To Coach Or Not To Coach

Coaching youth soccer is one of those interesting contradictions. You can go back and forth so many times in a week. One second you absolutely love it because the kids are so great and then you are so crazed because the kids just won’t listen to what you have to say.
It can be such an incredible experience to be a coach though, especially when you watch the kids as they grow up and you see them start to “get it.” The maturation from playing as 6 year olds all the way up to almost teenagers. You watch that thought process as they start to grasp the offside trap. There are adults that can’t grasp the offside trap, so when you see the kids get it, it’s quite an accomplishment.
It’s funny though, sometimes I sit back and I think about all the years I’ve put into the game. All those fall days after work that I travelled over to the practice field with that bag of balls and the cleats to give the best instruction that I could to hopefully help them progress as best as they could. The missing NFL games on Sundays to help give them the best instructions I could while being there for them so they could have fun on the soccer field.
I always had the support of the parents. They were always there to be supportive of the kids and make the best experience for the kids as they could. Whenever I had a problem they would be right there in my corner to back me up and let me discipline as a coach. You hear the horror stories that sometimes the parents could be all over the place and treat their kids badly. But I never experienced that. They just wanted their kids to have fun.
Amazingly the problem ended up being the people who ran the thing. You know, cause someone always had a problem with something that you did. If you try to protect your kids when they are the goalkeeper, someone has a problem that you make a stink about it. If a kid breaks a finger, a hand or a face, the head of the league isn’t going to dip into their pocket to pay for the co-pay at the ER or the doctor and specialist visits. They aren’t going to pay for the sick days and the gas fill ups and all that.
But I know, the kids are supposed to be prepared for the level of goalkeeper, sure I get that. However, there also needs to be someone to look out for the kids, because well they are just kids after all. Kids are going to do kid things and they are going to swing wildly and miss the ball, they’ll chase a ball and step down on fingers they will kick out and they’ll get frustrated that they can’t score a goal and act out. That’s what we need the referee for. If the referee isn’t there to protect the child in the goal, then my job as a coach is to protect that goalie. In fact my job is to protect all those kids, even to protect them from themself. If someone is acting wildly, they need to come off the field and shake it off, just shake it off.
If we are going to make excuses that the referees have limited training because it is a volunteer organization and people don’t have the time to train then we need to use the people who do have training. We should not put people who don’t have referee training in the position to fail. That’s asking for trouble and that’s poor leadership. It’s an immense responsibility to be a referee and not only do you have to know the rules but at this age you are tasked with the job of taking care of children’s safety. You look for dangerous play and you look to make sure that you keep the pace of the game going but do so in a controlled manner. A pre-teen game is not the place to start for an inexperienced referee, it’s better to start them either as a linesman or at a young kids’ game.
All this seems to be so elementary and that’s what can be so frustrating about the leadership of leagues. Why is it so difficult to understand that coaches want what is best for their kids? How is it hard to understand that coaches also wear many different hats? Leaders of leagues may not see that coaches can also be parents, referees, goal assemblers, field coordinators and leaders in safety just to name a few. Coaches are huge volunteers. To assume that just because you are a coach means that you don’t know what a volunteer is, is a huge slap in the face especially when you’ve done that job and many other jobs for the league for over five years. It’s unfortunate that volunteerism gets called into question when a coach looks out for kids but sometimes it feels like sometimes people have to find something to question. We’re not all perfect but coaches do what they can to make the experience as perfect as they can for the kids.

Tommy’s Balls: An Update

Golden Boy Tommy Brady’s Agent Don Yee came out the day after the Warren Report, err I mean the Wells Report (for those of you too young to remember the Warren Report it was the government’s response to information gathered after the assassination of JFK -there’s your history lesson for the day- you’re welcome)!

What might Mr Yee have said you may ask?  Well it’s something pro-Golden Boy of course, why we all know that, but who knew that the NFL was out to conduct a “sting” on Tommy!  A true NFL sanctioned sting on one of the NFL’s glorified stars?  Seriously Mr. Yee, you must be taking the piss!

“One item alone taints this entire report. What does it say about the league office’s protocols and ethics when it allows one team to tip it off to an issue prior to a championship game, and no league officials or game officials notified the Patriots of the same issue prior to the game? This suggests it may be more probable than not that the league cooperated with the Colts in perpetrating a sting operation.”

Oh Mr. Yee, you really think if the NFL told the Patriots that your great Tommy wouldn’t have secretly have texted his buddies McNally and Jastemski and told them the deal was off?

“Hey guys, don’t deflate my balls!  LOL!”  Oh I know, it’s just a joke right?  Like the Patriots lawyers tried to say.  They all were just joking.  Because every NFL team locker room attendant jokes about deflating balls I’m sure.  Just like every NHL locker room attendant talks about cutting holes in the net I’m sure.

“Hey guys wouldn’t it be funny if we cut the nets?  LOL!”

Mr. Yee called EVERYONE out on this:

“It is a sad day for the league as it has abdicated the resolution of football-specific issues to people who don’t understand the context or culture of the sport.”

Now he’s trying to put in that big word, ABDICATED, to try to make himself sound special there but he’s trying to say that Ted Wells and co. don’t understand football or football culture and are not able to make a practical judgement on the case because of this.  Sorry not sorry.  That one doesn’t fly with me.  There’s this thing called practical judgement, and in my practical judgement, he’s just bullshitting.  He tried to prove such by saying that “investigators had limited understanding of professional football.”

What they only had vast understanding of college football?  So that doesn’t relate?  Or they had limited understanding of the Patriots locker room?  Are we supposed to have the Patriots investigated by the Patriots’ lawyers?  Would Bobby Kraft prefer to have his lawyers investigate?  Maybe we could have one giant Patriot investigation and just bury it underneath Gillette Stadium.  Why should Tommy be untouchable?

And speaking of untouchable…Bobby Kraft still hasn’t gotten it.

“When I addressed the media at the Super Bowl on January 26 – over 14 weeks ago – I stated that I unconditionally believed that the New England Patriots had done nothing inappropriate in this process or in violation of the NFL rules and that I was disappointed in the way the league handled the initial investigation. That sentiment has not changed.

“I was convinced that Ted Wells’ investigation would find the same factual evidence supported by both scientific formula and independent research as we did and would ultimately exonerate the Patriots. Based on the explanations I have heard and the studies that have been done, I don’t know how the science of atmospheric conditions can be refuted or how conclusions to the contrary can be drawn without some definitive evidence.

“What is not highlighted in the text of the report is that three of the Colts’ four footballs measured by at least one official were under the required psi level. As far as we are aware, there is no comparable data available from any other game because, in the history of the NFL, psi levels of footballs have never been measured at halftime, in any climate. If they had been, based on what we now know, it is safe to assume that every cold-weather game was played with under inflated footballs. As compelling a case as the Wells Report may try to make, I am going to rely on the factual evidence of numerous scientists and engineers rather than inferences from circumstantial evidence.”

The interesting thing is that the Wells Report does bring out science.  In fact I’m not even going to get into the science, let’s just talk about those game balls he talks about in the Wells Report:

Colts Ball

Recorded PSI Recorded PSI

1 12.90 12.50

2 12.45 12.10

3 12.80 12.45

4 12.70 12.35

Ok so the limit is 12.5 to 13.5, but keep in mind one thing, the home team is in charge of BOTH teams balls. There’s what four instances of the balls being below the limit.  I would say the most is what, .15 PSI under and take a look at the measurements of the Colts balls at half.

1 12.70 12.35

2 12.75 12.30

3 12.50 12.95

4 12.55 12.15

Oh and you know what?  The officials who measured these?  They did NOT inflate them because they were within the limit.  However the DID inflate the Patriots balls Bobby, you know why?  Because they did believe that your guys had deflated the balls.  I guess maybe the cold weather inflated one set of balls.  That’s science for you.

I do believe that football D’Qwell Jackson intercepted that “cold weather” affected was below the limit, what was it, um…11?  No let’s go there Bobby…

Patriots Ball Blakeman Prioleau

1                      11.50 11.80

2                      10.85 11.20

3                      11.15 11.50

4                      10.70 11.00

5                      11.10 11.45

6                      11.60 11.95

7                      11.85 12.30

8                      11.10 11.55

9                      10.95 11.35

10                    10.50 10.90

11                    10.90 11.35

Yup there it is.  So if you inflate the ball to 12.5 or 12.6 as some have suggested in the WR so you don’t get in trouble, in one half they are going to drop almost 2 psi in some instances and almost .5 psi others?  That science it’s so tricky.  I realize Bobby, Donny and Tommy are all trying to save face, but come on, what is the NFL gonna do?  Take away your shiny silver trophy?  Call you cheaters?  Boo hoo.  Is Roger Goodell not going to come to your next shindig?  Please.  Save the tears for your retirement ceremony I don’t wanna hear it.  People have been put in jail for less evidence.  The only people who buy the not guilty evidence are the ones who pack your stadium on Sunday Bobby.  Give it a rest, suck it up call it what it is, your QB and company conspired to deflate balls and got caught whether you like it or not.  Now they’ll pay the price, or so I hope.

What A Set Of Balls

If you are anything like me, you felt like the NFL was going to tell Ted Wells to go ahead and bury the report on the Patriots ball deflation in whatever grave he could find and never dig it up.  Seeing as how it is already May and soon training camps will be starting, I’m certain the NFL was hoping we’d all move on and start forgetting, but oh no, I haven’t forgotten, I’ve been waiting for that little tidbit to come out ever since Robert Kraft got his little rich butt up behind that microphone and said the following “If the Wells investigation is not able to definitively determine that our organization tampered with the air pressure on the footballs, I would expect and hope that the league would apologize to our entire team and, in particular, coach [Bill] Belichick and Tom Brady for what they have had to endure.”  Yeah Bobby, cause they’ve been through such a tortured existence and all, plus I don’t know, they have been generally worshipped by the NFL for years as the best at their respective jobs and all, but you go ahead and ask for them to have their butts kissed again Bobby.  Annoying.

So it was delightful when the Wells Report, we’ll call it WR (how ironic, throw it to me Tom!), came out on May 6th, with the following tucked in its first few pages:

“For the reasons described in this Report, and after a comprehensive investigation, we have concluded that, in connection with the AFC Championship Game, it is more probable than not that New England Patriots personnel participated in violations of the Playing Rules and were involved in a deliberate effort to circumvent the rules. In particular, we have concluded that it is more probable than not that Jim McNally (the Officials Locker Room attendant for the Patriots) and John Jastremski (an equipment assistant for the Patriots) participated in a deliberate effort to release air from Patriots game balls after the balls were examined by the referee. Based on the evidence, it also is our view that it is more probable than not that Tom Brady (the quarterback for the Patriots) was at least generally aware of the inappropriate activities of McNally and Jastremski involving the release of air from Patriots game balls.”

Hey Bobby, you think we owe you an apology now?  While these guys of yours are manipulating balls so your QB can go out and throw the ball to your little toys?  Oh, and your little golden boy QB…look at him denying his knowledge of the Officials Locker Room attendant in the WR:

“During his interview, Brady denied any knowledge of or involvement in any efforts to deflate game balls after the pre-game inspection by the game officials. He claimed that prior to the events surrounding the AFC Championship Game, he did not know McNally‟s name or anything about McNally‟s game-day responsibilities, including whether McNally had any role relating to game balls or the game officials. We found these claims not plausible and contradicted by other evidence.”

You want to know why that’s not plausible that Tommy Boy doesn’t know who McNally is?  Check this out from the WR:

“Jim McNally is the Officials Locker Room attendant for the Patriots. He has been employed by the Patriots as a seasonal or part-time employee for the past 32 years and during the 2014-15 season worked for the Patriots on a part-time/hourly basis only on the days on which the Patriots had home games. He first worked as a ball boy, and explained that his role evolved over time to supporting the equipment staff and helping with the game officials. He has held his current title since approximately 2007.”

He’s been with them for 32 years!  Longer than Tom.  Now he’s there on game day, he’s been the Officals Locker Room attendant for 8 years, he’s bound to have seen Tommy Boy at some point and vice versa.  But not only that, what does McNally do?  Oh that’s right he brings the game balls to the field, did ya know that Bobby and Tommy?  Hmm.  You don’t say.  Well I don’t say it, the WR does:

“In addition, McNally plays a role in the transport of game balls on game day at Gillette Stadium. After Jastremski has completed the ball preparation process and Brady has completed his selection of game balls, McNally carries the Patriots game balls from the Patriots equipment room to the Officials Locker Room a few hours prior to the game.”

Hey but you know the Colts warned the NFL the day before, check the WR:

“On January 17, 2015, the day before the AFC Championship Game, Colts General Manager Ryan Grigson sent an email to the NFL raising concerns about the air pressure of game balls used by the Patriots. Grigson sent his email to David Gardi and Mike Kensil, both senior members of the NFL Football Operations Department.  The email from Grigson attached a message from Sean Sullivan, the Colts Equipment Manager, describing these concerns. The Grigson email described the Sullivan message as an “FYI” and stated: “all the Indianapolis Colts want is a completely level playing field. Thank you for being vigilant stewards of that not only for us but for the shield and overall integrity of our game.” In relevant part, the attached message from Sullivan stated: As far as the gameballs are concerned it is well known around the league thatafter the Patriots gameballs are checked by the officials and brought out for game usage the ballboys for the patriots will let out some air with a ball needle because their quarterback likes a smaller football so he can grip it better, it would be great if someone would be able to check the air in the game balls as the game goes on so that they don‟t get an illegal advantage.”

The WR continued:

“During interviews, when asked to explain the source of their concerns about the Patriots game balls, Grigson, Sullivan, and other members of the Colts equipment staff referenced the Colts Week 11 game against the Patriots in Indianapolis. During that game, Colts strong safety Mike Adams intercepted two passes thrown by Tom Brady. On both occasions, Adams handed the footballs to Brian Seabrooks, an Assistant Equipment Manager for the Colts, on the sideline. Sullivan also examined the footballs because, as he described it, he always checks to see how other teams prepare their balls to “make sure no one is doing a better job.” Sullivan and Seabrooks said that the intercepted footballs appeared to be coated in a tacky substance and seemed spongy or soft when squeezed. They explained that even though they did not test the air pressure of the intercepted footballs at the time, based on their years of experience, the softness of the balls raised suspicions. They also cited unspecified chatter throughout the League that the Patriots prefer their footballs softer than other teams and that visiting teams should be on guard when playing at Gillette Stadium. They could not identify a specific source for this information or reference particular conversations.”

So what did happen to the balls?  The security tape according to the WR says:

“Based on videotape evidence and witness interviews, it has been determined that McNally removed the game balls from the Officials Locker Room at approximately 6:30 p.m. After leaving the Officials Locker Room carrying two large bags of game balls (Patriots balls and Colts balls), McNally turned left and then turned left again to walk down a corridor referred to by Patriots personnel as the “center tunnel” heading to the playing field. At the end of the center tunnel on the left-hand side, approximately three feet from the doors that lead to the playing field, is a bathroom. McNally entered that bathroom with the game balls, locked the door, and remained in the bathroom with the game balls for approximately one minute and forty seconds. He then left the bathroom and took the bags of game balls to the field”

The WR discussed this with McNally:

“With respect to his decision to use the bathroom, McNally claimed that he hasused the bathroom near the field entrance while in possession of the game balls many times. He said that on the day of the AFC Championship Game, he entered the bathroom, dropped the ball bags to his left, and used the urinal to his right. That bathroom, however, does not contain a urinal.”

We continue with McNally:

“When asked why he did not use the bathrooms available in the Officials Locker Room or the Chain Gang Room on the day of the AFC Championship Game, McNally claimed that the officials often ask for time to themselves prior to the game, though he did not mention anyone making such a request that day. Walt Anderson and most other officials interviewed said that it would have been ordinary and customary for McNally to use the bathrooms in the Officials Locker Room and that, in their opinion, McNally appeared to feel very comfortable in the locker room.”

Why would McNally go to the field alone?  Ask the WR:

“Richard Farley, who has been the NFL Security Representative for New England for approximately twelve years and is present in the Officials Locker Room before and during every Patriots home game, said that he considers it part of his job description to accompany the referee to the field and that he is generally in close proximity to McNally and the game balls when he walks to the field with the referee. According to Farley, he often opens the door to allow McNally to exit easily with the ball bags, and then McNally, Farley, the referee and the head linesman will walk to the field together or in close proximity to each other. Farley cannot recall McNally previously bringing game balls to the field prior to the start of a game without being accompanied by or in close proximity to one or more game officials.”

When did the Colts find out about the low pressure ball?:

“At approximately 7:47 p.m., during the second quarter of the AFC Championship Game, Colts linebacker D‟Qwell Jackson intercepted a pass thrown by Tom Brady. Following the interception upon reaching the sideline, Jackson handed the ball to David Thornton, the Colts Director of Player Engagement, near the Colts bench and Thornton immediately handed the ball to Assistant Equipment Manager Brian Seabrooks. According to Seabrooks, he believed that the ball felt similar to the footballs intercepted by Mike Adams during the Colts game against the Patriots earlier in the season, so he asked one of the team‟s equipment interns to locate a pressure gauge and test the inflation level of the intercepted ball. The intern used a digital pressure gauge similar to the gauge used by the Colts to set their footballs before the game, and reported that the pressure measured approximately 11 psi. Seabrooks then walked with the intercepted football to Equipment Manager Sean Sullivan, who squeezed the ball and agreed that it felt soft.”

The measurement of the game balls at halftime by the different NFL reps in psi:

Patriots Ball Blakeman Prioleau

1                      11.50 11.80

2                      10.85 11.20

3                      11.15 11.50

4                      10.70 11.00

5                      11.10 11.45

6                      11.60 11.95

7                      11.85 12.30

8                      11.10 11.55

9                      10.95 11.35

10                    10.50 10.90

11                    10.90 11.35

So the report has come out and it leaves some questions to be asked by me but I’m certain by others as well.  Namely what will be the punishment?  It’s too late to lose this year’s draft picks, how convenient.  So you know you are going to get away with it in time to win a Super Bowl, oh yeah, there’s that too.  You get caught doing it in the AFC Championship Game, why don’t they stop the game?  I mean how can you keep playing a game when you are deliberately breaking one of the fundamental rules of the game?  Or do we just say “Ok we’ll just fine you $500,000 and you’ll lose a draft pick in 2020.  Don’t do that again.  But hey, nice job on that Super Bowl win, it’s great that Russell Wilson threw a pick, otherwise we’d be in hot water.”  This is one of those precident cases, and I think the NFL has to come down hard on them.  How can you not?  If another team sees that someone does it and gets away with it with a fine why wouldn’t you do it?  So you do it in the AFC Championship game and you are found to have done it in the first half of the game and they don’t even call you on it, the NFL doesn’t even have the guts to call Bobby Kraft on it in his own house, how can they call anyone else on it?  I mean wasn’t the commish at Kraft’s house the night before?  Maybe they’ll just apologize to Bobby and say they are sorry they let McNally out of their sight and they should have been more proactive about training the security and the NFL personnel, it was all a big misunderstanding.  Read the WR and decide for yourself.

Ain’t No Turnin’ Back

Sometimes you can look around the sports world and think to yourself “yeah they get it, they know they are lucky to be where they are.”  Someone is giving back to the community, they aren’t putting themselves above everyone else, they aren’t abusing their status or they aren’t just taking advantage of everything.

Sometimes you can looking around the sports world and ask yourself “is it just going to hell?”  We see it in the newspapers and online websites, athletes on drugs, drunk driving, illegal weapons possession, drug dealing and a long list of things that most people can’t imagine even doing.

Coming up is the NFL Draft and I keep asking myself about that number one pick.  Ya know Jameis, and all the stories that swirl around him.  From the alleged stolen soda, soda taken in ketchup cups from a fast food establishment, to the accusation of stolen crab legs, the story went from he “forgot” to pay for them to this week he told Coach Harbaugh that a guy at Publix “hooked them up” with a birthday cake before and so he thought he could just get free crustaceans.  There are the other big allegations of sexual assault that have been brought before criminal and civil court, the criminal charges have been dropped but the civil are yet to be tried.

It still appears that Tampa Bay, with the number one pick, are betting on Jameis’ talent and football IQ to lead them to the Lombardi Promised Land.  The Florida based team is projected to dump buckets of cash on the former Florida State quarterback with their first pick in the NFL draft even though questions exist about Jameis’ decisions off the field.

We’ve seen multiple players let the money and bad decision making lead them to terrible consequences starting with one of the worst most recent cases: Aaron Hernandez (Murder), Rae Carruth (Conspiracy to commit murder, shooting into an occupied vehicle, etc), Mike Vick (Dog Fighting/Unlawful Animal Cruelty), Adrian Peterson(Indicted by a grand jury on a felony charge of reckless or negligent injury to a child for using a branch to spank his son in Spring, Texas, in Ma), Ray Rice (Arrested and charged with simple assault after he allegedly struck fiancée Janay Palmer in an Atlantic City casino elevator. A grand jury indicted him on a more serious count of aggravated assault in March), Josh Brent (Charged with intoxication manslaughter after he flipped his car in accident that killed teammate Jerry Brown in Irving, Texas) and many more.

In fact, why don’t you go here and look it up for yourself?  No really, look at the names.  Make decisions for yourself.  Question it for yourself.  Ask yourself questions about all the things that happen.  We look at Jameis (and I’m not letting him off the hook) but he’s not the only one here.  He’s just joining a league where everybody else is doing something too.  No one else is perfect.  Maybe he’s just joining a group of somebodies that are getting away with some things too.  I mean who knows how many on that list are getting away with walking out of a store with something free because they are playing for an NFL team.  Maybe someone is going to a restaurant and getting a free meal?  Why?  Is it just because it draws crowds to that restaurant that the quarterback of the local NFL team eats there?  So the owner says hey, you eat free?  So why are we yelling at Jameis for doing something that someone else is doing?

Maybe it’s like “The Resistance” by Drake:

“I’m living inside a moment, not taking pictures to save it, I mean, how could I forget?

My memories never faded.  I can’t relate to these haters, my enemies never made it.

I am, still here with who I started with.

The game needed life, I put my heart in it.

I blew myself up, I’m on some martyr shit,

Carry the weight for my city like a cargo ship….

Man I couldn’t tell you where the fuck my head is

I’m holdin’ on by a thread it’s like I’m high right now

The guy right now

And you could tell lookin in my eyes right now

That nothin’ really comes as a surprise right now

Cause we just havin’ the time of our lives right now….

Did I just trade free time for camera time?

Will I blow all of this money baby, hammer time?

Yeah, I just need some closure

Ain’t no turnin’ back for me I’m in it ‘til it’s over”

There ain’t no turnin’ back for him now.  He’s burned a lot of bridges.  He’s coming out now.  It’s in it to win it.  He’s going all in.  So when he gets there, he’s going to be loved or hated, pretty much like before.  What’s changing?  He’s just going to be a pro.  More money, more problems.  Problem is, now it’s even more reported, even more microscopes even more to lose.  If he’s trying to do better than good enough, it’s time to change.  It’s time not to be better than same rut that all those guys in that rut got stuck in.  Time to take in all that advice all those guys have been trying to tell him.  Ain’t no turnin’ back yeah, but it might be too late, it might be over.

The NFL and Brains

So recently three young men called it quits on their NFL careers at ages I don’t quite remember: Jake Locker (26), Jason Worilds (27) and the youngest of the three Chris Borland (24).  Each with their own reason to leave the game and each leaving millions of dollars on the table: Locker (lack of desire to play), Worilds (religious reasons) and Borland (fear of concussions).

It’s that fear of concussions, the dirty word the NFL is so worried of getting out.  After the deaths of several noteable former players including Mike Webster and Junior Seau who died from self inflicted wounds much talk has centered on chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE.  CTE is caused by repetitive blows to the head and many times if you watch those old NFL Films clips from the 60s and 70s you can see the linemen swatting each other and then someone will no doubt wallop another across the head.  It’s said that people with CTE get dementia and forget things because their brain tissue is so damaged and there is so much of an uncommon protein called tau built up in the tissue.  

So if you think about it it’s kinda like physics class where you learned about Newton’s laws of motion, or at least I sorta did (as much as I love football someone should have told me this all related!).  The whole object in motion will stay in motion unless acted upon by another force thing? Yeah basically it means the running back will keeping going until he gets blown up by the linebacker. Yay physics! 

For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction?  Ah yes my favorite, when the lineman hits the center with his big mitts and the center has himself set and fires back, in the words of legendary John Madden “Boom!”  More physics!  Who knew Newton would be a football fan?  

Then there’s this next one which explains why you see big hits at the line when a backer charges in and destroys a back or wipes out a quarterback: Force=mass*acceleration. But Mr. Ghost of Red Grange you say “how does this all relate?”  Well I’ll tell you.  A 245 LB guy running at full speed hits a 220 RB  not moving, who has more force?  Why, check your equation and see the guy who is bigger and running faster is exerting more force.  Now that’s not to say the smaller guy doesn’t know how to dish out punishment too.  He still exerts force on the linebacker and at some point someone will give.

Now think about that linebacker, Chris Borland.  Much like old vehicles with big metal frames cars used to roll heavily into each other and just smash.  People say “they don’t make ’em like they used to it ” and while I see it I get it. 

The lighter cars with plastic reinforced scientifically tested bodies might dent a bit easier and maybe your bumper comes off easier but it’s meant so that the car absorbs the impact and disperses it. The old cars just took the full weight of the crash like a wrecking ball.

So what does a plastic bumper have to do with Chris Borland you ask?  Plenty.  The only thing between his head and someone wanting to rip it off is a plastic helmet.  But we are getting better.  Bravo to him for choosing his own decision while he could.  Using his brain before it got scrambled by Newton’s laws.  If only because we heard Newton cheering us on.

Silly Season (or How I Learned to Love Pete Carroll)

The off-season in sports is often referred to as the silly season.  I’m not sure that I like the name of that.  I get where it’s coming from, there’s so much speculation and people are watching the trades and the signings and hoping that their team is going to sign this guy and that guy.  I think I can see through the silliness sometimes.  The championship isn’t always won in the off-season, is it?  Rome wasn’t built in a day much less three months.  Although I do like to think it burned in a day.  Nero stood over in the corner and fiddled while it burned.  Some general managers of teams stand over in the corner and fiddle while franchises go up in smoke.

I don’t seem to recall last year’s NFL off-season.  Maybe I was disenchanted.  Maybe I had other things on my mind.  I just can’t seem to place myself in it.  It doesn’t seem to have hit me like this years’.  Who would have seen the Seahawks blowing up their offensive line to get a guy like Jimmy Graham?  Or Chip Kelly going out and getting Sam Bradford?  I thought for sure he was going to go get his old QB(not that I’m not convinced he isn’t still going out for him).  The Bills getting him to trade Shady McCoy to them for Kelly’s old LB Kiko?  Where the hell did that come from?  Talk about watching Rome burn.  So in the span of a week, you’ve dumped your old QB, RB, watched WRs and OLs walk in free agency.  Nero would be exceptionally proud.  It’s no longer Lincoln Financial Field folks, it’s the Roman Coliseum and they are going to start handing out togas and drink wine out of chalices.  Mongols are heading for Philly.  Changes are afoot in Philly.

But they always say you can’t win the championship in the off-season, it’s more about what you do in the regular season.  I just have to wonder about some of the deals though.  The free agent signings, the draft coming up; can you really expect to draft and trade and sign to find yourself in a prime position?  I would have to think that maybe you’d have to have a strong base to begin with.

Let’s take Seattle.  I do have to think the Jimmy Graham trade is a head-scratcher for me.  Look, they were a play call away from a 2nd straight Super Bowl title.  Now you take Russell Wilson’s protective blanket in Max Unger and ship him and your first round draft pick to New Orleans for a tight end.  Granted the tight end can line up in the slot, out wide or on the line, he’s big and strong and causes match-up problems, but he had issues with his shoulder last year.  Yes he played through it, but if he gets hurt, they are now worried about a center position AND a tight end position.  Whereas they already had the center position locked up.  Plus they had that first round pick.  I know the Seahawks are great at finding gems in the draft.  I’m a huge Pete Carroll fan.  I love his mentality.  The way he coaches up guys, the team first, playing up to potential and being able to step up and compete.  That’s what it’s about, you don’t play the other guys as much you do yourself, finding a way to compete and win by beating that nagging feeling inside yourself that says you can’t do it.  They’ve built this strong defense by finding this guys that other people have cast off as not being able to play.  Sherman, Chancellor, Wagner among others.  It’s this mentality that “I can bring in guys to play in my system, I’ll get them to play to the best of their ability by convincing them to be positive, knowing they can do it and not letting anyone tell them they can’t.”

At this level it’s all about finding that edge.  Carroll seems to have found that edge.  His book is excellent at explaining it.  It makes you want to play for him because you know at some point you are going to do something wrong, but he’s not going to run over there and just yell at you about it, he’s going to yell at you because he knows you are better than that.  He’s going to tell you that because you are better than that, you are going to go out there next time and kick someone’s butt.  He expects a lot out of you, but at the same time, he rewards you.  You can see it in the culture, you see it in the way the guys play.  The way they rally around one another.  Watch the NFC Championship game where Kam Chancellor is mic’d up.  You’ll see how he never gives up.  It’s an underlying theme Carroll’s philosophy.  Don’t quit on me now.  Did you happen to catch the NBC interview with him and Matt Lauer?  That man is positivity to a T.  Only once did he let that play call get to him.  Meanwhile on Twitter he’s being called “world’s worst coach” or it’s the “worst play call ever.”  But the team sticks together.  He calls them family because he believes in it.  It’s not just words.  It’s a way of life.  The amazing thing about this is that he doesn’t go out on the first day of free agency and sign this guy and that guy.  He builds relationships and makes people better.  He’s made a philosophy.  He wants to make you better through it.  Whatever you want to do in football you do it through competing.  Never stop competing.  Why would you ever stop competing?  Every day compete.  Get better every day.  That’s what he’s about.  Don’t look back on yesterday you can’t change it.  Build up yourself and get back on the field.  That’s what I’ve learned about Pete Carroll.

Silly Season?  Well it seems like to me Silly Season is any season without Pete Carroll in it.  These guys running around signing anyone and everyone are just filling rosters like a video game.  That’s not a philosophy, it’s filling rosters.  You don’t know what you are going to get until you get on the field.  But when you sit down with your players and learn about them take away the barriers and edges and make it priority to build a roster with guys that want to play together not just for the money well that’s a winner.  Nero burned down Rome in a day and by the look of it, some people in the NFL are trying to do it, meanwhile, some people are doing their best to build something to stand up long past the embers have gone out.

What Are We Even Doing?

It starts to annoy me sometimes when I hear that the NFL is going to fine people for wearing uniforms that don’t match their rule books.  I hear that Marshawn Lynch can’t wear gold on the bottom of his shoes or he’ll face some major fine.  The man is coming down on you now and you better play by his rules.  But you look around the landscape in the NFL and there’s guys with serious domestic violence issues that are spiraling out of control.  There’s a tyrant in control that can’t relinquish control of the reigns much less admit that he’s got more power than most leaders of third world countries.  In fact he may be in charge of a company that makes more money than most third world countries.

When I wrote about the young ladies who bravely wore pink for Kay Yow I never even thought of Marshawn Lynch and his situation.  I thought of how these young ladies were being punished for showing their support for a woman whose life was cut tragically short due to a disease that should be eradicated and NOW!  But because people thought about the fact that wearing pink on a uniform does NOT give them an unfair advantage in a basketball game and punishing them for that is just absolutely ridiculous and sends the wrong message, it led me to start thinking about how we send the wrong message in sports all the time.

Young kids watch the NFL and they see these guys are playing on the field, ok, so they see a guy with gold cleats, so?  But they look and they see a guy off the field in a grainy black and white video land a punch on his then fiancee and then proceed to drag her lifeless body out into the hall.  You tell me, what is the worse message the NFL wants to send?  That you can’t be creative in the NFL or that you can play in the NFL and be a woman beater?  Or there are players who beat their children and we don’t send out messages to the public to say that the extent of the punishment is absolutely child abuse?  A rookie quarterback can be so celebrated even though people around the league know about certain “issues” with him and every time an issue appears it is brushed under the rug.  A teammate gets in trouble for failing a pee test and then says he thought he was done with the tests?

All the while there is a third year quarterback who spends EVERY single Tuesday in a children’s cancer hospital without fail because that’s what HE WANTS to do.  Every year there is a Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award and each of the 32 NFL teams nominates someone to be that guy.  Each man is there because of something he does for the community throughout the year.  Some of them, well, it’s like they HAVE to write something about the guy: “In the limited amount of time,” “As a player, time is limited and precious,” well gee don’t do us any favors.  I mean there are people outside of football that do things too.   I am glad to see some of the great things that these guys do.  The guy working with domestic violence shelters and of course guys working with kids.  It just shocks me that some of these things can feel so cold.

The league can talk up these guys as MVPs because they throw up however many TDs and run for thousands of yards, but when it comes to what they do in the community, would you even know some of these guys?  Would you be able to pick them out on the street or on the field?  What does that say about our priorities?  Much less the game?