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Stories to focus on besides Harbowl and Ray Lewis (and why those 2 stories aren’t that interesting)

Last year, after the Eagles and Falcons seasons went approximately nowhere, I was one of the ones rooting for a Harbowl. The thought of two teams with physical defenses playing each other was too tempting for me to resist. This year, I get my wish, although I’m less happy about it because this was supposed to be my Falcons’ year. But this year the matchup is also more exciting because both the Ravens and 49ers are strong on both sides of the ball. This Superbowl doesn’t just promise a defensive war of attrition, it has the potential to be a football cirque du soleil.

But as with any Superbowl, it’s never about the game itself. This is the time of year when football fans reluctantly share their favorite thing with people who don’t know shit about it. And this year, with Beyonce performing at half time, you’re sure to endure more conversation about her outfit than the accuracy of Flacco’s deep ball.

If that’s not enough non-football stuff for you, we have two weeks of non-football media playing the SEO game and feverishly working to post stories for a general audience that the football audience has already read. And that’s great because it opens the door to more fans joining the NFL cult full time. I just hope that people can find more stories to explore than Jim and John Harbaugh being brothers and Ray Lewis retiring. Because, for me, those two stories might be the least interesting.

Disclaimer: I love the Harbaugh story. I think it’s great and fantastic that one family produced two people with elite positions in the same industry. Howwwwwwweverrrrrrr, there is a A LOT of nepotism in the National Football League. So much that I’m surprised that two familial head coaches haven’t coached against each other yet. Surely a father-son Superbowl will follow. A lot has been made the past few weeks about how minorities are still being largely excluded from the coaching ranks. And watching all the brother-brother-father-son duos in the NFL is just another reminder of how exclusive a club this football shit is. For that reason, two brothers coaching against each other feels anticlimactic. Two BROTHAS coaching against each other would be more exciting at this point.

I am absolutely a fan of Ray Lewis and he deserves the acclaim he has received. Howwwwwwweverrrrr Lewis has done an EXCELLENT job of marketing himself as many things — motivational speaker, elite pep talker, best middle linebacker ever, emotional and spiritual leader… He’s also cornered the market on being both intimidating and wildly attractive at the same time and based on how many children he has various women have rewarded him for that as well.  Due to those facts,  Lewis is celebrated on a daily basis. And even though he was suspected and cleared of witnessing a murder and trying to cover it up, that case has also added to his mythos and notoriety so that even when that trial is the subject of conversation, the story always comes back around to what he’s accomplished since then.  SB doesn’t present some singular chance to celebrate Ray Lewis because it’s all been done already.

I have some ideas on other things to write about. 

  • Bernard Pierce, RB, Ravens. Pierce is a fellow Temple Owl (which is mentioned every single damn time he plays and I don’t know why but I still like it). Drafted in the 3rd round he was thought to be the back up back up to Ray Rice. Meaning, yeah he might play, but mostly Ray Rice is gonna play until he gets hurt. Pierce has shown himself to be a dominant force and finished the season at # 5 in Pro Football Focuses’ rankings for “elusiveness.”
  • Ed Reed goes home to New Orleans for his first Superbowl. If there was ever a football player I want to meet it’s Ed Reed. When Bill Belichick talks about Reed he is talking FOR ME as well so just read this and picture me nodding my head. In all the years I’ve followed Reed’s career, despite being one of the most thoughtful and amiable interviews in the league, I have never eva eva eva eva seen a long form profile on that man except ONE in Sports Illustrated from 1995 or something. I’d like to see the media rectify this. All week leading up to the AFC Chip game Reed refused to talk to anyone. There are no videos or transcripts on record for him. So he may not be willing to sit down for anything, but if he is, that’s a great get for some crafty person.
  • Colin Kaepernick’s eyebrow-raising personality. I think that with the success of Kappanick (not a typo) and Russell Wilson, and RG3 and Cam Newton you have to talk about the emergence of zone read QBs and teams. Or, as the media likes to simplify, teams that run the QB. That’s important. So is the not-quite-appropriate racial dissection of a guy who is half black and adopted by a white family with a birth mother who doesn’t understand the word “no.” But I think the media can go deeper here and find out what kind of “guy” Kappanick is. There is a distinct way this guy communicates with teammates at the line, after plays and in practice that is special. He is also  in touch with his black side despite not growing up in that environment in some rather distinct ways that I’d like to be nosy about. I don’t know what I think of Kappanick yet, but there’s a story here and I want someone to get it.
  • David Akers. Akers spent the bulk of his career getting cheated out of money by the Philadelphia Eagles. Then he actually literally was cheated out of money in some sort of pyramid scheme in which he may have lost the bulk of his savings. The rub on Akers is that he misses kicks in big games, although I’m not sure that the read on that is quite accurate. Akers is no Billy Cundiff. What is accurate, however,  is that he’s missed a lot of kicks this season probably in part due to a surgery he hid until recently. That led to a kicking competition and a risk of getting replaced by Cundiff. Akers reaction is needed. Most of the time kickers are ignored, but Akers is an interesting study and he’s heavy into martial arts and good on camera.

Right this minute I realized this post is too long and probably should have been two posts. So I’ll stop here and return with ideas in another post…I think. LOL



On Belichick “snubbing” reporters after championship game

The topic of media access is one that keeps coming up for me. I’ve tweeted about it a lot but haven’t really blogged about it. I figured today was a good day for a quick post on it with the understanding that I plan to talk about it more going forward.

Yesterday after the Ravens’ AFC Chip win over the Patriots, Coach Bill Belichick refused to give an interview to the big boys at CBS. He was subsequently dressed down by TE-turned-analyst Shannon Sharpe for being a perennial poor sport. Throughout the season, the league and media have these little dust ups where some player or coach decides against performing his football wifely duties and decides to ignore the media or, in Bart Scott’s case, stage a revolt. And the man-of-the-house media points out that this is his 3rd headache this week and demands to know why he can’t at least “lay there” while they go through the motions.

When I look at each situation separately I understand why such a big deal is made. The media (in particular those who show sporting events like ESPN, FOX, CBS) need to get soundbites from players and coaches in order to enhance story lines and the general audio and visual experience. There is also the fact that the media  is an extension of the public and, besides twitter, is the most direct insight into what players and coaches think that fans are privy to. Disrespect them, you disrespect the fans who buy the tickets and the general public which funds expansive stadiums and whatnot that allow for league staff and officials to bring home a check.

And even the fan blogs, many of which I consider to be on troll duty 24 hours a day, are helping to heighten interest in the teams that they “support.” They play a role, however small or questionable, in the growth of professional sports. There just has to be some give and take, and I get that.

But media doesn’t occur in a vacuum. And players and coaches don’t see separate incidents so much as they  feel cumulative agitation at the way the media goes about business. First of all, I think an argument can be made -and maybe one day I’ll attempt to make it-that the media demands on players and coaches is too much. The media is around for almost every practice plus pre and post game. Then there’s obligatory radio interviews and exclusives with prominent columnists.

For the most part, those demands aren’t spread around. They fall almost all on the shoulders of the team’s head coach and star players. And when they say the wrong thing thousands of articles and posts pop up. In this digital landscape even the simple truth is controversial. Everyone is looking for a story. And when there isn’t one they force it. Even Belichick’s NON reaction was fodder for the media spurring thousands of posts like this one.

By the time a big game like a championship happens you can almost see a coach, like Belichick, saying in his mind that he’s talked to these people all week (season?) long and what more could they possibly get from him. Belichick, and any player or coach, knows that the media is hoping for a juicy reaction they can loop over and over again. There have absolutely  been some priceless moments from players and coaches after wins and losses that I’m glad that the media caught on film. Sports, after all, IS entertainment and reactions whether classless, tasteless, heartwarming, unexpected, or predictable all entertain in their own ways. But I understand a want to avoid. 

Perhaps Belichick, oh master of the unnecessary trick play and score run up, is the wrong example to use in this post or any one that mounts a defense of anything he does ever. But I’m not really defending him so much as reminding myself not to always succumb to knee jerk reactions. I love to interview players and coaches and I believe that when I do I bring something different to the table. However, as someone working to stand out in this business I recognize that it’s a difficult environment to get guys to talk in when many of them are already talked out by the time I (and other bloggers and reporters) have a chance.

Belichick may have been talked out or he might just not be a very nice guy or he may just have no interest in emotional displays in front of millions. I don’t know.  I just believe there is a conversation to be had about how all of us (media and teams) can conduct business more humanely and maintain some flexibility as we fulfill our obligations to each other.





As a Falcons and Eagles Fan Week 8 BLOWS

Every time we get to the point in the season where the Atlanta Falcons and Philadelphia Eagles have to face each other I face a week of anxiety! I’ve mentioned this many times before — I’m a fan of both teams. And the past two weeks have been very nauseating since both teams had a bye the same week AND they’re playing each other right after it.

As much as people criticize liking two teams — two football teams especially — as some way of cheating sadness, it’s actually way more stressful if you care about both teams. I became a fan of the Falcons and Eagles long before I knew what a division or conference was or cared what people thought about it. I was kid who was a FANATIC about the NBA and caught the NFL when I could. And like many casual fans I stocked up on paraphernalia over the years and I’m still known to wear one red Falcons leg warmer and one green Eagles leg warmer just to bring a sense of balance to my life.

Later, I fell in love with the NFL and couldn’t choose between the two teams and resigned myself to being stuck with both of them. I thought that when I moved to Philadelphia and got sucked into Philly sports culture my love for the Falcons would have diminished. But it didn’t. I continued to “rise up” and fall with the highs and lows of both teams including having to re-learn to tolerate Michael Vick after he unexpectedly ended up with the Eagles. On the other hand, I was so happy when the Falcons picked up my favorite Eagle Asante Samuel!

But this season still presents another great example of why liking two teams is no fun.

I’d love for the Falcons to go 7-0 and show everyone they’re gonna continue to roll despite how many writers push out articles about how they’re not the real deal…but I’d also hate to see the Eagles lose cause that would trash their already embarrassing ass season even more.

As a kid, I never thought there would be a day like last week when I could call former Falcons RB Jamal Anderson  and yell “WE 6-0 HELL YEAHHHHHH” rather than stating a simple “hello.” But yes that did happen. As a kid, I never thought there would be a day when I could call former Eagles CB Troy Vincent a friend, but he absolutely is. A lot of things have changed since I first became a fan of both teams but one thing hasn’t — my refusal to watch the Falcons and Eagles play each other.

I have never done it. I don’t think I will ever do it. The  one year that I gave it serious consideration, Falcons CB Dunta Robinson nearly ended WR Desean Jackson’s life. I was so glad I missed that moment. That’s not the kind of entertainment (read: horrifying moment) I need in my life.

So this week, while millions of people tune at 1pm to enjoy what probably should be the primetime game Sunday night I will either go to the gym, take my dog to the park, paint my toenails or do something else non-football related. I was so upset when the standing weekly  Sunday brunch I have with my girlfriends (that I obviously miss almost every week during football season) was switched to Saturday just for this week. This is the ONE Sunday where I do NOT want to be near a TV early on in the day and would have appreciated something else to do.

If this post strikes you as overly emotional I would like to use the vagina card. I’M A GIRL. fuck off.

So what’s my wish for week 8? The same wish I have every week - that both of my teams remain healthy and competitive.



Pause The Blogging: I’m going on vacation!!

I’m sure you’ve noticed that my posting has been slow the past two weeks. I’m burnt out! Between blogging, freelance writing, freelance speechwriting, and my regular speechwriting gig I have given into exhaustion. Due to the fact that I haven’t had a vacation since last football season (at which point I promptly got sick and was ill for the entire week), I figured this was a good time to take off. 

I will resume blogging next Wednesday and I hope I have some readers left when I return [insert pitiful face]. I also hope I will be refreshed. This has been a great season thus far and I have a lot to say about everything that is going on. 

See you in a week! 



Goodell Remained Silent Until Deal With Referees Was Done

How could I forget to post my op-ed this week on regarding Goodell’s silence during the referee lockout? I was passionate about this issue because even if Goodell is only a spokesperson for the owners during the lockout he wasn’t even doing that. Goodell spoke only through VP Ray Anderson, memos, statements, and his favorite mode of communication-fines.

In fact, right before a deal was reached, Anderson had an op-ed published in USA Today. I didn’t understand why Goodell couldn’t at least sign his name to an op-ed on the subject.

I really think Goodell needs a new title — the word commissioner makes it seem as though Goodell does what’s good for the game. And that when he’s in the room with the owners, the game, the fans, players, coaches, and refs have an advocate in the room. The reality is none of us do. When Goodell meets with the owners no one else has a voice in that room besides the owners, apparently. Goodell is just owned.

Check out my piece criticizing the Commissioners lack of leadership here.

Now that the lockout is over Goodell had plenty to say yesterday but much of it only reflected why he probably stayed silent in the first place. A lot of things he says simply aren’t helpful. One thing that stuck out to me is when he said he didn’t watch the last play in the Seahawks/Packers game closely enough to give his own opinion.

But the commissioner has power to over turn. A power that the league said in a statement he wasn’t going to use. But if he didn’t watch the play closely enough, how can he know whether or not to use his authority to over turn? How can you decide NOT to use an authority on a situation you haven’t seen? And if you don’t need to see it to make a decision, why release a statement explaining what happened?





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