The Twilight Zone

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

I assume some of you remember The Twilight Zone and I, also, assume most of you do not.  It was a TV show created by Rod Serling and the stories were, at various times, science fiction, absurd, fantasy, horror, and suspense.  The stories would conclude with an unexpected twist, and Serling would end the program with a moral to the story.  I know many do not know the program because it ran from 1959 to 1964.  It did make three comebacks with the latest being on CBS All Access in 2019.  I have not seen the new ones.  I was an avid viewer of the old ones.

I bring it up because this athletic season often makes me feel like I am in the Twilight Zone.  Let me use this week as an example.  Our sports schedule finally looked somewhat normal – We would do college basketball on Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday; high school basketball on Friday; and high school wrestling on Sunday.

I assigned the announcers for Friday’s high school game and the wrestling for Sunday.  The task ahead for me would be to write my blog, prepare for the two college games, do the two halftime interviews on Zoom, and attend a company staff meeting.  A full week, but one that felt almost like a normal, pre-Covid week.

And then we hit The Twilight Zone.

I wrote the blog on Sunday and Monday; prepared for the Lafayette men’s weekend game on Monday and Tuesday.  On Wednesday, there was a staff meeting and I watched the Lafayette women play Navy on ESPN+ in order to scout them for Sunday.  Thursday was prep day for the women’s game.  It was, also, another day of snow.

The snow led to the cancellation of Friday night’s high school basketball game.  We had scheduled around 10 high school games this season, but were able to do only three.  The announcers prepared for all ten.  The crew prepared to work all ten.

On Friday, around 5:00, I was informed that the college weekend games were not going to be played due to Covid problems at Bucknell.  Neither the Bucknell men nor the Bucknell women would be able to play their games. Those game preps needed to be scrapped.

I was, also, informed that the Patriot League was attempting to match both Lafayette teams with another opponent.  Of course, that meant preparation for two new teams in a very short period of time.  Around 10:00 PM, the decision was made that the Lafayette women would play Lehigh on Monday and the Lafayette men would not play at all.  They might play in the middle of next week.

In addition, the Lafayette women would play at Lehigh on Sunday, so final game prep could not occur until after the Sunday game since all stats and summaries would have to be updated.

Thank goodness the wrestling was wrestled on Sunday.

Rod Serling would always warn the viewers at the beginning of the TV show that they were entering The Twilight Zone.  I would rather have him tell me how to get out of it.

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

  1. Carson Wentz is no longer an Eagle. He is now an Indianapolis Colt reunited with his former offensive coordinator, Frank Reich, the Colts’ head coach.  After thanking his teammates and the city of Philadelphia, he finished with, “As one chapter closes, another one begins”.
  1. Speaking of ex-Eagles, Desean Jackson was released this past Friday. After a great start in game one this year with two 50+ yard TD catches, Jackson missed 11 more games with an injured ankle.  In 2019, he only played in three games.  He is a great talent, but, too often, he was not on the field.  Alshon Jeffery is probably the next Eagle to go.
  1. Former Phillies pitcher, Jake Arrieta signed with his old team, the Chicago Cubs, this week. Arrieta never lived up to expectations as a Phillie. His ERA climbed each year of the three years he was in Philadelphia from 3.96 in 2018 to 5.08 in 2020.  Due to health issues, he was never able to provide the Phillies with a consistent winner. He returns to the team he was with when he won the Cy Young Award.
  1. This past Saturday, 76er, Joel Embiid scored a career high 50 points, had 17 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals, and 4 blocks.  He is currently averaging 30.5 points a game.  He makes Philadelphia an NBA championship contender.
  1. The Colonial League championship basketball games will be on RCN on Friday night. Districts basketball begins on March 2.  Hopefully, the games will get played!

 

 

Please Rise for the Playing…

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

“Ladies and gentlemen, please rise for the playing of our National Anthem.”

Since I guesstimate that I have done over 4,500 sporting events in my career and probably watched just as many as a fan, these are words that I have heard and responded to more often than I could possibly have imagined.

Like any fan, I just took it for granted that prior to a game actually beginning, I would rise, along with everyone else, for the playing of our National Anthem.

But this week (and I will tell you why in a bit), I actually pondered how this tradition actually began.  I found this in an article by Matt Soniak:

After America’s entrance into World War I, Major League Baseball games often featured patriotic rituals, such as players marching in formation during pregame military drills and bands playing patriotic songs. During the seventh-inning stretch of Game One of the 1918 World Series, the band erupted into “The Star-Spangled Banner.” The Cubs and Red Sox players faced the centerfield flag pole and stood at attention. The crowd, already on their feet, began to sing along and applauded at the end of the song.

Given the positive reaction, the band played the song during the next two games, and when the Series moved to Boston, the Red Sox owner brought in a band and had the song played before the start of each remaining contest. After the war (and after the song was made the national anthem in 1931), the song continued to be played at baseball games, but only on special occasions like opening day, national holidays, and World Series games.

During World War II, baseball games again became venues for large-scale displays of patriotism, and technological advances in public address systems allowed songs to be played without a band. “The Star-Spangled Banner” was played before games throughout the course of the war, and by the time the war was over, the pregame singing of the national anthem had become cemented as a baseball ritual, after which it spread to other sports.

So why do I bring this up?  Since the start of the NBA season, Dallas Mavericks owner, Mark Cuban, ordered his team’s home games to start without playing the National Anthem.  This went on for 13 games and, since there were no fans, almost no one noticed.  Once it was brought to the attention of the NBA commissioner, Cuban was directed to play the anthem.  He agreed.

But he made his point – “We respect and always have respected the passion people have for the anthem and our country.  But we also loudly hear the voices of those who feel that the anthem does not represent them.  We feel their voices need to be respected and heard, because they have not been.”

New Orleans coach Stan Van Gundy tweeted, “If you think the anthem needs to be played before sporting events, then play it before every movie, concert, church service and the start of every work day at every business.  What good reason is there to play the anthem before a game?”

So I guess the question is should we play the National Anthem more often, less often, or continue to play it primarily at special events and all sporting events.  Does it polarize, does it lose its effectiveness with constant repetition, or does it need to remind us to offer allegiance to our country?

That is for each one of us to decide individually when the public address announcer utters the words, “Ladies and gentlemen, please rise…”

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

  1. The Eagles want to trade Carson Wentz and most expected that would be accomplished by now. It hasn’t.  Reports are that they are asking too much in return.  If he is traded, they will need a backup and, with the #6 pick in the draft, they might just take another QB, and with a pick that high, it should be a good QB to compete with Jalen Hurts.  First, they must get rid of Wentz.
  1. Think about this – Aaron Rodgers gets a $500,000 bonus if he participates in offseason workouts. He has participated every year.  Surprised?
  1. Remember Tim Tebow, the Heisman Trophy winner in 2007? He never could do enough to stay in the NFL, so he tried major league baseball.  He’s back on the Mets spring training roster of 75 players.  This is his fourth spring training where he has hit .151 and one home run.  Why?
  1. I hope you happened to watch the LafayetteLoyola men’s basketball game on Saturday. It went four overtimes; lasted 2 hours and fifty minutes and had some outstanding individual performances.  Catch it on RCN Video on Demand.
  1. We will have Central Catholic at Allen for you this Friday and Lafayette-Bucknell Saturday (men) and Sunday (women). We will, also, bring the District individual wrestling championships on Sunday night.  The Colonial League championship basketball games and the Districts are right around the corner.

 

 

 

 

         

 

 

 

 

 What a Streak!

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

Do I have your attention?  You probably think I am going to talk about Tom Brady and the Super Bowl.  You probably think I mean the streaks and records that Tom Brady added this past Sunday:

  • Ten Super Bowl appearances.
  • Seven Super Bowl wins.
  • One more championship than Michael Jordan and Alabama head coach Paul “Bear” Bryant.
  • The same number of championships as Mickey Mantle, Babe Ruth, and Nick Saban. By the way, Bill Belichick, his former coach with the New England Patriots, has eight Super Bowls titles (two with the Giants and six with the Patriots).
  • Super Bowl victories for two different teams (only Peyton Manning was able to do that).
  • The oldest player to win a Super Bowl (43).
  • The most QB – receiver TDs in a Super Bowl – 13th and 14th to Rob Gronkowski.
  • The most MVP awards (5) in the Super Bowl.

Yes, Tom Brady accomplished all of these.  But how about the actual “streaker” who, it was reported, wore a hot-pink onesie and managed to elude security for about fifty yards?  That “streaker” actually made it to the end zone, something the Kansas City Chiefs were unable to do the entire game.  Defensive coordinator for the Bucs, Todd Bowles, had no answer for that guy.  CBS did not follow the longest run of the day because it is a rule not to give “exposure” to the rule breakers.  Most fans would have liked to see the replay.

Speaking of the Bucs’ defense, if there was a way to give an MVP award to an entire side of the ball, then the Tampa defense deserved one.   I think we were all waiting for the Chiefs to finally show what they were able to do all season on offense – get Mahomes free to magically find his speedy wide receivers and make things happen.  It never did happen.  Mahomes was sacked three times, intercepted twice, and never got his team into the end zone.  That was an amazing feat; an MVP performance by a unit, not one player.

Most do not remember when the Bucs were 7-5 this year and, in week 12, did not score a touchdown.  But they went on to win four straight before moving to the postseason, where they went on to win three more on the road.  And it was a very impressive road trip, winning the last two in New Orleans and Green Bay.

Can the Bucs repeat?  Brady is back for another season to finish out his $50 million contract.  Gronkowski said he will be back, too.  No team has repeated in 17 years.  The Patriots (with Brady) did it in 2004.  Can the Bucs (with Brady) do the same?  It would be a nice streak to continue for the Bucs.

Well, I realized that I lied.  I did talk much more about Tom Brady and the Bucs than I did about the guy in the hot pink onesie.  Thus, my streak of telling small fibs continues. 

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

  1. The Super Bowl commercials were a lot deeper and more serious than in the past, a reflection, I’m sure, of the trials and tribulations of the past year. For example, it was often hard to determine what product was being spotlighted.  Bruce Springsteen gave a unifying message representing Jeep, but Jeep was barely mentioned.

https://www.kptv.com/bruce-springsteen-and-jeep-call-for-unity-in-super-bowl-ad/video_dd6c3d3c-c332-57a4-988b-ae072800fde2.html

  1. A “Flat” Matthew McConaughey representing Doritos 3D Crunch was one of the most creative commercials. It certainly caused a “How do they do that?”

https://www.nydailynews.com/snyde/ny-matthew-mcconaughey-doritos-3d-commercial-20210208-pajxdivky5cm5fjsuf74t74s3e-story.html

  1. The Eagles’ Carson Wentz appears to be headed to either the Colts or the Bears. If he goes to the Bears, then Nick Foles may return to the Eagles as part of the trade.  Interesting…
  1. Covid really affected the Patriot League basketball schedule this week. All Saturday games except Army vs. Holy Cross women were postponed and both the Lafayette men and women did not know who they would play or when until Friday night around 10:00 PM.  The season is taking on a “playground” type schedule, where you show up, choose up sides and play a game.  Plus add putting together a television crew, doing the research on the teams, and being ready to televise the game to the mix.
  1. The District XI team wrestling championships were canceled this week. Notre Dame (AA) and Bethlehem Catholic (AAA) were named the champions since teams were reluctant to participate.  The individual championships will be held on Sunday, February 21.  I think.

FINAL RESULTS:

Gary’s Guesses: NFL Picks – (LAST WEEK – 0-1; OVERALL- 168-98-1 – 63%)

 

Prop Bets

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

The Super Bowl is serious business.  After all, a 30-second commercial this year costs $5.6 million, compared to last year’s $5.1 million.  By comparison, baseball’s World Series costs $500,000 for 30 seconds; the Oscars cost $2.6 million.  NFL football, as you can see, means big bucks.

Just as big is all the money bet on the game.  It is estimated that a billion dollars will be legally bet on the game this year in 20 states.  Las Vegas Sportsbook won $18.7 million in 1919 of the $154.7 million bet.  It is estimated that about 7% of the US population (23 million) bet on the game in 2019.  This year, Caesar’s Sportsbook took in a single $120,000 bet on the Chiefs less than 24 hours after the line was posted.

It is easy to place your bets on who will win, how many points will be scored, which team will cover the point spread, etc. These less complex bets are made across the country, not only at legal gambling sites, but in homes during Super Bowl parties (though probably not so much this year).  In other words, betting on the big game is almost expected no matter how you decide to do it.

But I thought you might be interested in some of the “fun” bets you can make on the game.  As of last count there were 1,218 ways to bet on the Super Bowl.  The more interesting and unique bets are called “prop” bets.  Here are a few:

  1. Which team wins the toss of the coin? (six of the last seven have been heads)
  2. Will there be a score in the first five minutes?
  3. Will a field goal attempt hit the upright?
  4. Which will be shorter – the National Anthem or a scoring drive?
  5. What will be the first song sung by The Weekend at halftime?
  6. Who will be the special guest at halftime?
  7. What color will the Gatorade bath given to the winning coach be?
  8. How many times will Tom Brady’s wife be shown during the telecast?
  9. Will the last play of each half be a quarterback rush?
  10. Will a lineman score a TD?
  11. Will any team score a 4th down touchdown?
  12. How many players will throw a pass?
  13. How many times will Bill Belichick be mentioned?
  14. Will either President Biden or former President Trump be mentioned?
  15. Who will the MVP thank first – team, family, fans, or God?

Obviously, the most important thing is to enjoy the game, but if you want to have some fun that can last throughout the entire broadcast, try some of these bets on your friends.

Good luck!

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

  1. There was an interesting NFL trade made on Saturday night. And it literally was a trade.  QB Matthew Stafford of the Lions was traded for QB Jared Goff of the Rams.  The Rams threw in a 3rd round pick this year and two 1st round picks in ’22 and ’23.  It appears both teams benefited from this trade.
  1. Did you know that the AFC team in the Super Bowl has won five of the past six Super Bowls? Not only that, they have covered the point spread in the same five of six?
  1. There is obviously no quarterback problem for either the Bucs or the Chiefs with Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes. The Eagles cannot say the same thing.  New head coach Nick Siriani has two quarterbacks, both of whom want to be starters – Carson Wentz and Jalen Hurts.  My guess is that one of them will be gone.  Which one would you trade away?
  1. The stock market, to me, is just another form of gambling. That is why I never understood one being so acceptable and another, for many years, shrouded in illegality and secrecy.  Some might say the stock market offers bigger risks and, possibly, a more devastating outcome for people.  With that said, I wish I understood the Gamestop controversy.  I read about it, but I can’t say I understand it.  I’ll wait for the movie to come out.
  1. Covid hit our broadcast team harder this week than at any other time. Of the five games we had scheduled, only two were played.  Actually, two different games were scheduled for this past Sunday and both ended up being postponed.  So two out of six.  The postponements came late after all the crews were set and the prep work was completed.  We will try again this week, but let’s add a major snowstorm to the mix to further complicate the season.

Gary’s Guesses: NFL Picks – (LAST WEEK – 0-2; OVERALL- 168-97-1 – 63%) 

          Super Bowl PICK 

          Kansas City – 38-28

 

 

 

 

Like Me

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

Every Sunday morning after reading the two local Sunday papers, I gather my wits, trudge up the steps to my office, and sit down to write my weekly blog.  More often than not, I make the journey having no idea what I am going to write.  I hope that Clio, the muse of writing, strikes me with some great idea as my computer lights up, ready for action.  That was not the case this week.  I knew what I was going to say.

As this week unfolded, it became obvious to me what I thought about and what I would write about.  Let me first mention the events:

  • Martin Luther King Day
  • The start of the EPC high school basketball season with three new head coaches, all of whom are black.
  • The inauguration of Kamala Harris as the most powerful woman in the country.
  • The recommendation by President Biden to surround himself with the most diversified cabinet in our history (women, people of color, LGBT members, and a Native American). Sadly, many are accompanied by the label “the first” in their positions.
  • The death of the great Henry Aaron, who broke Babe Ruth’s home run record (714) and went on to hit 755 career homers. During his run, he endured some of the most intense racism from people throughout the country.

This all occurred this week.

These events took me back to my days in the classroom as an English teacher.  I recalled vividly teaching two books:  Black Like Me and Uncle Tom’s Cabin. 

I taught a course called Books That Changed the World.  Harriet Beecher Stowe’s anti-slavery novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, was part of the course.  It was published in 1852.  Uncle Tom was a slave who suffered for decades.  The novel depicts the reality of slavery with both triumphs and tragedies.  Tom is eventually sold to a vicious plantation owner, Simon Legree, who eventually has Tom beaten to death.  It was the second most popular book of the century, trailing only the Bible.  Uncle Tom’s Cabin “changed the world” by showing the atrocities of the slave trade and inspired the Civil War and the end of slavery.  I wanted my students to understand this history and gain a perspective on the origin of race relations. 

Black Like Me is a nonfiction book written by a white journalist, John Howard Griffin.  It was published in 1961.  Griffin had his skin temporarily darkened so that he could pass through the southern part of the country as a black man.  He did it for six weeks.  He changed his skin, but he did not change his identity and when asked questions, he always told the truth about himself.  As you might suspect, he faced racism from both white and black people for no other reason than the color of his skin.  After writing the book and becoming a national celebrity, threats forced his family to move to Mexico.  At one point, he was beaten by a group of white men with chains when they discovered who he was.  Same man, different skin color led to much different experiences.

My hope in teaching these two works of literature was that my students (overwhelmingly white) would understand that we are really not different.  As I tried to pass on the message, I certainly did not believe I understood what it meant to be a minority in the United States, but I felt it was important for my students (and me) to begin to believe that we should do our best to treat everyone equally.  The events of this past week give me hope that this country is moving in the right direction.

I look forward to the day when “black”, “latino”, “trans”, etc. are no longer needed when describing anyone.  Suffice it to say – they are “like me” or probably, because of their position, “better than me.”  I am happy to accept that.

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

  1. Congratulations to Nigel Long (Liberty), Darnell Braswell (Allen), and JT Randall (Dieruff) on their first week as head coaches in the EPC. I remember calling the high school games that both Nigel (Freedom) and Darnell (Allen) played as teenagers.  JT comes from a very successful Reading High School program. I look forward to working with all of you.
  1. Major Leaguers and legends Bob Gibson, Whitey Ford, Lou Brock, Dick Allen, Don Sutton, and Tom Lasorda all died recently. Now add the name Ty Stofflet, our local softball pitcher who many thought was the greatest of all time, to the list of lost legends.  He was inducted into the American Softball Hall of Fame, the International Hall of Fame, and the Lehigh Valley Softball Hall of Fame.
  1. Patrick Mahomes and Tom Brady are in the Super Bowl. Mahomes is the best young quarterback in the game and Brady is, well, simply the best ever.  It should make for a great matchup.
  1. Speaking of NFL quarterbacks, the story of Washington’s Alex Smith’s return to the game after a horrific leg injury is both amazing and inspiring. Take a look at his 60 Minutes interview:

https://www.cbsnews.com/video/alex-smith-washington-football-team-60-minutes-2021-01-17/

  1. Covid did not interfere with high school basketball this past week. With our fingers crossed, we will bring Bethlehem Catholic at Liberty on Tuesday at 7:00pm and Allen at Parkland on Thursday at 7:00pm.  The Lafayette women return this Saturday after a 10-day quarantine when they take on American at 2:00pm and the men will play on Sunday against American at 2:00pm.  The Nazareth at Bethlehem Catholic wrestling match postponed from last week will now be held on February 3.  We will have that match for you.

Gary’s Guesses: NFL Picks – (LAST WEEK – 0-2; OVERALL- 168-97-1 – 63%) 

          Super Bowl pick next week

 

 

6,581 Days

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

John Leone and I have been working basketball and football games together for over 20 years. John loves sports – pretty much, all sports. Some, as you will see, however, more than others.

John REALLY loves the Cleveland Browns.  He is an avid, fanatical, zealous, intense, passionate (get the picture) fan of the Cleveland Browns.  He is part of a Leone “cult” that, though separated each NFL Sunday geographically, they are as close as each other’s living room, den, and man cave as they text and talk to one another through four quarters.  Until this past Sunday, it had been 6,581 days since the Browns’ last played in an NFL playoff game.  This Steelers-Browns game was special.  I’ll let John tell the story:

SEE YOU SUNDAY
John Leone

What does a lifetime look like? What does it feel like? Watershed moments bring perspective. Ask a Millennial how long ago they graduated, when they got their first job, or the first time they voted. Now ask them to name the year The Cleveland Browns last appeared in an NFL Playoff game. Like that familiar warning on our side view mirrors, past events often appear closer than the numbered years.

If you happen to be a loyal fan of the NFL’s Cleveland Browns (is there another kind?), a football lifetime for anyone under 40 began, arguably, during the 2002 season. It was the team’s last appearance in a playoff game. But for those of us of a different vintage, the roots and memories run far deeper, and last Sunday’s playoff win brought a visceral sense of relief, joy, and even vindication. You see, I’ll be 69 years old this year, and my football fandom history with my beloved Browns traces back to my hometown of Syracuse, its college football team, and watching the likes of Jim Brown and Ernie Davis. For those of you counting, that would be circa 1957-1960. Like I said, deep roots.

Christmas Eve dinner was always a big event in my first-generation Italian family. Attendance was compulsory, and as the son of a Syracuse cop, rules were to be followed – especially those involving Grandma and Grandpa. On December 24, 1967, the Browns lost in the Divisional round to the Dallas Cowboys, 52-14. Look it up. It was the late game that afternoon, and its outcome was decided by the beginning of the 4th quarter. Dinnertime drew near. But I stayed to watch with tear-filled eyes as every final second ticked away. Where is John? I was 15. Was that old enough to know better? I don’t recall the punishment for being late for dinner, but nothing could have hurt more than the thrashing we took from Dallas that day.

The ‘80s brought a hint of past successes. The 1980 “Kardiac Kids” and Brian Sipe’s MVP season gave us promise, but a play called “Red Right 88” derailed our hopes. That final play still lives in Cleveland football infamy. Later that decade, Bernie Kosar took us to the very threshold of three Super Bowls, only to be thwarted by John Elway, “The Drive,” and “The Fumble.” Since then, there has been this dark and morbid tendency by Browns fans to attach various names to our collective agony. “The Helmet Toss” and “Bottlegate” come to mind. Then, of course, the ultimate betrayal – “The Move.”

The slings and arrows and jokes and insults suffered by today’s Browns fans have hurt us old timers especially hard. There really was a different lifetime, you see, one in which this NFL cornerstone franchise was a perennial winner. And when the owner left the city in 1995 and tried to take the team with him, well, the fan base revolted and held on to the name, the colors, the records, and the culture that was so deeply woven into the fabric of the region and beyond. We effectively “traded” away our owner. In retrospect, that was pretty cool. But that was a lifetime ago, and lifetimes are different for everyone.

My younger brother, Ed, a lawyer and a much smarter man than I, inexplicably picked up the mantle of “Die Hard” from me. He, in turn, has passed it along to my nieces and nephews, and by now, grandnieces and grandnephews. My own children have no choice – like DNA, it can’t be denied. If I leave nothing else behind, at least there is that. There is no accounting for real loyalty. So you might imagine what the phone calls, text messages, and video chats were like on Sunday. Euphoria, disbelief, shock. From that very first snap that sailed over Big Ben’s head through the wee hours of the next morning, we listened to post-game reactions and savored the feeling that had eluded us for decades. We were there, and there we stayed.

I don’t pretend that Browns fans have cornered the market on the joys and heartbreaks that come with an allegiance to an NFL team. There are similar stories that run through every fan base of every franchise. And that is a good thing. Anything that brings family and friends and communities together is, indeed, a good thing. Andrew Malcom is a former New York Times correspondent, a columnist, and author of Huddle: Fathers, Sons, and Football. When the franchise owners tried to leave Cleveland in 1995, his op-ed in The Times said it all, and said it as well as can be said – regardless of your own allegiance. It is an absolute must-read – a testament to the notion of fidelity and trust and a strong rebuke to the notion of “franchise free agency” and the corporate element of the NFL.

For us Browns fans, staying the course and holding on to hope through the gauntlet that has defined the recent history of this franchise has been an especially daunting task. Yet through it all – the dark and darker and darkest days – there has always been one constant. It’s a refrain that has endured and withstood all manner of adversity over years and years of sadness and frustration. And it will remain.

P.S.  The Browns lost to the Kansas City Chiefs this past Sunday.  Their season is over.

Just some of the out-of-town fans on a typical Sunday afternoon.

John’s daughter, Amanda, at age 3 – still indoctrinated at 33!

 

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

  1. Alabama’s win over Ohio State on Monday night was the seventh national championship for head coach Nick Saban. He now has won more national championships than any coach in college football history.  He was tied with Alabama’s former head coach Bear Bryant, who had won six.  Four college coaches have won four national titles – Minnesota’s Bernie Bierman, Ohio State’s Woody Hayes, Notre Dame’s Frank Leahy, and USC’s John McCay.
  1. I mentioned last week that Jeffrie Lurie (Eagles’ owner) and Doug Pederson (Eagles’ ex-head coach) may not be seeing eye-to-eye. Pederson was fired this week.  I believe the next Eagles’ coach will be Eric Bieniemy, the offense coordinator of the Kansas City Chiefs.  He is again part of the Andy Reid tree of coaches.  That’s just my guess.
  1. The NFC title game ironically will feature two old-style NFL quarterback types – Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady – two veterans who use their heads much more than they use their legs and speed. They are throwbacks to what quarterbacks used to be.
  1. Speaking of NFL quarterbacks, the Chiefs may have to play the AFC championship without Patrick Mahomes. He suffered a concussion this past Sunday.  If he can’t play, Chad Henne would be forced to take on the Buffalo Bills defense and they are outstanding.  Bills win if the Chiefs are without Mahomes; it’s a toss-up with him.
  1. Our first high school basketball game (Parkland at Central) and our first wrestling match (Nazareth at Bethlehem Catholic) have both been postponed. The Lafayette women’s basketball games this past weekend and next weekend have also been postponed.  We will, hopefully, bring you some basketball this week starting on Tuesday with Central at Parkland.

Gary’s Guesses: NFL Picks – (LAST WEEK – 3-1; OVERALL- 168-95-1 – 64%) 

Conference Championships

Green Bay

Buffalo

 

 

 

 

 

Before You Ask

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

We are back on the air with sports!  It was a long time coming – from our last football broadcast on November 20 until our next, January 2, there was a total of 43 days in between.  The good news is we now have a winter schedule planned.  The bad news is – it won’t quite look the same.

As I write this, we will have broadcast three Lafayette games with 12 more to follow.  We have a great relationship with the Lafayette athletic department as well as a contractual obligation to televise a specific number of Lafayette football and basketball games.  The Patriot League basketball season consists of games played exclusively on Saturday and Sunday.  Two teams play each other back-to-back and home and away each Saturday and Sunday.  We televise the women on one day and the men on the other.

This will create some disappointment for our high school fans.  There are going to be fewer high school games and fewer wrestling matches.  So, before you ask, I thought I would explain. 

Our company has accepted the responsibility to keep their employees as safe as possible and we are certainly grateful for that.  I know our fans are used to us being able to do two events on any given day or night.  Covid mitigation regulations will not allow that to happen.  In order to strictly adhere to the social distancing and mask requirements, we must use our two production trucks at a single event.  This keeps our crew at the venue properly separated and as safe as possible.  However, it also does not allow us to do two separate events.

It also requires a separate crew back at the studio because that is where the announcers are located.  I’m sure you have noted that many of the networks do not have their announcers at the venue.  Some won’t allow it; others feel it is the safest approach.

So, with the Lafayette schedule filling almost every Saturday and Sunday until at least February 21, our local high school schedule will be limited to three events (basketball and/or wrestling) per week, where we normally would do five or more, on average.

Much like all of you, we would love to get back to bringing you all the games we have in the past.  And we are sure that day will come again.  But, for right now, it is imperative that you stay safe and we stay safe.

Rest assured, we miss seeing you, talking with you, interviewing players and coaches, being with ADs and fellow media personnel, and soaking up as many events as possible.  We WILL do that again.

I anticipated you would wonder about our schedule, so I hope this gave you some insight before you asked.

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

  1. The Patriot League will play a football season.  The first game is scheduled for March 13 and the schedule will conclude on April 17 with a championship game.  The League will be divided into two divisions of three teams each (North – Holy Cross, Fordham, and Colgate; South – Lafayette, Lehigh, and Bucknell).  Each team will play their two division opponents and two from the other division for a total of four games.  So… there will be a Lafayette-Lehigh game in the spring!!
  1. Eagles’ owner Jeffrey Lurie and head coach Doug Pederson met this past week and just when everyone thought both would go back to work, it appears that they may not be on the same page.  The Eagles have plenty of personnel problems, the most glaring being at quarterback.  There will also be a total revamping of the coaching staff.  Lurie and Pederson will meet again this week in Florida and Pederson’s vision for the future needs to agree more with Lurie’s or the Eagles will be looking for a new coach.
  1. Tampa Bay had not won a playoff game since 2002.  That year they won the Super Bowl.  Their quarterback is Tom Brady and, if memory serves me, he’s won Super Bowls before.  Could it be?
  1. No matter whether you were rooting for the Bucs or the Washington Football Team on Saturday night, you had to love the performance of Taylor Heinicke, who made just his second NFL start ever.  He threw for 306 yards, a touchdown, and rushed for a touchdown, while being in pain most of the game.  He even had a chance to win the game at the end.  A true underdog story – and who doesn’t like those?
  1. High school basketball returns this week.  On Friday night, RCN-TV will bring the Parkland at Central game to you LIVE at 7:00pm.  We were originally scheduled to do Freedom at Northampton, but the Bethlehem schools did not fulfill their mandated 10 pre-season practices so the game was postponed.

Gary’s Guesses: NFL Picks – (LAST WEEK – 3-3; OVERALL- 165-94-1 – 64%)

Divisional Round

Green Bay

Buffalo

Kansas City

New Orleans

 

New Year Resolutions

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

My research tells me that New Year’s resolutions started 4,000 years ago with the Babylonians.  They actually celebrated the New Year, but it was in mid-March.  Promises were made to pay off debts, return borrowed objects, and offer loyalty to the king.

In 46 BC, Julius Caesar declared a new calendar with January 1 as the first day of the New Year.  Romans reflected back on the past year and promised they would conduct themselves properly in the coming year.

Even today, it is estimated that about 45% say they make New Year’s resolutions.  Sadly, only around 8% say they are successful about achieving those goals.  So I figured, what the heck, with 8% such a low bar, I would give it a shot:

  1. Get the Covid vaccine when I am eligible. I assume everyone’s goal is to get our lives back to some semblance of normality and I hope the vaccine accomplishes that.
  1. Stop worrying about whether to retire or not. It will happen; I am prepared for it to happen; and I’ll know when it should happen.
  1. Do not ask my wife, “What’s for dinner?” She is so sick of hearing that question and I get it.  We pretty much stopped asking, “Where should we go to eat?” this past year.  I want to say that more often in 2021.
  1. Get all the doctor checkups that are appropriate. Stop putting them off (another colonoscopy comes to mind).
  1. Plan vacations! It feels good just to type those words.  I can’t wait to travel again.  This past year allowed zero opportunities to get away.  That has to end.
  1. Keep reading. Being stuck at home allowed for more diverse and more in-depth reading of newspapers, magazines, and books.  I think I am smarter now.
  1. Clean out the basement. I have more clothes than you can possibly imagine.  We used to own a store and when we sold it, we brought home many of the store racks.  I have found a way to fill them all.  Despite giving away large amounts to charity every few months, they still seem to somehow multiply in the basement.
  1. Keep walking. My wife and I love to take walks.  It at least gives me the illusion that I am exercising.  You’ll notice “exercise more” is not on the list.
  1. Start shopping again. I am so sick of the Covid wardrobe – sweat pants and a sweatshirt.  I want some new clothes – I know, just go down in the basement.
  1. Improve my golf game – okay, now I have gone too far. I have moved into the realm of the impossible.

So, there you have it – my goals for 2021.  I do not have a lot of confidence I will join the 8%!

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

  1. The Patriot League basketball season got off to a rather ominous start with four Men’s games and four Women’s games postponed due to Covid in the first weekend.
  1. Speaking of the Patriot League, there is an expression in sports that has become a cliché – “That’s why they play the game”. That was never more accurate than this past weekend’s games between Colgate and Army.  On Saturday, at West Point, Colgate destroyed Army 101-57.  On Sunday, in Hamilton, NY, Army beat Colgate 75-73.  That’s why they play the game.
  1. It is not often that my wife brings me a good sports story (like never). But this past week, there was an article in the Ukrainian Weekly (yes, she subscribes) about the massive impact Ukrainians have had on the NHL.  There is a documentary out called Uke that gives the history of that impact.  For example, 50 players of Ukrainian descent have hoisted the Stanley Cup.  Only Canadians and Americans have more.  Wayne Gretsky, who many believe was the greatest hockey player of all time, tells of his Ukrainian upbringing.  There will be an English version and my wife and I will watch it.
  1. The Jacksonville Jaguars will get the first pick for the NFL draft. The assumption has been that it will be Clemson’ QB Trevor Lawrence.  But if you watched the ClemsonOhio State game, you might think the better pick would be Ohio State QB Justin Fields.  That night, Fields was better.  The Eagles will pick sixth.
  2. And, finally, speaking of the Eagles, I imagine the Giants were very unhappy with Doug Pederson Sunday night in the Eagles’ loss to the Redskins. The Eagles had a chance to kick a tying field goal at one point and did not, failing to make a fourth down conversion.  They also brought in third-string QB Nate Sudfeld in the fourth quarter in a 17-14 game.  Washington won and will play in the playoffs, eliminating the Giants.

Gary’s Guesses: NFL Picks – (LAST WEEK – 11-5; OVERALL- 162-91-1 – 64%) 

Wild Card Weekend

Buffalo

Seattle

Tampa Bay

Tennessee

New Orleans

Pittsburgh

 

Happy New Year 2021!

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

Gary’s Guesses: NFL Picks – (LAST WEEK – 10-6; OVERALL- 151-86-1 – 64%)

Washington

Indianapolis

Green Bay

Dallas

Pittsburgh

Tennessee

New Orleans

Jets

Minnesota

Tampa Bay

Baltimore

Miami

Kansas City

Green Bay

Las Vegas

LA Rams

                  

 

 

Behind the Mic: Merry Christmas!

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

 

and

Gary’s Guesses: NFL Picks – (LAST WEEK – 10-6; OVERALL- 141-80-1 – 64%)

  • New Orleans
  • Tampa Bay
  • Arizona
  •  Miami
  • Kansas City
  • Cleveland
  • Indianapolis
  • Washington
  • Chicago
  • Baltimore
  • Houston
  • LA Chargers
  • Philadelphia
  • Seattle
  • Green Bay
  • Buffalo