral today. Actually we call them “homegoings.” This homegoing was for the brother of a dear friend. His name was Bertram Cooper, nicknamed “Smokin’ Bert.” He was only 53. He was born and raised outside of Philly in Sharon Hill, and he is the pride and joy of the Darby Borough. His life and legacy and faith and fearlessness in the ring are another of those underdog stories that we all love to hear and tell.

Here’s a tad of his tale:

“In very sad and somewhat shocking news, it has been reported how former heavyweight contender Bert Cooper has passed away from pancreatic cancer. Bert was just 53 years old. The rough, tough and often extremely exciting warrior who was once trained by the legendary Joe Frazier (who gave Bert his “Smokin’” nickname) fought so many top names during his up and down career.

Initially a cruiserweight, Cooper soon moved up to heavyweight, and on his best night he could rumble with the best of the best. The knock on Cooper was his lack of discipline. Throughout his long pro career – September 1984 to September of 2012, with numerous layoffs included – no-one knew whether or not Bert would enter the ring in top fighting shape. A lover of partying, this leading to his indulgence in drugs and alcohol – Bert once famously said before his losing fight with a come-backing George Foreman how he had “probably slept two or three hours in the last two or three days.”

But when he was ready to fight hard, Cooper was a force to be reckoned with. Fans still talk about the way Cooper, who was given just six days’ notice (and fighters today, some of them anyway, were moaning that six weeks was not enough time to get ready to fight Anthony Joshua for the world title), became the first man to drop Evander Holyfield. Cooper was eventually stopped but what a war he gave Holyfield.”

“Smoking” Bert Cooper (38-25-0, KO’s 31), 2-time World Heavyweight Title challanger (1991 & 1992), former NABF Cruiserweight Champion (1986-1989) & NABF Heavyweight Champion (1990-1990), former WBF Heavyweight Title holder (1997), former USA Pennsylvania State heavyweight champion (2002).

Victories over the likes of: Orlin Norris, Joe Hipp, Henry Tillman, Willie deWit etc.

Lost to champs & top contenders like: George Foreman, Evander Holyfield, Michael Moorer, Riddick Bowe, Ray Mercer, Mike Weaver, Corrie Sanders, Chris Byrd, Carl Williams, Luis Ortiz, Larry Donald, Fres Oquendo, Joe Mesi, Chauncy Welliver.

Cooper was at one point CLOSE to being a re-incarated Joe Frazier. He surely had his athletics and power, but not the hunger or discipline like Frazier had that made him to a great champ. And when Cooper started with drugs, that was a heart-breaking break-point for old champ Joe who threw Cooper out of his gym in disgust and disappointment for his former protégé.” https://www.boxing247.com/boxing-news/r-i-p-smokin-bert-cooper-1966-2019/117824

Kareem Hunt and the National Football League: What’s Up With the NFL? – Fall 2018 Edition

Kareem Hunt
Kareem Hunt is cut by the Kansas CIty Chiefs after a video is released of him shoving and kicking a woman in a February dispute

Mike McCarthy just got fired, Kareem Hunt was cut by the Kansas City Chiefs, and the Bears lost to the Giants. Go figure.   

First, who would have thought that the Green Bay Packers would fire their beloved coach MIDSEASON? And who would have guessed that the Chiefs’ darling (now former) running back would be ditched for a February incident in which he shoved and kicked a woman, a video of which just so happened to surface on Friday?  And why didn’t the NFL interview Kareem Hunt or the woman he shoved and kicked when the league investigated the February assault? Incredible. Hunt now says he was “in the wrong”. How genuine of him, months after the incident and months after he misled the team and the NFL about what really happened. It’s yet another black eye for the NFL and yet another domestic violence incident that the NFL failed to handle correctly.  

And in actual games that were actually played on the field, the Giants beat the first place Bears in overtime.  Explain that one, pray tell?

It just goes to show, anything is possible. The good can go bad, and the very bad can actually turn out to be pretty good. Go figure. And to top it all off, my Eagles have a chance to move up in the world if they beat the Washington Redskins on Monday Night Football.

Failures are not final, and victories are not forever sustainable. So never say never. And don’t count me out. And don’t count your chickens before they hatch. McCarthy was a fixture in Green Bay, and he’s out. Kareem Hunt was the engine that drove the Chiefs, and he’s out, and the Giants have had the worse season imaginable, and they don’t look like they’re out (even though they are), and my Super Bowl Champion Eagles have played under par all season; yet and still, mathematically they’re not  out yet.  I said yet. 

And that’s the NFL, and that’s life. There’s always hope.  Yet things could go south or sideways in a hurry if you don’t do the right thing.    So do the right thing, even when you have a losing record or you don’t seem to have a snowballs chance in you know what to get out of the mess you’re in.  

Because doing the right thing is always the right thing to do.

Carmelo Anthony

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Carmelo Anthony’s tumultuous NBA career may soon be over, after grinding to a halt in Houston

Carmelo Anthony’s tumultuous, up and down, all around NBA career may soon be over, after grinding to a halt in Houston.

It’s all so sad. And like him or not, you’ve got to feel so bad, because it just makes you mad. How can a perennial All-Star become a journey-man, bench warmer who can’t keep a job? He has skills and ability and a decent basketball IQ, but somehow, all of his talent has not totaled into a tenure that we all can look back on and say with any confidence that it was a good run. Denver may be as close as Melo got to a good situation. His time with the New York Knicks was a slow burn/meltdown of a disaster, and the OKC experiment failed miserably. Now we have this mess in Houston. 

What can we learn from Melo’s latest malaise and his history of malfunctions? Sometimes you need to look yourself in the mirror. The truth hurts, but you can indeed learn from it if you are willing to admit and own up to your part of it. 

Here’s how Sporting News put it:

“Fifteen years after coming into the league, the sad truth is that we may be seeing Anthony’s final days in the National Basketball Association. Carmelo’s had knee surgery and he’s 34 years old, but neither age nor injury have caused his career to hit the rocks, a reality that came into sharp focus this weekend. Just 10 games into his career as a bench player with the Rockets, Anthony was held out of back-to-back games in order to discuss his role with the team. 

That’s been translated to mean that Anthony soon will be cut by Houston, which has struggled to a 6-7 record after finishing last year with a league-best 65 wins. GM Daryl Morey labeled that speculation “unfair,” but Anthony remains away from the team. He has not been great for the Rockets, averaging 13.4 points in 29.4 minutes per game on 40.5 percent shooting and 32.8 percent 3-point shooting.

Even if he did get a new deal to finish this season elsewhere, glumness looms over this stage of Anthony’s career. He is a Hall of Famer just playing out the string. When next spring hits, Anthony probably will be wrapping up his time in the NBA, and he won’t be doing so on his own terms. A job with any of the league’s 30 teams will be hard to find, and Anthony’s best chance at a continued pro paycheck will be on foreign shores, possibly China.”

http://www.sportingnews.com/us/nba/news/carmelo-anthony-lost-in-new-nba-must-confront-harsh-truth-about-his-future/15vd9c3j9msv01qxf2ajv9zmxm

Maryland Get’s It Wrong, Then Makes It Right

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Jordan McNair, former University of Maryland offensive lineman, died tragically as a result of a heatstroke suffered during practice on May 29, 2018

Former University of Maryland Head Football coach DJ Durkin was placed on paid administrative leave August 11, 2018.  This was  in response to the June 13th death of 19-year-old offensive lineman Jordan McNair from a heat stroke he suffered at a May 29 workout.

Durkin had been reinstated Tuesday, following two separate investigations into the football program and five meetings and calls between the 17-member board of regents. Then,  just one day later, after a public outcry, largely from the student body, Durkin was fired by President Wallace Loh.  The decision to reinstate Durkin had been met with outrage and protests by students, politicians, McNair’s family members and even some of the players themselves.

“We feel gratified that some justice has been done, that Dr. Loh took it upon himself to do the right thing,” Marty McNair, Jordan’s father, told SportsCenter on Wednesday night.

One student tweeted this assessment of the situation: “I don’t think Maryland could have possibly handled this entire situation any worse. He should have been fired in July or August.”  Amen.  How does a student die becasue of an incident suffered on the practice field, and then you investigate the situation to death, and then you reinstate the head coach, and then you fire him?  Seriously? 

Without question, it was a tragic death that Jordan McNair died. But the University of Maryland made his demise a hundred times worse and more painful by dragging the verdict out and then flip-flopping the punishment for Coach Durkin all over the place.  First of all, the investigation took too long.  Period. Then, the aftermath was like, coach DJ Durkin is a good man, so let’s give him another chance.  No. Not at Maryland. Not at the expense of feelings and emotions and passions and sentiments, and raw anger. 

The morale (pun intended) of this story is this: we need to right wrongs as quickly as we can. And Maryland taught us that dragging out an apology and the necessary restitution is actually a second fatality that only exacerbates the original mortal wound.  In other words, Maryland killed Jordan McNair more than once. 

So let’s all remember, when we make a mistake, let’s not make this same mistake.

 

 

Note To Jameis Winston: Character Still Counts

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Suspended for inappropriate condut, Jameis Winston is pondering His NFL Future

Who should start for the Tampa Bay Bucanners: Ryan “Fitzmagic” or Jameis Winston? That’s the question.

Ryan Fitzpatrick has been dubbed Ryan “Fitzmagic” because this journeyman quarterback, who’s played on seven – count ‘em – seven NFL teams, has taken Jameis Winston’s job and is running with it. Fitzpatrick was drafted by the St. Louis Rams in the seventh round of the 2005 NFL Draft and has also played for the Cincinnati Bengals, Buffalo Bills, Tennessee Titans, Houston Texans, and New York Jets. Fitzpatrick played college football at Harvard and was the first quarterback in school history to rush for over 1,000 yards in a career.

 And now Fitzpatrick has thrown for 400 yards in each of the first three games of the season even though he struggled in the Bucs’ 30-27 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday Night Football. But the Bucs were down 30-10 at halftime, and they cut the deficit to just three. It wasn’t a win but it was a moral victory. Fitzpatrick competed when the game was seemingly over, and almost overcame all of his early mistakes.

As for the Buccaneers star quarterback, Jameis Winston, he was suspended for the first three games of the 2018 season as the NFL said its investigation found the he inappropriately touched a female Uber driver in March 2016 in Scottsdale, Arizona. 

In a statement, the NFL said Winston violated the league’s personal conduct policy “by touching the driver in an inappropriate and sexual manner without her consent”  and the statement said  that “Disciplinary action was necessary and appropriate.” Winston’s suspension is without pay and he didn’t appeal.

The NFL said in its statement that Winston is required to obtain a clinical evaluation and fully cooperate with any recommended therapeutic intervention program. The league said if Winston doesn’t comply, it could result in further discipline. The NFL also said another violation of the personal conduct policy will result in more substantial discipline, including a potential ban according to Jenna Laine, an ESPN Staff Writer.

While Winston worked hard during his suspension, he is not guaranteed to return to the starting lineup. Two events have altered the landscape since the Tampa Bay Buccaneers made the routine decision to exercise their 2019 contract option for quarterback Jameis Winston. The NFL’s three-game suspension of Winston was one. Ryan Fitzpatrick’s record-setting run of three consecutive 400-yard passing games during Winston’s suspension is the other.

“Fitzmagic” has put up some astronomical numbers. In Weeks 1 and 2, Fitzpatrick led the NFL with 819 passing yards, throwing eight touchdowns and tacking on a ninth score with his legs, leading the Bucs to wins over the New Orleans Saints and Philadelphia Eagles.

And so, once again, the question is this: is Winston worth it? Yes Winston is a phenomenal talent, but talent can only take you so far. In fact, talent can’t take you to the top because it’s actually your character that makes you. The character of Jameis Winston has caused us to rethink the value of his talent, because the character of Jameis Winston has been called into question more than once.

Character still counts, and you are who you are, despite, not because of, your talent. And your actions still speak louder than your words —  and your talent.    

Note to Vonte Davis: “Don’t Quit Halfway Through”

 

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Vontae Davis Walks Out and Walks Away

Vontae Davis quit halfway through.  That’s right. A PROFESSIONAL NFL football player actually played one half of a game, took a look around him, and realized how bad the situation was, and, instead of pledging to help make it better, he quit. Forget this retirement rhetoric; that’s garbage. Dude quit.  Vontae Davis called it quits at halftime, when his Bills were losing 28-6 to the Chargers.  The final score was 31 – 20.

For the first time in NFL history, a player, namely the Buffalo Bills’ cornerback Vontae Davis, called it a career and retired at halftime. With the Bills looking like the worst team in the NFL, per CBS Sports, this sudden change to the team’s roster is unlikely to make things better.  

The veteran defensive back  pulled the most incredible exit in NFL history yesterday when he decided at halftime that he was calling it a career. He pulled himself out of the game,  put on his street clothes, walked out of the stadium and decided to retire, right there. This is one of the Bills’ starting cornerbacks!  The 30-year-old cornerback, a first-round pick in 2009, spent a majority of his NFL career with the Indianapolis Colts. He played in 121 games and finishes his career with 22 interceptions and 98 pass deflections. 

So let’s analyze the situation for a minute: Yes the Bills stink. In the season opener on Sunday, September 9, 2018, the Baltimore Ravens dominated the game and slaughtered the Bills with a final score of 47 to 3.  That’s beyond bad. And no, you don’t get better in an instant. But yes, the Bills were a playoff team last year. But no, you don’t quit halfway through. It’s that simple. It’s like cheating, or accusing someone of cheating that isn’t cheating. You don’t. You just don’t. 

Davis said later that he came to the realization during the first half that he didn’t belong on an NFL football field any longer and that he should just retire. (Buffalo was down 28–6, so maybe a few other players should have had the same epiphany.) He said he didn’t mean to disrespect his teammates but they clearly still felt disrespected.

But don’t we teach our children not to give up and not to give in? Don’t we teach our boys and girls to be team players and not to be selfish? Aren’t we supposed to model before the next generation how to gut it out and suck it up? 

Incredibly, some are defending Davis for what he did. Why? Because this is a me first generation. This is an “I before we, me before you” and everybody else society that doesn’t give a hoot about how their actions affect anyone else.  And it’s said. It’s all so, so said.

 Here’s what Mr. Davis had to say for himself:

“This isn’t how I pictured retiring from the NFL,” Davis said, via NFL network. “But in my 10th NFL season, I have been doing what my body has been programmed to do: get ready to play on game day. I’ve endured multiple surgeries and played through many different injuries throughout my career and, over the last few weeks, this was the latest physical challenge.”

“I meant no disrespect to my teammates and coaches. But I hold myself to a standard. Mentally, I always expect myself to play at a high level,” Davis said, via NFL network. “But physically, I know today that isn’t possible and I had an honest moment with myself. While I was on the field, I just didn’t feel right, and I told the coaches, ‘I’m not feeling myself’.”

So you quit at halftime? Seriously?  He signed a one year deal with the Bills who weren’t that bad last year. But that was then, and this is now.  We’ve all learned that decisions should not be made on a whim or in the heat of the moment. Davis’s snap decision in the “now” moment certainly could be rethought or, even rescinded. But based on his statement, it doesn’t look like that will be the case. 

Mr. Davis went out and he put a bad taste in a lot of fans and players mouths.  And that’s just not how one should want to be remembered.

Nike and Kaepernick: “Just Do It?”

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Nike’s 30th Anniversary “Just Do It” Commercial Featuring Colin Kaepernick

By Paige Gawley‍, Entertainment Tonight

“Colin Kaepernick’s Nike commercial is here!

Following the controversial announcement that the 30-year-old NFL free agent would team with the sports brand earlier this week, the company has released a two-minute commercial featuring the athlete.

The uplifting ad includes people of all types — disabled and able-bodied; girls and guys; kids and adults — trying to accomplish something. Though they don’t always succeed, they always keep trying.

‘If people say your dreams are crazy, if they laugh at what you think you can do, good. Stay that way,’ Kaepernick says in a voiceover. ‘Because what non-believers fail to understand is that calling a dream crazy is not an insult. It’s a compliment.’

The ad continues with specific ways to dream big.

‘Don’t try to be the fastest runner in your school or the fastest in the world. Be the fastest ever,’ Kaepernick declares. ‘Don’t picture yourself wearing OBJ’s jersey. Picture OBJ wearing yours. Don’t settle for homecoming queen or linebacker. Do both. Lose 120 pounds and become an iron man, after beating a brain tumor. Don’t believe you have to be like anybody to be somebody. ‘

The Nike commercial also features clips of famous athletes doing their thing.

First it’s Alphonso Davies, a teenage refugee from Liberia, who plays soccer for Canada. ‘If you’re born a refugee, don’t let it stop you from playing soccer for the national team — at age 16,’ Kaepernick says.

‘Don’t become the best basketball player on the planet. Be bigger than basketball,’ the footballer player says alongside video of LeBron James opening his I Promise School school in Ohio.

The ad flashes to Kaepernick, who declares, ‘Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything.’ The statement references the fact that Kaepernick hasn’t been signed by an NFL team since 2016 when he was one of the first NFL players to kneel during the national anthem as a way of protesting police brutality and racial injustice in America.

‘When they talk about the greatest team in the history of the sport, make sure it’s your team,’ Kaepernick says of the U.S. National Soccer Team.

Shaquem Griffin, an NFL player with one hand, is featured next. ‘If you have only one hand, don’t just watch football, play it. At the highest level,‘Kaepernick says, ‘and if you’re a girl from Compton, don’t just become a tennis player. Dream of being the greatest athlete ever,” Kaepernick says of Serena Williams. ‘Yeah, that’s more like it.’

The ad ends with Kaepernick telling viewers, ‘So don’t ask if your dreams are crazy, ask if they’re crazy enough.’

When news of Kaepernick’s new gig broke on Monday, there were strong reactions from both sides. Musician John Rich was against the ad, while the NFL and celebrities including Kobe Bryant, Common and LeBron James came out in support.”

So, what say you?  Is Nike exploiting Colin Kaepernick, or is Kaepernick just exploiting his situation?  Take your pick. Either way, if you can stand back and be objective, you will certainly conclude that there is more  meat than bones in this mesmerizing message.