Fantasy Friday

February 28th, 2014 § Leave a Comment

Jerry’s World

“I paid for it. It’s mine!”

Did you hear what Jerry Jones said? Last week at the Combine in Indy, to commemorate the 25th anniversary of his acquisition of America’s Team, Jones sat down with Chris Mortensen and Suzy Kolber of ESPN. During the interview, Mortensen sac’d up and asked the big question, “Are you going bring in a GM?”

The Dallas Cowboys has one, don’t have to count ’em … ’cause there’s only one playoff win since ’96. That’s one in 16 seasons. Despite holding down the top spot in worth (Forbes puts the Cowboys at 2.3 billion), the Boys have been the picture of mediocrity since their early ’90s run. Over this period, there have been a “turnstile” of head coaches – six in all. The one constant has been Jerry Jones in the General Manager’s seat. So, naturally, the question is going to come up.

Paraphrasing, Jones response was, “I paid 140 million for this team, which Lamar Hunt (Principal founder of the AFL, founder and owner of KC Chiefs) called the riskiest thing he’d ever seen. I risked everything, and so earned the right to have all critical decisions regarding the team to go through me. If someone else has the balls to pony up a comparable figure then he can tell me what to do.” Really? You’re going with that? “I bought it. It’s mine!” Oh, that’s not childish at all.

Geez. You’re not painting a tricycle. It’s only one of a handful of the most recognizable sports franchises in the world. It’s a marquee team of the most popular sport in America. The Cowboys represent the City of Dallas at the very least, but more likely the State of Texas. Not to mention the countless people who literally make their living on the team. It’s a little bigger than you, don’t you think?

Yeah, absolutely, there’s something to be said about being an owner. Of course that affords you certain rights. No dispute there. Those rights however do not include installing yourself into a role and then not holding yourself to the same standards to which every other one of your employees are held. Wait a minute … could this be the reason why Jason Garrett still has a job? Why they do not draft another QB? The reason why Montee Kiffin is still on their staff? Has the disparity in standards created such a tension in Jones that now he has unwittingly begun to apply the mediocre standards he allows for himself onto the rest of his organization?

Whatever is going on, it’s equivalent to a billionaire with little flight experience, upon purchasing an airline insisting, “I bought this thing, it’s mine so no one’s going to tell me I can’t fly the New York to London leg. Damn it!”

With a blind man at the helm, it’s no wonder the team has one playoff win in sixteen seasons. And it’s not looking good for you Cowboy fans. Money and power has a way of blinding a man, but you’d think over a decade of ineptitude would restore some sight. You would think. And with Jerry Jones, you’d be wrong.

Armed Robbery 2

February 26th, 2014 § Leave a Comment

A man gathers and gathers, but cannot stop the slipping through the fingers. Like one piling a mound of sand …

The migration out to the ‘burbs is in search of a better life. More space. Less crime. Empty sidewalks – nowhere to loiter. Keep the kids out of trouble, in the classroom. If you have the means, you do it: You make the sacrifices for your family. On paper, it computes. So, I have to believe as my Father pulled up to his little castle in his brand new Cadillac Sedan de Ville, as he drove down the descending driveway past his plum tree, his heart was filled if only in fleeting moments with the sense that he had gathered a good life for himself and his family.

But life is not lived on paper … as we all know. No sooner do we step back to admire, we notice the slipping away. Unforeseen – virtually, unknowable things. He couldn’t have anticipated it, but the move was rough for his boys. In those two years in West LA, me and my older brother had found a place for ourselves. A role in the script. The move took us from that … that colorful complexity of Cameron Crowe to the vanilla simplicity of John Hughes. It’s not that we weren’t called “chinks” in LA, it’s just that everyone else was called something too. And somehow that made us laugh as much as fight. With the move to the ‘burbs, we went from seeing ourselves in the cool afro’d kid, riding shotgun with Spicoli to being Long Duck Dong. And none of it was funny anymore.

The “slipping through the fingers”¬†happened with my parents too. Liver cancer was found in my Father less than a year after the move. Just when all seemed to be gathered, life itself slipped through his fingers. Two years later he was gone, and with him the future my Mother and he must have held somewhere in their hearts.

And all this in search of a better life. A better life? What exactly is a “better” life anyway? Is it in the gathering … this and that, oh, and that other? The wanting and the having? If the distance between us could have been removed, what would he have told me about life … about what he saw as he stood at the end of it? As it slipped through his fingers, I think he got a real good look. And so without bitterness, in the darkness of an early July morning, he quietly surrendered.




Armed Robbery

February 19th, 2014 § 4 Comments

After some two plus years, we were out of West Los Angeles. We left behind Palms Junior High, the bus rides to Westwood, Tower Records, Penny loafers, Venice, black kids bussed in and Jewish kids from the Fairfax District, KDAY, Prince and Bruce Lee. We headed East, the burbs. The four bedroom house with the basketball court and swimming pool was no consolation for the quiet and the heat. The air – stale, vacuumed of energy by homogeneity. “Bro, where the hell are we?” Yanked from Fast Times at Ridgemont High and dropped into The Breakfast Club.

And what precipitated this unfortunate change in script? Three armed men walked into Hillis Liquor one night. My parents and a family friend were put, face down on the floor. With the business end of a shotgun pressed against the back of my Father’s ear, the register was emptied.

Years later when my parents told us the story, they glossed over the robbery but told in vivid detail what they saw when they got home. They looked into our room and found their two boys fast asleep. Oblivious. The thought of their sons waking as orphans sent a shudder through them that a loaded gun could not.

Standing there, without a spoken word, the decision to get out of the liquor store business was made. Just like that. All good fathers are prepared to restructure their lives for the sake of their children. When it threatened his children’s well being, my Father walked from the only business he’d known into the uncertainty of starting over.

Eating Crow

February 4th, 2014 § Leave a Comment

Did I say the Broncos?

Yes, I believe I did. Well, I don’t have to believe. All I have to do is scroll down and read it. Funny how clear it is now. The two Broncos units with significant injuries were the offensive line and the secondary. Injuries on the line occurred at the start of season, and by the time they’d arrived in New Jersey, Denver had answered the questions about the line. It is worth noting however that one of those injuries were to their all pro left tackle, Ryan Clady. The secondary was another story. A patch work group composed of stars of yesteryear and undrafted free agents took a huge hit when they lost their best player in the first round of the playoffs. Chris Harris’ injury meant that Champ Bailey who had been struggling with his own injury all season would be pushed into the starting spot opposite Rodgers-Cromartie. And other guys like journeyman Tony Carter would have to play a major role.

The prevailing sentiment was that Seattle didn’t have the weapons to exploit Denver’s weakness in the secondary. Seattle would do it’s usual twenty-five to Marshawn Lynch, dink and dunk to Golden Tate and Doug Baldwin, and see what they could get out of Harvin. In the first quarter, that is pretty much what we saw. After being spotted two points, and with two trips deep into the redzone, all Seattle could muster was 8-0 lead. Denver accomplished its defensive priority by shutting down Marshawn Lynch. What it could not do the rest of the game was stop Seattle on 3rd downs. Nor could the unsung offensive line that had overachieved keep Seattle’s edge rushers off Peyton Manning. In the end, the two units beleaguered by injury had no answer for the deeper, healthier, younger Seahawks.

But what is not being talked about are the turnovers and the near turnover. There were technically four turnovers in the game. Two interceptions which included a pick six and two fumbles. But if you include the safety on Denver’s first play and the failed fourth down attempt at the end of the first half, we’re looking at six turnovers. And then there was the near turnover which was in my opinion one of the most critical plays in the game. With Denver down 0-8 late in the first quarter, Knowshon Moreno fumbled on a second and manageable, something like 2nd and 4. Although he recovered the ball, it made it 3rd and 7. On the very next play, on 3rd and 7, down 8, and yet to convert a 1st down, Manning pressed. The pick to Chancellor set up Seattle’s first TD. 15-0. It got down right ugly after that.

From the other side of here, tough to see Denver’s line so thoroughly dominated. Tough to see Seattle complete pass after 3rd down conversion pass. Tough to see special teams play be so one sided. But more than anything, it was hard to see Denver turn the ball over what amounts to six times.

Of course, that’s the point. We cannot see the other side of here. It’s why Vegas always wins. Why an orangutan ironically named Eli is 7-0. Why I’ll be eating crow. Damn. Can you pass the salt? This crow looks gamey.

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