Category Archives: Uncategorized
LOS ANGELES — I don’t really remember watching “Growing Pains” as a kid. I’ve seen it, of course, but it wasn’t appointment TV like some other programs of that time. In fact, just last week on the Rich Eisen Show, I said that unless you were a die-hard fan, I bet most couldn’t tell the difference between it and “Family Ties.” While primetime rivals, airing on ABC and NBC, respectively, they had the same tone, same dynamics and same weekly messages as other family sitcoms of the 1980s.
That being said, “Growing Pains” Alan Thicke was the class of great TV dads from my youth. Always level-headed, always quick with a joke and a pat on the back, but stern when pointed discipline was needed. No doubt my father, and probably your own, took notes when we weren’t looking from his life lessons. On-the-fly Parenting 101 in those days and his character “Dr. Jason Seaver” was a tenured professor.
We had this conversation because Thicke was coming in to talk TV, and as the unofficial ambassador for the upcoming NHL All-Star game here in Los Angeles, naturally we’d talk some hockey, too. He later called out Justin Bieber, demanding the pop star show his face at the celebrity game, and told stories of skating with current players and past celebs during pickup games. It was a tremendous interview (watch it here) full of that Thicke charm and cheese that made and kept him famous. You can sporadically hear my uncontrolled laughter because that’s what you did in his presence. His good-natured aura is infectious and it’s impossible not to smile and feel his warmth when he’s around.
Alan Thicke passed away Tuesday afternoon at the age of 69. It was reported he was playing hockey with his youngest son and underwent cardiac arrest. As a Canadian who loved the sport only second to his family, I’m sure if he had to design a way to go, that would be it. Playing the game he loved with his loved ones. Sometimes in death, life can be perfect that way.
This tragic news spread quickly and was met with the same reaction from everyone I encountered in my real and digital life: shock, sadness, reflection of a wonderful life spent in the public eye. Like I said, we saw him less than a week ago in our studio and he looked as fit, engaging, witty and gregarious as ever. It was his second appearance and it was equally as awesome as his first late last year. Thicke was born to be a talk show guest (having hosted his own he knew what made for great TV). I always tell people he’s easily in our Top 10 in the nearly two-and-a-half years we’ve been doing this. (His son, Robin, is also in the Top 10.) He even hit the post when we were playing our silly Radio DJ ramp game at the end of his segment. Alan Thicke just got IT. I remember thinking I wanted to ask him to do a voicemail recording for me just because how awesome would that have been? I never asked and now he’s gone.
This year has been tough. Countless beloved celebrity deaths and a divisive election has led many to lose hope, question reality and expect darkness and sorrow at every turn. This news doesn’t help. There was no one who didn’t like Alan Thicke and there was no one who enjoyed his own level of celebrity and fame as much as he did. He knew who he was and was comfortable being that man. We should all be that lucky. The perfect TV dad, I have no doubt he was an incredible father to his three children. Everyone had their own Alan Thicke impression and just the sound of his voice made you smile wide. I’m doing it right now in my head as a type this. Hopefully you’re doing the same.
There are only two weeks or so left but it’s felt like 2016 has gone on for years. Nothing but gloom and horrors. Black clouds and traffic jams. But it will get better. It has to. These are our growing pains but as long as we got each other… well, you know the rest.
LOS ANGELES — It’s hard to believe seven months have passed since confetti fell on Russell Wilson and the Seahawks after their resounding Super Bowl XLVIII victory over Peyton Manning and the Broncos but it’s gone quickly. A brief rundown of what’s transpired since: Michael Sam had a press conference, Johnny Manziel wore pads for his pro day, Jadeveon Clowney was the top pick, Manziel partied… a lot, so did Jim Irsay, some 49ers got in trouble, Ray Rice and Josh Gordon were suspended, some guys got a whole lotta money, others got hurt and Hard Knocks disapppointed. Of course, other football things happened in between but those were the stories dominating the NFL offseason, which has become appropriately titled the Non-Playing Season because it seems not a day goes by without some kind of important pigskin news. But now all the mumbo jumbo is behind us and it’s time to put foot to ball, shoulders to pads and end zone to dances. Football is back and it’s not going anywhere for the next five months, so strap in, stay hydrated and make sure your fantasy roster is set. Most of all, enjoy.
As I’ve done the last couple years, here are the pre-Week 1 You’re The Man Power Rankings in the form of Burning Questions for each team, based on nothing except what I want to know about each franchise as we begin another glorious season. My playoff predictions and Super Bowl pick are also at column’s end.
Let’s do this.
32.) JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (4-12, missed playoffs) — The only question I have about this team is why isn’t Blake Bortles starting from the get-go?
31.) BUFFALO BILLS (6-10, missed playoffs) — Based on the preseason it appears the Bills are in trouble this year, but will Doug Marone be around come Week 17?
30.) NEW YORK GIANTS (7-9, missed playoffs) — Tom Coughlin has already fined me for finishing this so late, but if Eli Manning struggles mightily again will the 2-time Super Bowl winning coach have his QB on a short leash?
29.) OAKLAND RAIDERS (4-12, missed playoffs) — Oakland signed several veterans this offseason but it’s going to be rookie quarterback Derek Carr who determines how far this team goes this season, but who’ll be catching the ball from his talented right arm?
28.) CLEVELAND BROWNS (4-12, missed playoffs) — We all know what’s coming with the Browns this season, the questions is how long will the revolution take to be televised?
27.) TENNESSEE TITANS (7-9, missed playoffs) — Ken Whisenhunt will coach ’em up, there’s no doubt about that, and with some picking the Titans as a potential sleeper, can Jake Locker make it happen in a make-or-break year?
26.) ST. LOUIS RAMS (7-9, missed playoffs) — This season was already going to be the biggest of Sam Bradford’s career before he was lost with an ACL tear, now that Shuan Hill is leading the charge can he pull a Kurt Warner and take the Rams back to the playoffs?
25.) HOUSTON TEXANS (2-14, missed playoffs) — The Brinks truck was backed up for J.J. Watt, and while he deserves it, all the questions marks surrounding this team are on the offensive side of the ball, such as who is throwing the ball and will Arian Foster stay healthy for an entire season?
24.) MINNESOTA VIKINGS (5-10-1, missed playoffs) — Any team with Adrian Peterson and one of the best young tight ends in the game will have the offense to compete, but will the secondary toughen up to defend the aerial assault it’ll see on a weekly basis in division play?
23.) NEW YORK JETS (8-8, missed playoffs) — Everyone wants to make the Jets 2014 success about Geno Smith and his improvements between last year and this, but I’m more curious if the defense, specifically the secondary can match the artillery of its opponents?
22.) ATLANTA FALCONS (4-12, missed playoffs) — One play from the Super Bowl in 2012 to four wins a year later, Atlanta is a curious crew but the question is who are the real Falcons: the team that frightened opponents or the division doormat?
21.) DALLAS COWBOYS (8-8, missed playoffs) — Yes, Tony Romo is still recovering from offseason back surgery and the offense is poised to put up crazy fantasy numbers but just how bad is the Cowboys defense going to be?
20.) WASHINGTON REDSKINS (3-13, missed playoffs) — With a new head coach in Jay Gruden, the Redskins are going to live and die with the right arm and two feet of Robert Griffin III and if he chooses to play smart and remain the reckless headache who can’t stay healthy?
19.) ARIZONA CARDINALS (10-6, missed playoffs) — Patrick Peterson is finally paid but Darnell Dockett is out for the season for a Cardinals team on the verge of returning to the playoffs; can they really contend in the best division in football?
18.) DETROIT LIONS (7-9, missed playoffs) — The defense is always a curious case up in the D but I wanna know if new head coach Jim Caldwell can take all that talent Matthew Stafford has and mold him into one of the game’s best QBs?
17.) BALTIMORE RAVENS (8-8, missed playoffs) — These aren’t your daddy’s Ravens, which means there’s a lot of new faces and the defense isn’t as good as year’s past; can it do enough to make up for what was lost following their improbabe Super Bowl win?
16.) MIAMI DOLPHINS (8-8, missed playoffs) — A sneaky 2014 playoff contender, will Miami play spoiler in a division owned by the Patriots for the last dozen years?
15.) CAROLINA PANTHERS (12-4, lost in NFC Divisional Round) — It’s possible I’ll be getting a few snaps at wide receiver this season in Carolina, but with the corps already thin can Kelvin Benjamin put it all together and be the monster he showed this preseason?
14.) TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (4-12, missed playoffs) — We know Lovie Smith is going to have the Bucs flying around the ball on defense, but one stat I enjoyed was Josh McCown is one of four QBs 35+ starting the season across the league; will he make it through his first season as The Man?
13.) SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (12-4, lost in NFC Championship) — It was not the best offseason in the Bay Area to say the least, the events played out like a soap opera, so the only question is are the 49ers set up for a monumental 2014 fall?
12.) CHICAGO BEARS (8-8, missed playoffs) — Defense is not the name of the game in Chicago anymore, and we saw how good the Bears offense could be WITHOUT Jay Cutler last year, but is No. 6 the man still or does the offense begin and end with Matt Forte?
11.) SAN DIEGO CHARGERS (9-7, lost in AFC Divisional Round) — Philip Rivers basically willed his team to a playoff win a year ago, but does the Chargers defense have anything in its tank to back him up?
10.) PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (10-6, lost in NFC Wild Card) — It was a wild 2013 in Philadelphia, between Nick Foles 27-and-2 run and LeSean McCoy running wild, what does Chip Kelly have tucked deep in the playbill for an encore?
9.) CINCINNATI BENGALS (11-5, lost in AFC Wild Card) — For this team it’s seemed to come down to Andy Dalton, so now that he’s paid like an elite NFL quarterback, will he start playing like one when it matters most?
8.) PITTSBURGH STEELERS (8-8, missed playoffs) — You know Dick LeBeau is going to coach up the defense, what I’m curious about is how this new high-tempo Steelers offense is going to look and how Ben Roethlisberger is going to perform in it?
7.) KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (11-5, lost in AFC Wild Card) — I know the Chiefs just extended Alex Smith for 4 years and $45M but how far can he really take them with his game managing style of play?
6.) INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (11-5, lost in AFC Divisional Round) — I’ve seen some NFL experts picking the Colts to win the whole thing and while that’s bold, is anyone going to step up and win a game so Andrew Luck doesn’t have to do everything himself?
5.) GREEN BAY PACKERS (8-7-1, lost in NFC Wild Card) — When you have Aaron Rodgers I know it’s tempting to throw the ball like it’s backyard football, but will Mike McCarthy use Eddie Lacy like he’s one of the best backs in the NFL (which he is)?
4.) NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (11-5, lost in NFC Divisional Round) — Drew Brees isn’t getting any younger but all of his offensive weapons return and they look poised for another huge season, but is Rob Ryan’s defense ready to prove last year’s vast improvements weren’t a fluke?
3.) NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (12-4, lost in AFC Championship game) — It’s always Super Bowl or bust in New England, but is age finally catching up with Tom Brady and Bill Belichick?
2.) DENVER BRONCOS (13-3, lost in Super Bowl) — Once again, for me, it’s all about Peyton Manning’s health; if #18 is on his 2013 game then there’s no stopping Denver, but if he takes a few big hits, will the 5-time MVP get up?
1.) SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (13-3, Super Bowl Champions) — More than any defending champions in recent years, the Seahawks are set up for a repeat run, will they stay hungry enough for 17 weeks to keep that dream alive?
NFC Playoff Predictions:
Division winners: Packers, Seahawks, Redskins & Saints
Wild Cards: Bears & Eagles
NFC Title Game: Seahawks over Saints
AFC Playoff Predictions:
Division winners: Patriots, Colts, Broncos & Steelers
Wild Cards: Chiefs & Bengals
AFC Title Game: Patriots over Broncos
Super Bowl Prediction:
PATRIOTS over Seahawks
LOS ANGELES — This essay I penned for NFL Network’s GameDay Morning Saturday pregame show is my fun take on how Tom Brady and Andrew Luck, who face off Saturday at Foxobrough in what should be a thrilling AFC Divisional matchup, have created their own blueprint to winning football games. Brady, in his long, celebrated career has done it more often than not in the coolest way possible; while Luck, in his short but thrilling campaign, is a little rough around the edges, so to speak.
The final produced television product is fantastic. Hope you check it out during our coverage beginning at Noon EST on Saturday on NFL Network.
The blueprint for championship quarterbacks is ever-changing.
For every free-wheeler there is the precisionist.
Gunslingers and game managers have all hoisted Lombardi.
But rarely will we see a pair of contrasting signal callers like we’ll see tonight in Foxborough.
Tom Brady and Andrew Luck couldn’t be more opposite except when it comes to orchestrating thrilling victories.
One looks like a Senator from a Ben Affleck movie.
Appears on magazine covers.
And shows up at red carpet events with his supermodel wife.
The other uses a flip phone, and could guest star on Deadliest Catch.
Tom Brady sells Uggs and wears Stetson.
Andrew Luck has a beard only a paper towel pitchman would love.
On the field, it’s also day and night.
One is Michelangelo in the pocket, with perfect hair and a pristine jersey.
Firing downfield darts and head butting teammates with the fire of a 6th round pick.
The other is a top overall selection with a permanent smile.
Happy-go-lucky with a linebacker’s build and a rocket arm.
Regularly leading his team back from historic deficits.
Tom Brady and Andrew Luck.
Two of the NFL’s best quarterbacks proving the only blueprint that matters, is winning.
You know it’s funny what a young man recollects? ‘Cause I don’t remember bein’ born. I don’t recall what I got for my first Christmas and I don’t know when I went on my first outdoor picnic. But I do remember the first time I heard the sweetest voice in the wide world.
– Forrest Gump
LOS ANGELES — I don’t remember the first time I ever saw Michael Jordan play basketball. I suspect it was sometime during the 1987-’88 season. I was living in Virginia at the time in Coast Guard housing, a development with other military families, and have a vague recollection telling one of the other kids – we were both in the elementary-school range – that Jordan was the greatest ever. That he never missed a shot. I may have been imitating his jumper on a mini hoop when I said this, tongue out. As luck would have it, I was onto something with my 7-year old assessment of Jordan. He was otherwordly that year, averaging 35.0 points per game to lead the league. He also was tops in the NBA in minutes played, field goals made and attempted, free throws made and steals, and shot 53.5% from the floor. He won the first of his five MVPs that season but the Bulls lost in the Eastern Conference semifinals in 5 games to the Pistons.
Since then, he was always my favorite player. It helped that, because our cable TV provider carried WGN, I was able to see nearly all of his games and listen to Johnny “Red” Kerr’s blatant homerism. Call me a front-runner, I don’t care. I was 10-years old, no one knows what that even means at that age, plus I don’t think I was alone in my open-faced loving of No. 23. I had every poster, basketball card and wanted every shoe. I recorded games religiously, imitated him on the playground (tried to at least) and wore black socks and baggy shorts.
Calling Michael Jordan an “icon” doesn’t really do the word justice. Sure, we all wanted to Be Like Mike, but there was so much that encompassed that. To write about just one Jordan trait didn’t seem right and how could I possibly pick from the lot? Jordan has given me some of my greatest sports memories, decorated my walls to no end and been the name brand on my feet for countless miles traveled. As he turned 50-years old over NBA All-Star Weekend it only seemed fitting to think back on his life to this point, how impacted mine and reflect on some of my favorite moments.
– I never saw Michael Jordan play in person. It’s probably my biggest regret as a sports fan along with having never been to Old Yankee Stadium. I never went to the Old Boston Garden or saw Joe Montana play in person either, but I wasn’t of true sports intellectual conscious during their respective heydays. But I didn’t need to see him play in person to appreciate his grace and power, domination and competitive drive, and the impact he had on his teammates with a single death stare. Basketball fans of this generation think Kobe invented that move, but he just copied all of Jordan’s. Only he doesn’t do them as great. I’ve seen hundreds of games on TV but seeing him in person just once would’ve been enough. Thankfully, I’ve been able to see some of the current greats but I’ll always regret never seeing 23.
– My birthday is the 23rd and for this reason I always felt a kinship to MJ, and whenever I’m playing roulette I always load up the chips on 23 Red.
– When my family lived in Alaska, my friend Jared Burdette-Gross had a pair of Jordan 5s, the ones with the purple trim, and he let me wear them once and it was the greatest thing my feet had ever had covering them. I knew I had to have some someday. So I saved. And saved. And finally bought some 10s at the Ocean City, Md. mall. It was summer and we were visiting my grandparents at their condo and I saw them. It was love at first sight. That was my first pair. I’ve bought 4 others. Hope to buy at least lots more some day.
– For the “Shrug Game” against the Blazers in Game 1 of the 1992 Finals, I had a Little League game. We lived in Alaska at the time and I played for Coastal Tire. I was 11 and either pitched or played shortstop that day, but I never got to see it live because of the game. But my dad had to work and then came later and told me all about it. It was amazing. I must’ve watched SportsCenter a half dozen times that night and morning. Dan and Keith killed it, I’m sure. Always get goosebumps seeing that clip and it conjures up that memory.
– When Jordan retired for the first time we had just moved to Maine and were living in a cottage-style hotel in Scarborough while we waited for our house to be ready to move in to. It was freezing cold in that place. And then Jordan retired. Held the press conference. Sold the story of when he has nothing left to prove in the game basketball, it’s time to move on. I was crushed. I still have the USA Today from Oct. 6, 1993; it was a thing I did as a kid, collect newspapers and clippings from big stories. I don’t know why, but I always had to have them. And they’re all in a tupperware at my mom’s house. I once made a Rickey Henderson posterboard after he broke the stolen base record. That was fun.
– Of all my Jordan posters, and there have been many – Jordan with all his rings, one with him, Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman, the ’88 dunk contest slam from the free-throw line – my favorite has to be “Wings.” I used to have it hanging above my bed at my mom’s house. It was like sports jesus blessing me before I went to sleep each night. I bought it for around $12, which was twice as much as posters went for in those days, and while I thought it was steep (it’s doubtful I had a “job” at the time) clearly it was worth it. Do kids even have posters on their walls these days? The poster rack was always the first place I went to at Wal-Mart and when a Prints Plus opened up in the Maine Mall, I’d spend an hour in there browsing the racks.
– On March 19, 1995 Jordan made his comeback to the Bulls official with his fax that simply stated: “I’m back.” He took to the court against the Pacers and I couldn’t have been more excited. Not only do I have the game on VHS tape somewhere, but I even kept stats and have that sheet somewhere as well. What can I say, I was an enormous nerd back in the day.
– I learned to really play basketball on the playground of my elementary school in Ketchikan, Alaska; Valley Park Elementary. A group of us, when not playing football or kickball or some other form of ball sport, would play hoops. The nets were chain link and it was a struggle to get shots off on the full-size rims, but I always remembered these games because our friend had a Michael Jordan red and black ball that we used. I loved that ball and desperately wanted one of my own. Never found it, though.
– I was a sports card collector. And that’s putting it lightly. From the ages of 8 til about 14 I was into it as much as you could be and accumulated a vast collection. Every Saturday as a kid I would make my way to the grocery story or Wal-Mart or even the card shop on the main drag when we lived in Ketchikan and scope out new releases and decide what packs to spend my money on. I’d trade with friends and even had a subscription to a couple price guides to check the value of my investments. Of course, the bottom fell out of the sports card market some time ago but I’ve still held onto everything. They’re all neatly tucked away at my mom’s house in Maine, and among them are 50+ Jordan cards from as far back as, I think, 1988. I even have a few of his Upper Deck baseball cards when he played for Birmingham. I remember exactly where I was when I opened the pack to find those, now that I think about it. Right next to the light by Sam’s Club on the Holmes Rd. in Scarborough, Maine. Yes, ladies, I am available.
I could go on and on with insignificant, yet specific memories I have of Jordan, like where I was for his Game 6 winner against Utah in the 1998 Finals (my upstairs living room jumping up and down like a mad man) or his infamous Hall of Fame Speech in 2009 (watching streaming online in our tiny ass apartment in West Hollywood), but simply put, I’m a fan and always will be. In opinion he’s the best basketball player who ever lived and the game’s ultimate competitor. No one wanted it more and no one pushed his teammates to levels not even they thought they were capable of. Jordan trusted them and they trusted him and his teams won because of it. It’s not something you see often in today’s sports landscape.
I’ve never met Michael Jordan him and not sure I want to. Often when you meet your hero you leave disappointed. I’ve read everything there is to read about the man and so far, that’s been good enough for me. Maybe someday our paths will cross and you can bet I’ll remember it.
[editors note: honestly, after what happened Friday in Newtown, Connecticut, I couldn’t bring myself to finish the column this week. What I have done is what I have done. My apologies, but there some things more important than football and the last few weeks have illustrated that more than ever.]
LOS ANGELES — There’s been so much chatter in the last few weeks about the end-of-the-year awards and who’s in the lead for what. On the Dan Patrick Show Thursday morning, Rich Eisen said he couldn’t vote for Adrian Peterson for MVP because the Vikings aren’t going to make the playoffs; Comeback Player of the Year, yes, and even Offensive Player of the Year, but not MVP. Being a Tom Brady guy, naturally, you’d assume I’d pull for #12, however, if Peterson gets to 2,000 yards, I’d be in the AD camp for MVP. I’m more for the Peyton Manning for Comeback Player since he literally missed an entire season AND had 4 neck surgeries – that’s not normal – where as Peterson got injured in Week 16 last year. Brady is having another magnificent season (currently with a 29-4 TD-INT ratio) but it’s a lot like Brett Favre in 2007, a year ironically that Brady won MVP. If you remember, Favre was legit that year for the Packers (4,155 yds, 28 TD, 15 INT) but Brady went for 50 TD and the Patriots were unbeaten. So, with 3 weeks to go, I’m riding with AD for MVP and Peyton for Comeback, gimme Brady Offensive POY and My Good Friend Robert (Griffin III) as Offensive Rookie of the Year (my reasoning on that next week.)
Let’s find out who’s the Man.
32.) Arizona Cardinals (4-9) (32) — There are 58 reasons why the Cardinals are bringing up the rear in these rankings. And if those aren’t enough, I got 9 more.
31.) Jacksonville Jaguars (2-11) (31) — #FreeMJD.
30.) Oakland Raiders (3-10) (30) — I’m pretty sure I met a girl last weekend who said she was a Raiders fan, which would be a first. I’ll have to double check but we also we were talking about throwing things on people from the balcony we were on. Yup, definitely a Raiders fan.
29.) Kansas City Chiefs (2-11) (28) —
28.) Philadelphia Eagles (4-9) (29) — #FreeAndyReid
27.) Tennessee Titans (4-9) (26) —
26.) Carolina Panthers (4-9) (27) —
25.) Detroit Lions (4-9) (22) —
24.) San Diego Chargers (5-8) (25) — How pissed are Chargers fans gonna be when they win out and Norv saves his job but only A.J. Smith gets fired? Like fat guy at the donut shop realizing they’re out of bear claws, pissed? Or like Mel Gibson on a Friday night in Malibu talking politics, pissed?
23.) New York Jets (6-7) (24) — #FreeTebow.
22.) Cleveland Browns (5-8) (23) —
21.) St. Louis Rams (6-6-1) (21) —
20.) Miami Dolphins (5-8) (20) —
19.) Buffalo Bills (5-8) (19) — We did a Top 12 players to wear #12 countdown at work this week in honor of 12/12/12 and does anyone else feel like when we talk about the great QBs in NFL history we often overlook Jim Kelly? The Machine Gun took the Bills to 4. Straight. Super. Bowls. I think that goes often overlooked.
18.) New Orleans Saints (5-8) (17) —
17.) Dallas Cowboys (7-6) (16) — The Cowboys and the Jets are basically the same team. They’re hot garbage but just cool enough to win a couple late games so the national media has to keep talking about their outside playoff chances when they as good of a chance to make the postseason as I do of staring in the next “Air Bud” sequel. As the dog.
16.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-7) (15) —
15.) Cincinnati Bengals (7-6) (14) —
14.) Minnesota Vikings (7-6) (18) — My buddy, Jimmy, quoted “Godfather 3 last weekend: “I thought I was out, but they pulled me back in!” Only not in the Silvio Dante voice. I think.
13.) Pittsburgh Steelers (7-6) (13) — Congrats to my Sunday editor (and gigantic Steelers fan) Jantzen and his wife on the birth of their first child this week! No doubt that baby came out angrier than James Harrison that Mike Wallace has dropped so many passes this year.
12.) Seattle Seahawks (8-5) (12) — So it wasn’t bad enough that my opponent in the ROFFL playoffs had Marshawn Lynch but he also had the Seattle Defense. He had BOTH. My 50-point lead heading into the afternoon games last Sunday disappeared quicker than stuff that disappears fast in the presence of people who like that stuff! AAAARRRGGHHH. So frustrating. Just wasn’t meant to be. In my defense, his team has been a juggernaut. After losing the first 3 weeks, he’s now won the last 11.
11.) Washington Redskins (7-6) (11) — I don’t know how My Good Friend Robert’s leg stayed attached to his body and neither do you and neither does he. I can’t watch it. But I believe 100% that he’s gonna play this week at Cleveland. The Redskins have to win out to give them the most optimal chance of making the playoffs and let’s be real, #10 gives them the best chance of doing that. Reckless play or not.
10.) Chicago Bears (8-5) (8) — Did you see that Charlie Brown Christmas tree Brandon Marshall touted out at his press conference this week? Thing was epic … -ly bad. Then he compared the tree to the Bears season right now. Then he trashed talked the Packers. This isn’t going to end well for Chicago. Like, gonna-miss-the-playoffs-after-starting-7-and-1 not going to end well.
9.) Baltimore Ravens (9-4) (10) —
8.) New York Giants (8-5) (9) —
7.) Indianapolis Colts (9-4) (7) — Man, week-in and-out this team just finds a way to win. It’s beyond impressive at this point, I just expect it now. Andrew Luck leads the league in turnovers, but who cares. How many other QBs hands in the league do you want the ball in with the clock ticking down in a close game? Not many. Not many. Unbelievable when you think about it.
6.) Atlanta Falcons (11-2) (3) — Well, the Falcons didn’t do much to quiet the haters who were spouting before the game the fraduent rhetoric that seems to be haunting this team recently. I guess peeps won’t truly quiet until the Matt Ryan and Mike Smith win a playoff game. Well, they’re going to get a home game this postseason. No Excuses.
5.) Green Bay Packers (9-4) (6) — So, you know, I lost in the first round of the ROFFL playoffs. In a way I’m glad, that way I don’t have to be let down by Jermichael Finley in the Finals. Because you know that was happening. Down 5.5 in the fourth quarter. My opponent is done, but I have Finley left and he throws up a classic stinkbomb, including dropping a TD pass that would’ve won me my first title. Ugh.
4.) San Francisco 49ers (9-3-1) (5) —
3.) Houston Texans (11-2) lost (1) — So in their two nationally televised to all the football-viewing homes in the country, the Texans have given up an AVERAGE of 42 points per game. An average. That is all.
2.) Denver Broncos (10-3) (4) — The Broncos three losses are to the Patriots, Texans and Falcons all before Peyton Manning really knew what he was doing or had with this offense. Since then, well, ho, hum, 7 straight wins. And Von Miller and his 16 sacks and 6 forced fumbles, if ya need him.
1.) New England Patriots (10-3) (2) — Am I a Tom Brady homer? Yes. Is it easy get lost in his eyes? Yes. Do I freakin’ love it when Tom scrambles for a meaningless first down late in a blowout and then stand up and violently point and gesture and scream is head off? You bet your ass I do.
LOS ANGELES — In my former life, I wrote film reviews for the Journal Tribune. The column there was titled “Extra Butter” because, well, I liked a lot of butter on my popcorn (#FatKidProblems) , so it seemed like a logical fit. The idea spawned one day by merely asking the managing editor if we run any kind of reviews, and when he said “no,” asking if I could do them (sometimes all you have to do is ask, kids). The first film I reviewed was “Casino Royale and I later won a Maine Press Association Critic’s Award for my review of Nicolas Cage’s masterpiece “Ghost Rider.”
Since moving to L.A., my well has run dry. I haven’t written one of these columns in nearly three years; that’s my bad. Every so often I feel like I should get back to it; clearly “The Town” would’ve been a nice return and I did write something about “Social Network” when it came out, but not in this vain, and since I still see a lot of movies, I’m going to make the effort because I always had fun with this column. Of all the ones I’ve written since I started really writing in 2004 – Local Celebrity, Game Point, Extra Butter, BrockAngeles and now this site – the film reviews are the ones I wish I had kept up, but fret not.
We’re back! Enjoy, leave me your thoughts and keep truckin’.
From Something To Nothing: The Art of RapThe first time I heard “Regulators” was as I was driving along the main drag in Ocean City, Md. with my family in the summer of 1994. I couldn’t get the beat out of my head all day. Later that night, my uncle asked what I was humming – Doo, doo, doo, doo-do-do-dooo – and I didn’t know what it was, it was just catchy as hell but my interest never went further.
In high school, the East Coast-West Coast war was at its height and a lot of my friends were big Tupac fans. I could never get into it. Leading up to my freshman year at Syracuse I worked at the beach as a grill cook and we listened to nothing but classic rock, so it really wasn’t until I got to college, living with a diverse group of guys, that my musical tastes grew. I became a quick fan of the beats of the day and the old school jams. Sure, I’m as white as a loaf of Wonder Bread but I can appreciate the skill it takes these greats of putting together rhymes. Now, it’s rare a song comes on KDAY that I don’t know.
So, when Ice-T came into the NFL Network studios recently to appear on the Rich Eisen Podcast and started talking about his documentary, “The Art of Rap,” I was immediately interested. The documentary was a hit at the Sundance Film Festival, bought the first day, and hit theaters this past weekend. A meteoric path for a film of this nature. I went on its opening night and left not disappointed. Ice-T is not only the executive producer and director of the film but the interviewer of his subjects. He goes to New York (Melly Mel, Grandmaster Caz, Detroit (Eminem) and Los Angeles (Dr. Dre, Xzibit, Snoop Dogg) to talk to some of hip hop’s legends to find out their thought process and how they wrote their rhymes coming up. Ice-T wanted to get inside the minds of these artists, search for their inspiration, look beyond the cars, girls and jewels.
And he succeeded. It was remarkable to hear their tales, see them put pen to paper and create a story from either nothing or life experiences. Grandmaster Caz wrote a rhyme on the spot. Dr. Dre tried to take the audience inside the mind of a producer and offered some insight on working with Tupac. Eminem talked about being white MC in this game and his struggle. After a while the stories about the process got repetitive, though the highlite was each rapper performing a freestyle or reciting a few bars of another legend’s work.
The film did seem every bit of its 107 minutes and probably would’ve benefited from losing a few of the interviews, as well as some of the on-site, scenic transitions, which didn’t really add much. Though I was left wanting a tour or perhaps an entire “Cribs” episode dedicated to Dr. Dre’s ridiculous Hollywood Hills mansion. Jesus, the rap game has been good to him. KRS1’s story about his first battle is epic, too.
The biggest shock, besides the length of Melly Mel’s dreds, was that my girlfriend really liked it. I figured I was going to have to see it solo, but when I explained to her the premise, she was on board and even laughed a few times. An artist herself, she was really interested in the rappers comments on the process and mindset while preparing and performing. She was encapsulated with Mos Def’s segment.
Bottom line: This is a must-see.
Brockman Stamp of Approval: 4.25 out of 5 Mics.
That’s My Boy
Sixteen-year-old me would probably punch 31-year-old me in the face for saying this, but it’s been a while since I’ve seen an Adam Sandler movie in the theater; “Just Go With It” was getting some run on HBO a while back and I caught the last 3/4ths of it, but I think the last one I paid to see was his revamped version of “The Longest Yard.” It wasn’t great and neither is his latest college try, “That’s My Boy,” which co-stars Andy Samberg and Leighton Meester.
Sandler plays as Donny Berger, who was a child pseudo celebrity for having sex with his teacher and fathering a son (Sandberg) at a very young age. As an adult, he’s a drunken, broke mess, and after his lawyer (played by Jets coach Rex Ryan) tells him he needs to come up with $43,000 to avoid prison, Berger turns to his son, now a successful banker. Though he doesn’t come out and ask for the money, he has a plan involving a hornswaggler of a talk show host (Dan Patrick) and an awkward reunion with his mom (Susan Sarandon) to come up with the cash. Along the way, he realizes he misses and loves his son and tries to do right by him by exposing his two-timing fiance. Of course, everything turns out well in the end but not without some absurdities in the middle.
Bleh. Sandler plays Berger as an ’80s hot mess who constantly has a Budweiser in his hand, is best friends with Vanilla Ice and thinks all the flash-in-the-pan ’90s catch phrases are still hilarious (they’re not). The film is set in Massachusetts, so his over-the-top New England accent is amusing to start and annoying by the end. Unfortunately, you can’t get away from it. I was laughing a lot of the time, however, I think it was more of laughing at the whole thing, not with it. The bachelor party stuff was kinda funny, though. Who knows.
All Sandler film reviews are essentially the same at this point, which is means I’m getting older and he just keeps making the same movie; yet we all keep paying for them, so who’s the dummy? People wonder why he routinely makes “bad” movies these days. The answer is simple: we’ve given him the blank check to do so. It’s our fault. And it’s going to continue.
Brockman Stamp of Eh: 1.5/5 Brews.
Men In Black III
It’s possible I’m at the tail end of my 20-year mancrush on Will Smith. I’m not as geeked as I used to be about his newest ventures or are a fan of him force feeding his kids down our entertainment-enjoying throats, but neither stopped me from enjoying the hell out of the latest installment of the “Men In Black” franchise.
Nobody does $100M movies like Smith, who returns after a 4-year big screen hiatus, and I’d expect this one will join his list of big money makers. It follows the formula of the previous MIB films; Agents J and K (Tommy Lee Jones) get into trouble and have to save the world with their badass weaponry. Only this trip around, J has to go back in time to save a young K (Josh Brolin) from an intergalactic warlord whom he put in prison 30-some-odd years earlier and who wants to kill him.
It has a “Back To The Future II” feel to it, where the future is one way, then the villain goes back in time and changes it, and then they have to go back in time to change the changes made by the villain. Only here there’s aliens and suits and Agent K is likable and it’s set in New York.
I don’t know if there’s going to be another Men In Black movie – I’m sure it’ll depend on box office numbers this time around – but if there’s not, this film was a good way to wrap up the series. We get some insight to J’s past, why he is who he is, and same with K, who as a young agent is lively, jovial and fun-loving but couldn’t be more opposite as an adult. As always, the special effects are really neat and the aliens and weapons keep getting cooler. You’ll really have fun with this one.
Brockman Stamp of Approval: 3.5/5 Ray Bans.
I plan to write an entire column on Johnny Depp’s appeal to women in the nearer future – honestly, I don’t get it – but for the time being I’ll stick to his newest vampire flick. Also, what is with every movie these days being about a) vampires; b) bows and arrows or c) zombies? ANYway, “Dark Shadows” is not good, but I saw it recently because the girlfriend is among the millions obsessed with the aforementioned Mr. Depp and for some reason she wanted to see this. I’ll admit the first time I saw the trailer, it looked amusing, but every time after my interest in it lowered exponentially. Actually, this flick made the second JD project we’ve seen together; our first date was “The Rum Diary,” which I liked and just recently found out she did not. So we’re even.
If you’re expecting something like “True Blood” or “Twilight,” you’ll be disappointed. There are some murders but no nudity and I think it’s supposed to be funny, but it’s not. “Dark Shadows,” which also stars Michelle Pfeiffer, is about the Collins family, who owns the town and the fishing industry, only to lose it to another company who just happens to be run by the woman (Eva Green) who puts Johnny Depp’s character in the ground for 200 years. I think she’s a vampire, too, or she’s in love with Depp. Something like that.
The Collins family lives in a Wayne Manor-esque estate and each member has something strangely wrong with them. The girl from “Kick Ass” might be a werewolf, the doctor is a drunk, the dad is a deadbeat and on and on. The family is on the verge of bankruptcy and being run from the town, only Depp, the original Collins, can save them.
What’s worse, is that they’ll probably be a sequel because the family shrink (Helena Bonham-Carter) who’s thrown to the bottom of the ocean is still alive. Dum-dum-dum! Spare me.
Brockman Stamp of Eh: 1.5/5 Fangs.