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Source: ABC News- SF 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick

Source: This piece was originally posted at The Daily Review

In life there are followers and there are leaders. There are trend-setters who would be leaders and there are people who follow whatever the latest trend is who would be faddists. Celebrity culture and pro sports is no different, is a very accurate reflection of this. Celebrities feel the need to be cool to the point they’ll follow things and claim to support things that in many cases they don’t even seem to understand. Ben Affleck, from a couple years ago where he essentially accused Bill Maher of being a racist, because Maher made critical, but accurate statements about Islam, is a perfect example of this. Even though Islam is not a race, but a religion and Muslims can be anyone of any race, since Islam is not a race, but a religion. With today’s social media and broader media culture, things can become hot and go or go viral, in an instant. And when that happens, many celebrities feel the need to be associated with it even if they don’t understand what they’re associating with. Colin Kaepernick, to me at least seems like the latest celebrity faddist and getting on the Black Lives Matter train.

This is not a debate about whether there’s racism and bigotry, as well as oppression in America. Because of course there is and we’ve had as a nation more that two-hundred years of it. This to me is a debate about whether a multi-millionaire San Francisco 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick, is the right spokesperson to address this issue. Who’ll be paid eleven-million-dollars by the 49ers this season to be there starting QB. A man who has taken advantage of every opportunity he’s had in America as an individual to live in freedom and become filthy rich. Oppression in America, again goes back more than two-hundred years starting with American-Indians. And then Africans being kidnapped from Africa and brought over to be the slaves of European-Americans who the land of the American-Indians. To women of all races not having the right to vote in America until a hundred-years ago. To Jewish and other European immigrants, being denied access in America by Anglo-Saxons, simply because their ethnicity and religion was different from English-Americans. To Latinos and Asians as well. With the Japanese, as well as German and Italian-Americans, being kidnapped and forced into concentration camps. Because the U.S. Government saw them as traitors during World War II.

Colin Kaepernick, has been in the NFL since 2012 and has been a millionaire his whole career. America didn’t wake up to oppression when the Black Lives Matter moment started in 2014. We’ve known about it for over two-hundred-years. That is anyone who took and passed American history in high school. Mr. Kaepernick has had all this time to let his thoughts and views be known about racism and oppression in America. And waits till now when the Black Lives Matter becomes popular and not only that, but isn’t putting himself at risk here at all. The 49ers won’t cut him over this, because standing for the national anthem is voluntary. And the City of San Francisco is a capital of fads and trends and pop culture and leftist hippies who applaud anyone who takes on anyone they see as ‘The Man.’ If Mr. Kaepernick loses his job this season, it will have nothing to do with the fact that he supposedly took a stand against oppression. But that he once again failed to perform, and the 49ers have another mediocre or bad season. And head coach Chip Kelly decides to go in a different direction as a result.

Colin Kaepernick, showed no more courage in not standing for a national anthem for a country that has given him no much opportunity as someone who is African-American, to be very successful, than millions of teenagers who bought and wore Malcolm X hats in the early 1990s when the Malcolm X movie came out. Claiming to support a man they probably never even heard of before that movie came out. And perhaps don’t have much knowledge about who Minister Malcolm is today. Someone who I have a lot of respect for an learned a lot about. What Mr. Kaepernick has done here instead is make a fashion statement. And use the national anthem of a country that’s given him so much opportunity to be as successful as he had, has his target and launching point. Which makes him not different from people who eat whatever the latest hit dish is, or where whatever outfit, or claim to be behind whatever the latest movement or celebrity is. So of course he has the Freedom of Speech (even in the NFL) to do what he did. But he’s nothing more than an opportunist when it comes to oppression and fashion statements.

ABC News: World News Tonight- Colin Kaepernick Refuses To Stand During National Anthem

 

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The Washington Football Factory

The Washington Football Factory

Source: The Washington Post: RFK Stadium- Past, Present, Future?

I’m not an architect obviously, but one of the great things about RFK Stadium is that it wouldn’t have to be torn down. It is on a great property and piece of land and what the Redskins are flirting with right now is simply renovating it, or rebuilding it. But knocking out the skyboxes and press box level and the upper deck. Leaving in the lower bowl with those flexible seats that go up and down and then adding new decks of seats on top of the lower bowl and building a much larger stadium. Somewhere ninety-thousand seats or so, because Washington is big wealthy city in a huge wealthy market that loves their Redskins even when they’re losing. The future of the Redskins is not in Landover, or North Virginia, but in downtown Washington at the new RFK which would be right at where the current RFK is.

Worst case scenario, the city knocks down the current RFK, but rebuilds a new one on the same site, but that has about twice as many seats and perhaps a retractable roof on top and bring the Super Bowl to the nation’s capital for the first time ever. Which is long overdue considering how great a city market this is. Which the new RFK hosting college football and even bowl games, perhaps even bowl playoff games, perhaps the Maryland Terrapins would play Navy and Virginia every year. Maybe Penn State every other year. As well as a lot of other events during the NFL offseason to keep the money coming into this new huge stadium. That could become the best downtown big city football stadium in America and give Washington something New York doesn’t have. Which is a downtown NFL stadium to call its own.

I’m lucky being born and growing up watching football when I did. Because I remember all three Super Bowl Championships the Redskins won, plus the one they lost to the Los Angeles Raiders. So I know RFK Stadium very well and how much it has meant to this great franchise. Where it was probably the toughest place to win a road game at least in the NFC East in the 1980s, if not the NFC and NFL as well. Because Washington sports fans are so loyal to their winners and so crazy when the Redskins win to the point that opposing head coach has to ask the referee to tell the fans to shut up so his team can hear the plays and be able to talk to his team. That has been missing ever since the Redskins left RFK for Landover, but is something that the Redskins and should bring back. And be used to return the Redskins back to being an annual winner and championship contender. Which is where Washington expects the Redskins to be.

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St. Louis Cardinals

Source: David Newman: NFL Films: The Story of The 1982 St. Louis Cardinals

I remember the NFL’s St. Louis Cardinals pretty well, because I started watching football in the early and mid 1980s and even though the Cardinals are from St. Louis, they played in the NFC East with the Redskins. So I got to see the Cardinals twice a year for about six seasons. And I always remember them playing the Redskins very tough even though the Redskins were always better. The Redskins won two Super Bowls and won three NFC championships and the Cardinals made one playoff appearance, but they had three winning seasons. They were a very talented group that would win 8-9 games and barely miss the except 1982 under head coach Jim Hanifan. And I guess that is why I’m interested in a team that only made one playoff appearance in the 1980s.

The 1980s Cardinals, probably should have won more. They had an All-Pro quarterback in Neil Lomax. Who if his career wasn’t cut short due to injury is probably in the Hall of Fame today. If you look at their backfield they had OJ Anderson, who perhaps should be in the Hall of Fame today. Definitely one of the best tailbacks of the 1980s. Who had great size and power at 6’2 225 pounds, but was also fast and could run away from you. Very similar to OJ Simpson, Jim Brown, or Eric Dickerson. And they had Stump Mitchell behind OJ. Who was a great runner and receiver, similar to Joe Washington. And Neil Lomax had receivers Roy Green, Mel Gray and later JT Smith and tight end Pat Tilley. And a good offensive line with Hall of Famer Dan Dierdorf, Louis Sharpe and Joe Bostic. This was a team that had a lot of talent on offense and had good players on defense. Like defensive Freddie Joe Nunn and linebacker EJ Junior.

The 1980s St. Louis Cardinals, were very good and contended a lot, but they had a habit of putting scares into good winning teams that won consistently, but not enough to actually win the game. They would upset a very good team and then lose to a bad team. They either gave up on Jim Hanifan too soon, or replaced him with the wrong head coach in Gene Stallings. I think pretender is the best way to describe the Cardinals of this era. Seemed like every season they looked like they were good enough to win and would get back to the NFC Playoffs and maybe even win the NFC East. But they wouldn’t close the door and would lose at the last-minute. Make a key mistake when they couldn’t afford it. But similar to the New Orleans Saints pre-Jim Mora they were a fun team to watch. But only better than the Saints.

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Nick Buoniconti & Bobby Hebert

Nick Buoniconti & Bobby Hebert

Source: This piece was originally posted at The Daily Review

The New Orleans Saints finally not just make the playoffs in 1987, but had their first winning season as well. But several of those players that played for the 87 Saints were also there before Jim Mora got there. Like their great outside rush end Rickey Jackson, their great inside linebacker Sam Mills, their great halfback Rueben Mays, safety Dave Waymer, tight end Hobey Brenner and many others. The Saints under Bum Phillips and later Jim Finks and Jim Mora, drafted very well for the Saints for about five years in the 1980s. What Jim Mora brought to the Saints was teaching them how to win. He won championships in the USFL with the Baltimore Stars and that is the only reason why he went to the NFL which was to win. But he inherited a talented team and added to that.

If you look at the Saints of the early 1980s and then later in the late eighties and early nineties they were basically the same team on both sides of the ball as far as their philosophy, they were just better. But run they ran the ball real well and got big pass plays off of their running game and could put together long ball-control drives. And then on defense they could take away your running game and attack your quarterback with their 3-4 blitz pressure defense. Their 3-4 blitz defense was called the Dome Patrol. Where you had Rickey Jackson on one side and Pat Swilling on the other side. Both linebackers the essentially the size of smaller defensive ends with great speed. Where you would need an offensive tackle to block them. And then your three down lineman are there to eat up blocks and space to free up your linebackers to rush the quarterback and attack the runners.

As I mentioned in the piece about the 1983 Saints, Jim Finks and Jim Mora, didn’t inherit a bad 2-14 football team. The were 5-11 in 85 and 6-10 in 86, the first season under Mora. Mora, inherited good players on defense and offense and what he did with that was added to that and bring in more players on defense and offense. Like quarterback Bobby Hebert, who gave them a consistent passing game. And wide receiver Eric Martin, who gave them a very good possession receiver on the outside with good speed. And then they had Dalton Hilliard to go with Rueben Mays in the backfield. It took the Saints 21 seasons to become winners, but it didn’t happen overnight. They were building their good team for several years and finally put it all together in 1987.

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Joey Browner & Anthony Carter

Joey Browner & Anthony Carter

Source: This piece was originally posted at The Daily Review

1987 was a big season for the Minnesota Vikings for several reasons. Their first playoff appearance since 1982 and they were stuck in mediocrity from 1983-86 with 7-9 and 8-8 records. Actually their 1987 8-7 record wasn’t much better, but they did finally get back to the NFC Playoffs. 1987 was also the Vikings first trip back to the NFC Championship since their last Super Bowl team which was 1976. The Vikings became winners again in 1987 and won a couple playoff games and one play away from getting back to the Super Bowl. The 87 Vikings, were good, but certainly not great. Perhaps could’ve won a few more games. But this is a team that got hot in the playoffs after struggling just to get there and came together at the right time.

If you look at the good Vikings teams from the 1970s on offense, they were very similar to the Vikings of the 1980s. A finesse possession passing pass first team that ran the ball off of their passing game and ran the ball by committee. But also threw the ball to several different receivers. Instead of having one or two great receivers they had several good receivers that they could throw the ball to. Anthony Carter, was a great big play receiver and you team him a Chris Carter, Jerry Rice, Art Monk, or another great possession go to receiver on the other side and he would’ve had a great career, because he never would have been double teamed. But he never had that great receiver on the other side that the quarterback could always go to. So the 87 Vikings instead spread the ball around to several different people. Like TE Steve Jordan and halfback Darin Nelson.

The 87 Vikings defense, again very similar to the Purple People Eaters of the 1970s. Not a big blitz team, because they didn’t have to. They could attack the quarterback with just their front four. With defensive end Chris Dolman, who should be in the Hall of Fame, defensive tackle Keith Millard, who was a Pro Bowler for them, defensive tackle Henry Thomas, who perhaps should be in the Hall of Fame as well. Defensive end Doug Martin, was a solid pass rusher for them. And when you can get to the quarterback with your defensive line, it allows for you to drop your linebackers and defensive backs back into coverage and knock passes down, break up big plays, attack receivers with big hits and pick off passes. Which the Vikings were good at with their coverage.

When you have an 8-7 team that barely makes the playoffs and you upset two teams on the road just to get to the conference championship, you by definition are not a great team. But a team that struggled through the season and then got hot in the playoffs. Which is what the 87 Minnesota Vikings were, but they had very good talent on both sides of the ball. That came together at the time and almost beat the eventual Super Bowl champion Washington Redskins in the NFC Championship. And then you look at where the Vikings were the previous four seasons before the 87 season where they would just miss the playoffs and finish 8-8, or 7-9, the Vikings did have a great year in 87, became winners again and very close to even getting back to the Super Bowl.
NFL Films: NFL 1987- Minnesota Vikings Make a Move

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New Orleans Saints

Source: NFL Films: New Orleans Saints 1983 Highlights: A Little Bit More

Jim Mora, gets a lot of credit for turning the New Orleans Saints into winners and a consistent playoff team for the first time in their franchise history in the late 1980s and early 1990s. And he and Jim Finks deserve a lot of credit for that, because of how the drafted and the teams that Coach Mora brought to New Orleans. That played great defense and ran the ball well with solid quarterbacking. But the Saints had been very close to becoming a very competitive team and even a playoff team and flirting with the playoffs in the late 1970s, in 78 and 79. And just missed the NFC Playoffs in 1983 under Bum Phillips. Bum, inherited a 1-15 team from 1980 and they just barely missed the playoffs in 1982 and 83. Fell back a little in 1984 finishing 7-9 and then Bum retires at the end of the 85 season.

It was not like Jim Finks and Jim Mora inherited an awful 2-14 team, or something that had almost no talent on either offense and defense. And most the talent that they did have were past their primes. Which is what Jimmy Johnson inherited with the 1989 Dallas Cowboys. Bum Phillips built the Houston Oilers into a consistent winning and playoff team that came within one game of the Super Bowl both in 78 and 79, by putting together strong tough defenses and a power running game with Earl Campbell, with a strong offensive line. Which is what he did in New Orleans by putting together the best pass defense in the NFL in 1983 that had a very good pass rush as well. With defensive end Frank Warren and rush end Rickey Jackson. And a strong power running game with George Rogers and Wayne Wilson.

The theme of the 1983 Saints was, “A Little Bit More.” Which is exactly what they needed finishing the season with an 8-8 record and coming within one game of making their first playoff appearance and having their first winning record ever. From about 1978-84 or so, they were consistently flirting with having both a winning season and making the NFC Playoffs. 1980 and 81, would be exceptions to that. They had a strong pass defense and pass rush, but gave up a lot of yards on the ground. Great power running game averaging 150 yards a game rushing, but didn’t have any great receivers. And needed to run the ball the lot to move the ball and score points. This was a team was very close, but needed “A Little Bit More.” Needed more weapons in the passing game and a stronger run defense. But the Saints under Bum Phillips improved real fast and he deserves a lot of credit for that.

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A Giant Legend

A Giant Legend


NFL: Remembering Hall of Famer Frank Gifford: A Giant Living Legend

Frank Gifford, was truly one of a kind. I don’t believe we’ve had another Hall Fame football player and Hall of Fame sportscaster in one person. Frank Gifford, was the voice of Monday Night Football. Howard Cosell, was the comedian of that show, but Frank made that show with deep knowledge of the game. As a Hall of Fame player for the New York Giants, his intelligence and his great voice. He was both an announcer and an analyst and did both jobs at the same time. His main role was as the announcer, but the way he would call what he was seeing was from an analyst’s perspective. Because he knew exactly what he was seeing and why he was seeing it.

Growing up as a kid, I couldn’t wait for ABC’s Monday Night Football. Still the best football show on TV, at least prime time show. I couldn’t wait to hear Frank do the intro for that show. Because he brought such passion, intelligence and humor to that show and brought the audience into the show as if you were going to a football party at someone’s house. With the host welcoming you in as you were at home. That’s what it was like listening to Frank call games. It was like as if you were there with him. The only NFL announcer I would take over Frank Gifford would be Pat Summerall and maybe be Al Michaels. But Frank is in the same class as both of those men.

As far Frank Gifford the NFL player, when you talk about hybrid players today, guys who could play running back, or wide receiver and are so good at both you have to use them at both positions, Frank Gifford was the first great hybrid NFL player on offense. He would’ve been a great running back, or receiver. Because he had great hands, quickness, footwork and size. He could’ve played quarterback as well. Very similar to a Paul Hournung with the Green Bay Packers. Frank, was the leader of those great Giants teams of the 1950s that went to five straight NFL Championship’s. But he was also the leader of ABC’s Monday Night Football the best prime time NFL show of all-time.

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