Tag: Sports

My Thoughts on The NFC Championship

SeahawksLogoI wanted to write this post well before tonight’s NFC Championship; lest anyone think that I might be one of those phony bandwagon fans who only jump on board when a team is doing well and then disappears when the wheels fall off the bus. That’s hardly the case with me. I’ve been an east coast Seattle Seahawks fan for thirty years.

That’s right, I said thirty years.

It all began back in the early 80s. I was one of those disappointed Philadelphia Eagles fans lost in the wilderness and looking for a new home after a bitter, painful defeat at the hands of some dude named Plunkett and the Oakland Raiders in Super Bowl XV. Ok, I’ll admit I was one of those creeps who ditched the ship when it sank, just like the ones I opened this post talking about. But in my defense, I was only twelve years old at the time and didn’t know any better.

Yeah, let’s go with that.

CenturyLink-MeIt was a cold Monday night a few years after that Super Bowl when I first saw the Seattle Seahawks on television. At the time, I had absolutely no idea who they were. They had some left-handed quarterback (Jim Zorn), a wiry, fast as lightning receiver (Steve Largent) and this rookie running back from Penn State named Curt Warner. A “hometown” connection.

I couldn’t even tell you the team that they played that night. All I remember is that the Seahawks lost the coin toss and started the game out with an on-side kick. An on-side kick!!! Something almost unheard of in the NFL.

The Seahawks wound up getting the ball and scoring on that drive….and the seed was planted.

As you can imagine, the 1980’s were a time before the Internet and satellite football games became common place. So getting to see my new team was nearly impossible. About the only time I ever saw them on TV was when they played against the Eagles or New York Giants, and considering that the Seahawks were in the other conference at the time, those games were even rarer.

The Seahawks actually almost made it to their first Super Bowl the first year of my fandom, but lost to (ironically enough) the Oakland Raiders in the conference final. But this time, instead of ditching I stayed a fan. Reading updates in the newspaper about loss after loss. Some years good. Some years, very bad.

In 1992, we were so bad that we were awarded the #2 overall pick in the NFL. A time when we were in dire need of a quarterback. We wound up with a bust named Rick Mirer, while the New England Patriots got this guy named Drew Bledsoe (the “parent” QB to Tom Brady).

More years of mediocrity would follow, but I stood tall.

CenturyLink2

I was there when Seahawks owner Ken Behring tried to move the team out-of-town to California in the dead of night. That attempt failed and Behring would eventually sell the team to Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. With Allen on board, the team hired Green Bay Packers coach Mike Holmgren and a slew of other talent, planting the seed for a run to greatness that came to fruition in 2005.

SeahawksHatDuring my time as a 12th man there has only been one low point, and that was Super Bowl XL against the Pittsburgh Steelers. As any fan of the NFL will tell you (and even Steeler fans too, if they’re honest), the referees decided that game. For me, it was stinging. Imagine waiting 23 years for a shot at a Super Bowl and then being cheated by a bunch of turds in pinstripes.

The thing is, in the NFL there are no guarantees and the days of dynasty left once the salary cap was initiated. You only have so much time to make a run before players and coaches leave for other pastures. Unfortunately, that’s what happened to my team following that “defeat”.

It’s taken eight years for the Seahawks to get back to the NFC Championship game. Eight long, often-times miserable years. But I never lost hope. I watched as Marshawn Lynch caused an earthquake with one of the greatest runs in NFL history and knew that the stars were aligning again….

I even took a weekend 2,856-mile trip to Seattle by myself two-years ago just to see them play the Atlanta Falcons. The first time I was ever a part of the 12th man.

They lost.

I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I am for this game. I’ve even been having dreams at night this past week where the game is on and I am sitting around checking the score. Every time I looked, the score was changing. Thankfully, we were winning.

I don’t know what’s going to happen when it’s all over. Hopefully, dreams do come true. But all I can ask is that the refs let it be settled on the field. And may the better team then kick the sh$t out of the Patriots or Broncos.

Go Hawks!

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In Honor of A Champion: Larry Holmes

holmesIt was June 9th, 1978. I don’t remember much more than that. Heck, at this point I’m lucky enough to remember what happened last month, let alone every little nuance of something that happened thirty-five years ago. I do remember that I was on the verge of being nine years old that summer, and the reason I most likely was oblivious to what was going on was probably because there were reruns of The Incredible Hulk and Dukes of Hazzard on television that night.

But somewhere 2,500 miles to the west of my home in Easton, Pennsylvania history was being made. June 9th, 1978 was the day when a town of 25,000 strong became a household name. It was the day when boxer (and Easton resident) Larry Holmes beat Ken Norton to become the WBC Heavyweight Champion of the World.

Over the next seven years, whenever Holmes would defend his title, it was a holiday in Easton. Newspaper articles, television, man on the street… you name it. Wherever you went, from the back alleys and corner bars on South Side to center court at the high school gym, everyone was talking about the Easton Assassin and whether or not he would vanquish his next foe and emerge victorious.

But in those days, I wasn’t worried one bit about Larry losing the title. I knew he’d always take care of business in the ring. No, my favorite part of the entire night was listening to his introduction:

“From EASTON, PENNSYLVANIA…… THE HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION OF THE WORLD…LARRY HOLMES!!!!

Hearing that announcement come out of my parent’s 19″ color television was something that made me feel special. I mean let’s face it, you’d always hear big city names like New York, Chicago, Atlanta and Los Angeles being announced on television, but you’d never hear anyone say “Easton, Pennsylvania”. It was a surreal moment, because they weren’t just talking about Larry Holmes, they were also talking about ME!

After listening to them announce Larry and my hometown over the airwaves, I’d often wonder how many people around the country were tuning in and asking themselves where the hell Easton was. And even more importantly: that if someone like Larry Holmes already hailed from Easton, what other greatness would soon be coming out of there?

Larry Holmes not only gave us “Eastonians” a voice, he gave us hope and inspired us to be the best we could be. To know that we had a man who carried the weight of our small community with him to every fight was the best feeling in the world. I still remember proudly wearing my black “Easton Assassin” t-shirt, and was even lucky enough to go to school with Larry’s daughter, Lisa.

In a world where MMA fighting has become the norm, it’s sometimes easy to forget just how great things once were. But consider this: Larry Holmes held the boxing title from 1978-1985. He won his first 48 professional bouts (coming one shy of tying Rocky Marciano’s record). His victories over Muhammad Ali, Gerry Cooney, Earnie Shavers, Ken Norton, Mike Weaver, Tim Witherspoon and Marvis Frazier simply can’t be ignored. LarryHolmes

After losing the title and a rematch to Michael Spinks (and when many people in the sport believed he should have been finished), Holmes made several comeback attempts.

He fought a young Mike Tyson when Tyson was a monster in the ring (and before he had started acquiring a taste for auditory organs). Larry then managed to add even more victories and title shots to his record (including falling short in a split decision to Evander Holyfield), before ultimately retiring for good.

But perhaps the greatest thing that makes Larry a champion to me was the fact that rather than hit the road for greener pastures once success came calling, he decided to stay in Easton and invest much of the money he earned from the ring into his hometown.

Holmes was instrumental in developing restaurants, nightclubs, a training facility and even an office complex in the town he gave credit to each and every time he stepped into the ring. In his honor, the city of Easton fittingly changed the name of Riverside Drive, the main thoroughfare that connects the Pennsylvania and New Jersey borders, to “Larry  Holmes Drive”. An apropos gesture, because Larry Holmes connected us.

Some people might be able to boast about having a Hollywood star or a musical genius in their hometown while growing up, but not many can say they have a champion and a legend. I can.

Thanks Champ!

A Letter To Green Bay Packer Fans

Dear Green Bay Packer Fans,

I’m sorry. Sorry you had to feel the sting of a bitter Monday Night Football defeat. Last night’s game against my Seattle Seahawks was shaping up to be one for the books. Now, it will only go down in infamy.

Not only were both of our teams the victims of multiple phantom penalties, but you had to endure watching your beloved Packers be on the losing end of a controversial interception/touchdown on the last play of the game. Then, to add insult to injury, after the touchdown was upheld and your team left the stadium, you had to watch them make their way back out of the locker room and on to the field for a moot extra point.

Far be it for me to rub salt in your wound. The truth is, I’ve been in your shoes before and know what its like to get stiffed by the referees. One only has to go back to the 2006 Super Bowl to see when it was rather obvious the REAL refs favored the Pittsburgh Steelers. Why just last year, one of the referees who officiated that game admitted that he had made serious errors.

Sour grapes? I think not. Losses like these are hard to take and not soon forgotten. Take comfort in the fact that you got gipped in a regular season game and not on the biggest stage of all.

As a footnote to my letter, and in a bizarre case of irony, the NFL’s officiating supervisor, Phil Luckett, had this to say about the need for an extra point attempt: .

“The PAT is an extension of the game, so we have to finish the game. When a touchdown is made on the last play, you have to do the extra point, in regulation.”

For those with short memories (not for Seahawks fans like me) Phil Luckett is the same man who officiated over a botched coin toss in a Pittsburgh Steelers / Detroit Lions game, and awarded a phantom touchdown to Vinny Testaverde and the New York Jets against Seattle back in 1998. A “touchdown” that ultimately became the deciding factor in implementing instant replay the following season.

Best of luck with the rest of the year Packer fans. Hopefully, the next time we meet again on the grid iron, the real refs will be back.
Sincerely, a Seahawks Fan.

Article first published as “An Letter to Green Bay Packer Fans” on Technorati

Why Philadelphia Doesn’t Deserve A Sports Championship

I had to write this post. It’s been eating me up for quite some time and I feel as though I’m qualified to write it since I’ve lived eighty miles north of the city since the first Nixon administration.

I grew up a Philadelphia sports fan. So much so that I used to get into literal fist fights with my brother, a huge Cowboys fan, whenever the Eagles had the nerve to beat his beloved team.

I also loved watching Pete Rose, Mike Schmidt, Larry Bowa and the rest of the boys tearing it up at Veteran’s Stadium.

Truth be told, I never really cared much for basketball (76ers) or hockey (Flyers) although if anyone ever asked me who I liked my loyalty remained true to the city of brotherly love.

Eventually, I came to my senses in the way of the pigskin and gravitated over to the Seattle Seahawks for football although I still kept tabs on my beloved Phillies and finally got to see them win a championship again nearly three decades after their last one.

Which leads me to why I think Philadelphia doesn’t deserve any more.

The Philadelphia 76ers, a team and sport I have very little interest in are in the second round of the playoffs against The Boston Celtics. A series that no one really thought they’d be in.

So you’d think that this would be causing a huge stir in the Philly region right? Hardly. Even though I’m sure there’s plenty of local excitement, listening to the sports radio station you’d never even know.

Instead of talking ad nauseam about how the Sixers lost game three these clowns on the radio, the supposed “Voice of Sports” in Philadelphia, are more inclined to talk about a Phillies win in Chicago. In fact, the hosts of the show were actually predicting the 76ers would lose again on Friday and be on the verge of elimination.

Thanks guys.

Like I mentioned, I’m no fan of basketball but it angers me to listen to these people writing off the team they’re supposed to be representing. A team their whole business model is based around SUPPORTING!

Relegating playoff basketball to the back seat in favor or a single Phillies game that means absolutely nothing in the grand scheme of things at this point in the season is deplorable.

When the Flyers, Eagles or Phillies are anywhere near the playoffs that’s all they want to talk about. But when the 76ers are in the thick of things they could care less.

I’m sure if they’re prediction comes true and the Sixers are eliminated they’ll be happy to say “I told ya so”. But if by some miracle the opposite occurs they’ll jump right back on the bandwagon as if they’ve been there the whole time. It’s this kind of mentality that makes me wish Philly never gets another championship.

Shame on them.

Five Things I Think – Why I Love Being A Man Edition

Hurricane Irene  is approaching and will bring torrential rain and wind and generally wreak havoc on my weekend off. Just curious, but why does it seem that these huge storms are always named after women (ex. Katrina, Gloria, Diane, Irene)?

As this feminine force of nature makes a washout of the next few days it made me think about the many reasons why I love being a man. So here you go:

Top Five Reasons Why I Love Being A Man

5. No waiting for public restrooms. Ever have to use the facilities at a busy bar or sporting event? When my bladder is full and I make my way to the restroom it kind of reminds me of the Disney Fast Past Line in the Magic Kingdom.

I see huge lines of women waiting with legs crossed while I am able to just mosey right on in.

Sorry ladies….

4. Love of Professional Sports – Even if you go to a party and meet a bunch of guys you’ve never met before, you always have something to talk about. Sports is the universal language of man. Oh I’m sure there are plenty of female sports fans there who can talk a good game too. But I’m also willing to bet they became fans by growing up in a household of men.

3. Less Time To Make Myself Presentable. This one is a no-brainer. Tell me I have to be shaved, showered and ready to go in thirty minutes and I’ll make it with ten minutes to spare. Tell that to a woman and she wouldn’t even be towel dried when the timer went off.

2. The Three Stooges. Trying to explain my love for these guys to a woman is pointless. I’ll be laughing my head off and she’ll look at me with a huge scowl on her face. I guess it takes the XY chromosome to be able to really appreciate their slapstick. Although it simply MUST be the classic line-up of Moe, Larry & Curly. No exceptions. Those other guys just weren’t as funny.

I suppose it’s kind of same reason you have to be female to understand the beauty of those awful Twilight books and movies.

And the Number One thing I most enjoy about being a man?

1. No Monthly Visits From Unwelcome “Friends”.  I think most women know what I’m talking about here. And for those men who are still single it’s best to avoid women if at all possible during the visit.

While we men can procreate at will and not think twice about it a woman’s body is synchronized with some kind a monthly cycle. Something they must attend to or, eh, well, the results will be less then flattering let’s put it that way.

So there you have it. The five things I do enjoy most about being a man. As for you ladies who may be disgruntled about this blog please don’t hate. I’ll still be here the next time you have a tight jar or bottle you need opened.

Oooh, now that makes six things. 😉