Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Sports Illustrated's Don Banks is a Pretentious Jerk

On Friday, I unfollowed Sports Illustrated’s Don Banks on twitter. If you follow him, you should do the same, because he’s a pretentious youknowwhat.

During Roger Goodell’s press conference on Friday, Howard Stern Show staffer Benjy Bronk crashed the party and caused a minor hiccup in what was otherwise a pretty boring and pointless ordeal.

After the disturbance, here is the tweet Don Banks put out:

Ignoring the fact that the Howard Stern show is listened to, not watched, take a minute to consider all the pretentious in that tweet.

Don Banks is “proud” that he isn’t a Howard Stern fan. What does that even mean? Were people forcing him to listen to Howard Stern against his will, but he bravely fought them off? Has he been criticized for not listening to Howard Stern? Has he been held back in any way because people found out he wasn’t a Howard Stern fan?

What it means is that Don Banks thinks he’s better than Howard Stern fans. To him, the fact that he is not a Stern fan means he is a superior human being to those of us who are.

Is Don Banks “proud” of popular TV shows that he doesn’t watch? Is he “proud” when he doesn’t read certain best-selling books? Should he be “proud” when a movie makes millions at the box office and he decides not to go see it?

I’m a Howard Stern fan. Stern entertains millions of people every day, even when he’s not live (which is much more than Don Banks can ever claim). However, I get that Stern is not for everyone. To each his or her own. I certainly don’t think I’m better than anyone else because of what I enjoy.

The fact that Don Banks does makes me proud to say that I won’t read his articles. Ever.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Ode To Puffy

When Shannon (my wife) and I started dating, one thing we enjoyed doing together was to visit PetSmart to look at the cats that were up for adoption. Early in our relationship, we were in PetSmart and an ad for a cat caught our eye. This cat was beautiful. Grey and white, very furry, big green eyes; we were smitten. I called the number listed and left a message, telling them we were interested in adopting. I never heard back, so we assumed someone had beaten us to it. A few months later, however, we saw the same ad again, so I called again, got in touch with the person, and Puffin came into our lives. 

 One of the first things we were going to do was change her name, because “Puffin” seemed silly to us. We quickly discovered that Puffin was in fact perfect for her, because she was as puffy as they come. Just a tiny ball of fur. It didn’t take us long to fall in love with her name, and even less time to fall in love with her.

Before we brought her into our home, we researched how best to acclimate a cat to a new environment. We read online that it was best to give them a small room to themselves, before giving them run of the house. We put her in a tiny office, and of course went in every five minutes to check up on her, so it made very little sense why all of a sudden we couldn’t find her. We hadn’t seen her come out, but we didn’t see her in the office, so we assumed she must have gotten out somehow. I’m pretty sure we were all set to go outside and start looking for her when on a whim we decided to pull open one of the desk drawers. Sure enough, there she was, looking up at us and meowing because we had apparently disturbed her.

That was 11 years ago, and since that time she has been a constant presence in our household. She was only eight pounds, but she was everywhere, and now that she’s gone our house is a much lonelier, quieter place. Puffin passed away on Friday due to something called FIP, which came on suddenly and took her away from us. Three weeks ago she seemed fine. Now, she’s gone and we’re having a hard time coming to grips with that fact.

Puffin loved attention, but many times she also loved getting attention on her own terms. She would come to you for pets, but then walk away and expect you to follow her to continue petting her. She always hid when people came over, but she loved being the center of attention so it was only a matter of time before she came out and planted herself in a place where we could all see her, even if she wouldn’t let anyone (but us) pet her. Eventually she became more comfortable and would let visitors pet her, but she would also walk away to make them work to pet her.

Puffin sometimes slept with us, but usually she would just appear after the alarms first started going
off. If she wasn’t in the bedroom when I got out of bed, she would inevitably appear when I went into the bathroom to get ready for work. She loved jumping into the shower after I got out (sometimes, before I got out, giving me a loud “meow” to let me know that I was taking too long to exit). During the winter she would climb under the covers and cuddle with us, and many mornings we would wake up to find her either a) sleeping on top of one of us or 2) sleeping on top of our pillow, right next to our head.

Whenever I was eating on the couch in our den, she would put her front paws on my leg and duck her head underneath my arm, and no amount of pushing her away would get her to leave. She loved to roll around on the floor (probably to get our attention) and also loved to scratch carpets and furniture (also, probably to get our attention). She was perfect in every way, and we loved her.

There are no shortage of cute stories that we can tell about Puffin (and if you’ve hung out with us, you’ve probably heard all of them, multiple times). We were definitely that annoying couple who incessantly told stories about their pets. But in our defense, our pets are like our kids. Puffin was family to us. She was our first shared responsibility as a couple, one sign among many that our relationship was forever. It’s a strange sensation to know that she’s no longer around.

I don’t feel sad for Puffin. She was very sick and miserable and I know she’s better off now. Selfishly, I feel sad for Shannon and me, who will never be able to see Puffin again. She’ll never again greet us when we wake up, or when we get home. She’ll never again smack our dog across his nose, which she did numerous times, although she never used her claws. We’ll never see her again basking in the sunlight in one of the upstairs rooms, looking serene and beautiful and cozy.

Last Friday morning she seemed very off. She was wobbling when she walked and every movement seemed to cause her pain. Before we went to work, she was in our hallway, lying on her side with her eyes wide open. Both Shan and I, separately, told her that if she had to leave then she should go. We discussed during the day what we should do, and we decided that we should see how she was doing when we got home, but we both knew that we were going to have to take her to the vet to put her to sleep. In pure Puffin fashion, she did things on her own time, and she left us before we got back home.

Time heals most all wounds, and I know eventually we’ll move on and she’ll become a pleasant memory rather than a painful wound. But right now I don’t want to move on, because moving on means she’s really gone and I don’t want to accept that fact. Puffin was only eight pounds, but she was pure presence, and without her our house seems emptier. The only consolation I can take is that she loved us, and we loved her, and because she is in our hearts, she will never truly leave.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Hey Look, an Offense! (takeaways from the Gators' week 1.5 win)

A few takeaways from the Gators’ 65-0 win over Eastern Michigan on Saturday…

Hey Look, An Offense!
Apparently the third offensive coordinator was the charm. For the first time since Pope Urban, the Gators offense looked like an actual offense. Wide receivers (remember them?) running good routes, getting open and making tough catches. Offensive line opening holes for running backs, who ran with abandon. Not one but two quarterbacks making big plays…with their arms, not their legs, which is not something we have become accustomed to seeing the past two years. Florida had its highest scoring output since 2008, most total yards since 2010 and most pass completions and attempts since 2002. Also, and I can’t emphasize this enough, THEY LOOKED LIKE AN ACTUAL OFFENSE. It was really fun to watch. Yes, it was Eastern Michigan, but this is what teams like Florida are supposed to do to teams like EMU.

What I’d Like To See The Gators Do
Approximately 10 years ago, Andre Debose came out of high school as the next (Mercy) Percy Harvin. Debose was going to play at receiver, running back, kick returner, wild cat quarterback…you name it, he was going to be the guy at it. Now that he’s back from injury (knock on wood), I’d like to see him used more in that Percy role. If the coaches are worried about durability, which is fair, just use him as a decoy – much like Seattle did with Percy on "the constraint" play here (towards bottom of the page). It could be that Kurt Roper has plays like that in his back pocket but didn’t want to show his cards in a game the Gators won 65-0, which is also fair, but I’d like to see Debose used more than just a wide receiver/kick returner, because he is electrifying with the ball in his hands.

OK, But Why?
There are just two SEC conference games this weekend: No. 6 Georgia at No. 24 South Carolina and Kentucky at Florida. So of course, SEC Nation (ESPN SEC Network’s version of ESPN’s College Gameday), will do its show from…Columbia, S.C. Gainesville, Fla.! OK, but why? The answer is fairly simple: Georgia at USC is on CBS, Kentucky at Florida is on SEC Network. Seems like a strange policy to me too, but whatever. Hopefully they show the Gator Walk!

Monday, September 8, 2014

NFL: Not For Ladies

In a word, the recently released Ray Rice recording is…disturbing.

Alliteration aside (sorry, last time), watching Rice punch his then fiancĂ© (now wife) unconscious is really, really tough to watch. (I won't link to it, but if you really want to see it just consult your local google.) 

I don’t know if it’s the punch that knocked her out, or if it was when her head hit the side of the elevator wall, but it doesn’t matter. What Rice did was awful. Which makes the NFL’s (read: Roger Goodell) and Ravens’ responses at the time (two-game suspension and public support, respectively) look even worse in hindsight. Yes, hindsight is 20/20, but most people thought it looked pretty bad at the time.

I had read about this other video that showed Rice knocking out his now wife back when the original video was released, so I have a hard time believing that the NFL and Ravens had not seen it. I’m a nobody who wasn’t involved with the situation at all, but somehow I had information that the NFL and the Ravens did not have? At the very least, they must have heard about the video, so why didn’t they do everything in their power to get their hands on it before making a decision about Rice’s future in the NFL? Now they've put themselves in a situation where they have no choice but to say that they hadn’t seen the video.

Because if either or both parties had seen the video in question and still only gave him a two-game suspension (NFL) or supported him publicly (Ravens), “disturbing” wouldn’t even begin to describe it.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

My AFC Gues- I Mean, Predictions

Here are my AFC predictions. They too are probably wrong. (click here for my NFC predictions)

AFC East
Patriots: Too easy.
Dolphins: Won’t make the playoffs but will be the second-best team in the division. Because…why not?
Jets: Time to let go of the Michael Vick dog scandal. Man did his time. At a certain point, we have to move on. HAHAHAHAHAHA who am I kidding these are human beings I’m talking about!
Bills: Buffalo is Livin on a Prayer, hoping to give fans Another Reason to Believe, but in the end the team will go down in a Blaze of Glory.

AFC North
Steelers: Mike Tomlin might not be the best coach in the NFL, but he’s still the coolest.
Ravens: Remind me again why you let Anquan Boldin go?
Bengals: Won the Division last year despite finishing with second-best divisional record. No more Jay Gruden, no more Mike Zimmer, no more first-place in AFC North.
Browns: I don’t know if it’s true, but my favorite story about Cleveland is the guy who wrote into his will that he wanted some Browns players to carry his casket so that they could let him down one last time. That. Is. Brilliant. I will not google it because I want to believe it’s true.

AFC South
Colts: Return of Reggie Wayne, plus Hakeem Nicks, plus Andrew Luck...that offense is going to be stacked. You’ll notice I didn’t mention Trent Richardson.
Texans: If only because it’s going to be a lot of fun to watch Watt and Clowney terrorize offensive lines and quarterbacks. At least quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick knows that his backup is a rookie former Rutgers QB who…what’s that you say? Houston head coach Bill O’Brien brought in Ryan Mallett, whom he worked with in New England, and Mallett is now the No. 2 QB? Oh.
Titans: Chris Johnson might be addition by subtraction.
Jaguars: Blake Bortles will be starting quarterback by week three. You heard it hear…not first. Buncha people have said that already.

AFC West
Broncos: Welker out four games means the offense will hum along at 99% capacity. Which is still 100% better than pretty much all other offenses.
Chargers: QB Class of 2004 will have a bounce back year. Not J.P Losman, Matt Schaub, Luke McCown, Craig Krenzel, Andy Hall, Josh Harris, Jim Sorgi, Jeff Smoker, John Navarre, Cody Pickett, Casey Bramlet, Matt Mauck, B.J. Symons or Bradlee Van Pelt. The other three guys.
Chiefs: Going out on a limb – Andy Reid will pull an Andy Reid and not live up to expectations. Ok, not going out on that much of a limb. They’ll still make the playoffs though.
Raiders: Here are the top five quarterbacks taken in last year’s NFL Draft: Blake Bortles (3rd overall), Johnny Manziel (22nd), Teddy Bridgewater (32nd), Derek Carr (36th), Jimmy Garoppolo (62nd). Raise your hand if you thought that Carr would be the only rookie QB to be named starter. Put your hand down, David.

Six playoff teams: Patriots, Steelers, Colts, Broncos, Chargers, Chiefs

AFC Championship: Broncos-Patriots (Let’s be honest, if we don’t get this game, we’ll all be a little disappointed. Make it happen, football god Roger Goodell!!)

AFC Champions: Patriots

My NFC Gues- I Mean, Predictions

-->Here are my NFC predictions. They're probably wrong. (click here for my AFC predictions)

NFC East
Eagles: Want to send a Philly phan to a dark place? Remind them that Mark Sanchez is the backup QB.
Giants: Tom Coughlin’s incredulous face is already in midseason form.
Cowboys: Dallas has gone 8-8 each of the past three seasons. Their biggest splash signing this offseason was to the practice squad.
Washingtons: I’m jumping on the bandwagon to not use the R-word, because it is racist and insulting and it’s also fun to watch the Fighting Dan Snyders try to argue against common sense and public perception.

NFC North
Packers: Aaron Rodgers is dating Olivia Munn, but I’ve been told that he looks like me, so I guess you’re saying there’s a chance! (There isn’t.)
Bears: The Florida Gators are still waiting for the thanks they deserve for making Jay Cutler’s career. Any time now, Jay.
Lions: Mr. Expressive Jim Caldwell is now the Lions head coach. I’m not saying the team will do well, but at least it’ll be fun to watch him on the sidelines!
Vikings: Adrian Peterson already wants out. To the Cowboys. That’s gotta sting Minnesota fans, who still haven’t gotten over that Herschel Walker fleecing trade.

NFC South
Saints: New Orleans was 8-0 at home last year, 3-5 on the road. The Saints averaged 103.5 yards per game at home and 80.6 yards per game on the road. So they are set up perfectly to NOT win the Super Bowl.
Falcons: I’m going out on a limb and saying that last year’s 4-12 record was an aberration, because Steven Jackson is now (kinda) healthy and Julio Jones is now (kinda) healthy and the Panthers aren’t going to match last year’s 12-4 record and…shoot I think I’m wrong here.
Panthers: Carolina will probably finish second in the NFC South, but I gotta go with my first instinct so I’m leaving them in this spot. Also, how good was Cam Newton with the Gators? Sigh.
Bucs: It was nice of Greg Schiano to set the bar so low for Lovie Smith that even five wins is an improvement from last year.

NFC West
Seahawks: It’s hard to root against Pete Carroll. It really, really is.
49ers: It’s easy to root against Jim Harbaugh. It really, really is.
Cardinals: Making the playoffs not on the DOCKETT for Arizona this year (see what I did there?).
Rams: Bummed me out that Michael Sam didn’t get signed at least to St. Louis’ practice squad, but I’m happy that he got picked up by another team. And that’s all there is to say about the Rams.

Six playoff teams: Eagles, Packers, Bears, Saints, Seahawks, 49ers

NFC Championship: Packers-Seahawks

NFC Champion: Seahawks (Skittles for everyone!)