Life is a Highway

Life is a Highway

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Chris Myers: FOX Sports CMI- Charles Barkley Interview

This post was originally posted at The New Democrat

Now we are talking about Charles Barkley the basketball analyst, which I think he does a great job as and even one of the best NBA analysts in the business right now. And we are also seeing Charles Barkley the political and social commentator. We already saw Charles Barkley the great basketball player and again I see him as one of the top 5-10 players of all-time in the history of the NBA. But now at fifty-years old, but he's been what he is now since he's left the NBA as a player. He is now a professional commentator on things more than just basketball and the NBA.

If Charles Barkley doesn't have a column or blog, I wish he would start one. Which is what Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has already one with Time. Because I don't agree with him on everything, but he makes a good intelligent case about everything that he says and believes. Which is all you ask from a commentator in life. You want them to make a good interesting case for why they believe about what they are talking about. You can't expect to agree with everything that they say. Just for them to make a good interesting case for why they believe what they believe about what they are talking about.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

NBA-TV: Video: Charles Barkley, Sir Charles at 50: Still Larger Than Life

This post was originally posted at The New Democrat on Blogger

Charles Barkley can't be completely written about in just a few posts. The man is now fifty-years old and you spend weeks writing articles and spend years writing books and producing films and doing interviews about the man and still not cover everything. And all of this could be said when the man finished his playing career fifteen years ago. There's just so much about him and not just his playing career where he might be one of the top ten players of in NBA history. Certainly one of the top ten forwards and perhaps the greatest player who has ever played power forward in the NBA.

But is doesn't end there with Chuck just as a basketball player. Here's a man who stands 6'4-6'5 who on the street and any other profession would be a very tall man. If he played point guard in basketball he would be a tall basketball player. If he played shooting guard he would've had the right height. Chuck was short for a small forward, let alone power forward and he is the greatest height for height if not the greatest rebounder of all-time. A man who is 6'4 going up against guys who are 6'8-6'10 every night and yet no power forward in the NBA could box the man out. At least not on a regular basis.

And this is just about part of Chuck's career as a basketball player. I think he is the greatest player to ever play power forward. Not the greatest power forward, I would rather take Karl Malone and Tim Duncan over him. But no other full-time power forward has had the skills and great at so many different aspects of basketball than Charles Barkley who has played power forward. And that includes Larry Bird who played perhaps played as much power forward as the small forward position in the NBA.

But this again is just part of one of Charles Barkley's career as a basketball player and an aspect of his life. Other posts should and have been written about different aspects of his career. Like why the Philadelphia 76ers didn't win more with him, when they should've remained an NBA Finals contender for the rest of the 1980s and into the 1990s. But they weren't run very well post Julius Erving and Bill Cunningham and John Nash. And you can go into Chuck as the NBA analyst, the cultural analyst and the comedian. But those are for future posts.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Athlete Sport: Video: ESPN's SportsCentury: Karl Malone, The Mailman Delivered

This post was originally posted at The New Democrat on Blogger

I'm stuck between Karl Malone and Tim Duncan as far as who is the best power forward of all-time. I think Duncan is the better all around player than The Mailman, but that is a little different than who is the better power forward. Players are exactly that and positions are that as well and besides Duncan is really a center/power forward or vice-versa, he's played a lot of both positions throughout his career. But The Mailman is certainly the best power forward of the 1990s and perhaps the 1980s as well.

When you think of the prototypical power forward, the classic power forward, the total package as a power forward and then some, Karl Malone is exactly that. When you are talking about a man who was 6'9 255-260 pounds, with the quickness and shooting ability of a power forward and the physical strength of a center. He would've dominated at either position, but not being much of a shot blocker, better suited at playing the big forward, than playing center, at least playing center full-time. He was The Mailman because he delivered basically all of the time for the, I still feel strange saying this, but the Utah Jazz.

Malone put the Jazz on his back and carried that team his entire career. He was the only great and big scorer on his team almost his entire career. The only great rebounder and perhaps even good rebounder on his team throughout his career and the only great big man for the Salt Lake Jazz as I prefer to call them that the Jazz have ever had. And yet they were a title contender throughout the 1990s. And John Stocton was a big part of that as far as quarterbacking the Jazz being the great point guard that he was. But if Karl has a bad night offensively and they are playing a good team, the Jazz probably lose.

To go back to my point about the prototypical power forward, The Mailman was exactly that. He and Elvin Hayes might be the top two pure power forwards of all-time. Charles Barkley was more of a hybrid forward, someone with great skills at both the power forward and small forward. And I believe a better all around player than Karl and perhaps the best height for height rebounder of all-time at around 6'5. But Karl was exactly what you want from your power forward and then some. Tall, big, strong, quick, great inside scorer, great rebounder and an excellent defender and passer in the post.

Karl Malone was called The Mailman, because he was exactly that. He delivered for the Jazz time and time again and took them as far as he could almost by himself in the 1980s and 1990s. And perhaps just a few plays away from winning at least one NBA Finals in the late 1990s against the Chicago Bulls. Had the Jazz had a great swingman, small forward or shooting guard or good if not all-star caliber center to go with Malone and Stocton, maybe they would've won two NBA Finals in the late 1990s, instead of none. But they got very far with The Mailman delivering as much as he could.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Timothy Wehrfritz-NFL Network's Missing Rings- The 1990 Buffalo Bills: The One Super Bowl That Got Away From The Bills

When I look at the Buffalo Bills of the late 1980s and early 1990s, I see very good football teams and in the early 90s the best teams in the American Football Conference. But there's an issue right there. From 1984 except for maybe the underachieving Raiders of the mid 80s and the 1987 Browns, 1988 Bengals, 1990 Bills and the two best teams in the NFL were not in the AFC and AFC Champions. But were in the NFC, the top two teams in the NFC the champion and finalist. In 1986 the two best teams in the NFL were the New York Giants and Washington Redskins, but they not only played in same conference, the NFC. 

And by 1992 the two best teams in the NFL were always in the NFC, until 1997 with the Denver Broncos winning the Super Bowl. This was not a good era for the AFC, 1985, 1986, 1987 the Super Bowls were all blowouts, the NFC team beating the AFC team. In 1989 the San Francisco 49ers blew out the Denver Broncos 55-10, 1992 the Dallas Cowboys blew out the Bill 52-17. 1994 the 49ers blew out the San Diego Chargers 49-23. The Bills of the late 80s and early 90s were the best team in the AFC. And won four straight AFC Final's from 1990-93, but in the worst era for the AFC. I'm not taking anything away from the Bills of this era, they had very good teams and would've been very successful in the National Football Conference, but they wouldn't of dominated the NFC like they dominated the AFC.

If you look at those four Super Bowls that the Buffalo Bills lost from 1990-93, they were only favored to win one of them the, 1990 Super Bowl when they played the New York Giants. But the Giants were a very good football team, they still had one of the best defenses in the NFL. Even though they were getting older and they still had their ball control offense, power run, possession passing, shorten the game and limit the Bills chances on offense to have the ball and score. Giants running back OJ Anderson was the SB MVP, quarterback Jeff Hostletter completed passes when he had to. And had TE Marc Bavaro I believe the best all around TE in the NFL at the time and had WRs Chris Calloway, Mark Ingram and Steve Baker.

The Giants could throw when they wanted to and when they needed to and the strength of their offense fit in perfectly with the weakness of the Bills Defense. They had a power offense going up against and somewhat finesse undersized 3-4 Bills defense with a small 270 pound nose tackle in Jeff Wright. And the Bills were able to stay in the game because even though they didn't have the ball much, they moved it almost every time they had it. And when the Giants scored they used a lot of time to score, keeping the Bills in the game. 

1990 was the best chance for the Buffalo Bills to win a Super Bowl and they were favored in that game and they only lost 20-19 and had plenty of chances to win that game. But missed a lot of tackles probably because they were so tired, because their defense couldn't get off the field. But the other three Super Bowls they were a clear underdog playing teams, like the Redskins and Cowboys twice that were much bigger and stronger which is what the NFC was back then over the AFC. Run the ball, stop the run, rush the QB, protect the QB and win the turnover battle. And the Bills happened to be the best of a weak American Football Conference.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Cherie Altuaimeh: Steel Curtain Tribute- The Steel Curtain Steeler Dynasty

Source: Cherie Altuaimeh
Source: Cherie Altuaimeh: Steel Curtain Tribute

The 1978 Pittsburgh Steelers are what a great team looks like and to me the definition of what a great team looks like so to the point as their cover corner back Mell Blount saying that "the NFL changed its rules in 1978 to slow down the Steelers so they weren't so dominant". That they went from being a power run ball control offense in the mid-1970s to a vertical pass offense with two deep threats in wide receiver in John Stallworth. Who to me is the Michael Irvin of his generation with his size and strength, but with great speed and could get by you just by running by you. Which made QB Terry Bradshaw's job a lot more fun because he had a big strong accurate arm that could go deep.

Bradshaw had the WRs to throw the ball to and the Steelers still had their power running game with tailback Franco Harris and tailback Rocky Blier. And they still had their Steel Curtain Two-Gap defense that could stuff the run and attack the QB just with their front four. With defensive tackle Joe Greene arguably the best defensive lineman of all-time. Defensive end LC Greenwood who should be in the Hall of Fame and DE Dwight White. And with middle linebacker Jack Lambert the best MLB of his era and Jack Ham the best outside linebacker of his era. With the Steelers front seven they could stuff the run, attack the QB and cover the whole field.

With those players and with CB Mell Blount I believe the best CB off all-time, you hated being the top WR on the other team because it meant the QB wasn't going to throw you the ball. And with safeties Donnie Shell and Mike Wagner, you weren't throwing the ball deep against the Steelers. You couldn't really run the ball on the Steelers even though you really only had to block four players. Pass protection was almost impossible with the Steelers front four and even if you had time to throw, who you going to throw the ball to, no one is open.

The 1978 Steelers were so great not so good, but so great that the NFL changed the rules to slow them down. And so they were so dominant, other than the Oakland Raiders, Dallas Cowboys and maybe the Miami Dolphins no one could give the Steelers a hard time before the 1978 rule changes. Which were aimed at the Steelers Steel Curtain defense. The illegal contact rule, meaning you couldn't jam a WR after five yards. The new blocking rules aimed at Joe Greene that outlawed head slapping. But that didn't slow the Steelers because they just adapted to the new rule changes meaning that their defense was probably not going to be as dominant anymore.

But again these are the Pittsburgh Steelers, they have Chuck Knoll as their head coach, Terry Bradshaw as their QB and Franco Harris the at TB, with John Stallworth and Lynn Swann at WR. Which meant they just needed to open up the offense and score more points. Go to the vertical pass offense to complement their power running game. The Steelers didn't change to fit in with rest of the NFL, but they adapted and overcame and made themselves better to utilize the other talent that they had and not rely so much on their defense and power running. That's what the 1978 Steelers were and what a great team looks like. You make a move at them they make another move and get better than they were already are. 

There are a lot of teams to choose from as the best team of all-time and I'm referring to the Super Bowl era including the undefeated 1972 Miami Dolphins. But I take the 78 Steelers because of their head coach who was also their general manager in Chuck Knoll, who was great at both jobs. And could go to the Hall of Fame in either role, who was a defensive head coach as he built the Steel Curtain defense. But understood offense well enough that he knew what type of offense he wanted the Steelers to have. And then go out and get the players to play in that offense and of course not just the talent but how well they played together and how dominant they were.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Newsmax: 'What Works'- Cal Thomas Joins JD and John

Source: Newsmax-
Source: This piece was originally posted at The New Democrat

Right-wing commentator, columnist and author Cal Thomas, who I do like and respect, had a book come out this year called What Works. And in his book he lays out what works in America and what he believes is the best way for Americans to live. Essentially built off the two-parent family with a mother and father. Where romantic couples don't live together until they are married. Obviously no pre-marital sex and basic lets say common values of 1950s and before America pre-cultural revolution of the 1960s. Where Americans in huge numbers felt more individualistic and free to live their own lives.

As I've blogged before, what I call the Traditional Values Coalition that Cal Thomas and of course the Eagle Forum is part of, sees America as going downhill really since the 1960s. Probably starting in 1963 when the civil rights movement gained national strength and put on center stage on the national agenda by the media and others. After President John F. Kennedy comes out in favor of civil rights for African-Americans and gets behind a strong civil rights bill that he finally sent to Congress in the summer of 1963 and then you have the March on Washington with entertainers getting behind that movement in the summer of 1963.

The civil rights movement itself is not the main issues with the Traditional Values Coalition. It more has to do with how the country was changing culturally in the summer of 63 and everything that happened in that decade after 63 with the hippie movement. The TVC calls this the point where America starts going downhill culturally and morally. With the rise of single-parent families, rise in divorces, gays coming out of the closet, women feeling free to enter the workforce after college and financially supporting their kids just like their husbands.

What I don't think the Traditional Values Coalition seems to understand is that America pre-cultural revolution didn't work for all Americans. Sure it was really good for Anglo-Saxon Protestants men especially, because they had most of the power in the country. But that population certainly does not represent America as a whole. And this way of life didn't work for women of all ethnicities and races. Sure it may worked for some, especially Caucasian women who were more culturally conservative. And were perfectly satisfied staying home and raising their husbands kids.

But this traditional Anglo-Saxon way of life simply didn't work for the rest of the country. For millions of African-Americans who wanted the freedom to live their own lives and support themselves and build their communities. And perhaps most importantly be treated equally under law and have their constitutional rights enforced equally. It didn't work for women of all races and ethnicities who wanted to again be treated equally under law and treated equally as men in society. And it didn't work for young Americans again of all races and ethnicities who didn't want to live their grandparents and parents lifestyle. And it didn't work for gays who were trapped in the closet and wanted to come out.

Modern America that we have today that is so culturally, racially and ethnically diverse, vs. traditional America where Americans were expected to act and live in a a certain way. That was common with one specific population in America, but not something that satisfied the country at-large. Which was a big part of the cultural revolution and why it broke out in the 1960s. And what the Traditional Values Coalition people like Cal Thomas, Phyllis Schlafly and others say is that, "America has been going downhill ever since and we need to get back to what works". Their way of life. 
Newsmax: 'What Works'- Cal Thomas Jojns JD and John

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Blitz Burghed: The Immaculate Reception- The Start of the Raiders-Steelers Rivalry

Source: Blitz Burghed-
Source: Blitz Burghed: The Immaculate Reception

To me for a rivalry to be great or for it to even be a rivalry, the two teams involved have to at least be good. Not just consistent winners, but consistent playoff teams. Not teams that generally 8-8 or 9-7 or worst and every few years sneak into the playoffs. But teams where just getting to the playoffs is not enough for them to have a successful season. Teams that have it as their goal every year to win their division and win the league championship. 

The New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcon Fans and even though both teams are good now and making the playoffs and in the Saints case winning the Super Bowl in 2009, but historically both franchises have either been mediocre or bad. The Falcons didn't make the playoffs until 1978, their twelfth season and are now in their forty-eighth season and they have only made the playoffs in back-to-back seasons once. The Saints didn't even have a winning season until 1987 their 21st season and played and won their first Super Bowl in 2009 their forty-third season. So Falcon-Saint games traditionally haven't meant much.

Unlike Packer-Bear games, Packer-Viking games, Bear-Viking games, Redskins-Cowboys, Redskins- Giants etc. It's when the games are important that they have meaning is when they become rivalry's because that's when both teams prepare real well and tend to play their best and when the games are played real hard and physical and get real tense and you see big hits and borderline cheap shots and everything else. And the fans really get into it and even go to the other teams stadiums to watch their team play that the games become rival games. Which is exactly what you get in the NFC East where everyone is a big rival of the other.

That's exactly what the Steeler-Raider rivalry was in the 1970 and 80s to a certain extent. Because every time they played in this time period, their games were about who would have home field advantage in the AFC Playoffs. And have the better chance of winning the AFC Championship and going to the Super Bowl. And the rivalry that the Pittsburgh Steelers had with the Oakland Raiders in the 1970s, is similar to the rivalry the Steelers have with the New England Patriots today because they are playing for home field advantage in the AFC Playoffs almost every time they play each other.

But with the Steelers-Raiders rivalry of the 70s, you're talking about two of the three best franchises of the 70s that made the AFC Playoffs a total of sixteen times, that won fifteen division championships between the two of them. Won five AFC Championships and won five Super Bowls. They knew to get to where they wanted to go they were going to have to beat the other team. It was really that simple because both teams in this decade both had the same goal every year, win the Super Bowl. And since they were both in the AFC, that meant beating the other team especially in the AFC Playoffs just to get to the Super Bowl and this why this rivalry was so great and intense. 

Rivalry's are between two good teams and franchises, otherwise they don't mean anything. They're just another game, rivalry games are important, even when one team may be having a down year because they can make their season by beating the other team. Which would be like their championship. "We didn't do much this year, but at least we beat that team and made their season a little more difficult. Perhaps cost them a home game in the playoffs". And the team who lost that game remembers losing that game, takes that with them going into the next season and try's to get their revenge, which makes the rivalry that much greater.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

NFL Films: John Facenda- Pride and Poise: The Glory Days of the Oakland Raiders

Source: Oakland Raiders- 
Source: NFL Films: Pride and Poise- The Oakland Raiders

As John Madden put it when asked about the Raiders not being able to win the "Big Game", the Oakland Raiders won a lot of big games. You have to do that just to have the chance to get to the "Big Game". The teams that play in the "Big Game" aren't selected by a "committee of experts" but they are selected by the two teams from both conferences that won their championships. What the Raiders weren't able to do until 1976, other than 1967 be able to get to the one big game the biggest game in the world. If you think about it as far as the amount of people that watch it.

The Super Bowl of course is the biggest television event in the world, but if you look at the teams that they lost to, there were all great teams as far as who they lost to in those AFC Finals that cost them the AFC Championship and a trip to the Super Bowl. They lost to the Baltimore Colts in 1970 that won that Super Bowl, the Miami Dolphins in 1973 that won that Super Bowl. The Pittsburgh Steelers their arch-rival in the 1970s in both 1974 and 75 that won both of those Super Bowls. So the Raiders problem was that they didn't choke or get it done, they just lost to the best team in football all of those years.

The Raiders had to be the best team in the NFL not just have the best record in the AFC and host the AFC Final at Oakland Coliseum better known as "the Black Hole" as they did in 1974, but they had to have the best team in the AFC both regular and postseason. So when 1976 came around having lost four of the last six AFC Finals, including one at home, the sole-mission of the 1976 Raiders was to go to and win the Super Bowl and meant getting past the Steelers and running through anyone else who got in their way.

The Raiders knew they had the players and they had the talent on both sides of the ball. One of the best offenses in the NFL if not the best, with their vertical spread offense (as I call it)  always looking to throw deep to Cliff Branch from quarterback Ken Stabler. But working the whole field, to tight end Dave Casper and wide receiver Fred Belitninkoff both who are in the Hall of Fame. 

And with their power running game with the best offensive line in the NFL, with Hall of Famers offensive tackle Art Shell and offensive guard Gene Upshaw arguably the best players who ever played their positions. With center Dave Dalby another Pro Bowler and their power running game with their man-on-man blocking where you literally try to destroy the man in front of you.

And with tailback Clarence Davis and fullback Mark Van Egan and their kick ass defense (for lack of a better word) with defensive tackle John Mutuzak and defensive tackle Dave Rowe up front and others. Hall of Famer Ted Hendricks arguably the best outside linebacker of all- time and Pro Bowler Phil Viliapano. With two bump-and-run cover corners in Mike Haynes and Willy Brown. And perhaps the two hardest hitting safety's in football George Atkinson and Jack Tatum.

The Oakland Raiders by the time 1976 came around were already a very good team with a lot of talent. You would have to be to just be in six AFC Finals even though they lost all of them going into 1976. But they weren't a great team yet and being a great team and having great talent are two different things. The trick is to have both of them at the same time which is something the 1976 Raiders were finally able to learn and most of that credit goes to John Madden a Hall of Fame head coach. He figured out how to get all of these great players to play together at the same time. 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Pure Media Past: Steve Bridges- President George W. Bush at The White House Correspondents Dinner

Source: Pure Media Past-
Source: Pure Media past: Steve Bridges- President George W. Bush: At The White House Correspondents Dinner

President George W. Bush is probably the easiest public figure to make fun of and impersonate. He's a bigger target than a free all you can eat meat lovers buffet at a fat farm. Because he's been somewhat controversial with his Presidency and I'll give President Bush credit for one thing, the Bush White House probably had the worst polling operation since political polls or their polling operation was buried so far down in the White House basement, that they couldn't find it. Because most of the decisions he made as President were not poll driven, but they did what they thought was right.

Myself and about 65% of the rest of the country just disagreed with President Bush most of the time with their handling of the economy, the War on Terror, their deficit spending. But in the interest of time I'll save you the rest of the grocery list. (Thats about a month supply of groceries) Now again perhaps the Bush White House didn't take polls, couldn't read them, understand them, didn't have someone who could explain them to President Bush in a way he could understand. That a 35% approval rating is not a batting average like in baseball which would be good. But that 60% of the country or more doesn't like you as President and you wouldn't get reelected if you ran again.

But George W. Bush provided the country with a mountain of comedic material before he became President when he was running for President back in 1999-2000, he quickly became comedians favorite politician. And won that award for eight straight years from 2000-07, before Sarah Palin came on the scene. (Thanks again John McCain, your kick in the ass is in the mail) And now that Michele Bachmann is on the scene (thanks to Michele Bachmann) she and Sarah Palin the Dummy Sisters are in a sibling rivalry to determine who is easier to make fun of.

Governor Palin and Representative Bachmann  provides comedians more material. (Unintentionally of course) It's unclear that when GOV. Palin said that you could see Russia from her backyard if she was trying to convince people that made her a foreign policy expert or not. The jury is still out on that one because they still haven't finished laughing about it. But the fact is that line was very funny, but with GW Bush he's got almost twelve years of reading material of great jokes. He really should be putting these experiences in books. It's not an accident that Saturday Night Live named George W. Bush the Man of the Year for 2000, because of all the time and effort their comedy writers were spared having to come up with new material .

Actually, GW Bush won that SNL Award eight straight years from 2000-07. Probably my favorite moments about GW Bush at least on SNL, is those Bush-Gore debates from 2000 where they played Bush like a schmuck or an idiot and they played Gore like a snobby elitist (excuse the term) asshole. Where Bush would get a question and he would think its too difficult to answer. And he would take that question like he's on a game show and say pass and Gore would jump in. And say "Jim can I take that question". Or when Jim Leher asked Gore and Bush to sum up their campaigns in one word. Gore would use that famous term lock box. And Bush would use a word that doesn't even exist like strategery, playing on the fact that Bush had a tendency to miss pronounce words.

It was like the Bush campaign and Bush Administration were partners in putting on the best comedy show of that era. George W Bush is a mountain of comedic material that comedians and bloggers owe a weekly debt in the form of a paycheck. That we should pay the 43rd President of the United States with proudly (like Socialists pay their taxes) because of all of the thinking and work this great man of unintentional humor provided America.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

NFL Network: America's Game The 1983 Los Angeles Raiders- LA Renegades Get Their Revenge Against The Establishment

Source: NFL Network: NFL 1983- Super Bowl 18-Los Angeles Raiders vs Washington Redskins: Marcus Allen's Super Bowl TD Run

When I think of what both great and under appreciated teams are, I think of teams that are just stacked everywhere have a collection of great players, but with a supporting cast of very good players everywhere as well. That have a great coaching staff that gets their players to play up to their abilities as much as possible as well. That have many strengths and doesn't have any weakness's and have not just the physical talent, but the mental talent as well. That understands key situations and when exactly is the time to make key plays and doesn't make key mistakes in big moments.

That's the 1983 Los Angeles Raiders and when I think of under appreciated teams, I think of teams that are very good if not great, but doesn't get their just respect, not remembered as being a great team or a great champion. Except for the people who understand that team and again that's the 1983 Los Angeles Raiders not just a great team, but a great dominant team that didn't just beat teams, but they beat up teams within the rules. Because they were just bigger, stronger and better than any other team they played.

And they would actually take it to their opponents and win games and win them big to the point where that team doesn't want to play them again, thats the 1983 Raiders. The 1983 Raiders are one of the top ten teams of all-time that not many people who aren't Raider fans and who didn't play for that team or cover that team, aren't aware of. Because they were a group of Renegades and misfits and people that were cut by other teams and were run by Al Davis.

You want to look at the 1983 Raiders, it of course starts at the top with their leader Al Davis, who put that team together. Then you have to move to their head coach Tom Flores who won two Super Bowls and 100 games and yet never gets much consideration even for the Hall of Fame. Then I would go to their defense, defensive line Howie Long arguably the best all around DL of his era and in the Hall of Fame.

Then you got pass rushers and run stuffers guys who could play both roles on their defensive line to go along with Howie Long. Lyle Alzado who they picked up from Cleveland. As well as Greg Townsend, and others. Perhaps the best linebacker in the league, with Hall of Famer Ted Hendricks and middle linebacker Matt Millen and outside linebacker Rod Martin who only made big plays for the Raiders. 

And then the secondary, the two best corners in the league, with Lester Hayes and Mike Haynes. Both great bump and run cover corners, with the Raiders DL and secondary and their DL able to rush the QB and stop the run just with their front four. That freed up their LBs and DBs to just cover the field. Help out send extra blitzers without having to worry about getting beat for a big play. The 1983 Raiders were very good on offense as well, but their defense set the tone. 

On offense you have Pro Bowl quarterback Jim Plunkett who won the 1970 Heisman Trophy at Stanford, who had his best years with the Raiders. Tailback Marcus Allen who NFL scouts thought was too slow because he ran a 4.5 40 yard dash. But if you look at Marcus's highlights, you always see him running away from people or running through people, or running by guys who are supposed to be faster than him. 

Then you have wide receiver Cliff Branch who should be in the Hall of Fame, who had a great habit of catching long touchdown passes in Super Bowls. A great habit to have by the way and then tight end Todd Christianson who should get consideration for the Hall of Fame. WR Dokie Williams a pretty good number two WR. The 1983 Raiders were stacked on both sides of the ball and deserve a lot more respect than they get.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

NFL Network: Al Davis, a Football Life- Mr. Commitment to Excellence

If you want to know what the term total package means when it comes to sports and more specifically to football and total package gets thrown out a lot, but to me its about someone who does every aspect of their job very well doesn't having any glaring weakness's. Doesn't have a characteristic, where people may say "I wish he did this or that better". A QB who's a total package would be someone who can throw the football with zip, throw it far, throw it accurately with touch, short, medium and deep, who's mobile enough to buy time when under pressure, reads defenses well, knows when to throw the ball and to who. But those are just the physical attributes, QB is the most important position in football it's that simple.

That's why quarterbacks they get a lot of the credit and blame, its also the second hardest position to play in my opinion other than center. QB also have to have good mental qualities, know who and when to congratulate someone and to get on them something that both Dan Marino, Dan Fouts and Troy Aikman all did very well, which is one reason why they are all in the Hall of Fame. You have to make sure everyone in the huddle is on the same page and in the right position and you understand what the head coach, offensive coordinator and QB coach is expecting from you and the offense. You also have to know when to audible and what audible to call, do you still want to play QB. Or maybe try to become a lawyer or doctor instead, those jobs might be easier to get and perform.

Calling Al Davis a total package as an NFL executive, is like calling Magic Johnson a good point guard. Or saying the weather is warm in South Florida, not only stating the obvious, but doing it from the bottom. Al Davis was the most complete football man not only in the American Football League, but in the last fifty-years of the NFL. And his influence on the league and game is in the same neighborhood as Paul Brown, George Halas, Well Mara, George Marshal, Pete Rozelle and others. Just to start with Al Davis as an executive as basically General Partner of the Oakland Raider franchise as well as its General Manager.

You're talking about someone who establish his own system. "This is the kinda team I want o have on both offense and defense". On offense with the vertical spread offense, spread the defense out and make them defend the whole field both in the passing and running games. Beat the defense up with the offense by going right at them man-on-man blocking, power running game. On defense take it to the offense, put the fear of God into them when they try to catch the ball or run the ball up field because they had linebackers and defensive backs that could hit and tackle real hard. And corners that could cover one on one in bump and run coverage without getting beat. Which meant that freed up the linebackers and DB's to stuff the run and rush the QB. 

After Al Davis established his system or game plan for victory, he then went to get the coaches who could run this system. John Madden, Tom Flores and Art Shell with great assistant coaches like Hall of Fame CB Willy Brown and others and drafted and signed the players who would play well in that system including eight Hall of Famers. Seven of them players that he introduced himself like Howie Long perhaps the best all around DL of his era. Both as a pass rusher and run defender. And would go to great lengths to get those players like drafting from small African-American colleges.

Schools that other pro football executives weren't drafting from like offensive tackle Art Shell. As well as taking chances on players that other clubs gave up on like QB Jim Plunket who won two Super Bowls with them in 1980 and 83. And taking chances on people because he believed they were worth it. And deserved the jobs that they were getting, like hiring the first Latin-American head coach in Tom Flores in 1979 and the first African-American head coach in Art Shell in 1989. 

If people are judged by how well they treat people or how they well they are treated and boss's are judged by how long people work for them, then Al Davis was a great man, because that old expression "Raider for Life", is an old expression for a reason because its so true and been used over and over. If you treat your workers well, they'll do the best job that they can because they want to work for you and share your goals.

Which in the Raiders case was really a "Commitment to Excellence", that you figure out what your system is going to be. Make your goals clear and then surround yourself with the best people that you can to run your system. And then treat them as well as they can be treated but also fairly. And that's what Al Davis's "Commitment to Excellence" was.
NFL Network: Al Davis, a Football Life

Monday, November 10, 2014

AFL History: Full Color Football- The New Frontier: The Story of the American Football League

By the late 1950s the National Football League had just survived the Korean War as far as losing players to that war, World War II losing players to that war, some not coming back, the Great Depression with all the money that was lost in the country as well as the NFL. And the fact that America went through that for about 15 years. If you don't have enough money to pay your bills and a lot of Americans were in that situation during the Great Depression, you're not going to go to sporting events. So by the late 1950s or even before that, when the NFL was approaching its 40th Season, they had proven they were a survivor. 

The NFL had already proven they were a survivor and with the economic boom of the 1950s and with the NFL growing in popularity with NFL champions like the New York Giants, Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions (yes the Detroit Lions), Baltimore Colts, Los Angeles Rams with Sid Gilman with his spread vertical offense  and of course the Cleveland Browns led by Paul Brown one of the top 3-5 head coaches of all-time, as well as a great general manager, the 1950s was a boom decade for the NFL. There was a lot of great football and great players in that decade, the NFL was finally making money and making very good money and they only had twelve franchises.

And with the NFL's revenue sharing system where each club shares it's broadcast revenue, there was a lot of money to go around. And the less clubs that they had the more money each club can keep for themselves. That was the theory which is why the NFL didn't expand sooner and into places like Boston, Buffalo, Miami, Houston, Dallas, San Diego and others all markets capable of supporting NFL franchises.

What the All American Football Conference proved in the 1940s and 50s, was that 12 pro football franchises wasn't enough that there was more money to be made and a lot more money to be made and there were a lot more players that could play pro football in America that a 12 club league could support. That's where the Baltimore Colts, Cleveland Browns, San Francisco 49ers all came from and when the AAFC folded, those clubs went to the NFL. The Cleveland Browns finished off the AAFC by winning the last championship there. And then went to the NFL in the 1950s and won five NFL Championships in that decade.

This was all setting the stage for the American Football League to come into existence all those markets that the NFL said the hell with, all wanted their own pro football franchise. And all of those players that could play in the NFL, but were overlooked, all found homes in the AFL in cities like Boston, Buffalo, the New York, Kansas City, Houston, Denver, Oakland and San Diego. Just to start off with followed in the late 60s by Cincinnati and Miami. The AFL represented a shot for for football fans who were turn down by the NFL, to have their own franchise and for players to get another shot at pro football career. 

The NFL saw the AFL as a threat right away which is why they rewarded an expansion franchise to Dallas in 1960 and Minneapolis in 1961. Because they knew there were a lot of football fans in those two markets and that the AFL wanted to expand there. Without the AFL, we probably never heard of players like quarterback Len Dawson who's in the Hall of Fame and QB Jack kemp who's famous for several other reasons, most of them positive. 

As well as all the African-American players that were turned away because of their race by the NFL. Like Hall of Famers like Chiefs linebacker Willie Lanier, LB Bobby Bell who's a better version of Lawrence Taylor,  defensive tackle Buck Buchanan, wide receiver Otis Taylor who should be in the Hall of Fame and so many others. The AFL was a second chance society for people who deserved it.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Warner Vod: All the President's Men 1976- A Movie About a Scandal That Took Down a Presidency

If you like movies based on true stories, then All The President's Men is a great movie if you like movies with great writing, then All The President's Men is a great movie. If you like movies with great casts, then All The Presidents Men is a great movie. If you like movies with clever quick-witted humor, then All The President's Men is a great movie. If you're interested in current affairs, politics and American history, or you're a junky about those things like myself, then All The Presidents Men is a great movie. There are so many reasons to see this great movie, this movie being the best movie at least as far as I'm concern in Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman's career. And I would add Jason Robards, Jack Warden and Ned Beatty, Jane Alexander to that list all great actors. 

All The President's Men is about the Watergate scandal that happened in 1972 when people working for the Nixon campaign broke into the Watergate building in Washington where just so happens where the Democratic National Committee Headquarters is located. They did that I'm guessing to dig up dirt on Sen. George McGovern President Nixon's opponent in 1972. I doubt they were there to steal wooden pencils or use the bathroom (call it a hunch). And how President Nixon covered up a story that he had no involvement in as far as the operations. But he did cover it up which is an Obstruction of Justice and how two basically no name reporters covered this story for the Washington Post.

Bob Woodward played by Robert Redford and Carl Bernstein played by Dusty Hoffman and If you're a fan of mystery's, then All The President's Men is a great movie. Even though Woodward and Bernstein aren't cops or private detectives, they are newspaper reporters covering a story that fell into their lap basically. The Watergate scandal was probably the dumbest political scandal that ever happened in the Federal Government. And there are plenty to choose from, because first of all it was illegal, it wasn't done by professional criminals. President Nixon got reelected in a landslide winning forty-nine states and around sixty-percent  of the popular vote despite Watergate.

So naturally what does Dick Nixon try to do. Being the great politician and brilliant man that he was, not trying to be funny here, he covers it up, he covers up a scandal that he had nothing to do with and had he just released everything that the White House had and let the FBI do their jobs, Watergate is nothing more than another Washington crime story handled by the Washington Police, President Nixon completes his second term and probably goes down as a great president depending on how he dealt with a weakening economy and the movie All The President's Men is never made. 

I saw All The Presidents Men for the first time when I was in junior high seventh or eighth Grade and didn't have much of an interest in politics at the age of thirteen or fourteen. Which may seem shocking considering how much of a political junky I am now. But I knew I really liked this movie by then and have seen probably twenty times since twenty plus years later because by the time I was eighteen, I was already a political junky keeping up with Congress and the Clinton Administration. I already new I was a Liberal Democrat by then. And this is one of those movies for me, thats worth seeing twenty plus times for the reasons I just laid out.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Run and Pass: ESPN's E60- Bill Buckner: Behind the Bag

Source: Run and Pass- Bill Buckner-
Source: Run and Pass: ESPN's E60- Bill Buckner: Behind The Bag

The 1986 MLB World Series is one of the greatest World Series of all-time. Not because of the Bill Buckner error at first base in Game 6. But because it was a matchup of two great teams, the two best teams in baseball in 1986. Who played about as well as they possibly could. This was a World Series with 3-4 great games, where both teams had opportunities to win each of these games, with a few blowouts mixed in. 

You could make a very good case that the Boston Red Sox should've won both Games 6 and 7, they had leads late in both games and didn't finish the job. Yes first baseman Bill Buckner made a big error late in that game. But what you gotta remember about that error is the ground ball going through his legs that led to Ray Knight scoring the winning run, was that the game was tied at that point. Its not like Buckner blew the lead for the Red Sox in that game. 

The Red Sox had a two run lead going into the bottom of the 10th Inning. Its the bullpen that blew the two run lead in that inning. And they gave up all the hits and runs, after already having two outs in that inning. Including the tying run coming off of a wild pitch from reliever Bob Stanley. This is something that Red Sox fans even though they watched this game, have just recently figured out.

I'm not making excuses for Bill Buckner, who was an accomplished first baseman. Who was more then capable of making that ground ball even with the bad feet he managed to put himself in position to make that play. He got to the ball and got his glove down in time. But misplayed it, tried to pick it up before the ball got to his glove and as a result the ball went right through his legs. 

I'm just saying that to put all of the blame on Buckner for the Red Sox losing the 1986 World Series, is unfair and borderline nasty by people who were so frustrated about losing a World Series that they should've won actually. They outplayed the Mets, especially in Game 6 and 7, as well as winning the first two games at Shea Stadium. Before you put the blame on Buckner, you should look at all of those runners that the Red Sox Offense left on base in that World Series. 

Especially all of the runners the Red Sox left in scoring position and the Red Sox Bullpen for blowing those leads. Even with the two bad feet that Bill Buckner was playing on, including I believe a broken ankle and yet he was their full-time first baseman. Even with the broken foot the Red Sox don't beat the Anaheim Angels in the American League Championship, a team that might of been better than the Red Sox on paper without Buckner.

The Angels were up 3-1 in that series over the Red Sox and the Red Sox don't get to that World Series either, they wouldn't of been good enough to without Bill Buckner. So what the Buckner Family has been put through as a result, has been really unfair and there are Red Sox fans who should be ashamed of themselves.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Newsmax: America's Forum- Phyllis Schlafly

Source: FreeState Plus
Source: This piece was originally posted at The New Democrat

I pointed this out in a post last week, but Phyllis Schlafly represents the Traditional Values Coalition in America. The American era pre-New Deal and perhaps even before American women were given the right to vote. So everything past that and especially with movement's and era's that give more power to other Americans including women, but non-Protestant, Anglo-Americans, seems very new to this coalition of Americans.

The Traditional Values Coalition essentially believes that even though America had already started changing for the worst when it came to economic policy in the 1930s, according to them with the creation of the American safety net, that the 1960s Cultural Revolution that included women, but gays and young people was one of the last straws. And just another sign that America is going to hell for them. So of course they don't like feminists whether they are radical or mainstream and don't like anything that moves America past their 1950s look on life.

The Phyllis Schlafly's of the world believe the American family and not just the best American family, but American families are best when Joe works and works hard and is productive for his family at work. While Mary stays at home and raises their kids. And of course Joe and Mary don't live with each other or have sex with each other until of course they are married. That might be a 1950s American lifestyle, but stating the obvious that was 55-60 years ago.

I'm not an expert on feminism and don't consider myself to be a feminist. For one thing I'm a man and straight at that, (ha ha)  but what I hear from today's so-called feminists is that they aren't so much about equality between men and women. But that women are better than men and if anything should have more power than men in America. That alone would disqualify me from the so-called feminist movement in America.

But for feminism or women's liberation to be real in America, it has to be about power and choice for the women. For them to decide if they should work or stay home and raise her kids as the father of her children goes to work. Or does she work, but like her husband or partner is able to balance both work and family successfully so they are both successful at work and raising their kids. Not trying to force women to stay home and raise the kids, or go to work to financially support their families. 
Newsmax: America's Forum- Phyllis Schlafly