Archive for January, 2015

Knowledge is power!

January 23, 2015

Growing up, I had always had trouble with both my weight and fitness level. While I was obsessed with playing sports and was a fairly active kid, I was also obsessed with handfuls of Oreo’s and chocolate milk. I always wanted to be healthier and skinnier, but never really did much to make it happen. I would go to the gym but stop at Taco Bell for a giant meal afterward, since I “really worked up an appetite”. It wasn’t until a couple of years ago, I decided to drastically cut my diet down and started running. At first, when I tried to get my fiancé to run with me, she either flat out refused or would grudgingly come along for a couple of laps. Needless to say, this wasn’t really helping either of us.

I don’t know what sparked the change, but about a year ago, we both started to really get into running: it started with a mile here or there, then it progressed to training for a 5k and got all the way to me running a half marathon at the end of 2014. All of this running taught me a couple of things. First of all, running is stupid. It’s become my favorite hobby, but I absolutely hate it and despise how much time, thought and effort I dedicate to it. The main reason I stick to it is for the second thing it’s taught me: you learn something new about yourself in every workout you do. Whether it’s the hour-long interval run with hill sprints where you want to throw up every step of the way, or the easy mile down the street, you discover something. “What did you learn today?” has become the starting point for post run conversations between my fiancé and me. Sometimes it’s the realization of how far she’s come toward her fitness goals, and how much it makes her want more; both out of running and out of life. Other times, it’s a little thing, like “I learned that barking dogs really bother me on my run.” Whether it’s something life changing or just a petty annoyance you discover, it’s always important to think about what you’ve learned after an event.

In a similar way, I’ve always enjoyed looking back at a stretch or set of games and trying to figure out what, if anything changed or was learned from those specific games.

Last week, to put it mildly, was pure insanity. The Seahawks comeback/ Mike McCarthy choke job was the most ridiculous turnaround I can recall seeing, and the experience was enhanced by the involvement of social media. While I hate the way people sound off on topics with no research, limited intelligence and zero accountability, I thoroughly enjoy the broad overview that social media can provide. Whether you were pro-Seahawks, anti-Packers, both or neither, odds are you had an opinion on the game, and you provided it through whichever platform you prefer. With a little bit of effort, one could essentially conduct a national survey on Sunday’s events simply by scanning timelines and Twitter feeds. If the ‘Hawks and Packers game was a delicious feast of a dinner, Patriots v. Colts was the delicious looking chocolate covered strawberry for dessert. It seemed amazing; you had Brady v. Luck, Belichik v. ChuckStrong and Gronk v. McAfee at the beer pong table. However, once we bit into this game, we realized that the chocolate had melted a little bit, the strawberry was dirty and afterward we got sick because it was rotten (Deflate Gate). Any joy that I may have received from watching the Colts get blown out was neutralized by the boredom of the game and the annoyance of the controversy later.

All that aside, there was still plenty to be learned with further review:

1. Jay Cutler> Wilson/Rodgers: Listen, I think Wilson is fantastic, and you don’t have to look far to see how I feel about Rodgers. However, for all the talk about how awful Jay Cutler is, his team has never lost a conference championship game in which he was playing quarterback to finish the game. Also, come on Russell! 4 interceptions? Have some pride. Jay has thrown 1 combined in all of his NFC championship appearances. In fact, he was so distraught about the 1 he did throw, that he preferred to sit out with a knee injury, rather than suffer the indignity of potentially throwing more. Clearly the Seahawks should offer multiple 1st round picks and Bobby Wagner for Cutler. Wilson could really benefit from some of his veteran advice and leadership. Let me tell you about life, Russell.

2. Eddie Lacy needs to be traded: For the 2nd week in a row, the hefty halfback was sidelined for portions of the game by his recurring asthma attacks. I don’t care that he’s in better shape than I will ever be, is more athletic than I am and has a better physique than I will ever have. He clearly is a physical car crash waiting to happen. Medical studies show that asthma symptoms can be greatly reduced by cutting your weight and committing to a healthier lifestyle. A healthier lifestyle can mean a lot of things: one of them is cutting back on your fatty foods. Lacy just happens to live and play in a region known for production of cheese and fried foods. If he really wants his career to take off, he needs to demand a trade to a franchise more committed to healthy eating. Ted Thompson should be on the phone with San Diego, Seattle, San Francisco or one of those other healthy, hippy cities to try and get whatever he can before everyone else realizes that Lacy is damaged goods.

3. Tom Brady has telekinetic powers: In his press conference yesterday, Tom Terrific vehemently denied handling any of the footballs last week with the intent of deflating them. As we all know, players and coaches never lie or cover things up for an advantage or to protect themselves. What Tom did not deny, however, was that he somehow manipulated or deflated them with his mind. This, combined with his ability to somehow make LeGarrette Blount into a relevant player every other year, tells me that he possesses some form of mind control or telekinetic powers. You’re busted, Tom. While the league rules do not specifically state that mind control or telekinesis is off limits, it goes directly against the spirit and integrity of the game and you should be ashamed of yourself.

4. D’Qwell Jackson is a modern day Sherlock Holmes: Several reports have come out this week regarding the so called “Deflate Gate”- some of them seem to back the Patriots’ “we had no idea” statements, and others seem to point to blatant cheating. All of them, however, agree that multiple people handled the footballs, both before, and during the first half. With all of these people throwing and carrying the ball, not a single one of them noticed or commented on the air pressure. Insert D’Qwell Jackson, his magical hands and keen sense of wrongdoing. Early in the game, Jackson had sensed that the Patriots were up to something- he just wasn’t sure what. Finally, he got his chance to get to the bottom of it all. On a terribly thrown Brady pass late in the first half, Jackson was able to pluck the ball out of midair, diagnose the correct air pressure level and somehow turn and run with it. These remarkable skills of deduction put him on par with Sherlock Holmes himself. While Mr. Jackson makes a fine living playing football, he’s clearly missed his calling in detective work. Please D’Qwell: you’re not the hero we want, you’re the hero we deserve. (Writer’s note: Jackson has recently denied his involvement, but I put this on par with Bruce Wayne’s “oh me? I’m not Batman, I’m just a billionaire playboy” denial. I’m onto you, D’Qwell!)

Hopefully we’ve all learned a little something this week; whether it will be life changing or not, I’m not sure. For this week, enjoy the lack of football, watch the Royal Rumble and take a shot every time somebody makes a “deflated balls” joke.
Juvenile humor is the best medicine

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Ready to Rumble

January 17, 2015

Let’s start off with full disclosure- I hate the Green Bay Packers franchise. I hate the Lambeau Leap, the cheeseheads, the Cheeseheads and (in my opinion) the ugly uniforms. However, what I hate most of all is how much I wish the Bears were more like them. That infuriating Lambeau Leap? As annoying as it is, it’s the ultimate in player and fan interaction. The cheeseheads worn by those Cheeseheads? Pretty cool also. I won’t bend on the uniforms, but it’s pretty obvious that while most of my hatred is based on an ages-old rivalry, there’s a healthy chunk that’s based on jealousy.

While the Leap, the Cheese and the frozen tundra are all pretty cool, the thing I’m most jealous of is the experience of getting to have Aaron Rodgers as the face of your franchise. Luckily, he only gives me nightmares for 2 weeks every season. The other 50 of the year, I have no problem with Rodgers. I can sit back and enjoy the fact that all evidence points to him being some sort of evil sorceror. The level of improvisation and skill that he demonstrates on a weekly basis is just insane. There are QB’s with better mobility, some with stronger arms and a couple with a touch more accuracy. However, there is no one in the game that puts it all together in such a terrifying and infuriating way

Wait, I'm supposed to hate this guy?

Wait, I’m supposed to hate this guy?

Everything that Aaron Rodgers is to the QB position, the Seahawks defense is to that side of the ball. It’s truly unfair the amount of size and speed they throw out onto the field. Being able to have Kam Chancellor, Bobby Wagner and Earl Thomas patrol the back half (and occasionally the backfield) of the defense borders on insanity. As much attention as Richard Sherman rightfully got the last couple of years, the real backbone of this defense is right up the middle with those 3. Throw in a 7 man rotation on the defensive line, and it’s easy to see why this team has only lost 2 and a half games at home over the last three seasons. When you add in the mano-a-mano match up between the leagues best O-Line (Green Bay) and the aforementioned defense, this game has NFL nerds absolutely drooling. Oh yeah, we also have a wizard in training in Russell Wilson and Beast Mode on the other side going against a dynamic front 7 for Green Bay. There is nothing more a fan could reasonably ask for. Part of me doesn’t want to do this game a disservice by picking a winner, but there’s a bigger part of me that just can’t help it. Seahawks 38- Packers 31.

While we can almost guarantee a high quality game in the NFC side of things, this year’s AFC matchup has a much higher variance rate. At first glance, this comes down to Andrew Luck vs. the Patriots. It’s definitely an easy narrative to push. The last couple of seasons have been a seemingly endless stream of highlights and stories showing Andrew Luck carrying a seriously mediocre team. While this Colts’ roster certainly has it’s share of flaws, there’s a vast departure from the Luck Show we’ve seen previously. I don’t know what woke the Colts’ staff up, but they finally started utilizing the strengths they had rather then hammering a square peg into a round hole. No more giving the ball to Trent Richardson 20 times a game while he does nothing with it, no more forcing the ball to Reggie Wayne and no more double teaming on Anthony Castonzo’s side. It’s been equal parts Dan Herron, T.Y. Hilton and the tight ends to move the ball, and since they switched the protection arrangements (putting Castonzo on an island and utilizing their resources elsewhere), they’ve turned into much more than a one man gang. Granted, they still occasionally rely on Luck’s genius, but they’re definitely getting more from the complementary parts than they have previously.
On the other sideline, this Patriots team has been advertised as “the most complete” or “best defensively” in the last 10 years of the BradyChik era. While that may be true, last week proved that when all else fails, Mr. Brady still has the ability to sling it around the lot when he needs to. Watching that game live, it seemed like the Pats had gotten away from the run a little bit. It wasn’t until I looked at the stats that it hit me: They didn’t run a single handoff play the entire 2nd half. I don’t care how you feel about the Golden Boy, winning a game against a quality opponent when they know what’s coming is absolutely insane. His throw to Brandon LaFell for the go ahead score is on par with what the other guys in this semi-final round can do.
Getting past the on field performers, we have a match-up of Chuckstrong vs. The Hoodie. As a WWE fan, I always strive to put things in terms of Heels vs. Babyfaces, and there’s no better example than these coaches. Watching how the Colts’ players react to Chuck Pagano briefly restores my faith in humanity, and reminds me why I love sports. On the other side, it’s almost impossible not to laugh at the dry sarcasm and sheer jerkishness Belichek shows in his press conferences.

One word: FIERCE.

With all that being said; even with the injuries, I like the Pats’ roster depth and game-planning advantage.
Patriots 31- Colts 20. 

This weekend leaves very little to be  desired from a match-up and story line standpoint. Let’s all say a little prayer to the sports gods that we get the classics that we’re expecting and not the turd in the punch bowl that was the National Championship game.