The Clock Struck Twelve …

Recall about a month ago when Maidstone United – – in the lowest tier of English football – – upset Ipswich Town – – in the second tier of English football – – to reach the “Sweet 16” of the FA Cup tournament.  Well, that Cinderella story came to a grinding halt earlier this week.  Maidstone United had to win qualifying matches just to get into the tournament and then it won 4 games in FA Cup competition relying on its defense.  In the last of its qualifying games and then in the four wins in the FA Cup tournament itself, Maidstone United had allowed only two goals.

On Monday of this week, Maidstone United took on the team from Coventry – – another team in the second tier of English football.  The Maidstone United defense was not nearly as stingy as it had been in previous tournament games and Coventry prevailed easily by a score of 5 to nil.  The last time a team ranked as low as Maidstone United made it to the “Sweet 16” in an FA Cup tournament was in 1978; so, even in defeat, the “Stones” as they are known, can take pride in their achievement.

Switching gears …  I ran across a stat at over the weekend that surprised me.  They listed the teams in the NFL with the most regular season losses over the last 20 years.  The team with the second most losses surprised me; I would have guessed for quite a while before I got this.  I will post here four of the top five and then, later the “surprising-to-me team” that is second on the list:

  1. Browns:  Most losses with 221
  2. Mystery Team:  This squad has lost 215 games in 20 seasons.
  3. Jags:  209 losses
  4. Lions:  208 losses
  5. Commanders:  202 losses

Were I guessing the order, I would have had the Browns and Lions as #1 and #2 in no particular order.  The Jags would have been on the list somewhere and where are the Jets in the Top 5 listing?  [Aside:  The Jets are 6h on the list having lost 199 games in the last 20 seasons.]

In current NFL news …  Matt Araiza was known as “The Punt God” in college after he unanimously won the Ray Guy Award as the best punter in college football back in 2021.  The Bills drafted him in the sixth round, but he never suited up for the Bills because just before their first Exhibition Game in 2022, Ariaza was accused of being part of a gang rape on an underage girl.  The Bills certainly did not need that sort of negative energy around the club involving a punter and they released Ariaza almost immediately.

The authorities investigated the accusation here and determined that “the evidence does not support the filing of criminal charges.”  Notwithstanding that finding by the District Attorney’s office, the alleged victim and Araiza each filed civil suits against each other.  Back in December 2023, those suits were both withdrawn; neither party admitted any wrongdoing and no money changed hands in either direction.  With that mess seemingly settled, the Kansas City Chiefs signed Araiza to a 1-year contract at minimum salary ($795K) last week.  I was surprised that the Chiefs made this move because the Chiefs’ punter, Tommy Townsend, was a first-team All-Pro as recently as 2022.  A little searching showed me why the Chiefs did this:

  • Townsend will be a free agent this year and counted almost $3M on the Chiefs’ cap last year meaning he would likely be even more “expensive” from 2024 onward.
  • Ariaza has a résumé suggesting he could be a low-cost replacement.
  • Ergo he is both an insurance policy against Townsend signing elsewhere and a leverage asset for the Chiefs in their negotiations with Townsend.

Back to the Mystery Team on the listing above.  The team that is second on that list is the Raiders.  I know the Raiders have had some “lean years” since they won the Super Bowl with Jon Gruden on the sidelines, but I would not have thought they averaged almost 11 losses per season since then.

Moving on …  Stop me if you have heard this before, but Ben Simmons is injured again.  Simmons hurt his leg over the weekend in a game against the T-Wolves.  The Brooklyn Nets announced that Simmons experienced soreness in his left leg and needed to get “imaging” to determine the nature and the extent of the injury.  Simmons has been with the Nets for 2 seasons – – from mid-2022 through mid-2024.  In that time, he has appeared in a total of 56 games.

Finally, since I began today with a report on the ending of a Cinderella story, let me close with this analysis of fairy tales by author Jennifer Donnelly:

“Fairy tales give it to us straight. They tell us something profound and essential – that the woods are real, and dark, and full of wolves. That we will, at times, find ourselves hopelessly lost in them. But these tales also tell us that we are all that we need, that we have all we need – guts, smarts, and maybe a pocketful of breadcrumbs – to find our way home.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………



4 thoughts on “The Clock Struck Twelve …”

  1. Yes, the Raiders: Dante’s Inferno revisited. I have stood with the Silver and Black for many of those losses–from places as far away as Brazil, Saudi Arabia, and El Salvador. I tried to be a fan of the Seattle Seahawks, but it held no charm for me. Go Raiders. Draft Michael Penix.

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