Shootin' the Breeze

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Archive for the tag “NFL”

Gathering of Champions

All real sports fans are well aware that I was captain of the 7th grade intramural flag football champions.  After that I eventually became an undrafted NFL free agent.  But enough about me.  Yesterday my wife, Miss Sugar, and I met the wife of Olympic gold medalist Rulon Gardner, who won heavyweight wrestling at the 2000 Olympics.  The championship match is comparable to the U.S. Hockey team’s “miracle on ice.”

Rulon defeated a Russian who had been undefeated for years, including winning prior Olympic gold medals.  He was much favored.  Rulon, an underdog from the University of Nebraska, courageously turned the tide and shocked the experts by defeating the Russian.  You can look it up.

Miss Sugar proudly shared that I have been to the national championships for the Senior Olympics and the Senior World Games as a swimmer.  Somehow my accomplishments paled in comparison.  I am going to wait awhile before pulling out my Superbowl ring.


Me, Colin, and the Constitution

Colin Kaepernick and I have never met, although we have some things in common.  He is an NFL quarterback  and I am an NFL unsigned free agent.  We share many of the same physical attributes.  (See post entitled Quarterback Material).  If I meet him at an NFL activity, such as a game or NFL Player Association meeting or party, I would probably like him.

Watching him sit during the national anthem, I don’t like him so much.  It seems disrespectful.  Actually, he himself says it is intended to be disrespectful.  He says:

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses Black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

He has the right to say whatever he wants, of course.  The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees freedom of speech.

We Americans have other amendments in our Constitution too.  The Fourteenth Amendment says:

“All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

I, like most of you, am opposed to oppression and racial prejudice, and unfairness of any kind.  It appears that the authors of the Constitution and Bill of Rights were opposed to the same things to which Colin is opposed.  Not all the same things, of course.  As far as I know, they were not ashamed of our flag.  We probably did not have a national anthem yet.

I, like Colin, and all of you other Americans, have the right to freedom of speech.  That includes the right for me to say I don’t agree with Colin’s symbolic  speech by him sitting during the national anthem.  I don’t agree with disrespecting our flag.

I think his sitting does not make his message clear.  Many football fans who see him refusing to honor the flag have not read his words of explanation.  I have read those words and still do not understand.  He himself does not seem too oppressed.  He could do more to improve our nation by positive example than simply pointing out the obvious that racism still exists, despite such progress as the election of a mixed race President, who has appointed two black Attorneys General.  There is racism even in Denver, where we have a black mayor and a black chief of police.  My point is that, despite progress in fighting institutional racism by changing laws to ban discrimination, there are people who are still prejudiced.  Ironically, Colin is one of them, apparently, because he has judged from afar whether cases in which he did not participate are being handled under due process of law.  Colorblind law.

Colin seems to be saying that Black people have been killed by police who, in his opinion, should not get paid leave during an investigation because he already knows somehow that the police were not justified in using deadly force.  Maybe he doesn’t want the police to get due process of law per the 14th amendment.  Maybe he wants to be the one to decide from afar, without participating in the legal process.

Colin’s example of sitting has nevertheless influenced me to emulate him.  My wife has requested that I mow the lawn.  I mean no disrespect towards her, but it does not seem right for me to blissfully mow the grass when there is crime in our nation.  Sure, we have  passed laws against crime, but people still commit crimes.  Until there is no crime, I refuse to mow.  Oh, and until there is world peace too.  I will make the world a better place by sitting.  It would be selfish on my part to mow during these troubled times.

Would someone please explain my constitutional rights to my wife?


Quarterback Material

Dear Readers,

In a number of other posts, I have humbly mentioned my status in the N.F.L. as a temporarily unsigned free agent.  I have, among other things, noted the scientific truth that I was formerly the ideal height (6’2″)and weight (247 lbs.)for an N.F.L. linebacker.  Then I updated you all with the recent confession that I have slipped down to a lithe 222 lbs. Now I have to make up with quickness and strength what I have lost in bulk.

But wait!  There is another option.  That option is to change positions.  It has been called to my attention that at the N.F.L. Scouting Combine being held in Indianapolis as I write these words,  one of the many tests and measurements is the size of a prospect’s hands.  Although not all quarterbacks have the same size hands, the evaluators have determined that there is a certain size hand that is advantageous for an N.F.L. quarterback.  There was even an article about how they measure hands at the combine.  It gave the sizes of hands of various great quarterbacks.

You guessed it — my hands are the perfect size for an N.F.L. quarterback.  Surprise, surprise.  Problem solved!

Yours truly,




Pictured above on the right:  the PERFECT SIZE hand for an NFL QUARTERBACK (by contrast, Miss Sugar’s hands, while suitable for her feminine activities, lack the size for her to realistically compete in the N.F.L.)  This is a scientific fact.  No brag, just fact.

Ode to the Denver Broncos

The Broncos did not win all their games.

Just enough to win their AFC Division.

The Broncos did not play flawlessly.

But well enough for a #1 seed in the playoffs.

The Broncos did not score a lot of points.

Just enough to win the AFC Championship.

Broncos did not have me on the roster.

They still had enough talent to win the Super Bowl.

We could not be prouder of our Super Bowl 50 Champs!



Go Broncos!

The NFL deadline for teams to sign free agents has passed and I remain an unsigned free agent.  Therefore, I will not be playing in SuperBowl 50.  Nevertheless, I will be watching intently, wearing my Peyton Manning #18 jersey, which I was wearing while I watched the Broncos defeat the New England Patriots for the AFC Championship.  I am glad to help in that way.

The NFC champs, the Carolina Panthers, are favored by the Las Vegas oddsmakers.  Peyton and I do not worry about that.  We will just do what we have to do to win.

Despite being unsigned by the Broncos, I do not hold a grudge.  There is always next year to make the roster.  In the meantime, I have explained to my supportive wife that it is important for me to keep my weight up.  I am married to the right woman for that.  This weekend Sugar made a wonderful Italian dinner for thirty people.  As usual, she overdid it.  We have leftovers.  I love her lasagna.  Therefore, I ate lasagna for breakfast the next day.  Breakfast of Champions!  And for dinner?  The dinner of champions — ziti and bread and a canoli for  dessert.  Don’t worry Coach Kubiak, I am the perfect weight for an NFL linebacker.  Give me a call sometime after the SuperBowl victory.  I will be ready for next season.

Monday Morning Quarterbacking

As everyone in the civilized world is aware from watching the game yesterday, the Colts knocked the Broncos out of the playoffs. Unless you live in Indianapolis, you are severely depressed by the outcome of that game. And you are concerned about the future of Peyton Manning. So am I.

Of the millions of you who watched the game and noticed that I was not playing in the game, few have contacted me directly, yet I have a feeling that everyone is wondering why I was not out there on the field. Two words: bum knees. Those bum knees prevented me from turning the tide, as all of you were waiting for me to do. I apologize to each and every one of you on this very public forum. I was not at the stadium. I was 75 miles away, on a couch, eating snacks. The snacks were delicious, provided by our host and hostess who invited us to watch the game at their home, knowing about our house fire and consequential lack of a TV.

I do not know whether I will be in the NFL next year. Like Peyton Manning, I am considering retiring from professional football. I want to be able to contribute 100%. It is frustrating for me to be on injured reserve status.

My most loyal fan, Miss Sugar, is not pushing me to decide immediately. She is willing to let me work out in the off-season before making a press announcement. If I have the recommended double knee replacement surgery, I might, after physical therapy, regain my pre-injury speed. But don’t count on it. It is a day to day decision.

If you spot Peyton and me playing checkers in the park, you will read into that the answer to all this speculation about our potential respective retirements. I will likely decide that if Peyton will not be playing, then I will not play either.

Being the Best He Can Be

So, like I said yesterday, Sugar and I went with another couple to eat at a nice restaurant on Valentine’s Day.  It was a Brazilian steakhouse.  They had a special for only $110.00 per couple.  I made sure that I got my money’s worth.  It is easy to get enough to eat because these servers called “gauchos” bring skewers of various meats to the table.  They keep coming until a diner says “uncle” by turning over the wooden thing on the table from green to red, signifying stop.

While gorging ourselves, the subject of weight came up.  Mark’s wife told us proudly that Mark had lost nearly 50 lbs. in two years.  We asked how he did it.  I asked just to be polite because, as those of you who are loyal readers already know, I am the perfect size for an NFL linebacker.  Being the perfect size means that losing weight could jeopardize my NFL career, so I diligently work to keep my weight up. 

Mark, on the other hand, was a high school wrestler, and had experience “making weight.”  I helpfully told him that he should have just wrestled at whatever weight he was at the time.  I told him about my cousin Bob, who used to be a wrestling coach and did not push his wrestlers to lose weight.  I don’t know why that is so rare.

Anyway, Mark has not wrestled for a few decades, so his attempt to lose weight in recent years was for another reason.  I suppose it was healthy.  It might have been for vanity.  I do not relate to either of those reasons to lose weight, but to be polite I listened to his explanation.

In a nutshell, he said he had read some article in a magazine that inspired him because it was not about dieting but, rather, what he took from it was “to be the best Mark that he could be.”  He got the magazine in Boulder, Colorado, which means it is obviously some kind of liberal peace and love, I’m okay, you’re okay, I’d like to teach the world to sing publication.  Personally, I look to Mike Ditka for advice on how to live.

Anyway, it worked for Mark to each day ask himself what he should do to be the best Mark he could be.  Apparently, the best Mark he could be is lighter than the earlier version of Mark. 

Sugar was impressed.  She made some crack about my bum knees and how putting less weight on them would be a good idea.  I listened attentively and ordered flaun covered with caramel for dessert. 

Today she wondered if I got anything out of the inspirational message from Mark.  I told her that I did indeed and I am being the best Mark that I can be.  I decided that Mark won’t make it in the NFL unless he puts on about 50 lbs, so I am eating accordingly. 

“But, Al,” Sugar said with frustration, “you missed the whole point.  You are supposed to be the best Al that you can be, not the best Mark.”

“Oh, why didn’t he say so?  Please pass the sugar, Sugar.” 

“All my coaches, without exception, told me that I was already the best that I could be. I don’t really consider myself perfect, but apparently they all did.”

“They did not tell you that you are perfect.” Sugar was skeptical. Even negative.

“Well, maybe not using that word. How would the other, less talented, players feel, hearing that? They said, ‘Al, we are not seeing any improvement whatsoever!'”

Thanks, Coach. I know! It is just the way I am — can’t get any better!

Smell of Sweet Success

So I have written recently about my official NFL licensed #18 Peyton Manning Bronco jersey. Remember?  All season, I would wear it, like many other fans with Bronco jerseys, on game days, and maybe even on the Friday before a Sunday game. In the playoffs, it became time to step it up.

Last week, in preparation for the AFC Championship last Sunday, I started wearing my jersey on Thursday and continued on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  Then, in celebration, it was appropriate to wear it on Monday.  Similarly, Tuesday and thereafter, I felt it my duty to keep up the team spirit by wearing my jersey each and every day.   I have followed that course of duty each and every day.  That statement is not fully descriptive.  I meant day and night, for luck is a fickle thing and night loyalty might be even more important than day loyalty. 

With the Super Bowl approaching, and only one more week before the game, it has seemed important to me to stay the course.  I imagine that there is a Seahawk fan out there, wearing a Seahawk jersey relentlessly.  It is between him and me.  Which of us is the stronger of spirit?

My wife, Miss Sugar, is, as I have often observed, just a girl.  She does not understand manly things.  She sees no harm in washing my lucky jersey.  That is just what my Seahawk counterpart is waiting for.  And I am waiting for his wife to wash his jersey.  That is when I will have him.  At that moment, the Bronco Super Bowl victory will be sealed and they will have little old me to thank for it. Coach, I can beat this guy!

Oh, sure, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, CBS Sports and all the commentators won’t give me credit, but I won’t mind.  I don’t need credit for the victory.  I just want to do my part for the team. 

It is only crazy if it does not work. 

The Path to Contentment

My wife has been holding me back from realizing my full potential.  Again.

You might recall reading in another post how she failed to show the proper enthusiasm for my plan to be a professional gambler.  Well, she is at it again.

“Sugar,” I said, “I have been reading some self-improvement literature that has inspired me to become whatever I desire to become, with no limitations.  I read that sometimes a person needs to quit his or her job and thus be free to explore.  Free to be me. ”

“I thought being a lawyer was your vocational goal that, by the way, you were allowed to achieve.  Wasn’t that your ‘whatever I desire to become’?”

“Yes.  It used to be, among other things, such as my NFL career, but I have been a lawyer for a pretty long time and I like to change jobs every thirty years or so, you know, just to stay fresh.”

“So what is your alternate plan now that you were not drafted by an NFL team? Again.”

“For your information, I am still available as a free agent.  Me and Tim Tebow and a lot of good players are free agents.  I am what is known as an undrafted free agent.”

“Yes, I have heard you explain that many times over many years.  It is very impressive indeed, but maybe, after thirty years, you should replace that goal of playing in the NFL.  If you quit practicing law, what are you going to do while awaiting that call from an NFL team?  Maybe it isn’t in the cards, even for a perfect physical specimen such as you are.  Maybe God knows that it would not be fair to the other guys on the field.”

“I was thinking of being an astronaut or something cool like that, provided NASA agrees to call forwarding of NFL calls.”

“Wouldn’t motion sickness be a drawback?”  Sugar can be very direct.  It is not an attractive quality.

“Hey, the Mind Eraser at the amusement park does not count. It is way worse than a simple spacecraft.”

“Well, maybe you should go back to your earliest inner and outer self-identity.  You know, feeling free to be the real you.  Look inside the essence of your being.  What are your first memories?  How did you see yourself at age two?  At age four?  At age twelve?  Sixteen? What was your passion then, when you had no responsibilities?  What made you truly happy?”

“Being a cowboy!”

“Exactly.  That is who you are.”

I saw her point. ” So you are saying that I should be a Cowboy-Astronaut?  When I am not on a space mission, I could record country songs and rodeo a little.”

“I was thinking Cowboy Lawyer.  We do live on a ranch.  You could ride horses in your spare time, when you are not going to your law office or court.  How does that sound?”

“Sugar, that is a perfect idea.  I am glad we had this talk.  That sounds like a satisfying life.  I will give it a whirl.  You are an excellent vocational counselor.  Thanks for providing clarity.”

Nevertheless, if the Broncos need me, I have to be flexible about re-arranging my vocational status.

Pick Me

The Redskins are coming to Denver to play the Broncos on Sunday.  That causes us to revisit the controversy about the name.  This post is similar to one I posted a few months ago, but just as the controversy continues, so does my suggestion remain.

I read in the news AGAIN that there is pressure on the Washington Redskins football team to change its name because Redskins is thought to be derogatory.     I have a suggestion that would allow the team to keep the same logo pictured below.


How about Washington Indians?    The Cleveland Indians in baseball, of course, already are using that same name that I am suggesting, but we have both the Major League Baseball Giants in San Francisco  and the NFL Football Giants in New York.  Washington Indians would work.  Keep the logo on the helmets.  It seems respectful.

On the flip side, the Cleveland Indians need to lose their logo.


The poster above came from the American Indian Movement (A.I.M.) website.

As I pointed out recently in another post on this blog, many actual American Indians call themselves Indians as well as Native Americans.  The American Indian Movement is a group that sticks up for, well, let’s call them Indians since that is what they call themselves in their organization’s name .   It is not the name Indian that is the problem.

Below is the sign for the Pine Ridge Indian (not Native American) Reservation.


If Redskins is dropped as the name, just use the name that real Indians call themselves and, again, keep the logo.

Now let us consider the names of two other professional football teams and an appropriate, very cool, even beautiful, logo.

The fierce Minnesota Vikings  logo does not seem disrespectful to me.   However, I have a suggestion for them too.  And for the Dallas Cowboys.  I have a dream.  Pick me!  Pick me to represent both identities.

viking logo

mustache al
If the Vikings merge with the Cowboys, I would like to be considered as the mascot since I am a Viking Cowboy by a combination of Scandinavian ethnicity  and American West cultural circumstance.  I hereby consent to my image on the right being displayed as the face of the Dallas Vikings, or for the Minnesota Cowboys, depending how the merger negotiations go.  It could even be drawn as a caricature to be used as a logo, such as the Viking on the left as long as it is done tastefully and depicts my rugged good looks in a respectful manner.

A team with that visual image looks to me like a winner!

While they work out the details of the merger, I will work on the mustache and Viking braids.  I already have a good cowboy hat.

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