Sunday, October 26, 2014

Football Celebrations

Football at its core is reminiscent to the gladiator battles in ancient Rome.  Gone are the swords and other weapons yet the chest armor and helmets still remain.  Gone is the inevitable death yet the terrible injuries continue.  Gone are the men fighting wild beasts to the death yet teams of men battle with the names of wild beasts such as Bears, Bengals, Lions and Rams continue to battle in spectator filled arenas.  Although I am not an expert on the gladiator games of old, I would think that after a gladiator slew their opponent there was some sort of celebration.  I can imagine that the gladiator stood over the vanquished and raised his sword to the sky while shouting with a hearty celebratory, raucous "Whoo hoo!"

While the exact language of the celebratory shout could differ from "Whoo hoo" you get the idea.  Its understandable if you think about it I mean this gladiator SURVIVED combat with another gladiator who was really trying to kill him.  Hey if some half-naked man wearing a helmet and is trying to poke me with a trident or swings a sword at me and I defeat that guy, I'm celebrating.

Let us advance a little in history to the kind of close to the present day but not and the gladiator games of the National Football League.  When I was growing up there were a few things you could be sure of when a player was tackled the other team never helped them up off of the ground.   By tackling that person and just getting up and walking away showed a sense of superiority over that player and helping them up made the tackler look weak.  The tackling team would get up and walk back to the huddle or sideline and they would act like it was something they did every day and at no time did they have to jump up and down, make up some stupid little celebratory dance or hop about like a duck on a hot plate (WKRP in Cincinnati reference).  Yes they may get "hi-fives" and yes they might be proud of their work but they acted like professionals.  Mark Gastineau, a defensive end for the New York Jets changed all of that.

That's really not fair, their were other other people that had celebrations (Billy "White Shoes" Johnson for example), but Gastineau did his celebratory "dance" after each sack.  The league didn't like it, nor did the teams he played against but it really seemed like that was a catalyst for defensive celebrations after anything they did.  Soon we had NFL players celebrating every sack, catch, first down, forced fumble, interception, tackle, punt and if you looked closely enough I'm guessing there have been celebrations for their first penalty.

Today its to the point where everyone does it and it makes them look dumb.  I can understand celebrating the "first" of any stat worthy action or game-winning play or a record-breaking stat (i.e., all time rusher, passer, etc.) but enough already.  I've been a Bear fan my entire life and I have seen some pretty great, humble performers that just do their job and after they do something, they get up and walk away like professionals.

I despise the type of player that feels compelled to dance about for no real reason and if you were to be near me when I was watching a game you would hear me say "Act like you have done that before" whenever a Bear (or any other player) decides to excessively celebrate the littlest thing.  I used to get so mad when Devin Hester would dance about because he scored a TD on a return or if he even had a long return without a score.  When Richard Dent sacked the QB he got up and walked back to the huddle unlike Jared Allen when he gets a sack and he does his "calf-roping" celebration, its silly and unnecessary.  Of all of the celebrations, Hester and Allen's are fairly mundane and are never of a concern to the physical well-being of the player.

When the Detroit Lions and the Green Bay Packers played on Sunday, September 21st, 2014 the unthinkable happened.  Stephen Tulloch the starting MLB of the Detroit Lions got a sack on Aaron Rodgers of the Packers and following the sack Tulloch celebrated the sack and subsequently  injured his knee.  The injury was knee serious enough that Tulloch was placed on the season-ending disabled list.  Despite the fact that I am a Bear fan it is with a certain level of anger that I look at the loss of he player for the Lions.  Stupidity is a terrible reason to get hurt and now his actions have affected the season of the Lions.

If you watch football on any level, whether college or professional (hopefully not high school) you will see players jump onto piles of their players because they did something noteworthy but you also see "chest-bumping" or tackling teammates for whatever reason but the potential for injury should preclude the actions because of simple common sense.  The potential for injury while celebrating a performance that they make all of the time is asinine.

Despite the fact that such behavior has become commonplace in the NFL it thereby diminishes any potential "mind games" against an opponent thus accomplishing little more than making the celebrator look like a fool.  Another possible consequence would be making your opponent angry enough that they use it as motivation to embarrass the self-important lackey.  While such actions could be construed as simple, easily forgotten actions by a player that has overvalued their own importance, said actions could result in a negative response by their opponent thus cementing said opponent to bring forth the pain upon the self-indulgent performer.  Such actions are not mere whimsical fantasy by any stretch of the imagination.  A former NFL "bad boy" that played for the St. Louis Cardinals used to dole out his own special justice to defensive players that got on his bad side.  Conrad Dobler was notorious for special treatment to opposing players that tried to show his team up, or at times for just appearing on the field.

I would tend to think that the best way to really get under the skin of your opponent following a "celebratory action" would be to complete the play, get up and walk away without the fanfare.  If a player were involved with multiple plays in a game, or a season for that matter and they acted as if it those actions were common as the coming dawn that would bother an opponent even more.  If a player were to perform at such a level without pomp and circumstance that would cement their impression into the psyche of the people they were playing against.

I could care less about sportsmanship (shaking hands with their opponents or helping them up), but by acting like the world revolves around them through dancing and shaking their asses they open themselves up to the microscope of the NFL.  If you act like you've been there before then people will develop a healthy respect for you and what that means in the context of the NFL is that you will be under their skin and in their conscious mind.

To those players that still think stupid celebrations make you a better player, you would be wrong.  Show up, do your job and act like professionals because if you don't you will expose your skills and jeopardize all at the same time.  That is all. -----

Note:  I forgot to post this when I wrote it just a few weeks ago BUT it has become even more relevant to me as a Chicago Bears fan.  Today the Bears lost to the New England Patriots by the score of 51 - 23 and in the fourth quarter of the game a Chicago Bear player, Lamarr Houston, made one of the absolutely STUPID mistakes ever.  I'm serious, EVER.  The Bears DE made a sack with his team down 25 points, TWENTY-FREAKING-FIVE POINTS and he jumped up in the air in some type of celebration and upon landing he got hurt.  TWENTY-FREAKING-FIVE POINTS.  It's stupid, unnecessary, and asinine.  You Mr. Houston made yourself out to be a buffoon.  Can I make a small suggestion?  If your season is over because of the knee injury you suffered, give the money back to the Bears because your season has been a joke since it started and you have successfully proven to the fans of the Bears that you are not a professional and that you are not a team player.


Monday, October 6, 2014

My Beloved Bears

Well it seems as if Sunday was as crappy as the last Sunday for me.  The Chicago Bears, my favorite team since the third grade, lost a 14 point lead to the Carolina Panthers and subsequently lost the game by seven points.  Failures about in that game and its brutally obvious that the team still needs safeties and linebackers desperately.

The Bears linebacking corps is horrific.  Lance Briggs is struggling, DJ Williams is kind of missing in many plays, and the remaining LB's aren't worth their weight in salt.

The defense is so bad I think some Division II schools could score on them.  Wow.  Just WOW.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Me, Myself and I

Let's get back to the good old fashioned rant shall we.  What kind of man asks a question to a fourteen year old boy about another man?  Here's the scenario...  You have a man in his FIFTIES ask a child, yes a child about a condition that his uncle may have in a rhetorical sense.  Rhetorical meaning he wasn't expecting an answer instead it was more like a jab at a situation he knows nothing about.  What a dick and what a pussy.  Why not grow a pair of balls and ask the other adult yourself or are you that big of a pussy?  That too is a rhetorical question because we already know the answer now don't we.

Only a coward tries to address a problem in that fashion and he's fairly lucky someone doesn't punch him in the face.  I hate cowards, and I really hate those cowards that involve other people, children for example, in their greater act of pussification.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Child Abuse, Domestic Violence and the NFL

When I wrote about domestic violence, Ray Rice and the NFL I stated that I am a HUGE fan of the NFL, I love the game and I really enter a different state of mind when the season starts.  As I wrote the article on domestic violence and Mr. Rice I literally held back the venom that makes me special.  I seemed to forget about the reason I have this blog, its a cathartic release of anger at the terminally stupid and those events that the terminally stupid actively participate in.

On Sunday, September 14th, 2014 the Minnesota Vikings announced that their star running back, Adrian Peterson, was deactivated following his indictment for child abuse.  It was revealed that Peterson disciplined his child with a "switch" or a length of pliable stick, willow has always seemed to be a great candidate for switch material.  Peterson acknowledged that as a child he was disciplined with a switch and if I'm being honest so have thousands upon thousands of others.

I would be remiss if I didn't say that children need to be disciplined, a good swift swat on the hind quarters will remind a child that whatever their actions did that was wrong has consequences.  On that note that doesn't mean beating the crap out of a child because they forgot to take out the garbage or because today is Thursday and they deserve it.  Discipline is a fickle little entity that has divine consequences and if used at an appropriate level is, or at least should be accepted.  While it was, and in some parts still is acceptable to use a switch a child social norms dictate that it isn't.

Was the rationality of Peterson using a switch on his child acceptable?  Probably not but therein lies the real issue.  While a child may fear a single swat on their butt on occasion, think about how terrifying it is for a child to first of all know they are going to get disciplined with a long stick.  Not only is it a stick but when swung with any velocity will make a terrifying whistle through the air before it hits the child.  It has to if its going to be effective otherwise it would be like a tap with a long pencil and it wouldn't garner any "desired effects" to deter that behavior.

Obviously child abuse can be perpetrated through the use of any item being used whether it be the palm of a hand, wooden spoon, switch, coffee cord, razor strop or a plethora of other items but the fact of the matter is that child abuse is wrong and must be taken seriously.  There is no reason whatsoever that makes child abuse acceptable.  None.  Within the issue at hand Peterson did significant physical and psychological damage to his son that can become a trigger for future abuse by Peterson and his own child.

Zygi Wilf and Mark Wilf, the owners of the Minnesota Vikings released the following statement:

Today’s decision was made after significant thought, discussion and consideration. As evidenced by our decision to deactivate Adrian from yesterday’s game, this is clearly a very important issue. On Friday, we felt it was in the best interests of the organization to step back, evaluate the situation, and not rush to judgment given the seriousness of this matter. At that time, we made the decision that we felt was best for the Vikings and all parties involved.

To be clear, we take very seriously any matter that involves the welfare of a child. At this time, however, we believe this is a matter of due process and we should allow the legal system to proceed so we can come to the most effective conclusions and then determine the appropriate course of action. This is a difficult path to navigate, and our focus is on doing the right thing. Currently we believe we are at a juncture where the most appropriate next step is to allow the judicial process to move forward.

We will continue to monitor the situation closely and support Adrian’s fulfillment of his legal responsibilities throughout this process.

Really?  So does that mean he can come back and play a game that pays him $11,750,000 a YEAR?  The league has real issues with the fine line between was is correct socially and what is correct monetarily.  Its okay to think that everything is great and right in the world because he sees the error of his ways but the big picture shows that one game doesn't mean squat.  It is obvious that if big-ticket players screw up then the NFL does NOTHING of consequence within the realm of discipline.  The assumed transparency of the legal system within the NFL is as transparent as muddy water.  For years people have talked about stars getting away with anything inside the league whilst they are awaiting prosecution or resolution of legal matters.

Its abhorrent to think that the culture of violence that drips from the leaky roof of the NFL onto the heads of its fan base.  The drips are inconsequential until they become a nuisance to the people that sit below it.  It becomes apparent that the drips continue until such a time that the leaky roof becomes a gaping hole that the "roofers" or the NFL in this case, try to plug with paper, roofing tar and crossed fingers in hopes that it will hold.  The NFL needs to flex its muscles and proactively say that despite the fact that Peterson is a star, child abuse is not acceptable and they need to suspend him until such a time that a resolution of his court case is complete.

Within the culture of the NFL it is obvious that decisions such as suspensions for child abuse and domestic violence only occur following controversy.  Despite the fact that socially society has made leaps and bounds within the prosecution of abusers, the NFL still lags far behind.

As we look at the case against Peterson and his alleged abuse of his son we must keep in mind that culturally his methods for discipline aren't simply archaic, they are criminal.  Under no circumstances can we equate a simple slap on the butt and the use of a switch with multiple strikes from that switch.  A simple search on the internet will show through the magic of pictures the consequences of Peterson's actions.  For the NFL to save face they MUST resolve their own position in the case and subsequently they have to suspend this man until the end of the season at least or until the resolution of the case in the legal system.

This is a sickening, despicable act that a father committed against his own child.  I cannot find a way that I will ever respect this player.  Get it together Goodell, assert your power and control against this reprehensible offense.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

The CTA - An Adventure into the Bowels of Stupidity

I ventured into Chicago to attend "Riot Fest" a three day metal / punk / alternative music festival in Humboldt Park.  I have experience in Chicago, I lived and worked there and I have traveled on the CTA from time to time because of that and from some other personal trips and although those experiences were for the most part before electronic fares and the entire system was computerized the concepts are still the same.  With my experiences being some time back we decided to contact the CTA even before we began the trip because we had heard of a station being closed for repairs / remodeling as well as the unfamiliarity of the system.

During our conversations and email contacts with the CTA there was still confusion so we decided to ask questions of friends that live in Chicago, as well as the front desk at our hotel and we had a pretty good idea of what we had to do EXCEPT for one little issue.  I kid you not that every single contact with the CTA regarding the closure of the California station was literally avoided or poorly explained.  With the exception of one of our friends that gave us excellent assistance, no one could give a clear explanation of what the Blue Line did AT the California station so we decided to have a game time decision to determine what he had to do.

The first CTA employee we asked about the Blue Line told us that the train would stop BEFORE the closed station then we would have to walk to get a shuttle that would then take us to ANOTHER station where we could then take a bus.  The next employee said a very similar inaccuracy BUT they told us that we would have to stop before the station then walk to our destination because there was no shuttle.  We did ask a third employee and she was EXCELLENT as she not only made sure we got the appropriate three day passes but she also gave us this little nugget; she told us that the train goes PAST the California station and then she told us what station to get off at and then what bus we could take.  I kid you not, she was the first one of the day AND at least the first one out of three emails and two telephone calls to get us in the right direction.

Let's ponder another point for a moment and decide how worthless people in call centers tend to be.  We called the CTA Customer Service number today whereby we asked the same question but the person that we talked to had no idea about the train because she was on the bus side of the wonderful world of the CTA.  Fair enough, I totally understand that we made a mistake there BUT when we asked if she could transfer us to the appropriate department or give us the correct contact number she said "No."  Apparently she didn't know how to do that.  Yep, I said she didn't know how to do that.

After we got to the correct station today we exited the train and walked toward the exit of the station and we asked a question of the employees as to which direction to go to get to Humboldt Park and that answer has déjà vu written all over it, so I'll give a little back story to explain.  A few years ago we went to the Congress Theater in Chicago to see Death Angel / Testament and Anthrax and much like that day when we got off of the train we had to ask which direction to go and the CTA employee informed us a direction of travel with a flippant little wave of the hand and when I asked her to clarify the little wave was done with a head toss.  I followed those step by step directions and it took us several blocks out of the way and to fix the gaff I asked a very helpful valet at a restaurant who gave great directions that despite the fact he sent us through the darkest street in the city (there wasn't a freaking streetlight the entire way) we got to our destination.

Today we rolled the dice and asked a CTA employee where to go and she said well there was a bus we could have taken but she wasn't sure if that was the right direction of travel so she referred us to another employee because he "knew about those things."  I should have known better because the first thing he said was why not just walk instead of taking the bus because it wasn't that far.  Remembering the Congress Theater fiasco I asked him which way and he rather flippantly kind of brushed us away with a small hand gesture but I was ready for him so I used my own hand signal (no I didn't flip him off) to confirm the direction of travel and he said to "go to the next intersection down that way" and it was a couple of blocks from there.

So we followed young Zippy's directions and we went to the next intersection looking for those couple of blocks.  Once again those directions were wrong.  We followed the pinheads line of travel, then had to backtrack to a direction of travel that we came from, then we asked a woman walking and she gave us a route.  That "next block" bull the "Wonder Twin" gave us was four blocks, then we had to walk another three or four to the actual venue (which was then followed by a hike the entire length of the park to get to will-call).  You might think that would be an excellent conclusion now wouldn't you but nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo.

The rain and cold was really getting to me so we did bail a little early in an attempt to get warm so we waited for a bus to get us back to our car parked in a CTA lot.  After I watched a man vomit all over the enclosed bus stop and literally clear out everyone from that enclosed bus stop (they relocated in the rain with the rest of us), we decided to walk a little bit where we found a massive number of buses ready for the festival to close.  When we approached the bus I specifically asked if the bus dropped off at a Blue Line station he said yes and he told us a specific stop to get off at.  He was wrong.  We figured it out after we scared the crap out of another woman walking when we asked her for directions but we did get out train and we got back to the hotel.

As I look back at the excursion into CTA stupidity I ask myself is that job really that hard?  Shouldn't their employees have some sense of direction whereas a head toss doesn't take the place of legitimate assistance?  Can that job be that mind-numbing that they are so severely jaded that common sense or common courtesy are easily covered up with incompetency?  I realize that its easy to discount their lack of professionalism by saying that people like us are just dumb but isn't their job to assist?  Can it be said that simple questions such as closures or what a train does at that closure are so easy that their brains cannot function when trying to elicit a proper answer?

Following my evening medication (prescription medications) and a little decompression I reflected on the night and determined that all is well!  Two more days of killer bands, a couple more train and bus rides and probably another rant about someone else.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Domestic Violence and Those That Perpetrate It

Today (September 8th, 2014) I was completing some writing on my music blog and I got a message on Facebook to watch the video of Ray Rice allegedly beating up his wife in an elevator.  I decided to give it a look and when I did I was filled with disgust, I got sick to my stomach and I got more than just  little angry.

I love professional football, American football and I literally inhale every bit of information I can regarding that sport.  I have been watching the NFL Draft for as long as I can remember and I used to hold Draft parties every year, until they changed the format of the Draft that is.  I am a massive fan of the Chicago Bears and I love just watching NFL games.  My mantra in life is simple "Football is life, the rest are just details."

With that "love" I have I always pay attention to the "wire" to see who is hurt, on the disabled list, who has been suspended and unfortunately who has been arrested.  In February I read about a domestic violence report regarding Ray Rice, a running back for the Baltimore Ravens and his wife and I was interested to see what exactly the case would entail.  First of all domestic violence is a crime that is vile, cowardly, and the desperate act of a spouse (or significant other) against their counterpart in a desperate attempt to control them.  I cannot think of a single instance where physical violence against ones mate is acceptable unless the other party is brandishing some kind of weapon in an offensive attack.

When the NFL reacted to the Rice incident they began and completed some sort of investigation and subsequently they concluded that their appropriate response was a two game suspension much to the chagrin of many.  With the exception of most kickers and punters NFL players are massive in stature, they are built for the gladiator-like punishment they take during the course of a season.  Rice however is a smaller man, he is 5'-8, 206 pounds (from but being a starting running back this man is extremely powerful.  Rice is used to hitting and being hit by massive defensive players and he can take that physical abuse play after play, game after game, his then girlfriend (now wife) who is smaller in stature, much smaller cannot.

In a video released by TMZ on September 8th, 2014 it shows Rice hitting his female companion and her head hitting a handrail inside of an elevator, knocking her unconscious.  Rice is later seen dragging her unconscious body out of the elevator in which he was later arrested for the assault.  Rice was later indicted by the Atlantic County Prosecutor's Office on third degree aggravated assault, but when the victim refused to testify the charges were reduce Rice then pleaded guilt and received court supervised counseling.  The NFL then responded by suspending Rice for two regular season games, and when the video came out on the 8th, the NFL backtracked with Roger Goodell released a statement stating:
"I take responsibility both for the decision and for ensuring that our actions in the future properly reflect our values. I didn't get it right. Simply put, we have to do better. And we will." - - September 8th, 2014

In an attempt to rectify the situation Goodell announced that Rice was suspended indefinitely.  Until September 8th the team in which Rice plays for, the Baltimore Ravens, had done nothing to punish Rice however their response following the appearance of the video was to release him from the team.

Although the reaction from the Ravens and the NFL are far too late, the two judgements are welcomed.  The NFL has announced a statement in which their "Violations of Personal Conduct Policy" was outlined including disciplinary actions.  For a first offense the offender would be suspended for six weeks without pay, whereas a second offense will result in banishment from the league BUT the player will be allowed to apply for reinstatement following one year with no guarantee of reinstatement.  Really?  How stupid is that?  Banishment with a chance to come back after a year.  That's not a punishment, that is a vacation for most of these guys.  I would bet my bottom dollar that depending on the star power of a player may help the reinstatement of the violator.

Commissioner Goodell if you really want to make us believe that such offenses will REALLY be enforced then make it a lifetime ban following a conviction with a suspension without pay until the matter is settled in the courts.  It is commonplace for regular men and women that get arrested for domestic abuse to be prosecuted based on evidence gathered regardless of the denial of a the person that has been abused because many of the abused continue to go back to their abuser thus allowing for the abuse to continue.  I don't buy your "punishment," put some teeth in it, real teeth then maybe I and the other fans of the NFL will believe that this is about punishing those offenders that participate in this cowardly act.

I said it earlier and I will say it again, domestic abuse is a vile, cowardly act that is an attempt to control someone physically.  Fear is a great equalizer and beating the living tar out of someone that is that much less capable to defend themselves against the offender is cowardice.  Domestic violence is unfortunately commonplace in our society today, it goes across all classes of society.  The NFL is no different than the working class (or any class for that matter) and the result of domestic violence is often the same.  While most abusers and their victims really don't have the same impact as those in the NFL do the fact of the matter is that the abusers are cowards.  If you want to hit your spouse or significant other do yourself and your victim a favor walk away and get some freaking help.  There are agencies and trained individuals that are there for that purpose.

What Mr. Rice did to his girlfriend (now wife) is reprehensible and I can only HOPE that no teams in the NFL decide to sign this man ever again.  If Mr. Rice is re-instated by the league in the future it will be proof that all that matters is winning and if any team signs this man I will take pleasure in watching that team lose and I will take great pleasure watching your revenues plummet in the process.  Get some teeth in that Personal Conduct Policy, real teeth and prove to your fans that you actually care about your fans.  Mr. Rice I hope that you can get the help you need and I sincerely hope that Carl's Jr. needs a dishwasher.