Tag Archives: Super Bowl

Soccer or football? Still a foreign game to Americans

I don’t know when — or even if — soccer will ever catch on in the United States the way it has in much of the rest of the world.

Indeed, the game we call “soccer” is known as “football” in places like Mexico, Brazil and in most of Europe. The Spanish term for “football,” by the way, is “futbol.” Get it?

The World Cup is over. They’re going nuts throughout France, which defeated Croatia 4-2 in the final game. I’m glad for the French. It’s their second World Cup title.

To be candid, I remain decidedly lukewarm toward soccer. It just doesn’t thrill me the way it would, say, my extended family members in Greece, where soccer is a big deal, too.

I’ve been exposed once in my life to World Cup fanatacism. It happened in June 2006.

My wife and I were in Copenhagen, Denmark. We caught up with some friends from Amarillo, Texas, who were in Copenhagen attending the same Rotary International Conference as my wife and me. We were strolling through the city looking for a place to eat.

We would stick our heads into this or that restaurant. They were full. Everyone was watching TV. Oh, what were they viewing? A soccer match between Denmark and (I believe it was) neighboring Germany.

The Danes were screaming their lungs out at every move their national team made on the field, er, pitch. We could hear them from everyone eating establishment up and down the street.

The four of us had difficulty that evening finding a place to eat. We finally did, though.

My point is that I had never witnessed such soccer/football fervor. It consumes Europe, Latin America, as well as portions of Asia and Africa.

I still get worked up over the Super Bowl and the World Series. The World Cup? Not so much. I’m afraid to tell my soccer-loving friends that at this stage of my life, the World Cup isn’t likely to hook me.

Why do simple ceremonies become such hassles?

Presidents of the United States have been doing these kinds of things for, oh, about as long as anyone can remember.

Professional sports teams win championships. They get invitations to come to the White House to receive a nation’s congratulations delivered by the head of state. They have a few laughs. They take plenty of pictures. They hand the president a ceremonial jersey, usually with the name of the president and the No. 1 on the back.

That’s not how it goes with Donald J. Trump in the White House.

Oh, no. He decides to weigh in on a controversy created by young men who decide to “take a knee” to protest police brutality. The president goes on the stump and says something about team owners firing any “son of a bi***” who declines to stand for the National Anthem.

The players object. Some of them don’t want to go to the White House. The president disinvites them.

Then all hell breaks loose. Other athletes condemn the president. The White House responds. Back and forth it goes.

Good ever-lovin’ grief, man!

The Philadelphia Eagles won the Super Bowl. Most of the team accepted a White House invitation. Then most of them backed out. The White House issued a critical statement that accompanied a picture of Eagles players kneeling in prayer prior to the start of a game, but then said falsely that they were “taking a knee” out of protest.

The president has managed to turn feel-good ceremonies into a sort of political demonstration that does nothing but engender harsh feelings.

This is how you “unify” a nation? This is how you define “winning”?

It’s how I would define “presidential petulance.”

Trump tells Eagles to stay away? Good grief!

Donald J. Trump’s petulance has reached an astonishing level, although it’s hard any longer to keep up with his guy’s sense of outrage.

He has told the Philadelphia Eagles to stay away Tuesday from the White House. The Super Bowl champions were supposed to show up for a little ceremony, some happy talk from the president about their athletic prowess. They were going to have a few laughs, exchange some good tidings with the sports fan in chief.

Oh, but that “take a knee” matter got in the way. Some of the Eagles were going to boycott the meeting because of Trump’s public shaming of pro football players who kneel during the playing of the “Star Spangled Banner” before a game. They protest police conduct and their enforcing the law when it involves African-Americans.

According to NBC News: In an unusual statement early Monday evening, Trump said the Eagles “disagree with their President because he insists that they proudly stand for the National Anthem, hand on heart, in honor of the great men and women of our military and the people of our country.”

The National Football League has just instituted a policy requiring players to stand during the Anthem’s playing. Trump applauded the NFL decision.

Good grief. Now the president has taken it all to a new level by telling the Philadelphia Eagles to, um, just stay away.

I just want to remind the president that the players’ protest has nothing at all to do with honoring the “great men and women of our military.” It has to do with a perception of police brutality. The athletes, as near as I can tell, are protesting peaceably.

And I am quite certain that every single one of them loves our country as much as the president does. They just want to see some changes made.

What is so terrible about that?

You go, Philly Eagles!

Normally, I might be a bit down in the dumps over the result of a Super Bowl contest that ended the way Super Bowl LII did.

You see, I am a fan of the American Football Conference. I root for the AFC team over the National Football Conference team in the big game. I have rolled that way dating back to the original AFL-NFL Championship Game, in 1967, when the Kansas City Chiefs lost to the Green Bay Packers.

This year, the Philadelphia Eagles outscored the New England Patriots in a barn-burner.

Why aren’t I saddened by the outcome? The Patriots have won more than their share of Super Bowls. Head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady sought their sixth Vince Lombardi Trophy together.

The Eagles had been denied the fruit of victory in their previous two attempts: once by the Oakland Raiders and once by, that’s right, the Patriots.

So it was their turn Sunday to bring home the coveted trophy.

It’s hard to feel too badly for a sports franchise that has won so much for so long.

As for the underdog upsetting the favorites, I return to one of my favorite sayings about such things: That is why they play the game.

Nice ‘problem’ to have, Eagles

How would you like to be the head coach or the general manager of the Philadelphia Eagles?

You have a quarterback, Carson Wentz, who was thought to be the prohibitive favorite to be the National Football League’s most valuable player. Then he gets hurt.

Wentz’s backup, Nick Foles, steps in and leads the team to the Super Bowl. Then, against the odds, the backup throws for three touchdowns and catches another one.

The Eagles win, defeating one of those “teams of destiny,” the New England Patriots, who have a pretty good QB of their own, a guy named Tom Brady.

So … what now?

Wentz will come back from his injury. But what about Foles? What do you with Foles, who won the Super Bowl MVP award while lighting up the stadium with the performance of several lifetimes?

Foles is nowhere the end of his playing career. The young man is a creaky 29 years of age, for crying out loud.

Good luck, Philly, as you ponder how you might cope with this “problem.” Congratulations, too, for one hell of a victory!

Super Bowl: Who gets the cheers?

Oh, the quandary I face.

The Super Bowl will occur next weekend and for the first time in about, oh, 52 years I don’t know for which team I should cheer.

Some members of my family know that I am a fairly dedicated American Football Conference fan. I used to watch the former American Football League games over the NFL back in the very old days. When the AFL merged with the NFL in 1970, I rooted for old AFL teams every time they played the NFL teams. There was a caveat, though: Three NFL teams — the Baltimore Colts, Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns — moved to the AFC, so I grudgingly rooted for them as well. Let’s not forget that the leagues met in four Super Bowls prior to their merger, with the AFL teams winning two of those games.

This year I am faced with this problem: The New England (formerly the Boston) Patriots are playing the Philadelphia Eagles. Normally I’d root hard for the Pats, except they’ve so damn many of these Super Bowls I am inclined to send good karma to the Eagles, who’ve never won the big game. The Pats beat them years after my beloved Oakland Raiders smoked the Eagles.

I have tumbled off the AFC bandwagon once, when I cheered for the New Orleans Saints to defeat the Indianapolis Colts. Lo and behold, the Saints won and gave the Big Easy plenty to cheer after the misery those folks had endured from Hurricane Katrina less than five years earlier.

It might take some kind of heart-warming story to make me switch my loyalty to the NFC for Super Bowl LII. Then again, perhaps I will simply tire of hearing Patriots quarterback Tom Brady tell us how great he is.

I mean, c’mon! Would a sixth Super Bowl victory make him even an greater athlete than he already is?

Oh … the humanity!

Yes, they should ‘fear’ CTE

Terrell Davis used to be a great football player.

The newly inducted Hall of Fame running back for the Denver Broncos now says he lives in fear — along with other former football players — of a disease he might get later on in life. It’s called chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE.

Davis has reason to be very afraid.

The young man took a battering while carrying a football for the Broncos. He took many hits to the head, as did so many other professional football players. Indeed, studies have revealed recently that more than 80 percent of former NFL players are — or will be — afflicted by CTE, which ultimately diminishes cognitive ability.

“We’re concerned because we don’t know what the future holds. When I’m at home and I do something, if I forget something I have to stop to think, ‘Is this because I’m getting older or I’m just not using my brain, or is this an effect of playing football? I don’t know that.”

Read more about Davis’s comments here.

What does the NFL do about this? It already has taken steps to penalize players who hit other athletes on what they call “helmet-to-helmet contact.” The league has been forced to pay hundreds of millions of dollars to players afflicted by CTE.

The NFL is now dealing almost daily with reports of athletes becoming afflicted with CTE at various stages of its progression.

The term CTE only recently has become part of every-day language, sort of like HIV/AIDS and ALS have become over the years.

Do these grown men stop doing what they do? Do we make football an illegal activity? Must the NFL resort to retooling the game into a two-hand touch football game? No, no and no.

But I surely can understand the fear that Terrell Davis and other former football players are expressing as they advance in years toward elderly status.

I suppose it would be imperative that the NFL do all it can to (a) protect the players on the field with improvements in the equipment they wear and (b) spend whatever it takes to care for those who are permanently damaged by the sport they choose to play.

Feeling so-o-o-o busted

A friend of mine outed me this morning after I wrote a blog post criticizing the FBI for spending public money to look for quarterback Tom Brady’s stolen jersey.

I wrote that the feds didn’t have a role to play in looking for a damn shirt worn by Brady the day he led the New England Patriots to their stunning Super Bowl victory over the Atlanta Falcons.

My friend responded with this query: How would I feel if the trunks that Muhammad Ali wore the night he defeated Joe Frazier in Manila had been stolen?

Oh, my goodness! I was so very busted by my friend, to whom I responded “knows me too well.” He must know how I feel about The Champ. How I revered him for so many years as he fought with such power, speed and grace. And how he became such a huge civil rights voice during the time he was exiled from professional boxing because he stood up in protest of the Vietnam War.

My response to my friend was that I would feel differently. I joked that I would have mobilized the armed forces to find Muhammad Ali’s stolen trunks.

Actually, I wouldn’t do such a thing.

Although …

My friend clearly decked me with that question. He gave me pause.

The FBI has been in the news a good bit of late for reasons that speak directly to its mission. Looking for a quarterback’s stolen jersey just doesn’t seem to fit that bill.

Good job, FBI, in helping find a shirt

Good job, FBI, in helping find a shirt

I am a big admirer of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

It does great work on a whole host of serious matters: they include counterterrorism and pursuing those who break federal law.

Seriously, I love the FBI. I watched “The Untouchables” as a kid and cheered for Elliot Ness to catch the bad guys every week.

However, the FBI didn’t need to spend a single one of my tax dollars — or yours, for that matter — to help locate a damn shirt! It happened to the jersey worn by New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady during that Super Bowl game this past month, the one in which Brady led the Pats to that amazing comeback victory over the Atlanta Falcons.

I get that the shirt is worth a lot of money. I also get that the FBI felt it was justified in assisting in finding it.

Look at this way: Brady is worth a few hundred million bucks; the team for which he plays has even more dough in the bank. They could have paid top dollar to the greatest private investigative firms on the planet to find the shirt.

The FBI, however, got involved.

No thanks. I ain’t cheering this one.

The Patriots ought to reimburse the Treasury for every nickel spent in the hunt for a shirt.

NFL vows to fight Texas’s ‘bathroom bill’

Texas legislators might have picked a fight they are destined to lose.

They are considering a so-called “bathroom bill” that targets transgender individuals, requiring them to use restrooms according to their “biological sex.”

Opponents of Senate Bill 6 call it discriminatory against transgender people, those who could be in the process of changing their sexual identity.

Here’s where it gets tricky, particularly in a football-crazy state such as Texas: The National Football League might not return the Super Bowl to Texas if the Legislature goes through with enacting Senate Bill 6.

Was this year’s Super Bowl the last one in Texas?

Houston just played host to Super Bowl LI, doing a marvelous job of staging the event seen by tens of millions of TV viewers around the world. It might be the last time a Texas city enjoys the glory that fell across Houston.

It’s a complicated issue. According to the Texas Tribune: “The legislation does exempt stadiums, convention centers and entertainment venues that are owned or leased by a governmental entity from having to follow the state’s bathroom policies. That would include NRG Stadium in Houston, where the Super Bowl was held.”

There’s more to it. As the Tribune reported: “But Senate Bill 6 would apply to most college stadiums, which would be required to prohibit transgender Texans form using the bathroom that matches their gender identity. Under the bill, if a private association, business or sports league leased out a publicly owned venue for an event, the state or local governments that oversee that venue would have no say in the bathroom policies there for that event.”

There well might be little stomach for the National Football League to go through this kind of hassle in the future, which would deprive the state of considerable revenue generated by such a mega-event.

What’s more, it involves football, too!