Tag Archives: NFL

Let anthem stand on its own

The older I get the more of a fuddy-duddy I become.

There. I’ve admitted it. What caused this admission? It’s the inclusion of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” at professional football games which is now being sung alongside the National Anthem.

“Lift Every Voice and Sing” has become a sort of de facto “black national anthem.” It’s a lovely song. I don’t know the words, but I do hear it on occasion and I like the melody.

Do we need to sing it at pro football games as a statement that we recognize the injustice being done to African Americans to this very day? I don’t think so.

I prefer to sing only the National Anthem — the “Star Spangled Banner,” if you will — at sports events. How come?

We have one National Anthem. Just a single tune. Its lyrics were penned by Francis Scott Key in the early 19th century. It stands as the song we all learned as children. We sang it in school. We sing it today at public meetings and, yes, at sporting events.

I don’t want to dilute the meaning of the national anthem, which proclaims we are the “land of the free and the home of the brave.” Do I ignore the injustice that continues to occur? Do I accept that some Americans are treated unfairly? That they face discrimination? No! I reject all of that!

However, this notion that we sing “Lift Every Voice and Sing” alongside the “Star Spangled Banner” just doesn’t feel right.

OK. I’m a white guy. I also am a fuddy-duddy. Deal with it!

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Cleveland … Guardians?

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

OK. I am fine with the Washington Football Team of the National Football League jettisoning the name it used to call itself: the Redskins.

But, something inside my old man’s body tells me the Cleveland Indians’ decision to change its name to Guardians is a step too far into the realm of political correctness.

The Washington Football Team’s former name clearly had been interpreted as a slur against Native Americans. Old-time western cowboys would use the term as an epithet against Indians.

However, to change the name of one of Major League Baseball’s more storied franchises to the Guardians? I don’t get where this is going or where it might go.

As a friend of mine noted earlier today on social media, a Native American suited up for the Cleveland team many decades, becoming the first indigenous American to play big-league baseball. Thus, it is believed the Indians named the team in his honor.

Maybe I shouldn’t tread onto this ground, given that I am the grandson of immigrants from southern Europe. I don’t understand how a Native American might feel about an MLB team named the Indians. It’s just that to my eyes and ears the team nickname has a decidedly neutral sound to it, unlike the former name of the NFL team that plays tackle football in Washington, D.C.

How many more teams are going to succumb to the pressure that continues to mount?

Sigh …

Las Vegas Raiders? Please …

(Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

I once was a huge, fervent, zealous fan of professional football.

Not so much these days. My favorite football team in the old days was an American Football League team that became a National Football League outfit: the Oakland Raiders.

I loved the Raiders back in the day, when Darryl “The Mad Bomber” Lamonica was their quarterback; when Ben Davidson was terrorizing opposing teams’ QBs; when Fred Biletnikoff ran perfect pass routes.

Then the Oakland Raiders moved to Los Angeles. My loyalty to them subsided, but only a little bit. They eventually would find their way back to the East Bay, playing once again in Oakland.

I am watching the Raiders today on TV. Only these days they call Las Vegas home.

The Las Vegas Raiders?

Arrggghhh!

I cannot go there.

Then again, I’m still pi**ed that the Houston Oilers moved to Nashville, that the Cleveland Browns moved to Baltimore, that the Chicago Cardinals moved to St. Louis and then to Phoenix, that the San Diego Chargers moved to LA, and that the Baltimore Colts sneaked out of town in the middle of the night and relocated to Indianapolis. I know what you might be thinking: What about the Dallas Texans moving to Kansas City? I’ll give the Chiefs a pass on that one.

My favorite team of all time remains the Oakland Raiders. The Las Vegas Raiders are imposters.

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.