Note From Fergie: This Is How To Butcher the National Anthem


If you haven’t heard by now, the pop star Fergie sang the National Anthem before Sunday night’s 2018 NBA All-Star game. And she showed us how NOT to sing the our national song on national television. To quote one columnist, “it was … something. To say the singer put her own spin on the Star Spangled Banner doesn’t even begin to describe what happened here.”  As the former “Black Eyed Peas” singer sang the our national song,  even the all-stars couldn’t hide their laughter. But it was no laughing matter. It was NOT funny, and it was no joke.

Fergie’s “rendition,” if you want to call it that, was worse than wretched. It was past pathetic. It was downright disgraceful. And if anyone needs an example of how to embarrass themselves and set a bad tone, this was it. Singing the nation anthem prior to big games and important athletic events is a time-honored tradition. It’s also an honor for those asked to perform it. 

So why did she do it? Why did Fergie trifle with tradition and rail on a hallowed rite and ritual? This may be a gross over-generalization, but it seems as if this generation has lost the art of respect and the science of reverence. To make light of a custom and best practice is to say that the individual is more important than the whole.  Essentially, Fergie belted out that she is more important that the Country and the customs that we have all come to love and cherish.

Let this be a lesson to the rest of us; some traditions just need to be respected and preserved.


Is Anybody Watching The 2018 Winter Olympics?

Let’s take a unscientific poll: thumbs up for yes and thumbs down for no.

As for me, I’m not. Well, at least not yet. I want to watch and I plan on watching, but I just haven’t gotten around to it yet. For starters, I’m from Philly, and as a native Philadelphian, I’m still celebrating the Eagles’ Super Bowl win over the Patriots. And rightfully so, since this victory has been a long time in coming. So that’s my excuse. What’s yours?

Let me guess. First, you’re not interested. The 24 hour news cycle is so full of White House scandal and North Korean bramble that you just can’t keep up. That’s understandable. Second, most of the Country (the US that is) has been hammered by storms of some kind. Most of the Midwest and the Northeast have been hampered by winter weather, so people in cold weather watching other people in cold weather isn’t quite such a winter delight. And third, you just haven’t gotten around to it yet. That’s OK. You can use my excuse, as long as you’re happy for my Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles. Fly Eagles Fly!

So it’s Sunday. And, hopefully you’ve worshiped God in some form or fashion today. Now that you’ve put God first, let’s support our mother countries and the athletes that represent us. It’s the essence of teamwork and my favorite theme, Team, Team, Team!

Cleveland Makes Wholesale Changes

Cleveland Cavaliers Logo

Sometimes we need to make changes, wholesale changes. When there are structural deficiencies and institutional incompatibilities, cosmetic corrections and surface suggestions just won’t cut it. When the apple is rotten to the core, radical reforms are needed in order to right the ship and produce lasting results. And that’s what the Cleveland Cavaliers figured out.

Isiah Thomas is gone. Dwayne Wade was shipped back to South Beach. And other fixtures of the franchise that revolves around LeBron James are gone too. Were such drastic steps necessary?  Only time will tell. But sometimes you have to do some deep cleaning in order to get rid of all of the dross.

Not that individual players were the problem; it was the chemistry of the team that was the problem. And in order to fix what’s wrong chemically, you need an entirely new formula. That’s what happened when Jesus came to town.

Jesus came to make wholesale changes. The Pharisees and Sadducees and the religious establishment had settled unto a fixed, flat-rate, unforgiving system that they thought worked for them, when in truth it didn’t work for anybody. Jesus came with new rules and a fresh perspective and a better way of living. The only problem was, he had to blow up the old system and make wholesale changes. And the establishment didn’t like.

That’s the lesson. So, let’s take a page from the Cleveland Cavaliers playbook. When things aren’t working, look at everything. And I mean EVERYTHING and EVERYBODY.  Some of the things you’re doing may need to be revised, revamped or even revoked. The same goes for the people in your life that you may even like.  If they’re not working for you, they may in fact be working against you.   

So do yourself a favor. If you must, and some of us are in a season or situation where we must, make wholesale changes. It’s better that being bitter.  Indeed, the changes may hurt.  But the changes, if done with the goal of getting better in mind, will in fact help.

What’s Wrong With The Cleveland Cavaliers?

LeBron James is not happy.

When the Cleveland Cavaliers acquired Isaiah Thomas, aka “I.T.”, from the Boston Celtics in the 2017 offseason, they knew it was going to be a while before the crafty ball-handler was well enough to play, as he was still recovering from a hip injury.

After enduring seven months of rehabilitation, Thomas made his Cavs debut on Jan. 2 in a 127-110 win over the Portland Trail Blazers, scoring 17 points in just 19 minutes of playing time. He’s had some good and bad games since then. In fact, the former Washington Huskies stand-out has been the Cavs’ leading scorer in each of their last two games. However, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, the team is growing a bit wary of Thomas, and for good reason.

The chemistry between LeBron and I.T. just isn’t there, and the Cavs have appeared to be disheveled and disinterested in recent loses.

So what’s the problem? More importantly, what’s the solution? But first things first. In sports and in life, we all know that you can’t fix something until you know why it’s broken.

Will the Cavs trade Thomas? Maybe. Or LeBron? Not likely, especially since he has a no trade clause in his contract. Oh well. The circus in Cleveland may well leave the door open for Boston to win the East. Maybe.

Alex Smith Instead Of Kirk Cousins? Seriously?

Wow. Look at that pic. Two of the most recent Washington Redskins’ quarterbacks who are long gone or are about ready to go. Too bad.

The Washington Redskins just signed Alex Smith. Well, they signed him last week but it wasn’t important enough to pull me away from all of the Super Bowl hype. Now that my Philadelphia Eagles have won the Big One and are World Champions (man that sounds so good!) we can turn our attention to other more trivial NFL matters. Like where Kirk Cousins will be playing next year.

First of all, what was Andy Reid thinking? Are they mad at Smith for tanking this season after starting out so well? After all, the Chiefs started off 5-0, and their first two wins were against, wait for it, the Patriots and the Eagles! So what happened? What had happened was . . . Anyway, the Chiefs cooled off and couldn’t sustain their fast start and got booted from the playoffs in the wildcard round.

Which brings us to Smith’s sudden and unexpected departure from KC and his coming to DC. Statistically speaking, Kirk Cousins is better than Alex Smith. And he’s younger. So remind me again why the Redskins don’t want Cousins? Oh yeah, we haven’t answered that question, and we don’t have an answer, and probably never will.

Oh well; so much for the Redskins getting better this offseason. That’s one less team in the NFC East my Eagles will have to worry about next year.

Dr. Larry Nassar and the Mayhem at Michigan State

Mark Dantonio

 It’s all so sad. It’s all so heart breaking and heart-rending. Misuse is abuse, and abuse of any kind is wrong. It’s actually sin. And sin, when it’s is finished, brings forth death.

Abuse is iniquity at the lowest level. And we just witnessed another case of abuse in sports. “Michigan State professor and doctor for the American gymnastics team, Dr. Lawrence G. Nassar, was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison on Wednesday for multiple sex crimes, capping an extraordinary seven-day hearing that drew more than 150 young women to publicly confront him and speak of their abuse.

Judge Rosemarie Aquilina, who had opened her courtroom to the young women, including several prominent Olympic athletes, bluntly made clear that Dr. Nassar, 54, was likely to die in prison.”

The Bible is right, for is speaks of what happened to Nassar:

Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. 15 These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.

James 1:14-15, New Living Translation

 And if Nassar’s crimes weren’t bad enough, it has now come to light that members of the Michigan State football and basketball teams are accused of sexual misconduct. 

Here’s the story from ESPN:

“The Michigan State football program did not report three instances of sexual assault and three incidents of physical violence, according to a report from ESPN’s Outside the Lines. Outside the Lines reports that at least 16 Michigan State football players have been named in accusations of rape or violence against women since Dantonio took over in 2007.

The report seems to contradict head coach Mark Dantonio’s assertion that there had only been two incidents of sexual assault during his 11-year tenure as head coach.

“We had one incident that involved three people. We had another incident that involved one. We have 120 players usually on our football team,” Dantonio told reporters after four players were kicked off the team and expelled from the university for sexual assault earlier this year.

The details come as part of OTL’s scathing report which details a culture of sexual assault within Michigan State’s football and basketball programs. The university’s athletic department has been in headlines for its mishandling of the Larry Nassar case; Nassar was a faculty member at the university for decades and sexually abused multiple students under the guise of medical treatment during his time there.

According to the OTL report, many accusations of sexual assault were handled by the athletic department, then headed by Mark Hollis, who resigned Friday amid the Nassar fallout. In one instance, Dantonio reportedly handled a sexual assault case by telling the player to talk to his mother about what he did.

The athletic department’s efforts to keep sexual assaults in-house were apparently pretty extensive. When ESPN requested police reports and records for every football and basketball player from ten universities, Michigan State tried to block out the players’ names. ESPN then successfully sued Michigan State for that move, and the names were released.”

Mark Dantonio, Michigan State football coach, said he will not resign following an ESPN report that the school mishandled or ignored allegations of sexual assault against members of the team. Dantonio also said he would not resign, and was there to “look the people” who instigated the reports “in the eye.”

Wisconsin v Michigan State
EAST LANSING, MI – JANUARY 26: Michigan State Spartans head football coach Mark Dantonio speaks to the media at a press conference before the Michigan State Spartans and Wisconsin Badgers basketball game at Breslin Center on January 26, 2018 in East Lansing, Michigan. Michigan State is facing criticism for its handling of sexual assault accusations on campus. (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)

“…any accusations of my handling of any complaints of sexual assault individually are completely false,” Dantonio said during the press conference. “Every incident reported in that article was documented either by the police or by the Michigan State Title IX office. I’ve always worked with the proper authorities when dealing with the cases of sexual assault.”

Punishment for crime is only right. I just hope that what happened at Penn State does not happen at Michigan State. Joe Paterno was vilified for what he did and did not know of Jerry Sandusky’s abusive behavior, and it sent him to an early grave. Let’s hope that the truth will overcome a rush to judgement at Michigan State.

Aaron Hernandez: Triumph and Tragedy

Aaron HernandezTalk about a modern day, made for reality TV soap opera. This just in: another athlete has given us yet another harrowing, heartbreaking homily on the hazards of mixing giftedness with recklessness. The dramatic, meteoric rise of the footfall career of Aaron Hernandez met an equally speedy fall and sudden stall.

In actuality, the life and death of Aaron Hernandez was a sad, sobering, shocking yarn full of knots and kinks leading to a tattered and torn, threadbare end. The life of this famous yet infamous professional football player was both sewn tightly and frayed badly, full of high drama and sordid saga that finally all unraveled in a lonely Massachusetts jail cell.

Aaron Josef Hernandez, the 27 year old, 6’-1’’, 245 pound, once and future rising New England Patriots star tight end took his own life this past week. It’s as sad a tale that has ever been told. His is a rags to riches back to rags story that seems like it didn’t have to be. It’s so sad and seemingly so senseless.

Hernandez worked his way up to the top of the sports world. He was NFL divinity; he played in a Super Bowl and played on the best team in the league and was an All Pro selection. But he also simultaneously wormed his way down to the bottom of the general population of humanity; Hernandez was convicted of murder and was serving a life sentence at the time of his death.

Hernandez grew up on the “other side of the tracks” and rose to prominence seemingly overnight. Hernandez attended Bristol Central High School and played as a wide receiver until becoming a tight end, and also played defensive end. As a senior, he was Connecticut’s Gatorade Football Player of the Year.

And his star kept rising.

Hernandez caught passes from Tim Tebow when he played college football at the University of Florida. He was a member of the 2008 BCS National Championship team and was voted a first-team All-American. He was widely recognized as a key contributor to that team’s national championship success. Hernandez then became the first Gator to win the John Mackey Award, given annually to the NCAA’s best tight end.

And his star kept rising.

Hernandez was drafted by the NFL’s New England Patriots as the 15th pick in the fourth round of the 2010 NFL Draft even though he was dogged by allegations of failed drug tests. Still, with future Hall of Famer Tom Brady throwing to him, Hernandez shined for New England. He played on the 2011 Super Bowl team that lost to the New York Giants 21-17. On August 27, 2012, the Patriots signed Hernandez to a five-year, $40 million contract extension, running through 2018. The $12.5 million signing bonus was the largest ever given to an NFL tight end.

But it all began to unravel when he was released by the Patriots in June 2013 immediately after his arrest for the murder of Odin Lloyd. We may never know the whole story, but what was once a bright triumph turned into a dark tragedy.

Sports are like life and life is like sports. There are wins and losses and victories and defeats and ups and downs and twists and turns all the way from start to finish. Aaron Hernandez is just another example of how a good run can all come crashing down with a bad decision here and a misstep there. In all, Hernandez spent more time in prison than on the field with the Patriots. In spite of the tragedy, in life and in death, Hernandez taught us that we don’t have to have a dead end.

Reports say that Hernandez etched John 3:16 on his forehead before taking his life. John 3:16, the hallmark scripture of our faith, coupled with the Easter message, proves that God loves us and is concerned about us. Jesus conquered death so that we don’t have to use death as an out or an option. We may fall but we don’t have to fail or give in or give up if we put our trust in Him.