Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Tim Tebow humor

My neighbor just sent me this joke .... it seems like I am obsessed with Tim Tebow, but really I'm not. I must also mention that I AM happy he lost on Sunday, because he was playing Tom and the boys.

Tom Brady, after living a full life, died. When he got to heaven, God was showing him around. They came to a modest little house with a faded Patriots flag in the window. "This house is yours for eternity Tom, said God. "This is very special; not everyone gets a house up here." Tom felt special, indeed, and walked up to his house.

On his way up the porch, he noticed another house just around the corner. It was a huge 3-story mansion with Orange and Blue sidewalks and drive ways, a 50 foot tall flagpole with an enormous Broncos logo flag waving, a swimming pool in shape of a horse, a Broncos logo in every window, and a Tim Tebow jersey on the front door.

Tom looked at God and said "God, I'm not trying to be ungrateful, but I have a question. I was an all-pro QB, I won 3 Super Bowls, and I even went to the Hall of Fame."

God said "So what's your point Tom?"

"Well, why does Tim Tebow get a better house than me?"

God chuckled, and said "Tom, that's not Tim's house, it's mine."

Monday, December 19, 2011

Dear Santa

Dear Santa,

I have thought long and hard about what I want for Christmas this year. I’ve been pretty good and I hope you take that into account when you look at my list.

First – please make the lockouts stop! First the NFL over the summer, then the NBA this fall... I can’t take the stress!

The NFL locked players out, postponed training camp and cancelled a couple preseason games … but they were smart enough to end the lockout before any regular season games were cancelled. The NBA, on the other hand, cancelled about a month of games and turned off a lot of fans in the process.

The worst part of the lockouts is that of course both sides waited until the very last minute to negotiate, when both leagues knew they were coming for years. Because of that, the looming lockouts put a dark cloud over the previous seasons. And I’m sorry but millionaires fighting billionaires? The world has a lot bigger problems to worry about.

Santa, I hope athletes, players and commissioners in the NBA, NFL, MLB and NHL have learned their lesson from these two lockouts and work to prevent them from happening rather than waiting to negotiate until the final hour. But I am not na├»ve and realize that they probably haven’t learned a thing.

My second wish is for safety changes in IndyCar.

Twelve laps into the IndyCar season finale at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, a horrific crash unfolded that enveloped 15 cars, killing Dan Wheldon, winner of the 2011 Indianapolis 500. His car launched into the air, then slammed against the catch fence – cockpit first. He was 33.

The sadness of this accident is undeniable, the young husband and father of two loses his life after finally getting to the top of his profession. The sad part of the accident is that no one was shocked that it happened.

One journalist covering the race wrote: “Conditions in the race were such that everybody kind of expected that there was going to be at least one or two really big crashes."

During practice runs, drivers expressed concern about the track, where cars could reach speeds of 225 m.p.h. One driver, Oriol Servia, said: "We all had a bad feeling about this place, in particular just because of the high banking and how easy it was to go flat [to the floor with the accelerator].”

Ironically, Wheldon was racing for team owner Sam Schmidt, a former Indy driver whose career was cut short in a horrific crash that left him a quadriplegic.

Santa, please talk to IndyCar officials and make them take a look at these tragedies and do everything in their power to ensure that it doesn’t happen again, that no other children lose their father, no wife loses her husband. Remind them that safety of the drivers should come above all else – speed is exciting, but not worth the loss of life.

My final wish is for college football to chill out with the conference changes. So many schools changed allegiance this year, I don’t know who is now where or what the conferences are called – Pac-10 or Pac-12? Shouldn’t the Big 10 and Big 12 swap names?

Missouri and Texas A&M moved to the SEC; Texas Christian to the Big East – wait no, make that the Big 12; Pittsburgh and Syracuse left the Big East for the ACC;  Boise State and San Diego State join the Big East (yes, you heard that right, the Big “East”) … it’s all enough to make my head spin. Now the Big 12 will have 10 schools; the Big 10 will have 12 schools; and with Houston, Southern Methodist, San Diego State and Boise State joining the conference, less than half of the football teams in the Big East will be East Coast schools.

I hope I got all of the changes right… but if not, you’ll have to excuse me – it’s too confusing to keep straight.  Santa, please talk to all of the university deans and conference commissioners and politely ask them to chill out – we fans can’t keep up!

Well Santa, that’s all I have. Oh, and of course heath, wealth and happiness for myself, my family and my friends.

Merry Christmas!

Jen H., Savannah, GA

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Why all the Tebow hate?

Throughout his career at the University of Florida and now in his second year with the Denver Broncos, Tim Tebow continues to be one of the most polarizing athletes … and I can’t for the life of me figure out why. I’ve always been a Tim Tebow fan; I think he seems to be a truly good person and a great athlete – you can debate his game as much as you want, there is no denying his athletic abilities.

A guy who is a great athlete and is a man of faith is constantly bashed for both things. There seems to be no middle ground with Tebow: you either love him or you hate him; you think he’s a good quarterback or you think he’s overrated; you think his constant comeback wins are a result of skill or are all luck. Tebow’s athletic ability, his quarterbacking ability, his faith and even his “purity” have been mocked and questioned.

It’s like people think he’s too good (i.e. too virtuous) to be true. They think he is too perfect in his persona and are just waiting – and have been waiting for years – for him to be revealed as a hypocrite. Yet after nearly six years of no closet skeletons appearing, people turn to ripping his game and mocking his faith. You can rip his game all you want, but mocking anyone’s religious beliefs crosses a major line.

As a devout Christian who is very upfront about his faith, Tebow regularly drops to one knee to thank the Lord. Recently, his praying has gone viral, with people around the world posting pictures of themselves “Tebowing” — dropping to one knee with their head on their fist in “prayer.” Yes, "Tebow" has become a verb. But even within this viral sensation there is a split – those who do it in admiration of Tebow, and those who do it to mock him.

It’s not only fans who openly mock him – some of his fellow NFL players have jumped on the boat. When Denver took on Detroit about a month ago, Lions linebacker Stephen Tulloch sacked Tebow during the first quarter and instead of screaming or standing over Tebow, he instead dropped to his knee and “Tebowed.” In the second quarter Lion Tony Scheffler caught a touchdown pass and celebrated by “Tebowing.”

Whether they realized it or not, they were mocking his religious beliefs. What Tebow is doing when he drops to his knee is thanking God – it is similar to a Catholic blessing himself or a Muslim bowing to Allah. Do we mock athletes who do those things? Of course not, because it would be viewed as distasteful. Yet it seems “OK” to do it to Tebow. The defense that those haters spew out that Tebow’s decision to be so open about his faith opens him to scrutiny makes me question where all of our values are.

I’m certainly not as devout as Tebow is, but I respect the fact that he is, just as I respect a Muslim woman who dresses according to the hijab or a Jewish man who wears a kippah or yarmulke – it is not my right to question another person’s beliefs.

What makes me respect Tebow even more is that he stays quiet in this debate. He lets people “Tebow” – whether it’s mocking or complimentary – and continues to live his life the way he believes is right. He lives quietly; we know little about his personal life other than he is a Chrsitan and does charity work in the Philippines, and  he is humble.

On the field, his stats aren’t great but his record is; and every fan must admit that they would rather have a quarterback with bad numbers and wins than great numbers and no wins. It may not be pretty or conventional, but time and time again Tim Tebow has proven himself to be a winner.

Love him or hate him, you have to respect Tim Tebow.

Welcome back NBA

*disclaimer: also posted late - wrote Monday, Nov. 28

So the NBA is back - tentatively. NBA owners and players reached a “tentative” agreement early Saturday morning to end the 149-day lockout and plan to begin the season on Christmas Day.

If the agreement passes as expected (which it looks to at the time this article was printed), the league plans a 66-game season and aims to open training camps Dec. 9.

Though the agreement was tentatively (there’s that word again) reached Saturday, the players still have to vote on it – and there are a few issues with that. The vote only has to pass by a simple majority, but the problem is that the players disbanded their union in frustration two weeks ago and have to reestablish it before they can cast a legal vote.

One of the major concessions in the newest agreement is that players will receive a 51.2-percent share of the Basketball Related Income in the 2011-2012 season, down from the 57-percent the received in the last bargaining agreement. However, the players did get some of their demands, as is customary in a bargaining situation.

However, the players did get some of their demands, as is customary in a bargaining situation. In one of their (few) major wins, the owners wanted an unlimited escrow system, but the players were able to keep the system at just 10 percent of their salary. They also got no reductions in rookie contracts of minimum salaries; no reductions in maximum contract lengths or maximum salary increased – in fact, young superstars can take even more to the bank – a player finishing his rookie scale contract will be eligible to receive a maximum salary equal to 30 percent of the salary cap (up from 25 percent) if he signs with his same team and is either a two-time selection to the All-NBA first, second or third team; twice an All-Star starter or a one-time MVP.

But make no mistake – the owners got most of what they wanted, as they help the players over the proverbial barrel and shot for the stars – many “in the know” are saying the owners got 80 percent of what they were looking for in the deal. Understandably, there are rumblings from some players that the NBA Players Association executive director rolled over a little too easy. Despite that, the vote is likely to pass easily once the union is reformed, as most players are eager to start playing (and getting paid) again.

The NBA owners may have won big in this deal, but don’t feel too bad for the players – they’ll still remain the highest paid professional athletes.

In the first game of the (tentative) 2011-2012 season, the Boston Celtics will head to New York to take on the Knicks, a guaranteed ratings winner; followed by a rematch of last year’s Finals, as the Miami Heat head to Dallas to try to avenge their loss. And just in case those two games weren’t enough to entice you, MVP Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls head to LA to take on Kobe and the Lakers in the Christmas Day finale – now that’s what I call a comeback.

With the current tentative schedule, teams will play 48 conference games, and 18 outside; they will play about two more games per month than last season, but no team will play on three straight nights more than three times. Game 7 of the NBA Championship would be played (if necessary) on June 26, which is two weeks later than last season.

Nothing sums it up for NBA fans than how Dwyane Wade did Sunday night, “Finally.”

For these things I give thanks

posted a bit late... wrote Thanksgiving week

It’s that time of year when we are asked constantly what we are thankful for. In what has become as much a tradition to me as watching football and eating turkey and gravy on Thanksgiving, I write a column about the things in the sports world that I am thankful for. This year we have much to be thankful for, that pesky NBA lockout aside.

First, I am thankful that I am from a town that has great sports teams. I know I am one of the lucky ones whose team is always in the hunt – as a New England native and sports fan, I (currently) have four teams that are always in the hunt for the playoffs. Since 2001, I have seen all four teams win a championship (with the Pats and Sox winning three and two, respectively), with the Bruins finalizing the quad-fecta (had to make that word up) this past season. Even though the Red Sox didn’t make the playoffs this year, they are always in the playoff picture in September; the Patriots have been one of the top teams in the NFL every season since 2001; the Celtics have been a powerhouse since the Kevin Garnett trade; and I mentioned the Bruins finally raised Lord Stanley’s Cup in June for the first time since the 70s.

But make no mistake – I do not take this for granted. I was born in the early 1980s and remember when Boston was the laughing stock of the sports world; I grew up with the Red Sox never being able to clinch anything, the Celtics stinking post-Larry Bird, the Bruins ownership being too cheap to bring in a decent team, and grew up calling the Patriots “The Patsies.” I remember the sinking feeling when Grady Little left Pedro Martinez in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS, and just to make sure we in Boston don’t forget the heartbreak we were at one time so used to, we watched Eli Manning of all people lead the Giants to the Super Bowl XLII (which I like to think never happened).

The second thing I am thankful for is this crazy college football season. Over the weekend, three of the top five BCS teams lost, as No. 2 Oklahoma State, No. 4 Oregon and No. 5 Oklahoma were all upset. The last time three of the top five teams lost on the same weekend was Oct. 11, 2008, when No. 1 Oklahoma lost to No. 5 Texas; No. 3 Missouri lost to No. 17 Oklahoma State; and No. 4 LSU lost to No. 11 Florida.

What did this do to the BCS standings? Well, it proved emphatically what everyone has always known – that the SEC is the best conference, as they hold down the top-three spots – the first time one conference, and one division (SEC West) within a conference at that, has held the top three slots. LSU continues to stand atop the leader board for the ninth straight week, followed by Alabama (who lost to LSU on the road a couple weeks ago) and Arkansas.

Nothing is more exciting than a down-to-the-wire college football season… now if only they’d have a playoff and get rid of the silly BCS bowls.

The third thing I am giving thanks for is Thanksgiving football. Watching Dallas and Detroit host a game on Thanksgiving has become as much a tradition as turkey and pumpkin pie, but this is the first year in it’s something to be excited about. No longer a basement dweller, the Detroit Lions have become a force to be reckoned with, thanks to Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson (who really DID just need a good quarterback to turn into the player we all knew he was) and Ndamukong Suh, the sickest second-year defensive lineman I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching. And not only do we have those two games on this year, the NFL Network (which I am also thankful for) is giving us a dessert match, of the Baltimore Ravens vs. 49ers.

But of course, on Thanksgiving when I bow my head to give thanks, I will recite the things I am most thankful for – my amazing family, my wonderful friends and to have a job that not only puts food on the table, but lets me work with and for our nation’s finest and their families. Thank you all and Happy Thanksgiving!