Here we are in the week leading up to Thanksgiving. I truly enjoy Thanksgiving because it is a holiday that I have always spent with family; therefore, it conjures up fond memories and reminds me of things I really have to be thankful for. Having said that, there is news out there in the sports world that tests the concept of giving thanks. One would have to wonder where the kernel of good resides in this next situation for which one might be thankful.
According to a report in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, a 22-year old man in Bridgeville, PA was arrested on charges of animal cruelty. What allegedly happened was that he took his girlfriend’s puppy – - a pit bull – - out for a walk before the Pittsburgh Steelers game was to begin on TV. The puppy resisted going out for a walk; the young man lost it and began kicking the puppy down the street. By the time the authorities arrived, the puppy was dead. All of this because the dog might interfere with watching a football game on TV?
I guess the thing to be thankful for here is that this young man is in custody. In addition, if you were the parent of the girlfriend in this story, you would be very thankful to learn that this guy was your daughter’s ex-boyfriend.
At a recent family wedding, a cousin of mine said that the Philadelphia 76ers were his favorite Philly sports franchise. Knowing that he is not a huge NBA fan, I asked why that was the case fully recognizing that there had to be a snarky reason hidden in that declaration. His reason was that the 76ers never disappointed him by failing to achieve what he expected of them. He always figured they would be a mediocre team and they are always a mediocre team and so he is never frustrated by their performance.
I do not know if I could get behind that sort of emotional stance when it comes to a sports franchise. That would mean that Detroit Lions fans and/or LA Clippers fans might be completely satisfied with their teams’ results because going into every season they expected those teams to fail completely. By that logic, those fans would be very thankful all this week because those teams achieved exactly what was expected of them. I am not buying that…
Leave it to Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times to find a way to make the less-than-positive times for the WNBA into something upbeat:
“Houston Comets? Folded. Sacramento Monarchs? Kaput. Detroit Shock? Moving to Tulsa.
“Future news flash: ‘The WNBA, down to its last two teams, vows to play on, using a 34-game home-and-home schedule. Monty Python’s Black Knight, asked to comment, insists it’s just a flesh wound.’ “
Based on the way the Chicago media has piled on him, Jay Cutler may wish he were back in Denver – - or even in Kansas for that matter. If you have been following these rants for a while, you know that I have never thought that Cutler was as good as he is often portrayed going all the way back to his days at Vanderbilt. Nevertheless, I do not think I have ever gone this far into “negative territory:
“And for that, right now, with the Bears officially toasted at 4-6, Jay Cutler is simply a gigantic bust for Chicago.
“And there’s nobody else in the house.” [Rick Telander, Chicago Sun-Times]
“The defense gave the Bears a chance [against the Eagles]. The special teams gave the Bears a chance. Jay Cutler gave the Bears no chance. [Steve Rosenbloom, Chicago Tribune]
The Oakland Raiders pulled an upset last weekend when they beat the Cincinnati Bengals on a field goal with 15 seconds left to play. That upset coincided with the insertion of Bruce Gradkowski at QB in place of JaMarcus Russell. Scott Ostler of the SF Chronicle puts the decision to make that QB change in perspective here:
“Al Davis gave Tom Cable the green light to bench JaMarcus Russell. What Davis is saying, essentially: ‘You’re the coach, Tom, I respect your decision. Whatever you decide, just make sure your office is cleaned out by Dec. 29.’ “
Here is another observation from Professor Ostler on the essential differences between Gradkowski and Russell:
“The only difference between the two is that Gradkowski works harder, is in better shape, knows the offense better, knows defenses better, makes adjustments on the fly better, is a far-superior scrambler, is a more accurate passer, and brings more energy.”
Given that assessment, it is amazing to think what the Chicago scribes above might say about JaMarcus Russell given that they have already reserved the label of “bust” for Jay Cutler. That might be ugly indeed.
The Seattle Seahawks were abjectly outclassed on Sunday against the Vikings. Consider that the Seahawks ran the ball 13 times for a net of 4 yards in that game. The Seahawks ran only 42 offensive plays and had the ball less than 18 minutes in that game. That is a major league ass-kicking not just a defeat for the Seahawks. That is the kind of thing you expect to see when a top-flight college team schedules a cupcake for Homecoming…
Finally, here is a quote from Joe Flacco, QB for the Ravens, showing that he will have exactly no difficulty in getting into the real spirit of the Thanksgiving season. Would that more people – in sports and in the world at large – had this outlook on life:
” ‘Realize what you have.’ That’s what my parents taught me. How lucky am I? I’m playing football. It’s not a job. I’ve never had a job. I can’t imagine not doing this. What’s not to like? We’re playing football. It’s called ‘playing.’ I like everything about it.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports…