August 12th, 2014 § Leave a Comment
I remember this one time my Father was so pissed, he chucked a football at me. And it wasn’t like he was planning on chucking a football. I’m thinking it was probably the first and last time he ever threw one. Just prior to chucking it, he did that spastic search for something within reach to clobber me with. To his disappointment, the only thing within arms length was this foreign, oblong ball. It was either that or try to contain whatever it was already blowing out sideways. He opted to make due.
If my memory serves, I believe the thing that got him unhinged was my less than average academic performance. By the 5th grade, I was a C student with a couple Ds sprinkled in. Over three years in the States meant the immigrant grace period had expired. Fluency achieved; no more excuses.
I don’t recall most of the conversation, except his last appeal. It embedded in my memory, I believe because of the unusually revealing nature of it. It was uncharacteristic of my Father to show me his heart, not even a little bit. The statement I remember was that he’d put himself through all this work, not so we could have a decent life but so we could have a better life than he. He wanted me and my brother to exceed him – go beyond him. Isn’t this every Father’s dream?
As he showed me his heart, I gave no sign of hearing. I sat there with my head down as I’d done countless times before. No movement. No gaze upward. Nothing to assure him that this desperate, out of character plea had penetrated. As far as he could tell, nothing was getting through. I think that’s when he snapped. Helpless and hopeless, he blew.
As a parent of teenagers, I must accept that I cannot make my son or daughter believe anything. I can talk incessantly, reason, stand on my head, present photographic evidence, whatever … nothing’s guaranteed. They can even agree with what you’re saying, but not get what you’re trying to get through. We don’t get that power. Learn to accept it or you’ll be chucking footballs.
August 9th, 2014 § Leave a Comment
Method to the Madness
Is it just me or did the NFL Season sneak up on us? The first slate of preseason games are already in the books. Happen to catch any? Me neither. Okay, no problem. Still plenty of time to get our fantasy football wits about us before the draft. Now, let’s see … right. The Seahawks won the Super Bowl. Denver made history and then historically flamed out. The wheels came off in Houston. And oh yeah, the Raiders still suck. Got it.
Let’s talk draft, shall we? A good number of us draft the way a five year old paints – just throw stuff at the canvas and see what sticks. Sometimes you get a beautiful piece of art; other times you get a piece of something else. If you’d rather not leave your Sunday afternoon happiness to chance, I suggest applying a bit of methodology to the madness that is the fantasy draft.
First, three suggestions in no particular order:
1. Do a mock draft. It’ll help in two ways: Remind you how unprepared you are and remind you of the virtues of thinking on your feet.
2. Have a plan and be flexible – not mutually exclusive concepts. Plan to take a RB but be nimble enough to grab Brandon Marshall who inexplicably falls to you late in the 3rd.
3. Do not be careless with D/ST and Kickers. Yes, difficult to predict but not a complete mystery.
4. Remember it’s a dumb game governed more by dumb luck than anything else. Don’t take it too seriously.
My method and the logic (Let’s just call it logic for now … a little optimism never hurt) behind it.
Rounds 1-5 RB heavy and then WR. Not opposed to going RBs in first three rounds. Logic: Scarcity at RB and the wide variance between top tier and 2nd tier scoring. WR scoring potential coupled with the sheer numbers rostered.
Rounds 6-8 QBs hope for an undervalued 2nd tier guy but not opposed to going with a tandem like Dalton and Fitzpatrick. Logic: Despite their lofty numbers, not a great variance between top tier and 2nd tier or even 3rd tier QBs. Unless you’re in two QB leagues, there is a surplus of usable options. And yeah, I didn’t learn from Scott Tolzien.
Rounds 9-12 D/ST, TE, Kicker. Logic: Seattle D/ST more of a sure thing than Saints 3rd WR option. After Graham and Gronk, they’re all the same.
Rounds 13-15 Flyers … likely to be on waivers by week 3.
August 1st, 2014 § 2 Comments
[Guest post from a fan of the CookedGoose]
I’ve been wondering where my weekly deliveries had gone. I had gotten used to receiving in my Inbox excellent perspectives on marriage, memoirs of fatherhood that often make me pause to reflect on my own relationship with my dad and own sons, and … the usually sage fantasy football advice that speaks to the obsessive nature of the author and the just how much raw time he was putting into analyzing every training camp update, contract discussion, injury report, personnel match up.
Well, it turns out a plug-in inadvertently got turned off. It’s back on now so if you receive this message in your Inbox, please come back and visit, and spread the word. And let us know if you want to contribute… Tada Tuesdays? WhyNot Wednesdays? Thrifty Thursdays?
July 14th, 2014 § Leave a Comment
It isn’t so much that marriage is hard as it is that all of life is hard. And living it well, requires a fair amount of “against the grain” effort. The problem with us is that we do not want to live the life we admire, the life worthy of praise. We do not want to follow our heroes. Instead, we want to go where we can’t be bothered and talk. And talk. And talk. That’s our problem.
A life well lived is hard and good. Why would marriage be any different?
June 7th, 2014 § Leave a Comment
It’s basic economics. I know it, so we’re talkin’ elementary basic. Buy low. If you manage to buy low, you limit exposure to potential disaster and set yourself up for the possibility of a windfall. It’s true in real estate. It’s true in stocks. And why not? It’s true in fantasy football. Last season, RGIII was an unmitigated disaster. For what most people paid, he ended the season sitting no. 18 in scoring among QBs, one spot under Carson Palmer. With the Redskins going down, Rob sat out the final three weeks, which as you know if you’re reading this coincides with fantasy playoffs. Was RGIII a monster his rookie season? Yes. Was his value inflated last season? Yes.
Take a little lesson from recent history. As you sit in your fantasy war room, let the sound of bursting bubbles linger in ears. Dot Com … Pop! Real Estate … Pop! Colin Kaepernick … Pop! Doug Martin … Pop! And at every round, look for a bargain. Here’s a list of undervalued players at each position:
1. Jay Cutler – Did you know that Jay Cutler and Josh McCown combined would have been the third highest scoring QB in fantasy? Trestman knows what he’s doing. They still have Marshall and Jeffery, and one of the best pass catching RBs in Forte.
2. Matt Ryan – Maybe he’s too nice a guy. More boy scout than cowboy. I don’t know, but the guy is always undervalued. And now coming off a bad year. Look for Matty Ice on special. Julio Jones coming back, Roddy White on the other side. And with their defense, they’ll have to keep chucking it.
3. Andy Dalton – Don’t look now, but Dalton was the fourth highest scoring QB in fantasy. Nobody cares. He’ll be sitting there in the 5th.
4. Tom Brady – Can it be possible? Every fantasy dork…ur…analyst will be calling for Tom Brady to be outside the top ten. If Gronk is healthy, I’m taking a look at Tommy and his Uggs.
1. LeVeon Bell – After coming recovering from a preseason foot injury, Bell played every game. Doesn’t cede touches. Goal line. Averaged double digits. All behind a injury riddled, patch work line. All without making a peep. What’s not to like?
2. DeMarco Murray – Yes, missed games with injury, but only two. Rest of the way, solid with flashes of spectacular. Dallas knows it’s better when it runs DeMarco. The injuries keep him off the radar.
3. Ryan Mathews – Slow start, but came on down the stretch. McCoy has to know that Mathews is their best rusher. A conservative offensive minded coach, McCoy will keep a balanced attack.
1. Andre Johnson – Texans going to be better all the way around. Maybe even very good. Like I wrote before, I’m a Bill O’Brien believer. You think Andre Johnson is done? I don’t.
2. Victor Cruz – Shocker of a year. Eli was throwing more balls to corners than to his receivers. I think Eli sorts himself out. The Giants get better, and Victor Cruz is dancing the salsa a good deal more than four times.
3. No. 2 WRs – Just look at a top five WRs and turn 180 to find a nice deal across the way.
1. Greg Olsen – Never gets much love, but the dude never drops a ball. Might get crowded without any real receivers around, but then it could be also be said that he’s the only one around.
2. Jordan Reed – Concussions knocked him out, but big and athletic. Nice set of hands.
3. Rob Gronkowski – If fully healthy, you could get a legit 2nd round guy in the 4th or later.
May 23rd, 2014 § Leave a Comment
These teams made the playoffs last season:
NFC – Saints, Eagles, Niners, Packers, Panthers, and Seahawks
AFC – Chiefs, Colts, Chargers, Bengals, Pats, and Broncos
Of the six NFC teams, only two had first round QBs: Panthers’ Cam Newton and Packers’ Aaron Rodgers. Newton went number one overall, and Rodgers famously sweated ’til the 24th pick.
First rounders fared better in the AFC. Of the six teams, four boasted first round signal callers, three of those four were first overall picks: Smith, Luck, and Manning.
That makes half the Quarterbacks in last season’s playoffs non first rounders. Surprising? Wait, there’s more.
The final four teams were led onto the field by Quarterbacks with the average draft position of 78th. 78th! That’s middle of the 3rd round in case you were wondering. And it’s not just a weird year. The four Quarterbacks widely considered the standard bearers at their position for the past 10+ seasons have the average draft position of 64. That’s the last pick of the 2nd round.
And just in case you’re counting, the Seattle Seahawks with their 3rd round QB put a historical beatdown on the Broncos and their number one overall QB.
None of this has deterred NFL front offices. They’re still jumping into the first round like desperate home buyers into an absurdly inflated housing market. Case in point, the three teams that took a Quarterback in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft took the following dudes in the first round as recent as a couple years ago: Blaine Gabbert, Brandon Weeden and Christian Ponder. Unfazed. They were right back at it. That’s nuts.
I hear it all the time, “You can’t win without a Quarterback.” Well, you can’t win burning first round draft picks reaching for Brandon Weedens either.
Okay, time to get dorky. Does this translate to fantasy? I think it does. Yes.
May 8th, 2014 § Leave a Comment
“The Birds and the Bees” was revealed to me in a series of unplanned, disjointed discoveries. By the time Palms Jr High decided that I had attained the appropriate age for such an education, I’d already been taught. Maybe “taught” is a bit generous; I had been exposed. Knowing that the sources of my “Sex Ed” were less than well-intentioned, I determined early on that my kid was going to hear about it from me first.
I’m not giving you the manuscript of our conversation. It remains a treasured, private time between me and my son (My wife had the conversation with our daughter). In lieu of a “play by play”, here’s a break down of the principles which guided our conversation.
Early – Whenever you think your child is ready, minus that by two. My son was about ten years old when I had the talk with him. Considering what kids see and hear these days, that’s probably about as long as you can wait.
Man Up – It’s not a easy subject. It will be awkward for both of you. The more you “hem and haw” and squirm, the more you’re liable to freak your kid out. What needs done, got to be done. Why am I talkin’ like a cowboy? So, look ’em in the eye and talk straight.
Big Picture – Start with big picture. When misplaced or disconnected, sexuality takes a bad turn. Think context. What is the meaning of nakedness? Of embrace? Shame? How important is trust? Commitment? The big picture gives rhyme and reason to the “Wait ’til your married” admonition.
Nuts and bolts – Anatomy. Physiology. Kinesiology. You know, all that sexy stuff.
Positive – Just look around and you know – Sex is a powerful thing. The temptation is to take a cautionary tone. Don’t tell ’em no lies. I told him, when properly lined up, it’s very nice. Instead of warning, emphasize timing.
Brevity – You’ll have to re-visit, multiple times, so keep it short. My son was relieved when it was done.
We had the talk at the local breakfast place. When we got in the car, I could tell he wanted to ask me something. He had passed on my invitation for questions inside. Driving out of the parking lot, he couldn’t resist.
“So, you do that with Mom?”
I turned to him with a smirk of mischief, “Yup. As often as we can.”
He shook his head – disgusted and amused.
April 23rd, 2014 § Leave a Comment
Levar Burton. Yeah … well, no, not that Levar Burton, not the Star Trek Levar Burton. And while we’re here, what was the deal with that head band thing pulled over his eyes? Weird, right? Anyway, I’m talking about the Roots Levar Burton. Kunta Kinte. The African slave of indomitable spirit.
Alex Haley’s novel was adapted into a TV mini-series in 1977, the year of my family’s immigration. I can still recall the visceral reaction I had to the depiction of Kunta Kinte being ripped from his homeland – a pastoral of hope and promise – being paraded in front of jeerers, and then sold like an animal. It was about as much outrage as I’d experienced in my eight years of life.
Why? Why did I have such a strong reaction? I have to think that it had something to do with identifying. Of course, I’m not comparing the experience of the willing immigrant family to that of one kidnapped, brought by boat to be sold into slavery. By any standards, I had a safe, comfortable transition. Yet humiliation is its own kind of suffering. And being mocked and laughed at is not easily forgotten. Having been dropped into a foreign land, lost in language, with no place to plant a bare seedling of an identity, my heart was drawn toward a people I hardly knew, to their ongoing struggle that was suddenly, in a minuscule way, mine.
It didn’t end there. From Martin Luther King Jr to Malcolm X, from Soul Train to Run DMC, Good Times, Cooley High, and White Shadow, as a newly minted American minority, I tied a part of myself to the most prominent struggle of a people for human dignity that our Nation has known. And to think, it all started for me with of all people, Levar Burton.
March 30th, 2014 § 2 Comments
You’ve probably heard, DeSean Jackson was cut by the Eagles. After the most productive season of his seven year NFL career, Jackson finds himself unemployed. Not only did The Eagles not trade their All Pro receiver, they were willing to take a hit of over 6 million in dead cap space to send Jackson packing. In other words, they wanted him gone. Bad.
He’s the right age, 27. Last season, DeSean posted 9 TDs and 1,300+ yds. And the dude still has speed to burn – 2nd among active receivers in yards per at 17+ and tied with Megatron with 12 TDs of over 50 yds. So, yeah, surprising that the Eagles dropped him like a bad habit. Actually, surprising is putting it mildly.
But then, conveniently enough came reports that link DeSean Jackson to the notorious Crips gang in Los Angeles. Without getting too far into it, there are Instagram photos, gang signs, homicide investigations, a suspicious unsolved burglary, a Rap record label, and associates who are obviously not Boy Scout material. Stack ’em all up, it’s compelling. I can see how Chip and Jeffrey looked at each other, and decided they’d already seen this movie: All Pro, lucrative extension, gangs, guns, paranoia, murder. They didn’t like how the movie ended in New England and wanted no part in Philly. Can you blame them?
In a statement released through his agent, Jackson vehemently denied the alleged gang affiliation. It is certainly possible that the Eagles were tired of managing their temperamental star, and saw this report as a good excuse to unload unwanted baggage. Possible. Whatever the case, it does raise for me some interesting questions about race and culture. Is it possible for both sides to be right? Can there be so called “gang affiliations” that is unacceptable in certain contexts like … say an NFL executives meeting, but is in another context virtually unavoidable, making the thought of it being grounds for dismissal ludicrous?
When a whole people group is shoved into the margin of society, certain children of that people group will find the position of powerlessness intolerable. When access to power is denied through conventional pathways, other ways will be explored. Violence is often the impatient reach for power. And so for a young man in the hood, gang life is one way to take back some control – illusory as the grasp may be. Sometimes as a whole, they can even represent a protest against unjust systems that “force” a people to seek a certain subversive dignity.
The Rap group NWA is an example of how nefarious elements of a disenfranchised people are elevated to sing their anthem of protest. Not only in song but with their very lives, unlawful to the broader society they reject. In the margins, the world is turned on its head: villains are heroes and heroes, villains. And the lines are blurred. One day Snoop Dogg is on trial for murder, the next he’s at a party with Mark Zuckerberg.
Ice Cube is starring in comedies as a family man. Yeah, that Ice Cube, F*#k the Police Ice Cube is a respected Hollywood Producer. Through alternate ways, some by exceptional talent and sheer grit make it from the margins onto a seat at the King’s table. But even for the select few who do cross the line, the line itself remains blurred.
It’s a generalized, simplistic angle on a complex question of race and culture. Obviously the breath and depth of the African American experience extends far beyond questions surfacing around DeSean Jackson. And this doesn’t even begin to scratch at what is “right and wrong.” The Eagles cut DeSean Jackson. From where management sits, I suppose it was justified. Justified. I wonder. Maybe an ironic word to describe an action taken as worlds and cultures collided to render lines blurred.
March 25th, 2014 § Leave a Comment
I was born into a Korean family. We don’t hug. That’s just the way it is. I’m pretty sure my Father never kissed me … maybe, maybe when I was a baby. But that’s it. And when no one was looking. Now, get this: I have only one memory of my Mom kissing me. And when she did, she did it in secret. Snuck up to my bed while she thought I was sleeping. It was so strange, so foreign to my nine year old self that I continued to pretend I was sleeping. Never asked her about it or made mention of it to anyone. My Father didn’t hug me. My Mother didn’t hug me. I’ve never hugged my Brother. My older Brother is the closest person to me outside my immediate family, and yet I’ve hugged casual acquaintances more than I’ve hugged my Brother.
I know it sounds like I’m crying about it. I’m not. I am to a great degree a product of my culture – a culture I have learned to embrace … even celebrate. To illustrate, my Mom around the time of my engagement, broke down and started hugging me and telling me she loves me. When she tells me she loves me, she always does so in English, not in Korean. The Korean “I love you” is awkward. Culturally, it’s an unspoken concept. And so for my Mom to express it verbally, she literally steps out of her culture. She turns to a foreign tongue to do that which is foreign to her – express verbally what she’s felt all my life.
But I’m not letting Koreans or any other culture for that matter off the hook. Culture is real, ought to be considered and respected, but it cannot be left unexamined, unchallenged.
Lately, I’ve on more than one occasion considered the significance of the embrace. First of all, it’s touch. Now, think of what you will not touch: Icky, gross, nasty things. Unclean. And not just the hygienically unclean, right? We avoid touching the lowly, the despised. Touch is an act of joining, to make that other part of me. It’s an act of acceptance and maybe more, an act of reception. The embrace takes touch to another place. It is not creating a bridge. Not merely adjoining or granting access. It’s an enveloping. To open oneself and to hold another within. It’s a whole ‘nother kind of acceptance. Oneness.
Whatever your child is going through, whatever he or she has done, whether reconciliation needs to be worked out or recompense paid, a child ought to do it within the embrace of their Father. Even if their own self shuns them, they ought to find an embrace with you – enveloped in love, acceptance, value.
I’m Korean. Hugging ain’t my thing. But if stepping outside of my culture is going to have my kids experience all that is in the embrace of their Father, then you can believe I’ll be hugging my kids. Still ain’t hugging my Bro though. C’mon.