Tag Archives: NFL

Get ready: no football

I believe football fans from coast to coast to coast need to steel themselves for some very bad news.

There might not be football this autumn. Two college conferences — the Lone Star and Mid-American — have “postponed” all football games until the spring. The Ivy League canceled its football season altogether.

The “power” conferences — such as the Big 12, the Pac 12, SEC, Big 10 — are set to play football. But wait! Are they really going to expose their student-athletes to the pandemic, to the coronavirus that continues to kill Americans?

I have this feeling in my gut, right along with my trick knee, that we aren’t likely to see college football this autumn. Or, perhaps, too the National Football League.

A lot of players are opting out of NFL play, citing concerns over the virus.

Am I dreading the thought of no football this fall? Yes. More so regarding intercollegiate football. I care less about the NFL than I care about NCAA football.

I care much more, though, for the well being of the student-athletes, their coaches, their family members, their friends and assorted loved ones who could be infected a potential killer that continues to ravage this nation.

It’s ‘phony patriotism’

If the National Football League and the National Basketball Association are able to get their seasons started, we should prepare ourselves for another round of what I call “phony patriotism.”

It will come from those who object to players “taking a knee” while they play the National Anthem. Americans will object to the demonstration of peaceful protest against police brutality. They will assert that kneeling during the Anthem disrespects the flag, the men and women who fight to defend it as well as our way of life.

Donald Trump says he will turn off football games the moment he sees players kneeling. No doubt he will wrap himself in the flag, perhaps even hugging and kissing the cloth stitched in red, white and blue. He’s going to pitch for legislation making flag-burning a violation of federal law.

Except for this bit of history: The U.S. Supreme Court has stood firmly behind what the flag represents. The court has ruled that burning the flag is a form of political protest, which the Constitution protects in the First Amendment.

I want to stipulate once again that I revere the flag. I stand proudly for it. I went to war in defense of what that flag represents. No one who ever seeks to make a political point by burning that flag should do so in front of me.

But the return of pro sports may well be upon us. Major League Baseball has begun — more or less — and yes, players have knelt during the Anthem. The NFL and the NBA seasons are scheduled to begin soon.

I will await the phony patriotism and will dismiss it for what I believe it is: a demonstration of cheap showmanship.

R.I.P., the great Don Shula

Don Shula has died at the age of 90.

He was a great National Football League coach. He led the Miami Dolphins to the only undefeated season in NFL history, coaching them to a 14-7 victory in the 1973 Super Bowl over the Washington Redskins. He would coach the Dolphins to a second straight Super Bowl victory the following year.

Now, I want to offer this little tidbit that has been lost as the pro football world has long saluted the greatness of Don Shula. I do not mean to disparage him.

But …

Don Shula also coached the Baltimore Colts in the 1969 Super Bowl, the third such game pitting the NFL champs against the American Football League champs.

The Colts lost that game, 16-7, to the New York Jets, the team quarterbacked by that brash youngster Joe Namath who reportedly “guaranteed” that the Jets would beat the Colts and elevate the AFL to parity with the more established NFL.

I don’t recall whether the Colts were outcoached, or whether the Jets simply outplayed them.

Still, that one history-making loss did not do a single thing to diminish the great record — the winningest record in NFL history — that became the hallmark of Don Shula’s fabulous career.

R.I.P., Coach.

Waiting for the escape hatch to open

I believe I understand why the current worldwide health crisis is so unprecedented and devastating in its scope.

Let me say first that I totally understand the illness and death it has caused, creating untold misery, heartache and mourning. Its victims die alone, as hospitals cannot allow loved ones near them to hold their hands, whisper their love into their ears or just to act as comforters in time of pain and peril.

The unique quality of this coronavirus pandemic rests in the absence of any escape hatch for us to get away from the onslaught of bad news we are being forced to consume from our news networks.

Professional sports? College sports? Any sort of entertainment that allows us to sit among crowds of people who are cheering at the same performance? That’s all been put on ice.

Pro basketball and hockey has been shelved. Major League Baseball’s season has been delayed until only God knows when. The Summer Olympics in Tokyo has been postponed for an entire year … maybe even longer than that. College football is supposed to start later this summer, but they might not kick it off until much later.

New York’s Broadway theaters are closed. Movie theaters everywhere are closed, too.

So, we’re stuck. At home. Our governor asks us to stay put. He’ll get back to us soon to tell us where we might be able to go.

Some of us are going batty looking at the same walls for weeks on end. To be honest, we’re doing OK in our home. My wife and I happen to like each other’s company; at least I can speak for myself anyway on that matter.

This pandemic, though, is unprecedented simply by virtue of all the activities it has been on the back shelf. We are waiting now for an escape hatch to open.

Milking the D/FW connection for all it’s worth

I cannot help but chuckle at the Dallas-Fort Worth media’s concentration on a certain aspect of the American Football Conference champion Kansas City Chiefs, who are heading to the next Super Bowl next month in Miami.

It’s the Dallas connection that gives me a giggle or two.

The Chiefs came into being in 1960 as the Dallas Texans. Then the owner of the franchise moved the team to Kansas City, where they became the Chiefs. The owner was Lamar Hunt, a young Dallas business mogul. He went on to build the Chiefs into an American Football League powerhouse.

The Hunt family has retained its Dallas roots. Lamar Hunt is now deceased. His son, Clark, runs the Chiefs. Clark Hunt still lives in Dallas.

The media are all over the Dallas connection and keep reminding viewers and readers that the Chiefs are actually direct descendants of the team that was born in Dallas but gravitated a bit north nearly 60 years ago.

It’s OK. You have to look for ways to retain interest among viewers and readers. The media here are doing their level best in that regard.

Hoping the KC Chiefs bring home Lombardi Trophy

I have a clear favorite among the eight teams still vying for a chance to play in the Super Bowl next month in Miami.

It is the Kansas City Chiefs. Why the Chiefs? Here we go.

I am a longtime fan of the former American Football League. The Chiefs came into being as the Dallas Texans, one of the charter franchises in the AFL in 1960. The Texans packed up and moved to Kansas City and became the Chiefs.

With that all said, I will now ignore the National Football Conference playoff lineup. I don’t care about any of the teams in that “other” conference.

The Chiefs and the Tennessee Titans are the two original AFL franchises still in the hunt. However, I remain profoundly angry that Bud Adams, the owner of the Houston Oilers, decided to move his team to Nashville because Houston wouldn’t build a stadium with luxury boxes. Hey, the Oilers played in the Eighth Wonder of the World, the Astrodome. That shoulda been good enough for the Oilers. It wasn’t. Adams got greedy and bolted for Grand Ol’ Opryland.

The Baltimore Ravens? Pfftt! They once were the Cleveland Browns, one of three old NFL teams that moved into the AFC when the AFL and the NFL merged in 1970.

The fourth AFC team is the Houston Texans. That franchise is new to the NFL, having been created after the Oilers left the Bayou City. They don’t count, either.

In all my years watching the Super Bowl, I have rooted for one NFC team to win the Lombardi Trophy. That would be the New Orleans Saints in 2010. They beat the Indianapolis Colts. Two factors came into play for that Super Bowl. First, New Orleans needed a lift after the 2005 devastation brought by Hurricane Katrina. Second, the Colts have no AFL history, as they were among the NFL teams moved into the AFC when the leagues merged; the third team to join the AFC, by the way, was the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Chiefs played in the very first Super Bowl, losing 35-10 to the Green Bay Packers in 1967. Then they came back in 1970 to beat the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl IV, pummeling the heavily favored NFL rep 23-7. That was the final Super Bowl before the leagues merged.

It’s been 50 years since the Chiefs played for the pro football championship. It’s their time … I hope.

Cowboys’ coach is out … finally!

(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

That went well, yes? Well, no. It didn’t.

Jason Garrett has been booted as the Dallas Cowboys head football coach. The Cowboys have told Garrett his contract won’t be renewed. He’s out of a job.

However, all of this is coming from media reports. The Cowboys’ ownership hasn’t made a formal announcement just yet.

Jumpin’ jiminy. The owner of the NFL franchise, Jerry Jones, has made a mess of it. No surprise there. The owner operates on a clumsiness quotient that has virtually no rival in the National Football League.

I won’t get into the Xs and Os of the job Garrett did. I don’t know enough about football to speak intelligently about it. He won more games than he lost. He just didn’t win any Super Bowl games during his time as coach. That’s the benchmark for success in Jerry Jones’ world. To be fair, Jones isn’t the only pro sports franchise owner who cherishes league championships.

However, I just hate that Garrett had to be called the Cowboys’ head coach while the owner/general manager was interviewing prospective successors. He didn’t deserve to be disrespected in that manner.

As for whoever dons the coach’s headset next year and beyond, I hope he’s ready to deal with an owner who thinks he enough about pro football to act as a general manager, which to my way of thinking requires a skill set a zillionaire businessman just doesn’t possess.

Owner/GM needs to fire himself, but he won’t

The owner/general manager of the Dallas Cowboys football team is making a spectacle of himself — no surprise there! — as the media ponder his next coaching move.

Jerry Jones is the owner of the NFL team. He is likely to fire head coach Jason Garrett, whose contract expired when time ran out at the end of Sunday’s game against the Washington Redskins. The Cowboys won the game but aren’t going to the league playoffs.

Garrett is going to leave the team he has coached. Jones will find someone else.

But the owner/GM is going to make it all about him as he postures, preens and pontificates about how he intends to make the Cowboys great again. Does that sound like someone else in the news? Well, sure it does.

Jones is entitled to own the team. I don’t begrudge him that. I just wish he would be a more “conventional” pro sports team owner: sit in the shadows, pay the salaries of your executives, let a real general manager make football decisions such as hiring a coach.

The owner need not get mixed up in the middle of running a pro football team. It’s way more complicated than making all that money to buy the team in the first place.

Hmm. Does that also sound like anyone we know, too?

Let the football gurus rebuild the team, Mr. Franchise Owner

I am going to delve into a subject about which I know nothing … which is no surprise, I guess, to critics of High Plains Blogger.

Still, here goes my foray into what I think is best for a pro football franchise that is the talk of the region where my wife and I now reside.

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones needs to give up his stint as the team’s general manager. He should hire a competent, knowledgeable football guru to make drafting decisions, make coaching staff hiring choices, run the day to day operations of arguably the most valuable pro sports franchise on Earth.

I get that it’s his team. He spent zillions to buy the Cowboys back in 1989. He fired the team’s only coach, the legendary Tom Landry. He said something at the time about getting involved with every aspect of the team, including “washing jock straps,” or some such nonsense.

The owner anointed himself the team’s GM.

To be fair, the Cowboys have won three Super Bowls since Jones bought the team. However, they’ve gone 25 years since playing in the last one. The team is struggling again this season. The coach, Jason Garrett, is likely to hit the road once the final game ends this weekend.

I happen to agree with WFAA-TV sports commentator Dale Hansen, who said this morning that the owner’s meddling in matters about which he knows not a thing is what is fundamentally wrong with the Cowboys.

Hey, he’s entitled to be the owner. It’s his money. However, he is feeding a bloated ego by being in the news constantly.

I prefer sports owners to be silent. Let them pay the salaries. Let them run the board meetings. They can make command decisions, but then have their flacks make the announcements.

Would the Cowboys’ owner fire himself … please?

I’ve seen and heard enough from the Cowboys’ owner and the guessing games about what he intends to do to fix the team. Just walk away from the GM job, Mr. Owner, and hire someone who knows how to run a pro football team.

Coaching path from college to pros is strewn with casualties

(Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

The fascination in this part of the world with Urban Meyer and the thought that he might become the next Dallas Cowboys head football coach intrigues me terribly.

And not for reasons you might expect.

Jason Garrett is likely coaching his final season for the Cowboys, who have underperformed to the disappointment of the team’s fans. Let me stipulate that I am not one of those fans.

So, what about Meyer? He retired as head coach at Ohio State. Prior to that he coached the University of Florida to greatness. Prior to that he led the University of Utah to the status of being a very good football team. He won three national collegiate championships.

Does that college success translate automatically to the professional ranks? Hmm. Let’s ponder that.

Chip Kelly coached the University of Oregon and for a brief spell led the team to elite status among college football programs. He left Oregon to become head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles; he got fired. Then he became head coach of the San Francisco 49ers; he got fired again. He’s now back as a college coach at UCLA.

Bud Wilkinson led the University of Oklahoma to 47 straight wins in the early 1950s. He coached the St. Louis Cardinals of the NFL, where his success was, shall we say, less than sterling.

Dennis Erickson had a stellar college coaching career. His pro coaching career was decidedly less than stellar.

Steve Spurrier, too, had great success as a college coach. Not so much in the pros.

Nick Saban? Same thing.

To be sure, there are reverse examples. The Cowboys hired two successful college coaches, Jimmy Johnson and Barry Switzer, who managed to win Super Bowls coaching the Cowboys. The owner, Jerry Jones, fired ’em both; Johnson mouthed off to the owner and I can’t remember what got Switzer into trouble.

I would encourage my friends who are Cowboys’ fanatics to take great care in wishing Urban Meyer can be talked into donning the headphones yet again, this time for the Dallas Cowboys.

It’s one thing to throw your weight around with student-athletes. It’s quite another matter when the players you are coaching are multimillionaires who make more money each year than the guy who’s telling ’em to run wind sprints.