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Super Bowl XLVI – Return of the Hoodie

After several heart stoppages and two different televisions –do you think Best Buy will exchange a flat screen with a lamp through it?  I still have the warranty. — the chance for redemption is ON.  We all remember what happened the first time the New England Patriots and the New York Giants danced in “the Big Cotillion.”  In fact, there are still many who wake up at night screaming, “HE’S IN THE GRASP!!!” as nightmares of Eli Manning’s desperation heave to David Tyree after defensive lineman Jarvis Green held onto the quarterback’s jersey for a full three-count continue to crop up.

It is now four years later and the Northeast monopolizes media coverage yet again.  Welcome to Rex Ryan’s personal hell.  His town’s successful team and his arch rival doing what he cannot do, at least not with Mark Sanchez under center.

There is a weird familiarity to this game, almost like we’ve seen it before.  Flash back to 2007 — no, really. . . do it.  Flash back! — The Giants squeak into the playoffs by the thinnest of Joe Flacco fu manchus and proceed to win three games on the road, including the championship game in overtime, in inclement weather, after an ill-fated turnover.

Meanwhile, the Patriots, though they made history by achieving the first-ever sixteen game perfect season, made the Super Bowl, but only after a controversial win (in Week 13) by three points against a Baltimore Ravens team.  Sound familiar?

In that season, the Patriots beat the Giants during the regular season.  This year, however, they didn’t, which bodes well if you’re looking for comparisons to the 2001 team which similarly lost to the Rams, then proceeded to run the table, including a Super Bowl win against those same Rams.

And in a season when Brady’s chief rival Peyton Manning was inactive, his brother Eli has risen like some sort of Phoenix.  (A brilliant reference if ever I saw one as his first Super Bowl win was, in fact, in Arizona.)  It’s like some weird sort of action movie sequel where the hero, having dispatched of the bad guy, finds that the bad guy had a brother who’s much more evil then his dead brother ever was.  (Remember, you can’t spell “elite” without ELI.)

I understand that this redundant matchup has removed all interest for many of you — “When is Cleveland ever going to be in the championship?” — but for those of you who haven’t moved on to other sports like Texas Hold ‘em and the Scripps National Spelling Bee, you have myriad reasons to pick a team and get behind them, if only for one day.

Why Root for New England?

It’s not often you see greatness.  No, greatness doesn’t come around as often as the attempt to make greatness a storyline does.  From ownership down to the parking attendants at Gillette Stadium, the New England Patriots do things the right way.  This includes Belichick and Brady who, when all is said and done, will be among the most accomplished of all time, if not the most accomplished.  In short, they are the Egg Mcmuffin of football teams.

They’re playing for the owner’s late wife.  Myra Kraft was kind, charitable, and admired throughout the organization.  The Patriots are playing this season with her memory in mind.  Nothing trumps a dedicated season, save for perhaps one in which the somehow handicapped guy, diminutive or otherwise, gets on the field/court and provides the game-winning score/basket.

They’re playing for history.  Four Super Bowl wins for Brady would mean tying him for the most rings by a quarterback with Joe Monana and Terry Bradshaw.  And Belichick would be tied with Chuck Noll.  If Eli wins, that’s only two.  Big whoop!

They’re playing for redemption.  It’s a classic story where the defeated hero rises up again to vanquish his reviled antagonist, like “Rocky 2,” “Return of the Jedi,” or any of the “Police Academy” movies.

They also have a bunch of undrafted players, a rookie who is a non-Hodgkins lymphoma survivor, a wide receiver moonlights in the secondary, and Gronk!  In short, they’re a good bunch of players to root for.

Why Root for New York?

John Mara is the owner of the Giants.  His niece is Rooney Mara, the actress who was darned good in “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.”  (I’ve never seen it, but I’ve heard good things.)  By association, you gotta pull for the Maras.

You have a hatred of Peyton Manning.  A victory for the Giants and subsequently for Eli will show the middle child that he is, in fact, the slow one and not his little sibling as we had previously thought.  A win for Eli will provide retribution for all those wet willies, purple nurples, and wedgies Peyton, no doubt, gave him as a child.  This winter, vote “Eli, for Best Manning Ever!”

According to Vegas, they are the underdog.  Not sure what Vegas is up to on that one, but if your thing is pulling for the underdog (except in that movie “Underdog”), this is the team for you.

Now, on the flip side, for those of you disgusted by the false promise of league parity and the redundancy this matchup provides — well, you probably already have your reasons, but — here are a list of reasons to root against each team.

Why Hate New England?

There are lots of reasons.  For one, they win a lot.  Give somebody else a chance!

“The hoodie” himself.  Not that you liked his brusque and secretive nature before, but the infamous Spygate scandal pushed your disgust of the man to a new level.  He was the only coach to oversee videotaping of other teams, except of course, for any other teams that did it too but just didn’t get caught.  As such, the New England Patriots and Bill Belicheat are the scourge of the league.

The New England fans are out of touch with the 99%.  They are the Mitt Romney of fans.  They don’t understand the hardship that other fans go through on a regular basis just trying to make it to the playoffs, let alone winning a game.

Why Hate New York?

Are you kidding?  They’re New York!  Do you really want those fans around you when they’re winning?  (Or losing, actually.  A lot of it is the smell.)  If you thought New England fans were bad, you ain’t seen nothin’.

New York is going for their fourth Super Bowl win.  It’s boring for a team to be so consistently good as they would have won in the 80s, the 90s, the oughts, and potentially again this decade.

Another Manning?!  Really?!  We thought we were rid of the Manning talk.  Plus, poor Cooper will feel even worse if Eli ends up with two more rings than he has.

The Mara family.  Sheesh, how much success do they need?

whether you root for them, against them, or don’t watch the game at all, it will be decided by the talent on the field.

Why New England will win

They don’t lose to teams twice in the same season, er. . . usually.  (Forget about last year’s playoff loss to the Jets.)

The supernatural.  After the victory in the AFC Championship game, Bob Kraft alluded to “forces at work beyond anything we can understand.”  Did Sterling Moore really knock the ball out of Lee Evans’ hands?  Did Billy Cundiff really shank the kick?  Those of you non-believers can stick to that earthy mumbo-jumbo, but BK knows better.  The Pats are “playing for the patch,” in memory of Myra Kraft.  And Myra Kraft, in turn, is playing for the Pats.

Revenge is a great motivator.  Tom Brady, though he’s cut his hair, may be compared to Uma Thurman in “Kill Bill.” And if New England does win, they will finally be given their 19-0 perfect season!  (hm. . . wait, that can’t be right. . . can it?)

Why will New York will win

First of all, the fact is, the Giants are 3-0 in Super Bowls when Bill Belichick is on the sideline.  Think about it.  That bodes well for them.

But mainly, it’s science.  A tough pass rush coupled with an aerial assault from three quick and strong receivers against a less-than-stellar secondary and there will be nothing the Patriots can do.

So what we have is Myra versus Mara, science versus the paranormal.  As we all know, sports follows no sort of karmic law or spiritual puppetry . . . or does it?  Save for Super Bowl XL featuring the Steelers and the Seahawks, the referees are not “in the bag” or blatantly incompetent, frequently making the correct call with the naked eye on plays we, the viewers, need freeze frame technology to barely venture a guess at the correct call.  The Golden Rule applies to the Super Bowl and that is: “The better team on the field always wins. . . unless it is coached by Norv Turner.”

New York won the last Super meeting on a miracle pass and a helmet catch after a missed interception.  Heck, they’ve already marched the field in the fourth quarter against the Patriots in homage to Super Bowl XLII earlier this year.  Plus, all of Brady’s Super Bowls have been decided by three points.  What about this tells you that the Giants won’t again win by three in the waning minutes?  One thing’s for sure and that is the certainty that this game will not be any less exciting.

Mental note:  Replenish my supply of EpiPens and smelling salt, charge my defibulator, and buy an extra tv.

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Checking Santa’s List for Sports

Ho! Ho! Ho!  No, it’s not Herman Cain addressing yet another accusation from a mistress, but the commercialized call representative of the birthday of that most famous religious figure, that leader of men, that otherworldly phenomenon, Tim Te—er, I mean, Jesus Christ.  (Sometimes I forget that Tim Tebow’s birthday is actually August 14th.  My new year’s resolution is to get a petition to Congress to make that day a national holiday, I don’t care how many doors I need to knock on and how many hours I need to stand outside of malls.)

It’s Christmas time, and it’s the time for giving, a time for all of <i>fankind</i> to come together as one and treat each other with hospitality and friendship.  For all the animosity you show to each other, this is a time to put bygones aside.  In fact, let bygones be bygones; help them to grow up and live fruitful bygone lives, raising little bygones of their own, and then let those bygones be bygones, perhaps settling an organic bygone commune out in the woods somewhere. 

Now is the time to allow for all our fellow fans, be he decked in silver and black, teal, or green and yellow with a hunk of cheese on his head; be his field green or blue; whether his horns be hooked or his tide rolled, he deserves something this holiday season and Santa (shhhh! It’s actually just a fat guy in a red suit and hat with a white beard) is here to give it to him. 

Now, without further ado, let us reach inside the satchel and distribute the presents to these most deserving sports entities:

To Tony LaRussa – a phone that works and a peaceful retirement.

To the NBA – a new commissioner, six fewer teams, and plenty of Barkley and Shaq commentary. 

To Dirk Nowitzki – singing lessons.

To Frank McCourt – a one-way ticket out of Los Angeles (it’s really for his own good as Dodgers fans can be quite aggressive.)

To Dodgers fans – a new owner, preferably one who is a step up.

To Jerry Sandusky – a trip from Penn State to the state pen.

To the Texas Rangers – a hearty “A” for effort.

To Nelson Cruz – a better jump on the ball.

To the 1986 Boston Red Sox – the long overdue opportunity to throw away the Buckner footage. 

To @d_rovell (Darren Rovell) – a singing career.

To Dan Patrick – more movie appearances.

To Tim Tebow – a watch with the correct time to start “Tebowtime” 45 minutes earlier.

To opponents of the Broncos – a fourth quarter to go along with the three they currently play.  

To Cleveland – something. . . ANYTHING.

To Lebron James – a book on magic to help with his disappearing act during the NBA Finals.

To Chicago Cubs fans – hope, if but for just an offseason.

To the “unnamed source” in sports reports – the courage to come forward with your name.

To the “player to be named later” – a name, preferably something cool, like Nnamdi Asomugha, or I hear “Ron Artest” is available.

To Chad Ochocinco – permission to tweet as much as you’d like.

To Ndamakoung Suh – an offseason job as the glass breaker at Jewish weddings.

Jim Schwartz – dinner with Jim Harbaugh.

Jim Harbaugh – the chance to stand Jim Schwartz up at dinner.

To Brett Favre – another chance. . . to throw an ill-advised game-losing interception.

To Vince Young – a different dream.

To the late, great Al Davis – a team in heaven.

To Peyton Manning – a new neck.

Andrew Luck – a good real estate agent in Indianapolis.

Eli Manning – finally a seat at the head of the table at family gatherings

To Brigham Young University – consensual relations during basketball season.

Mark Cuban – an MLB franchise.

CC Sabathia – opt out clauses every year.

Los Angeles – a football team. . . for a few years before it leaves for somewhere else.

Manny Pacquiao – a fight with Floyd Mayweather.

Rex Ryan – a Bill Belichick dart board for his game room.

Donovan McNabb – a cushy studio job.

Tony Romo – a big game win.

Big East – a new name.

To the Bowl Championship Series – a little love. . . similar to the love Lennie shows a puppy in “Of Mice and Men.”

To Chris Paul – a string of championships with the Clippers.

To the Los Angeles Clippers – a larger share of the market (something tells me if they start to win, Lakers fans will jump on board). 

To Albert Pujols – 254 million reasons why it’s not about the money.

And to Tito Francona – a more respectful, celebrated exit.

Finally, to all of you from all of me, I give to you another year of buzzer beaters, fantastic finishes, shocking upsets, gutsy performances, inspired efforts, and the thrill of victory without the agony of defeat. . . unless, of course, you’re playing Tim Tebow.  

Happy Holidays!

[Featured image by: digitalart]

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My 2011 in Review

My 2011 in Review

12/18/2011

Dearest ninety-nine percent, GOP mistresses, remaining Mideast tyrants, and Demi Moore,

First off, I want to thank all those who texted me their well wishes after my freak shake weight accident.  Your expressions of concern warmed the cockles of my heart. . . save for those of Anthony Weiner whose cockles are not welcomed on my phone ever again.

I enjoy this time of year when we can put the baggage of the past 12 months in a box, letting bygones be bygones so they may raise other bygones and those bygones can, in turn, become bygones of their own, potentially forming an organic bygone community in the woods somewhere.  But in this moment of introspection, I cannot help but think of how this year was nothing short of a veritable feast of historical significance.

So much has changed – the world was all at once both topsy and turvy, seemingly rotating on a tilted axis like some sort of planetary body.  Antioxidants, once the darling of health food circles, were now being unceremoniously dispersed through questionable crowd control tactics; free radicals now cost money, and the melodious aria cough was downgraded to barely a whoop.  We experienced carmaggedon, witnessed solar flares (from which I was disappointed not to receive super powers), had the end of the world postponed another year, and for a brief time, I became a Leo, before realizing I wasn’t generous enough to qualify.

Where did the time go?  It seemed the Arab spring segued right into the Paterno fall as quickly as a Kardashian marriage.  I had no time to waste in grabbing life by its Florida peninsula.  As a change to my health regiment, I began drinking tiger blood.  That is, until developing a severe allergic reaction to it.  But for that hour and a half, I was WINNING!

By the early summer, I’d come upon a fairly rigid obstacle to my proactive aspirations in the form of a vast financial deficit due to my ill-fated foray into the baklava sector of the commodities exchange.  I was not to be deterred, however, thanks to the motivationals of Governor Rick Perry who said, “The three non-negotiable keys to achieving one’s happiness in life are hard work, perseverance, and I’ll get back to you on that third one.”  Words to live by!

Mastercard was loathe to raise my debt ceiling (downgrading my credit rating to a C- to boot) upon my request forcing me to find more thrifty uses of my FRI (Farmville-related income).  Together with my new iPhone, Siri, I took to streamlining my budget, but after a drawn out battle over whether or not to spend less or earn more, the artificial intelligence system locked me out, unable to use it anymore.  Thus, I tightened my belt, restricting myself to the bare essentials such as food, rent, and the electric milk frother that I simply had to have.  It was bad business not to buy it, lactose intolerance be damned!

One respite from the unequivocal economic exorbitance was a deal I found at Godfather’s pizza offering 9 toppings and 9 dipping sauces for just 9 bucks!  And I could defer payment to my grandkids.  The only downside was that they said it wasn’t my right to choose the toppings.

Despite such difficulties, I still managed to satiate my appetite for travel by working selflessly for causes such as helping the earthquake relief effort in New York City.   The trip also gave me a chance to attend the infamous Occupy Walmart rally which was a powerful event that will stick with me like the pepper spray in my clothes, and a stop at Wall Street’s Zuccotti Park, home to the popular gourmet luncheon spot of the traders – “Quiche My Ass.”  I had the Elitist Arugula Salad for just $59 with a Groupon.

Creatively, I found my Muse fervently aroused as I completed my first novel typed entirely using a banana to hit the keystrokes.  I think the title speaks for itself – “Kjfoewwi6f.”

And as the waxings and wanings of the moon progressed rapidly, I nevertheless found time to learn a new vocation, officially becoming a fruit ninja.  The test was not easy as you are required to hack honeydews, carve cantaloupes, gouge guavas, and joust juniper berries all with finite precision and dexterity to the reverence of bystanders at the Farmer’s Market.  I feel the lifetime ban from the popular locale was well worth the citrus belt I earned.

Moving forward, I do not wish to let future opportunity pass me by, refusing to take for granted that which is within my reach.  As such, I am excited to finally attend a taping of Oprah and Regis in 2012!  It is with the same such enthusiasm that I say to you all, may the unmanned drone of prosperity rain unspeakable happiness and joy down upon your home.

Yours comedically,

Andy Wasif

 

 

[Featured image by: digitalart]

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A Moment of Sporting Thanks

A Moment of Thanks

Prior to the autumnal feast that shall soon be placed before us, we’ve already been given a lot to digest from this year in sports, including not one, but two labor strikes, improbable winners, ungracious losers, horrific tragedies, and a trip from Penn State to the state pen.  Let us now take a moment to focus, not on the negatives that are overthrown passes and blown coverages (as we all know there was pass interference somewhere that should have been called), but rather on all the positives we can take away from the field; to take pause and give thanks for this culture in which we have invested our time and sanity. 

Interestingly enough, the first Thanksgiving occurred when the Pilgrims went to the Wompanoag Tribe in 1621 for lessons in surviving the brutal winters of Massachusetts and how to deal with the annual collapse of the local wood-chipping team. 

That autumn formed the basis of what we now know as Thanksgiving and for many years, the colonists lived peacefully and synergistically with the neighboring Indian tribes.  That is, before shooing them off their land, claiming it for themselves, and then giving them casinos.  It was kind of like running up the score.  Nothing said they couldn’t, but it was generally frowned upon, especially by the Indians. 

But I digress. These days, the holiday stands for overeating, creating weird hybrid meals like turducken, watching football, and spending time with the family you seek to avoid all year long; a chance to call a timeout to the hustle and/or bustle of our lives. 

So with that tradition in mind, let me take a moment to present to you that which I am thankful from the past twelve months in sports.   I am most thankful for:

Norv Turner, for defying logic and remaining gainfully employed as a head coach in the NFL.  Seriously, does he have photos of A.J. Smith in a compromising position or something? 

The 2011 Boston Red Sox, for making us all forget that “All My Children” had ended.

Theo Epstein, for giving Cubs fans hope, as blind as it might be, for that’s where it begins.

Jim Harbaugh, for showing that going from the college to the pros is easier than everyone prior to him has shown it to be.

Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison, for keeping the economy growing with fines levied from hits.  C’mon, James, it’s been a while.  Your country needs you!

The NFL, for making it a safe game to play again, except to the myriad players foolish enough to get injured on a weekly basis. 

Tim Tebow, for being a great quarterback even though the numbers show he sucks at it.

Ndomakung Suh, for being a dirty player while remaining so damned likeable. 

Andrew Luck, for saving the Indianapolis Colts while still at Stanford.

Boise State, for losing a game this year so as not to confuse things in the BCS as they did in 2009.

The Big East, for keeping the words “big” and “east” in their title even though both are misnomers. 

Dirk Nowitzski, for winning that ring he deserved five years earlier.

The NBA players, for standing their ground and taking a charging foul.

The NBA owners, for arguing the call, saying it was a blocking foul.

David Stern, for continuing to ruin a league he once built to prominence.  The guy’s like a gambler at Vegas who doesn’t know when to leave once he’s accumulated a stack of chips.  It’s become quite comical to watch.

Novak Djokovic, for showing he should be on “Dancing with the Stars.”

Roger Federer, for finally allowing others the chance to win trophies.

Tim Tebow, for forcing us all to love him.

Bob Costas, for getting the interview with former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky so we could see the worst denial in the history of speaking, a 16-second denial on whether or not he is sexually attracted to young boys where the alleged child rapist repeated the question, qualified it, danced a little, then finally denied it once we had all switched over to “Dancing with the Stars” that we had TiVoed.   

NCAA football conferences, for making geography class irrelevant. 

Michael Vick, for regaining the respect of his fans, only to lose it again with his performance on the field.

St. Louis fans, for being so even-tempered. 

Albert Pujols, for doing something legendary just days before his contract expired.

The Texas Rangers, for allowing networks to replace footage of the 1986 Boston Red Sox with them.

Playoff beards, for making a world of difference in how you play. 

Cal Ripken Jr., as a reminder not to take his feat for granted.  He played in 2,632 consecutive games.  I, for one, took a week off between writing the beginning and end of this piece. 

Tim Tebow, for making us all believe in ourselves.

Sports karma.  That’ll teach you to take anything to South Beach.

Floyd Mayweather, for finally realizing he gets paid a ton of money to fight Manny Pacquiao. . . whether he wins or loses. 

Mike Tyson, for being viable again. . . in some funny acting bits.

Coach K, even though we all hate your team, we gotta admit, you’re pretty good

Shaq Fu, the Shaq Daddy, The Big 401K, and so on, for his fun-loving personality we hope continues into retirement. 

Chad Ochocinco, for his tweets before he got to “heaven.”

Major League Baseball, for stepping up to the plate and showing America it’s still a force to be reckoned with.

And finally, Tim Tebow, for making every day just a little brighter.

What a year it’s been.  Sports are as they always are – intriguing captivating, nauseating, emboldening, and demoralizing.  And that’s only on a Sunday.  Here’s to the other six days of the week.  Now, pass the turducken.  I’ve still got some eatin’ to do before I watch “Dancin’ with the Stars.”

[Featured image by: David Castillo Dominici]

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Know Your Realigned College Football Conferences

Like some sort of swinger party set against the plush velour of a mustachioed man’s suburban townhouse (not that I would know), universities are hopping from conference to conference with no sense of loyalty or decorum at a disconcerting pace. 

As an attention play over its professional counterpart, the NFL, who held our focus for months with labor negotiations, the NCAA has, in the meantime, put forth their own modifications, ones that are challenging the entire landscape as we know it. 

The main variations you might notice are that several conferences have featured realignment, introducing unfamiliarity to the schedule.  Traditional foes may have been transferred and rivalries may have been eliminated. 

So, as your swivel-perched head attempts to recognize the new alliances throughout Division I-A football, here is a handy reference guide for you to review while plopped down in front of the big screen watching your favorite school on the gridiron.  The remodeled foundation now looks like this:   

The Big 10 now has 12 teams.

The Big 12 now has 10 teams.

The Pac-10 is now the Pac-12 and it does, indeed, have 12 teams stretching as far east as Utah and Colorado, which is a long drive from the Pacific Ocean. 

The Big East is the smallest of the major power conferences with eight teams and stretches as far west asLouisville.  (However, come back to us in a year or so and it will have been sold off for parts.)

The Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) spans up and down the Atlantic coast, which will soon run through Syracuse and Pittsburgh thanks to global warming.  (Damn you, Al Gore!)

The Southeast Conference (SEC) is pretty much in tact. . . for now, as Texas A&M wants to join.  Though they are in Texas, which is nowhere near the East, the school is located in the Southeast part of the state. . . sort of. 

 South Carolina was the first state to secede from the Union, but remains in the SEC. 

Texas Christian University will be joining the Big East next year. . . unless the conference no longer exists in which case, TCU will feel pretty stupid. 

Murray and Kent are not states! 

Louisiana State is in the SEC, Louisiana-Lafayette is in the Sun Belt, and Louisiana Tech is in the Western Athletic Conference (WAC).

The Sun Belt stretches from Texas to Western Kentucky.

Western Kentucky U niversity is located in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Bowling Green State University is not.  It is located in Bowling Green, Ohio. 

Bowling Green still fields a football team, but has no intention of promoting bowling.  Their colors are orange and brown and not green.

Conference USA includes Southern Miss, Central Florida, and East Carolina

Western, Central, and Eastern Michigan are all in the West Division of the Mid-American Conference (MAC), though all are in the Eastern Time Zone. 

Fresno is not a state either!

Army and Navy are independent while the Air Force is in the Mountain West Conference.  The Marines and Coast Guard do not have teams.  Neither does Seal Team Six nor the CIA.  Or. . . do they?

New Mexico is in the Mountain West while New Mexico State is in the WAC.

After leaving the WAC for the Mountain West in 2010, Boise State is staying put and their field remains blue.

Brigham Young has also left the WAC.

Akron remains in the MAC despite rumors that it would take its talents to South Beach.

We areMarshall!

Temple no longer plays in Division I, but does continue to play on Yom Kippur.

Rice University has actually been around longer than Jerry, Sidney, and Ray and was not named for any of them. 

Ole Miss players are roughly the same age as those from Mississippi State. 

Ohio State and Miami are the only teams in college football whose players have taken illicit benefits, but that doesn’t take into consideration the other schools whose players have as well.

Pete Carroll’s USC Trojans are still on probation for rules violations and as a punishment, he has to coach the Seattle Seahawks with Tavaris Jackson at quarterback.

USC has lost some scholarships, but Reggie Bush still has his Heisman trophy. 

Cam Newton has his Heisman trophy since he claims to have been unaware of the shady dealings his father was involved with. 

Mark Ingram also has his trophy, but his father is still in jail. 

OJ Simpson is in jail and no longer has his Heisman.

OJ was locked up for kidnapping, but not murder, though according to a civil court ruling, he’s done both. 

Terrelle Pryor has to miss the first few games of this season, but can return when Ohio State visits  Nebraska on October 8th, though by that point, his team will be in Houston for the Raiders/Texans game.  Regardless, he won’t be allowed to return until the next week against the Cleveland Browns, Ohio’s other football team.

Miami has a team. . . for now.  Joe Paterno is still coaching.

Kickoffs still matter. 

It’ll take more than luck to win the Heisman Trophy, though the favorite to win the Heisman trophy is, indeed, Luck.    

Dick Butkus has never won the Butkus Award. 

And, come the end of the football season, the Bowl Championship Series BCS still exists and is in place to determine, beyond reproach, the best team in college football, which may not actually be the best college football team in the nation.  (The one thing that needed modification didn’t get it.)

So there you have it, your cheat sheet for college football 2011.  You can now focus solely on the enjoyment of the games, your tailgating, and the punishment that is sure to be handed down to your school very soon.

 

[featured image by: arkorn]

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Postcards From the Hedge

Postcards from the Hedge

April 29th

Dearest Penelope,

We arrived today in Chesterfield and are staying at a delightful bed & breakfast.  Winston is so romantic.  He had my favorite flowers, lilacs and petunias, waiting for me in our room.  Though he realized he’s allergic to lilacs, he insisted that we keep them in the room while he sleep outside.  What a gentleman!  We have an early morning in front of us so I’m off to bed without any further delay.

Sincerely yours,

Annabelle
************************
April 30th

My dearest Penelope,

I must tell you our nature walk was extraordinary.  When we set out down the path this morning, I expected only to see ants, mosquitoes, and ladybugs, but was overwhelmed by a variety of creatures including a stag beetle and a red-spotted purple butterfly.  And the things I am learning from Winston.  He mistakenly captured a regal fritillary in his net thinking it was a checkerspots fritillary before realizing the latter is indigenous to northern Spain and Central Asia.  I have never been more attracted to him as I am now.  I’m extremely tired now so I’ll continue my correspondence with you tomorrow.

Yours,

Annabelle
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May 2nd

Dear Penelope,

I believe that I am in love with Winston.  Today, as we were seated on a rotting log alongside the trail, he put his arm around me.  (Oh, Penelope, I know what you’re thinking and you do have the wildest imagination.)  No, he was simply brushing a Japanese beetle off my shoulder.  The chivalry never ceases with him.  Then he went on to describe the larvae stage of the beetle.  Fascinating!  He is so smart.  We went back to our room expecting to have a romantic evening last night, but Winston had a sneezing attack as the lilacs are still in the room.  So I went to bed alone and awoke well-rested for another day on the trail.

Annabelle
************************
May 2nd (p.m.)

Penelope,

This has been the most incredible day.  Winston proposed!  It was so romantic, like something out of a novel.  Instead of a ring, he presented me with a firefly.  That original Dickens!  Without me suspecting anything, he captured it on the trail with the intention of jarring it until evening when it might illuminate for me.  Unfortunately, it turned out to be a striped blister beetle (the look quite similar to the firefly) that bit Winston on the hand.  My silly little Romeo has iced his hand and is now resting as he’s had his fill for one day.  I’m all flushed with excitement so I’ve ordered a hot toddy and it’s straight to bed.

Regards,

Annabelle
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May 3rd

Penny,

It seems my poor Winston had a slight reaction with that beetle yesterday.  He looks so cute puffed up like a float entered in the Rose Parade.  He hasn’t lost his nobility, though.  Not wanting to put a damper on my walk, he gave me his binoculars and sent me out by myself.  I missed him terribly, though I did encounter a pack of Monarch butterflies flying past me.  They must have been returning from their winter migration.  How lucky I was!  Absolutely breathtaking.

Anna
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May 4th

Dear Penelope,

Winston is dead.  The physician said the bite on his hand coupled with his allergy to lilacs weakened his immune system.  Given the news, I opted not to stray from my room today.  Perhaps I will write more later, but for now I am emotionally drained.

In deep sadness,

Annabelle
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May 7th

P,

As you can see by the front of the card, I’ve decided to finish my vacation in the Caribbean as I’ve never been.  It’s absolute paradise.  Plus, I’ve met the most wonderful man named Fernando who’s going to teach me how to “bodyboard.”  I look forward to telling you all about it when I return next week.

Hugs,

A

 

 

 

[featured image by: tharkul]

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Thor’s Exploration

Thor stood at the bow of the massive vessel.  He was tired.  It had been months since he constructed the ship, years since he first dreamed of setting out to discover new territory, and almost a decade since he and Fjorgyn Karsefni had spoken after one sordid night he deemed to be true destiny and she chalked up to too much mead.

In one hundred days at sea, they’d lost two ships and countless men.  Thor wondered if he’d ever see his family again.  He longed for the simple life of pillaging and plundering he’d left behind (though he could never remember which was which).

Their only amusement was a chessboard brought on board by Thorfinn Sturluson.  But the crew lost interest quickly when they realized Thorfinn cheated terribly.  He would swear, “The horsie can move anywhere!  If you don’t believe me, ask the Eastern Slavs.”  But if there were any Eastern Slavs on board, they weren’t talking.

The men were destitute:  want of spirit, want of affection, want of life.  Their meager diet consisted of porridge, boiled fish, and  crème de menthe brulee with wild berries and caramelized sugar garnished with a mint sprig.  They could take no more.

As they rowed, the crew glared at Thor with contempt, a far cry from the trust and admiration they felt towards him when the journey began.  But Thor was filled with resentment as well—mostly towards his longtime friend Thorvald Herjolfsson, who, in a moment of frustration, pushed Thor’s Runic monument to his father overboard saying it disrupted the energy of the boat.  Thor retaliated by throwing Thorvald’s book on Feng Shui overboard.  Petty as it was, neither man was going to present the other with an olive branch of peace.  Thorvald had thrown that off two days earlier.

There was not much time left as the supply of grain was running low.  Thor was not going to look at the endless horizon anymore.  He lowered his head and prayed silently to the Gods.

In a moment one could only call divine intervention, a speck appeared on the horizon.  Leif Thorrson cried, “Land!” but no one paid him any heed mainly because he had a bad habit of yelling “Land!” every hour, a habit that earned him the nickname, “The Timekeeper.”  This time, however, it was land.  All at once, the crew exploded in elation.  But lest they suffer from premature celebration, each man returned his focus to reaching the shore.  With the strength and power of a hundred ships, they stroked and stroked as the oak planks glided through the water.  The tide lent a hand and propelled the boat onto the beach lurching the crew to the sand.

Standing slowly on dry land for the first time in months, they looked around, gazing in stunned silence at the natural beauty that lay in front of them:  forests of willow and birch, magnificent fjords, rolling hills.

After what seemed an eternity, Thorvald approached Thor and handed him the flag.  Thor accepted it as the two men shared a moment of unspoken reconciliation.

With a tear in his eye, he jabbed the stick into the sand.  The crew cheered.  Then, with his voice cracking both from pride and exhaustion, Thor spoke.  “My friends,” he began, “it has been a long and arduous journey, but our labors have been rewarded.  We started out mere boys, but ended up men who have made history.  After a myriad of sunrises and sunsets, storms, the loss of our brothers at sea, we accomplished the impossible.  Now we must get word to our families and neighbors that we’re alive and well and about to settle in a new world.”  He sighed.  “Everyone back in the boat.”

*excerpted from “Will Beg For Dignity” (OhSchnappa Publishing, 2001)