Archive for January, 2011

Egypt, George W. Bush, and the fight for freedom

Monday, January 31st, 2011

The Middle East Tinderbox is one step closer to a full blown explosion and eventual global conflagration.

Egypt is on fire. People are protesting in the streets as Hosni Mubarak sees his 30 year power reign shakier than ever. Egyptians are fighting for freedom, as people all across the globe will eventually be forced to accept what American conservatives have known for several years.

George W. Bush was right.

He still is, righter than ever.

Bush-haters will continue their trend of ignoring facts and evidence. The rest of us know that the events in Egypt are a direct result of his presidency.

In the 1980s, Ronald Reagan called the Soviet Union an “Evil Empire.” His vision for human freedom and liberty led to the collapse of the Soviet Union and freedom for all of Eastern Europe. The dominoes rapidly fell, and in 1991 the Berlin Wall came crashing down. The left gave the credit to Mikhail Gorbachev. The newly freed citizens of Eastern Europe credited Ronald Reagan. I will go with the former captives trapped for real, not those enslaved in ivory towers of their own choosing.

Despite these tremendous events, American foreign policy became a hostage to a terrible soulless policy known as “Realpolitik.” This (lack of) vision preferred “stability” over freedom and liberty. Bloodthirsty dictators were fine so long as they were “our” dictators.

After 9/11, President George W. Bush abolished Realpolitik in favor of the Bush Doctrine, which involved advancing the causes of freedom and liberty worldwide. George W. Bush understood that freedom is a universal human right, and that liberty is a gift from God. No creature of God deserved to be enslaved by another.

With the Bush Doctrine and the Neocons guiding foreign policy, the world changed for the better. The Taliban was overthrown and a functioning secular democracy was set up in Afghanistan. In 2003 America ended the brutal regime of Saddam Hussein. Iraq set up a functional democracy that became their most functional civilization since Mesopotamia.

The left spent every waking minute engaging in everything from declaring defeat to openly wishing for failure to outright sabotage. They opposed democracy in Iraq solely due to hatred of George W. Bush. They were prepared to lose a war to avoid losing elections. The voters in 2004 repudiated the left and reelected President Bush.

Leftist critics complained that things were getting worse. The Jayson Blair Times declared the Iraq war a failure after 18 days. It took America 13 years to get from the Revolutionary War to our current Constitution, but George Washington did not have MSNBC savaging him or the Jayson Blair Times revealing secret American troop movements.

Neocons understood in 2004 that the very factors making 1989 about more than the USSR would make the War on Terror more than just Afghanistan.

Freddie Mercury was not a Neocon, but Queen wrote one of their biggest hits about the struggle for liberty.

“Ain’t much I’m asking…if you want the truth…here’s to the future…hear the cry of youth…I want it all…I want it all…I want it all…and I want it now!”

With Afghanistan and Iraq tasting freedom, Moammar Khadafi of Libya voluntarily gave up his weapons programs. The left insisted this was due to twenty years of diplomacy even as Khadafi himself conceded that the handwriting on the wall from George W. Bush turned him into a pragmatic survivalist.

2010 has seen even more upheaval. Last week Tunisia had a revolution, and now Egypt has exploded. There are also rumblings in Jordan.

While all of this is happening, Barack Obama is locked in the White House hoping the situation calms down. Worldwide events are a distraction from his domestic agenda, and he is frustrated that he cannot lecture the Middle East players to make nice. Anyone looking for proof at how lost and dazed he is about these events need only to look at who has returned on the scene. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was taken out of the closet, dusted off, and given a microphone. Her job requires meaningless blather, and her lifetime of skill in this area prepared her. The actions of the bad guys are “unhelpful.” She wants to make things “perfectly clear,” which means nobody is listening to her.

This is a time when a president needs to lead. It is one thing for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel to stay on silent lockdown. This is smart. Yet for the leader of the free world to be waiting to see who wins before choosing sides is gutless.

Ronald Reagan was not ambiguous regarding the Evil Empire. George W. Bush was not ambiguous with the Axis of Evil. One can be ambiguous when trying to straddle domestic policy initiatives. Trying to triangulate life and death matters of war and peace is simply a lack of leadership.

As we approach Ronald Reagan’s 100th birthday, many people will wax poetic about what he would do regarding Egypt. This is appropriate, but one need only go back to George W. Bush to know what to do.

Mubarak is on the ropes. He must be quietly forced out. America must ensure that the Muslim Brotherhood not take over Egypt. The people want a secular democracy. They see Iraq and Afghanistan and know that democracy and Arab culture are compatible.

Jimmy Carter failed to show strength and leadership in 1979. His weakness led to the Mullahs taking over Iran and Americans being taken hostage. Strength by Reagan brought them home.

Now the people of Egypt are begging for America to stand up. Barack Obama came to Cairo and pledged American support. Now that support is needed more than ever.

Will Barack Obama do the right thing, or was his initial trip to Egypt just empty words?

Will he stand up for freedom or just let Egypt slide into chaos, and perhaps into an Islamic Republic like Iran?

Mr. Obama knows that if he does the right thing, he will not get the credit. If he intervenes and things go badly, he will get the blame.

Yet political calculations cannot and must not ever be a substitute for doing the right thing.

President Obama is not terrified of what is happening in Egypt. He is leaving those worries to innocent people everywhere.

A decade ago the left hated George W. Bush more than Saddam Hussein. This nearly ripped America asunder. Now the left needs to decide if they hate a murderous regime in Egypt more than they hate the legacy of George W. Bush being vindicated.

Mr. Obama knows that if Egypt does become a democracy, more evidence will mount that even he would not be able to ignore. He will have to clench his teeth and spit blood saying it, but it will be true.

George W. Bush was right.

eric

NFL 2010-2011 Pro Bowl Recap

Sunday, January 30th, 2011

At 4pm PST today, the NFL 2010 Season brought us the 2011 Pro Bowl from Honolulu, Hawaii.

Here is the recap.

AFC vs NFC–What makes the Pro Bowl unique is that the players take risks on the field that would not be taken in an ordinary game. Devon Hester proved this by returning the opening kickoff 9 yards deep in the end zone just in front of the back end line. The NFC began at their own 10. Michael Vick was the starting quarterback. In a game meant to be high scoring, the NFC went 3 and out and punted. The AFC took over at their own 10, with Philip Rivers starting.

Rivers hit Brandon Lloyd for 15 yards. Arriun Foster gained 8 on the ground, 4 and 5 on passes from Rivers. On 3rd and 5, Rivers hit Bailey for 8. On the next play the AFC tried a flea-flicker. What made it interesting was that the fan knew it was coming before the ball was snapped. All of the quarterbacks were miked up in the huddle throughout the game, so we heard Rivers call it in the huddle. The play went for an incomplete pass. On 4th and 3 from the NFC 41, AFC Coach Bill Bellichick decided to go for it. Rivers threw a low pass that was dropped, and the NFC took over on downs.

Vick found Michael Turner for 11 inbetween Turner gaining 3 and 4 on the ground. Vick then threw to Miles Austin. Despite dating a Kardashian and being the last player to be added to the Pro Bowl, Austin caught it for 8 yards and 3rd and 6 to keep the drive going. On 3rd and 10 from the Atlanta 33, Vick found Roddy White for 23 yards. Vick found Tony Gonzalez just short of the goal line. On 3rd and goal from the 1, fullback Mughelli crashed in to have the NFC up 7-0 with 6 minutes left in the opening quarter. Mughelli only had 13 carries all season, but fullbacks are normally known for being great blockers.

Mariani returned the ensuing kickoff just shy of midfield and the AFC was back in business. Yet one play from scrimmage resulted in a deflected pass that was intercepted by London Fletcher. He returned it to the AFC 43. On 2nd and 8, Vick hit Devon Hester for 10 yards. Then Adrian Peterson took over, rumbling for 17 yards and then for the 14 yard touchdown. The NFC led 14-0 with 2 minutes left in the opening quarter.

Mariana had another strong kickoff return as the AFC took over at their own 40. Rivers went for the bomb, and was intercepted in the end zone by Deangelo Hall. Hall decided to run it out in the great tradition of Deion Sanders, holding the ball up in one hand. The NFC took over at their own 24 as the first quarter ended.

Matt Ryan came in for the NFC at quarterback and immediately went deep and completed a pass to Devon McCourty. McCourty plays defense for the AFC. From the AFC 30, Peyton Manning came in for the AFC. Manning was intercepted by Brent Grimes, who like McCourty was playing in his first Pro Bowl. The NFC took over at their own 42.

On 2nd and 8, Ryan hit teammate White for 10. A double reverse to Devon Hester went for 19 yards. Ryan then found White again for 20 more to set up 1st and goal at the 7. It felt like an Atlanta Falcons game. Mike Smith, who looks like an average non-descript white guy named Mike Smith, is the coach of the Falcons and the NFC coach in this game. He had 9 of his players in this game, and Ryan hit Tony Gonzalez for the 4 yard touchdown as the NFC led 21-0 less than 90 seconds into the second quarter. Both conferences had won this game 20 times coming into this game, but matchup 41 was turning into a mismatch.

Bill Bellichick also had some of his own players in the game, including Wes Welker.  Welker caught a pass, and thought the play was over. Yet no whistle had been blown, and as Welker was going to the ground, Deangelo Hall ripped the ball out of his hands. Hall returned the fumble 34 yards for a score as the NFC led 28-0. There was no replay in this game, which was way out of hand with  10 1/2 minutes still left in the second quarter. The levity of this game saw a sideline interview where Tony Gonzalez rubbed announcer Jay Glazer’s head for good luck.

From the 20, the AFC quickly went 3 and out. This was starting to resembling the lean years of the Oakland Raiders, since the only person on the AFC showing up was punter Shane Lechler. The NFC took over at their own 44. Turner gained 7 and Ryan hit Hall for 15. Turner gained another 9, and Ryan went deep to Larry Fitzgerald for a 25 yard touchdown. The NFC led 35-0 with 9 1/2 minutes left in the second quarter. The Pro Bowl is often derided as a meaningless game, but at least it is sometimes competitive. Barring a miracle comeback, the 2011 game was not helping sell the game itself.

Payton Manning told Tony Siragusa that the key to an AFC comeback would be his switching to the hurry up offense. Yet the only hurrying up came when Manning put on a baseball cap and third string quarterback Matt Cassel came in much earlier than expected. The AFC took over at their own 24. Cassel was intercepted by Antoine Winfield, who returned it 19 yards to the AFC 29. Matt Ryan just kept handing the ball off, as garbage time came a couple quarters early, Peterson ran for 9, 3, and negative 4. Stephen Jackson then ran for the 21 yard touchdown as the NFC led 42-0 with 4 1/2 minutes left in the half.

For those wondering why Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger were not playing, one theory is that nobody on the Packers or Steelers was good enough to play in the Pro Bowl. An alternate theory is that the NFL, which gets virtually everything right, continued the boneheaded idea of having the Pro Bowl the week before the Super Bowl. One can only hope that the Super Bowl is better than the 2011 Pro Bowl.

The AFC took over at their own 33, and brought a steady dose of Jamal Charles. He ran for a pair of 6 yard gains and then ripped off a 32 yarder. This was a Chiefs drive, as Charles was followed with Cassel hitting Dwayne Bowe for 10 yards. Charles then rambled 5 more and then the final 8 as the AFC was finally on the board. They trailed 42-7 at the half. Given that the Pro Bowl is supposed to be about showmanship and entertainment, it seemed odd that the half ended with a thud. From the AFC 42, Mike Smith decided to run the ball rather than have his quarterback throw the Hail Mary.

The AFC began the second half at their own 31. In an even stranger development, original starter Philip Rivers was back in at quarterback. Given that Bellichick traded away Cassel, perhaps he was on to something. Of course, Tom Brady missed this game with an injury, the only reason Cassel was playing. Ironically, Cassel became more famous than the team janitor only because Brady went down with injury in 2008. If this happens a third time, Cassel could be arrested for sabotaging Brady.

Anyway, Rivers found Reggie Wayne for a 36 yard gain. On 4th and 9 from the NFC 16, going for it was an easy decision. Rivers hit Wayne for the touchdown and the AFC was within 42-14. On the ensuing kickoff, Devon Hester tried to hand off on a reverse to Deangelo Hall. The exchange was fumbled, and returned 8 yards for a touchdown by Owens. 21 points in a 7 minute span had the AFC within 42-21 with a full 10 minutes left in the third quarter.

At this point the NFC just wanted to get the game over with before anybody got hurt.  Al Michaels was not yet ready to dust off his “Do you believe in Miracles?” speech. The NFC took over at their own 28. Ryan hit White for gains of 6 and 10. Turner gained 18. Ryan connected with Calvin Johnson for 11, and on 4th and 8 from the AFC 23,  David Akers came in for a 41 yard field goal. Akers became the all time leading scorer in the Pro Bowl as the NFC led 45-21.

The AFC took over at their own 27. Chris Johnson gained 9 and 3. Mariani ran for 11 to midfield. On 3rd and 12, Rivers hit Bowe for 17. Brandon Lloyd dropped a pair of passes on the drive, including a gift touchdown in the end zone. On 4th and 3 from the NFC 28, Rivers went deep to Mercedes Lewis for the score. With 90 seconds left in the third quarter, the AFC had clawed back to within 45-28.

Devon Hester returned the kickoff to the NFC 22. As the third quarter ended, Matty Ice came out and Drew Brees came in to try and put the game on ice. Brees led the NFC to a 3rd and 1 at the AFC 17. Peterson lost a yard. On 4th and 2, Akers came in for a field goal from 36 yards out. He doinked it off the upright no good. Rivers led the AFC from their own 26 to a 4th and 7 at the NFC 44. A completion to Charles lost one yard and the NFC took over.

Brees hit Stephen Jackson for 11 yards. On 2nd and 9 from the AFC 42, the comical nature of the Pro Bowl came from the sidelines. Reporter Jay Glazer went up to Mike Smith and begged to call one play. Smith kept saying no but finally relented. Glazer wanted a pass to Calvin Johnson, who was not in the game. Glazer got the play in to Drew Brees while Johnson stayed on the sidelines. A game with 0 penalties called almost had a delay of game, but Brees got the snap off just in time and fired complete 18 yards to Jason Witten. Glazer imitated Rex Ryan by slamming down is play calling sheet, since he wanted a deeper pass route. Akers would kick a 38 yard field goal to put the NFC up 48-28 with 8 minutes left in regulation.

Mariani had another great kickoff return to the AFC 41. Now Matt Cassel was back in the game. On 3rd and 5 Cassel was intercepted again, as John Beason raced 49 yards for the score. 2-14 teams normally do not send players to the Pro Bowl, but Beason made the most of his opportunity as Cassel was intercepted by the best player on the worst team. With 3 1/2 minutes to go, the NFC had finally sealed it leading 55-28. The suspense would be if the NFC could break 60 or if this would be an ordinary blowout.

If the AFC were winning, Mariani would have been an MVP candidate, as he took yet another kickoff to the AFC 44. He had nearly 200 return yards on the day. The first penalty on the day was unsportsmanlike conduct on the NFC for illegal defense, which only exists in the Pro Bowl and the NBA. Terry Bradshaw added some great color commentary regarding himself. The # 1 overall pick in the 1970 draft said that if he were drafted today he would only be a 3rd or 4th round draft pick. Brian Billick pointed out that this shows how drafting is an inexact science. Bradshaw said, “I gotta take a Wonderlic test, are you kidding me? If he’s open throw it to him. I failed my MENSA test!”

Cassel would throw a 7 yard touchdown pass to Montell Owens at the 2 minute warning to have the AFC back within 20 points. While the fans wanted even more entertainment, Mike Smith was prepared to end the second half the way he did the first. There would be no try for 60 points. The 90 combined points was actually not the record, as the 2004 game was won 55-52 when the AFC blew a gigantic lead and Mike Vanderjagt missed the tying field goal on the final play.

An onsides kick was recovered by Adrian Peterson, and the NFC took over at the AFC 29. Brees simply knelt down to end it. Deangelo Hall, was not even originally selected to this game, was named the MVP. Yet despite the kneeldowns, a few seconds still remained. Only in the Pro Bowl would the following sequence happen. The hook and ladder should have been over at midfield when the defender had the receiver. Yet the defender refused to tackle him, figuring the game was over. The receiver lateraled the ball to Alex Mack, who is a center. “Big Man With Football” rumbled down the sideline and shook off another halfhearted block. Mack scored to complete the 67 yard touchdown. Yes, a center scored a touchdown on a 67 yard play.

Matt Cassel even came in on the onsides kick team with seconds left. This is the Pro Bowl. The NFC recovered, and one final kneel-down finally ended things. The AFC outscored the NFC 42-13 down the stretch, but the 42-0 early deficit was too much to overcome. At least it was a fun game.

The only really great news about this lopsided game is that the bittersweet feeling after it ended was not there. Normally it ends the season, and still should. Yet now we go to Dallas, where Pittsburgh and Green Bay play for the Super Bowl trophy. Super Bowl 45 is 7 days away, and the 2011 Pro Bowl is now in the books. By 21-20, the NFC leads the series. 55-42 NFC

eric

Pre-Pro Bowl and Super Bowl NFL Happenings

Saturday, January 29th, 2011

Yes, I am aware the world is burning.

I will deal with it on Monday.

It’s not like I can do a d@mn thing to solve the problem, so I might as well watch and wait like everybody else…and of course relax poolside.

This has been an action packed week of football news, and the Raider Nation should be very pleased with the offseason move they made this week.

Adding Al Saunders to the offensive coordinator position under Hue Jackson was a great move, and the Raiders made another fantastic move after that. Longtime Oaklnd Raiders lineman Steve Wisniewski has been hired by Al Davis to be the offensive line coach. Wisniewski was a perennial pro bowler. On this pro bowl weekend, it is good to have him back.

Wizniewski was going to retire after the 2000 season when the Raiders fell one game short in the AFC Title Game. He had played 11 years. Al Davis personally asked him to come back for one more year, and he did. Sadly, that season ended in the snow due to a tuck rule. Had he stayed on one more year he would have gone to a Super Bowl. The Raiders sure could have used him. He is a leader, and the offensive line will be much improved under his leadership.

The shocker comes in Tennessee, as Jeff Fisher is no longer the coach of the Titans after 17 years. There was a power struggle between Fisher and malcontent quarterback Vince Young. Owner Bud Adams wanted to keep them both, but Fisher refused. Adams appeared to do the right thing by getting rid of Young. Yet then out of nowhere, he and Fisher mutually agree to separate. With all of the other jobs already taken, Fisher will most likely take a year off and then be the top coaching prospect next year. He will have zero problems finding employment.

The news out of Chicago is that the Bears circled the wagons and rallied around Jay Cutler. The way Cutler was treated by the media was disgusting. MSNBC leftist Ed Schultz usually spends his week spewing idiotic and wrongheaded political bile. Yet he took time last week to spew idiotic and wrongheaded sports bile. He, like others, attacked Cutler for not “manning up.”

Now we know that Cutler did have a torn MCL, and playing the rest of the NFC Title Game could have risked his career. Cutler is a punching bag because he comes across as quiet and aloof. Just because he does not yell and scream does not mean he doesn’t care. He does care, and he is a god quarterback. Lovie Smith is also low key. So is Mike Martz. They are both good coaches. As for Brian Urlacher, nobody will question his toughness. His comments about Cutler were appropriate, and the essence of leadership.

The Super Bowl between the Steelers and the Packers could be a good one. I really hope the media for once in their wretched lives can avoid asking stupid questions, especially with regards to the quarterbacks.

Aaron Rodgers should not be asked a single question about Brett Favre. I love Favre, and will miss him on the field very much. I love the guy. Yet this is about Aaron Rodgers and the current Packers. Let them enjoy it.

Ben Roetlisberger should not be asked questions about the details of what got him suspended earlier in the year. It’s over. He served his time. Remember, he was not only not convicted of anything, but he was not even charged with anything. THe focus should be on the game.

My favorite player on the field will be Charles Woodson. He was fantastic when he was with the Raiders. I can only dream about what it would have been like if he had stayed on Oakland and then we got Nahmdi Asmugha. When the Raiders played the Buccaneers in the Super Bowl 8 years ago, Woodson and Tory James both played the entire game with broken legs. Woodson even had an interception on the 3rd play of the game that led to the Raiders leading 3-0. Sadly the lead did not hold up at all.

After the Packers beat the Bears last week, Woodson sent an autographed jersey to President Obama, a Bears fan. The inscription said, “See you at the White House.” I love it. Only in sports can somebody give the president a hard time and get away with it. Barack Obama can bomb another nation, but all his powers could not get the Bears the win. Football is just a great game, and it can be heartbreaking whether one is a president or a regular fan.

As for the game itself, I think the Packers will win because the most important player will be one that as of now is not expected to play at all. Maurice Pouncey has been  rock of gibraltar at center for the Steelers. He was injured last week in the AFC Title Game. With a backup center playing, One fumbled exchange from center cost the Steelers a safety and nearly the game. Again I refer back to the Super Bowl between the Raiders and the Buccaneers. All season Barrett Robbins was a fantastic center. Then he suffered an emotional breakdown a couple of days before the game. No excuses are allowed, but the distraction did not help matters. Losing Pouncey is a  tough blow, and it could be decisive.

Anyway, the Super Bowl is a week away, and the stress of life will return Monday. This Sunday let the soothing sounds of Hawaii relax us all. I almost went to the game, but business took me to Colorado instead. That is what televisions are for.

Enjoy the Pro Bowl.

eric
Now a word from a sponsor.

Injuries Could Play A Factor At Super Bowl XLV

The date is set, the contestants are clear and the betting lines for the Super Bowl @ BetUs are posted. The Green Bay Packers are favored to win the Lombardi Trophy when they face-off with the Pittsburgh Steelers at Cowboys Stadium on February 6th.

But as the two teams prepare for the biggest game of the year, there are injury concerns on both sides that somewhat lurk in the shadow. It’s not that any one player in particular will be questionable right up until game time but there are definitely some injuries that come into play that may not receive much attention.

For starters, there are those who wonder whether quarterback Aaron Rodgers suffered a concussion in the NFC Championship game. He took a vicious blow to the head in a helmet-to-helmet hit from Chicago Bears defensive end Julius Peppers and he never quite looked the same afterwards. He’s shot down that speculation but there are doubters who wonder if he in fact did suffer his third concussion of the season.

On the Pittsburgh side of things, their star safety Troy Polamalu is dealing with an ankle injury and while he will undoubtedly play, some wonder how healthy he really is. Outside of one big play against the New York Jets in the AFC Championship game, he looked somewhat invisible. The Steelers also have another injury concern with center Maurkice Pouncey, who is dealing with a high ankle sprain and is the most like to be affected or miss time.

On the season, the Packers have significantly more injuries though and that simply can’t go unnoticed. They have put 15 players on injured reserve including four opening day starters. It’s amazing that they continue to chug along.

As we get set for the NFL championship game, there aren’t a ton of injuries in the forefront but without a doubt, both teams have lingering concerns about their key stars being healthy for the Championship game.

This concludes the word from the sponsor.

Time for the Pro Bowl.

eric

Rudy Giuliani Returns

Friday, January 28th, 2011

It may turn out to be a blip, but it could also be a political neutron bomb.

Rudy Giuliani has returned.

I honestly never saw this coming.

After his 2008 presidential campaign flamed out, I was convinced he would sit out 2012. He would have easily won the governorship of New York in 2010, and his reelection in 2014 would have positioned him for 2016. He would have been 68, still young enough to run.

Yet there he was in 2011 on Sean Hannity’s program saying he is seriously considering running again in 2012. By March he will decide to seriously consider running, which is how it is done nowadays.

I have said many times that Republicans always nominate the guy next in line. We are a hierarchy, and the next successor is Mitt Romney since he came in second in 2008. He is tall, has good hair, and is inoffensive.

While I had not even begun to think about 2012, I was privately hoping that Haley Barbour would run and choose Linda Lingle as his Vice President. Some feel Haley is “too Southern,” but he is the best money raiser in the entire party.

Yet everything is on hold for me until Rudy Giuliani makes his decision.

Many people criticized Giuliani for his admittedly lousy campaign in 2008. Yet there was something else in play that will not hurt him in 2012.

Giuliani is a bare knuckle brawler. He loves a good political fight. He relishes taking on people.

In 2008 he was itching for a fight with Romney. He was salivating at the thought of taking down Romney. He could have and probably would have.

Then he would have been ready for Hillary Clinton.

Yet nothing was conventional about 2008, and one person came along that upset Rudy’s plans, the one man Rudy would not go after.

Rudy Giuliani would not criticize John McCain.

They are personal friends.

When Rudy was riding high and McCain was down and almost out, Rudy even said that if he were not running, he would vote for McCain. They both shared contempt for Romney, and the plan for Rudy was for him to hang out in Florida, have Romney knock out McCain, and then he would go after Romney.

Yet when McCain shocked everyone by again winning in New Hampshire, he rose and Rudy fell. Rudy still would not go after him.

So one could say that in a business of dishonor and betrayal, Giuliani put honor and loyalty above winning. Even as McCain rose, he did it without attacking Giuliani either.

I still maintain that John McCain was the only person who could have stopped Rudy Giuliani.

McCain will not be running in 2012. As of now there is no bright new name on the scene. The Republican Party does not do that. We follow the hierarchy. The same people from 2008 will be back, which means Romney, Huckabee, and Palin. Gingrich may also run. Tim Pawlenty is a nice guy but not part of hierarchy. He needs to run, lose, perhaps get chosen for Vice President, and then try again for President in 2016 or 2020.

In the same way there is not enough energy in the center-right for McCain and Giuliani, there is not enough energy for a staunch social conservative to run.

That means if Palin runs, Huckabee and long shot Rick Santorum are finished.

Romney is automatically in the game because he is the de facto next in line, and he has tons of money.

The vacuum is still there for a center-right candidate, and nobody has stepped up to fill it.

Palin and Gingrich fire up the base, but they also fire up the other side. Giuliani can appeal to moderates.

Some speculated that Giuliani never wanted the job. I disagree. That would be Fred Thompson. Giuliani did not want to take on McCain.

Giuliani also has one major advantage over the other candidates.

For those not paying attention, Barack Obama is partially black. In 2008 McCain and the others were unprepared to deal with the notion of running against a black man. They were scared of being called racists, and rightfully so.

Giuliani is the only one with the playbook on how to defeat somebody who happens to be black. Giuliani defeated David Dinkins to become Mayor of New York City. The issue was not race. It was leadership. Giuliani will paint Obama like Dinkins, a good and decent man not tough enough to get the job done.

He was not intimidated dealing with the issue in New York. The others are still scared of the issue.

Rudy is itching for a direct confrontation with Romney again. Taking on Palin would be much tougher, because she has such a fiercely loyal fan base. Yet there is enough anti-Palin sentiment to make Rudy able to beat her without taking her on in a destructive way. Romney does not have that loyalty. As for Huckabee, he is not a threat to Giuliani. Gingrich may run, although too many are praying he doesn’t because of his many detractors.

All I ask of Rudy is that if he runs, that he bring his brass knuckles this time. As much as I love Barbour, I love Rudy more.

I have zero interest in covering 2012 at this time. I want to enjoy a quiet 2011.

Yet the game has now changed. Nobody gets my support until he decides.

Mayor Giuliani, either go all in or all out. There is no inbetween.

Let us know your plans. I look forward to your decision.

eric

State of the Useless: My Summit With Barack Obama

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

It is time for a presidential summit featuring a half-black and half-white leftist fellow with big ears and a pasty white vertically challenged Republican Jewish blogger, both with winning smiles.

President Obama, I would like to invite you to join me on February 13th to a very special summit just for you and me. I will be at CPAC on the 12th and I know we will both be busy with Valentine’s Day on the 14th. Yet the 13th is the first Sunday of the year without football. You and I both know there will be nothing to do.

After listening to your state of the Union Speech, I realized that it is time for you and I to engage in an athletic competition. Don’t worry, it won’t be bowling. I want your best, not your worst. It will be like the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest at Coney Island, only we will eat at a much more leisurely pace.

I would like to have a navel gazing competition with you.

February 13, 2011, Nationwide Event: STATE OF THE USELESS: NAVEL GAZING SUMMIT!

Before you get excited, this is not where we sit on the beach and ogle women in bikinis. Also, we will not be staring at each other’s bellies. That would be creepy.

No. We will both sit in lawn chairs outside, and deeply contemplate our own respective navels.

I warn you sir, I am prepared. I went to a liberal arts college. I know how to navel gaze with the best of them. For the record, my navel is round and symmetrical with zero imperfections. Whoever cut that cord did a great job. There is also not an ounce of lint in my belly button, although your policies have left plenty of it in my pockets.

Like the Miss America pageants, there will be more than just looking spectacular with our shirts off in self-admiration. There will be a talent contest, where we spout meaningless phrases that on the surface seem deep and meaningful but really mean actually nothing. You said several of them last night, and many people considered them brilliant solely because you said them. This allows you to be for and against the exact same thing and always be right. It is impressive.

You find privatizing Social Security to be a risky stock market scheme while celebrating the rise of the market.

You want us all to like teachers, as if people are running around saying they hate them.

You believe parents should help kids with their homework, as if there is a powerful lobby against that.

You want America to be in favor of innovation, as if that viewpoint has ever been challenged.

You celebrate innovators while absolutely burying the very essence of what innovation is about.

You laud entrepreneurship while insisting that the public sector creates anything of value.

Sir, governments destroy value. They add regulations and bureaucracy. Free enterprise is the very antithesis of government. Limited government is necessary to prevent anarchy, but preventing destruction is not the same as creating something. This is why you praise the number of jobs you have “saved.” You cannot quantify it, and you know that is not the same as jobs actually created.

You want to take from the oil companies so you can create a green utopia without any contingency plan if unproven green technologies fail. The fact that oil actually works is lost on you.

You are so far above the rest of us mere mortals because you are thinking decades into the future. Yet all of your pontificating does not seem to explain to people what you will do in the next six months to get people back to work now.

Increased education may help somebody several years from now, but plenty of educated people need jobs now. High speed rail will get people places fast, but if they have no place to go and nothing to do, they will not travel. All of the government money poured into electric cars will fail because people are not interested in a green revolution right now. The only green they care about is money. They don’t have it.

I know you are a magician who walks on water and I accept that you are able to recycle toilet paper because your (redacted) don’t st@nk. This is why I believe you can spend into the stratosphere and save at the same time.

Just because you did not name a single program you would cut does not mean you are full of (redacted). You truly believe what you say. In your world, freezing spending really does mean cutting.

I used to think that you were a cold, clinical Vulcan. Dr. Spock lacked empathy, but at least he was logical. I am not sure what you are. Your proposals are illogical, but you also fail to exhibit any human emotion. Perhaps you really do care more about trees than people. You would not be the first liberal blessed with this “vision.”

This is why it is so important for us to spend time together. You can wax poetic for hours on why everything you are doing is working while the world burns. We can ignore everything around us, as you have done the last couple days by ignoring the terrorist attacks in Russia.

(and the last couple of years as people begged for jobs and you responded with destroying their health care, harassing small businesses, and beating people into submission in the name of bipartisanship.)

Not to worry you sir, but some of the people blown to bits were driving hybrids. Trees also suffered.

Anyway, rather than attack your many deficiencies, I think I should be fair and highlight your strengths. Your shirts and ties are crisp and you have good hair.

So let’s celebrate what you love to celebrate most, you being you. It is not about your doing anything. Your very being is an invaluable enough gift.

If I win this navel gazing competition with you, don’t worry. I know you have nothing to get back to, and Joe Biden will be just fine managing absolutely nothing. So we can make it a best two out of three.

At the end of the evening we will have the final contest where we lay back in the lawn chairs, pour water in our navels, slap our stomachs, and see who can make the water jump higher. Think of it as golf, but with action. Then we will gaze into the future with very serious poses so that observers think we are really doing important things that matter.

We can even bring schoolchildren in to wave pompoms and shout “Yes, we can” like your supporters do at memorials and other campaign events.

I challenge you Mr. President. May the best navel gazer win. I suspect it will be you, but your very essence and speeches inspire me so much that I now have hope that I can change the results, win the future, and defeat you in this contest every bit as important as anything else you do daily.

February 13, 2011 is the date, and we now have the official slogan:

Whether innie or outtie, it’s onnie!

eric

State of the Union 2011–Congressman Paul Ryan gets it

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

I provided complete and comprehensive coverage of the State of the Union address delivered by Congressman Paul Ryan and the irrelevant platitudes brought by the fellow speaking before him.

I covered the Democratic speech, the Republican response, the Tea Party response, the Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC analysis, and the various ordinary people participating in focus groups.

That coverage is found in three parts at the Washington Times Communities Online.

http://communities.washingtontimes.com/neighborhood/tygrrrr-express/2011/jan/26/state-union-2011-obama-abdicates-paul-ryan-leader-/

http://communities.washingtontimes.com/neighborhood/tygrrrr-express/2011/jan/26/state-union-2011-obama-abdicates-page-2/

http://communities.washingtontimes.com/neighborhood/tygrrrr-express/2011/jan/26/state-union-2011-obama-abdicates-page-3/

Rachel Maddow ended the night wailing and complaining that the president did not mention gun control. Ironically she also used the phrase “Locked and Loaded” in a totally harmless manner. Nevertheless she is now dangerous and should be taken off the air immediately.

The only thing to conclude from the entire evening is that the intellectual heft in this country, whether it be politicians, reporters, analysts, or private citizens, is coming from the right.

Barack Obama blathered nonsense.

Paul Ryan gave a cold hard substantive reality in 10% of the time it took the president to waste words and oxygen.

Fox News conducted balanced analysis. MSNBC did not.

Fox News and CNN covered the Tea Party speech. MSNBC did not, showing that the firing of Keith Olbermann has not changed the culture of hate and disdain for conservatives.

Fox News conducted an honest focus group. MSNBC did not bother with any focus group.

President Obama speaks well and says nothing.

That is not news.

The real news is that ordinary Americans of all stripes now know this.

This was his last chance to show that he cares about ordinary Americans and can empathize with their troubles and come up with real solutions to help them.

He cannot and does not.

Paul Ryan can and did. He is now the leader of the free world.

eric

State of the Union and Decision Points

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

Before Congressman Paul Ryan gives an adult State of the Union response, the preceding speaker will either finally get it…or not.

The Washington Times Communities Online contains the rest.

http://communities.washingtontimes.com/neighborhood/tygrrrr-express/2011/jan/25/decision-points-and-state-union/

eric

From Olbermann to Spiderman: A (career) suicide song

Monday, January 24th, 2011

Keith Olbermann has finally committed suicide.

(From a career standpoint of course.)

He still breathes, although it is the heavier kind mixed in with grunts and groans one might find in prison. No, Mr. Olbermann never molested children, although he did violate decent society everywhere for eight years. Like Robespierre, his reign of terror is over.

My American Idol audition consists of comparing Olbermann to Spiderman, found at the Washington Times Communities page online.

http://communities.washingtontimes.com/neighborhood/tygrrrr-express/2011/jan/23/keith-olbermann-commits-career-suicide/

eric

NFL 2010-2011–Title Games Recap

Sunday, January 23rd, 2011

This is it. At the end of this day we know who is in Super Bowl XLV (45).

My favorite week of the year is Week 1. Every team has a chance and 7 months of waiting ends.

My second favorite week is Week 17, the last week of the regular season when we know who is in the playoffs.

My third favorite week is this. The Conference Title Games sort out the entire season.

In 1993, both top seeds advanced as Buffalo played Dallas. Then for 15 straight years at least one top seed went down in flames. Last year the streak was broken as top seeds Indy and New Orleans reached the big game. This year both top seeds Atlanta and New England were one and done, losing to the # 6 seeds. The action is still as thrilling as can be. It is not “parity.” It is competitive balance, as “Any Given Sunday” remains meaningful.

I read an article questioning whether the best days of the NFL are behind us. That thought process is insane, and most likely brought about by those thinking America itself peaked in 1775.

The game is better than ever.

The NFC Title Game is the Packers and the Bears. This is old school at its finest. The winner receives the George Halas Trophy and gets to play for the Vince Lombardi Trophy. The game of football exists today in its glory because of players like Bart Starr, Ray Nitschke, Sid Luckman, and Dick Butkus. Then came more great ones on both sides, including Walter Payton, Mike Singletary, and Brett Favre. Now we have Aaron Rodgers, Charles Woodson, Clay Matthews, Jay Cutler, Brian Urlacher, and Devon Hester.

Unlike other rivalries, this one features a ton of mutual respect and admiration. These franchises helped each other when football was in its infancy.

Yet how amazing is it that the most stories rivalry is not even the marquee game today?

The New York Jets are at the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers are on the verge of a dynasty, having won 2 Super Bowls in the last 5 years to go along with the teams of the 1970s. Terry Bradshaw, Lynn Swann, Franco Harris and the Steel Curtain would be proud of the guys playing today. Ben Roethlisberger played through a broken nose and won. Troy Palomalu and James Harrison have honored Mean Joe Greene and Jack Lambert with fierce play.

The New York Jets have brought back bravado. Joe Namath guaranteed victor and won it, creating the modern NFL as we know it. Now Rex Ryan is trying to end the dominance of Indianapolis and New England in the same way Green Bay in 1996 took on San Francisco and Dallas. Ryan might be the most colorful character in football today. Bart Scott is the emotional leader on the field. The Jets are on the road, but they are out to prove that they are every bit as important to the game of football as their 1968 champions.

The NFL is better than ever. So before looking at the recaps, lets have some precaps.

NFC Title Game: I still believe the Bears are pretenders. Every few years they get a soft schedule and make the most of it. They remind me of the 1997 San Francisco team that coasted to a 13-3 record in the NFC Worst (still a dreadful division), only to get throttled at home in the NFC Title Game by Green Bay. This year Detroit remained Detroit, Minnesota imploded, and Green Bay was devastated by injuries. Yes the Bears at home, but that has not mattered in recent years. In 2001 and 2005 the Bears were at home and lost in the first round convincingly. The 2006 Bears did get to the Super Bowl, but any of the top 4 AFC teams would have beaten them.

The 2010 team survived in an NFC nobody outside of Atlanta wanted to win, and was lucky enough to draw the worst team in playoff history in Seattle at home.

Jay Cutler is learning well from mad scientist Mike Martz, and Lovie Smith has held the team together. Brian Urlacher remains the emotional leader on defense. Devon Hester is as electric as ever. The Bears are at home. Yet the Packers are simply the better team.

Green Bay on the road obliterated Atlanta, and that was after a tough win at Philly. Aaron Rodgers is playing phenomenal football, and Charles Woodson is back to being all world on defense. Clay Matthews is playing like a crazed dog. As long as the Packers do not kick the ball anywhere near Devon Hester, they should win going away without much difficulty. Cold weather will not be a factor since both teams are used to it.

The team split the season series, with both teams winning at home. The Bears prevailed 20-17 early in the season while the Packers hung on 10-3 in the final week when the Bears had a chance to knock them out of contention altogether.

Prediction: Packers 34, Bears 17

AFC Title Game: Bring your iodine and gauze pads. This will be a hard hitting affair. Both of these teams are battle tested, and they are both coming off emotional wins against hated rivals against the 2 teams expected to be playing today, New England and Baltimore.

The Jets have been able to run the ball in the way Rex Ryan loves to ground and pound it. Yet the Steelers, while not the Steel Curtain, are the best in the NFL on defense. The Jets are up there as well. The Jets will have to rely on Mark Sanchez, but he proved last week that he is not a weak link. He has won 4 road games in the past 2 years. If he wins this one, he will have the NFL record of all time. He has only played 2 years!

Ben Roethlisberger is as gutty as they come, and the team has rallied around him. Hines Ward and Mike Wallace are dangerous, as is Antwon Randle-El. The Steelers appear to have more talent, but the Jets just have more heart than I have seen in some time. Bringing in Dennis Byrd last week to speak to the team was a stroke of genius.

A few weeks ago the Jets went into Pittsburgh and won a headknocker 22-17. Mike Tomlin and Rex Ryan respect each other, and neither is taking the other one lightly. This game should live up to its billing. If it comes down to field position, Brad Smith could be the key for the Jets.

Prediction: Jets 20, Steelers 17.

Enough buildup. Let’s get down to the business of football. Business is d@mn good.

NFC Title Game: Green Bay Packers @ Chicago Bears–The Packers began at their own 16 and Aaron Rodgers immediately went to Greg Jennings for gains of 21 and 26 yards. Starks ran for 6 yards and then caught a pass from Rodgers for 7 more. Rodgers then fired to Jordy Nelson for 22 yards to set up 1st and goal at the 2. On 2nd and goal from the 1, nosetackle BJ Rajy entered in the great tradition of Refrigerator Perry of their opponents. Yet with everybody bunched up the middle, Rodgers took a naked bootleg around the end for the score as the Packers made the 84 yard drive look very easy to lead 7-0.

Determined to avoid Devon Hester, the Packers kicked it short to an up man, as the Bears began at their own 37. Matt Forte ran for a couple and then took a well designed screen pass from Jay Cutler for 24 yards.  On 3rd and 7 from the Packers 35, Cutler overthrew an open Devon Hester. Lovie Smith decided to punt rather than try a 53 yard field goal or go for it. The Packers took over at their own 10.

Starks got the Packers going with an 16 yard run, and Rodgers hit James Jones for 10 more. On 2nd and 9 a draw play by Brandon Jackson went for another 10. Yet while Mike McCarthy was dialing up a perfect game plan, a pair of deep balls fell incomplete, and another incompletion led to a punt. The Bears took over at their own 16 and went 3 and out after a false start, with a sack of Cutler ending things. Tremon Williams returned it 11 yards to midfield. Rodgers continued his passing clinic, hitting Jennings for 20. On 3rd and 6 Rodgers was sacked, putting the Packers out of field goal range. Perfect punt coverage had the Bears at their own 1 as the first quarter ended.
The Bears began the second quarter by barely avoiding a safety on consecutive plays and going 3 and out. The Packers took over at the Chicago 45. After a false start, Rodgers hit Jackson for 16, and Starks rumbled for 13 more. Rodgers then hit Nelson for 15 yards to set up 1st and goal at the 5. Starks took the carry and just broke the plane to make it 14-0.
From the Chicago 34, Cutler hit Johnny Knox for 24 yards. A screen pass to Chester Taylor added 12 more. Offensive holding killed the drive and the crowd booed when Lovie Smith passed up a 49 yard field goal try to punt. After almost downing it at the one, instead the crowd booed more after the touchback.

The Packers kept rolling as a 10 yard run was followed by Rodgers scrambling for 25 yards. A pass to Jennings set up 3rd and 1 at the Bears 36. Starks got upended to set up 4th and 1. In a game where both coaches were playing ultra conservatively, Mike McCarthy without hesitation punted. The Bears continued having miserable field position, starting at their own 11.

A pair of incomplete passes would have hurt the Bears but they were bailed out by defensive holding. After a near interception, Forte took a delayed draw 13 yards. The Bears faced 3rd and 7 at their own 33 at the 2 minute warning. Cutler was sacked and fumbled, but the Bears retained possession and punted. The Chess match between Mike Martz and Dom Capers was at this point totally favoring the Green Bay defense. The Packers took over at their own 36 with 1:44 left in the half and one timeout.

Rodgers quickly scrambled for 12 yards. A completion to Jennings set up another 3rd and 1. This time Rodgers took the quick snap and the quarterback sneak got the yard. With Green Bay in total control, a low throw bounced off the hands of Donald Driver and was intercepted by Lance Briggs. The Bears took over at their own 42 with 49 seconds left in the half.

Cutler quickly hit Forte for 17 yards. Yet Cutler went for the deep ball, and the interception by Sam Shields near the goal line ended the threat. Rodgers took a knee to end the half. Despite dominating and leading 14-0, the Packers missed out on several chances to deliver the knockout blow. As for the Bears, in their entire playoff history, their largest comeback win was 7 points.

The second half kickoff went to Devon Hester, and he returned it 24 yards to the Chicago 40. Yet the Bears wasted the field position by going 3 and out when Cutler threw incomplete on 3rd and 4. The Packers took over at their own 17 and Rodgers kept firing. On 3rd and 8 he found Nelson for 21 and Jennings for 20 more. Starks gained 9. On 3rd and 1 Rodgers went deep. The ball was dropped, but defensive pass interference had the Packers with 1st and goal at the 8.

Again the Packers were in total control with a chance to end things. Again, they failed to do so. On 3rd and goal, with men in his face, Rodgers threw an ill advised pass in traffic that was intercepted by Brian Urlacher. Urlacher was racing for a score the other way with only Rodgers in his way. Rodgers tripped up Urlcher just enough to save the touchdown as the Bears began at their own 44. The tackle was reminiscent of a touchdown saving tackle in 2005 that Ben Roethlisberger made after a Pittsburgh fumble to preserve a key playoff win over Indy on the way to the Super Bowl. Aaron Rodgers is a great passer and scrambler, but in this game his one tackle on defense was key.

Yet when the Bears took the field, Cutler was not in the huddle. His knee was injured, and he stayed on the bench as 40 year old backup Todd Collins came in. Several incompletions later, the Bears punted yet again. The Packers soon faced 2nd and 16 at their own 15, when Rodgers hit Jennings for 22. A second offensive holding penalty on the drive set up 3rd and 8 at the Green Bay 37. Rodgers threw incomplete and the Bears got the ball back again at their own 18. Collins repeated the previous drive with incompletions and a punt. The Packers quickly punted it back and the Bears took it at their own 33.

With one minute left in the third quarter, the Bears were now down to their third string quarterback Hanie. Ironically, the tv show decades ago featuring Mr. Hanie was called Green Acres. Forte gained 11 and 4 as the third quarter ended. Hanie hit Forte for 8 and Forte gained 3 and 11. On 2nd and 13 from the Green Bay 33, Hanie hit Knox for a 21 yard gain down to the one yard line. The Bears finally cracked the scoreboard as Taylor ran it in to get the Bears within 14-7 with an entire 12 minutes still left in regulation.

The Packers took over at their own 24, and roughing the passer tacked on 15 yards. Yet on 3rd and 2 from the Chicago 43, Rodgers threw a pass that went right through the receiver’s hands. The Bears took over after a touchback with 9 1/2 minutes left to play. With no help from Eva Gabor, Eddie Albert, or the Chicago receivers, Mr. Hanie received no handout from the Green Bay defense. 3 and out resulted in another punt. Maynard shanked a 24 yarder, and with 8 1/2 minutes left the Packers took over at the Bears 44.

Running the ball would grind down the clock, but Mike McCarthy runs the West Coast offense, and the passing continued. On 3rd and 1, Rodgers threw low and incomplete. On 4th and 1 from the Bears 35, going for it or trying the 53 yard field goal would have been the first bold gamble of the game. The Packers punted, as the Bears had another terrible start to a drive at their own 10 with 7 1/2 minutes on the clock.

The Packers had every chance under the sun on offense to end things, and could not close the door. They were giving the Bear chances, which the Bears did not take. Finally, with 6 minutes left, things were settled. On 3rd and 5 from the Chicago 15, Mr. Hanie ws intercepted by BJ Raji, who practically walked in for the score as the Packers led 21-7. An ugly game saw an ugly play appear to settle things. With the season slipping away, Mr. Hanie had to try and mount a miracle comeback.

The Packers made it look easy, which was a problem since they were on defense. A 16 yard kickoff return had the Bears at their own 40. Hanie hit Olsen and Bennett for gains of 7 each, Forte for 5, and then Bennett for a 35 yard touchdown. With 4:43 to play, the Bears were only down 21-14.

The Packers took over at their own 25 and quickly went 3 and out as the West Coast Offense did its job with incomplete passes. The Bears had their billionth chance to tie things from their own 29 with 2:53 to play. On 3rd and 9 Caleb Hanie hit Olsen for 10. A questionable intentional grounding call set up 2nd and 20. Passes to Forte went for 10 and 9 as Forte was just short of the sticks. A trip to the Super Bowl was hinging on 4th and 1 just shy of midfield with 1:54 to play.

Forte ran for 4 yards as the drive continued. A perfectly executed screen pass to Forte went for 12 yards to the Green Bay 34. The Bears had 2 timeouts and 1:27 left to work with. A completion at the sideline to Olsen set up 3rd and 2 with 1:15 left. A draw play gained the 1st down but it was waved off as the Bears took their 2nd timeout. The Bears tried the draw play again and it was blown up in the backfield. On 4th and 4 with the clock running, Hanie went deep middle and fired a perfect pass to Shields at the 12.

Unfortunately for all of Chicago, Shields still plays defense for the Packers. His second pick of the day was the difference. It was a hard fought game, but Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers won their third straight road playoff game to take their # 6 seed to the Super Bowl. Four hours later, they would know their opponent. 21-14 Packers

AFC Title Game: New York Jets @ Pittsburgh Steelers–A 23 yard kickoff return to start the game had the Steelers at their own 34. On 3rd and 7 Ben Roethlisberger threw incomplete, but defensive holding prevented the 3 and out. On 3rd and 5 from the Pittsburgh 47, Roethlisberger hit Mike Wallace for 6. Rashaard Mendenhall gained 8 and 2 more to keep the chains moving. Mendenhall then broke tackles in the backfield and turned a loss into a 9 yard gain. Redmond gained 5 to have the Steelers at the Jets 23. Big Ben then went deep and found a wide open Heath Miller, who made a diving catch at the 3 yard line.

Rex Ryan challenged the call, and on further review the call was reversed incomplete. Mendenhall got the carry and this time was stopped for a loss. With the Steelers facing 3rd and 12, Roethlisberger scrambled and dove head first for just enough to make it 1st and 10 at the 13. Mendenhall gained 5, and then Big Benfired to Hines Ward just shy of the goal line. Mendenhall got smacked short, but second effort allowed him to stretch the ball just over the plane. The 9 minute drive covered 66 yards and 15 plays as the Steelers led 7-0.

The Jets began at their own 26 and quickly faced 3rd and 10. Yet Mark Sanchez calmly hit Jerricho Cotcherry for 14 yards. A deep incomplete pass to nobody was offset by defensive illegal contact. Another incompletion on 2nd and 8 was offset by defensive pass interference. Another 2nd and 8 incompletion saw another penalty. This time it was a false start on the offense, but it still helped the Jets. Yet the Jets were finally out of breaks as a couple of incompletions and a punt had the Steelers at their own 13. Mendenhall gained 11 and 2 as the first quarter ended.

The second quarter began with an incomplete pass on third down. Yet a questionable defensive personal foul on the Jets for hitting a defenseless receiver kept the drive going. It was not helmet to helmet, but it was still called. On 3rd and 1 from the Jets 31, Mendenhall took a deep handoff and got buried. On 4th and 1 Mike Tomlin decided to go for it. A play action pass bounced off  receiver’s hands and was intercepted.

It did not matter as the Jets went backward and punted. The Steelers took over at their own 38 and Mendenhall quickly ripped off a 27 yard gain. Gains of 8 and 13 by Redman set up 1st and goal at the 6. The Steelers were simply cramming it down the Jets throats, as 60 yards on the ground and 0 passes led to 3rd and goal at the 2. They finally did try a pass, which fell incomplete. On 4th and goal at the 2, Tomlin called for the field goal. Suisham made the 20 yarder as the Steelers led 10-0.

The ensuing kickoff went out of bounds, giving the Jets the ball at their own 40. It did not matter as their lifeless offense went 3 and out. The Steelers began at their own 34 and this time went straight to the air as Big Ben hit Heath Miller for 24 yards and Sanders for 20 more. A 14 yarder to Mendenhall set up a 2 yard touchdown scramble by Roethlisberger as the Steelers led 17-0 with 2:05 left in the half.

The Jets took over at their own 33, but disaster struck. On 3rd and 17 Sanchez went back to pass and got belted. The resulting fumble was picked up and returned 19 yard for a touchdown by William Gay. An official booth review upheld that Sanchez’s arm was not going forward as the Jets now trailed 24-0.

The Jets took over at their own 31 with 1:08 left in the half. Sanchez hit Dustin Keller for 5 and Brad Smith for gains of 16 and 9. With 18 seconds left in the half, the Jets faced 3rd and 1 at the Pittsburgh 25. Sanchez threw incomplete, and on 4th and 1 with 14 seconds left, Rex Ryan opted for the field goal. Nick Folk’s kick started outside but snuck just inside as the Jets were on the board. Yet this showdown was a one-sided affair as the Steelers led 24-3 at halftime. The Steelers led 231-50 in yards, 16-5 in first downs, and 21-9 in possession minutes.

The Jets deferred to start the game and began the second half at their own 10. Greene quickly ripped off a 23 yard run. On 3rd and 4 Sanchez hit Santonio Holmes for 16. On the next play Sanchez went for the bomb and found Holmes again for a wide open 45 yard touchdown as the Jets were back in it down 24-10.

The Steelers took over at their own 28. On 3rd and 2 Big Ben was nearly intercepted as the Steelers punted. Yet roughing the kicker kept the drive going. The kick was almost blocked, but the Steelers kept the ball. The Steelers  then fumbled a snap but retained possession. Yet on 2nd and 11 from the Jets 37, Big Ben went for all the marbles and was intercepted by Pool at the 5. The Jets took over at their own 14.

The Jets quickly went 3 and out when a 3rd and 7 completion was ruled out of bounds. The Steelers moved from their own 30 to the Jets 42, but then 3 straight plays losing yards led to another punt as the third quarter wound down. From the fourth quarter Sanchez hit Braylon Edwards for 18 and LaDanian Tomlinson gained 5 more to the Jets 42 as the clock clicked into the fourth quarter. Sanchez hit Keller for 19 yards to the Pittsburgh 39. On 3rd and 4, Sanchez hit Keller for 6. Sanchez scrambled for 7 to set up 3rd and 3. A pitchout to Green resulted in him colliding with James Farrior near the sticks. Farrior won the battle as a critical 4th and 1 at the 18 came up with 12 minutes left in regulation.

Greene rammed up the middle 2 yards to keep the drive going. Yet Sanchez was in the shotgun on 1st and 10, fumbled the snap, and fell on it. On 2nd and 18 from the 24, Green gained 16. On 3rd and 2 from the 8, Sanchez hit Cotcherry for 6 to set up 1st and goal at the 2. Greene gained one yard, but on 2nd and 3rd down Rex Ryan called passe rather than ram it in. Then on 4th and goal at the 1 with 8 minutes left, Tomlinson got the carry and ran into a black and gold brick wall. The goal line stand kept the game at 24-10 as the 17 play, 8 minute drive resulted in nothing.

Yet one key player was not in the game, as starting center Pouncey went out in the first half with an injury. From the one, Roethlisberger fumbled the center exchange and fell on it in the end zone for a safety. For the second time this year the Jets had a safety against the Steelers, as the Jets were within 24-12 and prepared to receive the free kick. They took over at their own 43 with 7 1/2 minutes left.

Sanchez quickly hit Edwards for 22 yards. On 3rd and 1 from the 27 with 6 minutes left, Tomlinson got stuffed, setting up another 4th and 1. Sanchez passed to Edwards for 10. On 3rd and 4 from the 11, Sanche hit Keller for 6. Sanchez hit Cothcerry for the 4 yard touchdown as the Jets still had life. 3 minutes remained, and they trailed by 5 with all 3 timeouts. Rex Ryan decided to kick it deep and rely on his defense that had blanked Pittsburgh in the second half.

Brown took the kickoff at his own 14, and several mistckles had the Steelers starting at their own 41. On 2nd and 9 the Jets took their 1st timeout. Big Ben hit Heath Miller for a critical 14 yard gain and a 1st down as the Jets took their second timeout. A pair of 2 yard Mendenhall runs had the Jets take their final timeout and then the 2 minute warning hit. A trip to the Super Bowl hinged on the Steelers facing 3rd and 6 at the Jets 40 yard line.

Roethlisberger roled out, and with a pair of men in his face and a third giving chase, did his Joe Montana to Dwight Clark impersonation. Big Ben found Brown, who made a diving catch for a 14 yard gain. Review showed the ball did not hit the ground. The only thing hitting the ground was Rex Ryan’s headset in disgust. The Jets were game, but for the second straight year they came up one game short on the road.  The Steelers are going to the Super Bowl for an NFL record 8th time, the 2nd time in the Mike Tomlin era and the third time for many of these players. All 3 of the recent Super Bowl trips have seen the Steelers do it without having the top seed. That is why they play the games. 24-19 Steelers

Nex week is the Pro Bowl. In 2 weeks on February 6, 2011, Super Bowl 45 takes place. Green Bay Packers vs Pittsburgh Steelers. The traditions of Vince Lombardi and Chuck Noll are upon us, and defensive coordinators Dom Capers and Dick Lebeau are already planning how to blitz Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger.

It’s on.
eric

Why the Raider Nation should root for the Jets

Saturday, January 22nd, 2011

For the second year in a row, the New York Jets are one game away from the Super Bowl. It has been 42 years since their one and only trip when Weeb Ewbank saw his Joe Namath led team shock the world and change professional football forever.

As a die hard fan of the Silver and Black, I say the Raider Nation should root for Gang Green this weekend.

Before getting to the Jets, there is good news for Raider fans this week that went virtually unreported. While I disagreed with he firing of Tom Cable and was relieved when offensive coordinator Hue Jackson took over, another hire was superb. Al Davis has long coveted Al Saunders to be a part of his organization. Saunders is one of the best offensive coordinators in the business, and he shares the aggressive offensive philosophy Davis has long espoused. Saunders has been with AFC West rivals Kansas City and San Diego, and finally he is the offensive coordinator of the Raiders. Al Davis has made many controversial decisions over the last few years, but this was an excellent hire.

What made the Raiders different during their golden era of the 60s, 70s, and 80s was that they really were different from every other franchise.

“Just Win Baby” was more than a slogan. It was a way of life. The Raiders had two rules written on the blackboard.

1) Show up on Sunday.

2) Stay out of trouble with the law.

At the bottom of the blackboard it was written “If you obey rule # 1, don’t worry about rule # 2.”

Al Davis and John Madden wanted football to be fun, and they thrived in the “us against the world” mentality.

Hank Stram had the Kansas City wear coats and ties to games. John Madden saw Ted Hendricks show up to practice dressed like Sir Lancelot riding a steed. When Mike Shanahan banned players from sitting on their helmets, the players rebelled. When Art Shell took over, sitting on the helmets was allowed. The team responded and won games.

Castoffs from other teams nobody else wanted thrived in Oakland, with Jim Plunkett and many others being rescued from the ash heap.

The Raiders hit hard, played hard, and talked even harder. They also backed it up.

This brings us to the Rex Ryan Jets today.

I love Rex Ryan. In today’s buttoned down culture, Rex Ryan “looks” like a football coach. The guy had lap band surgery and still looks heavy. He doesn’t care what you think of his big gut hanging out. That’s your problem. When a player last week scored a clinching touchdown and received an excessive celebration penalty, Ryan limped on one good foot to get to the end zone. Instead of chastising the player, he joined in on the celebration.

It is hard to think of millionaires as blue collar, but John Madden was a blue collar players’ coach. So is Rex Ryan.

He showed up at his introductory press conference and announced that he “wasn’t here to kiss Bill Bellischick’s rings.”

This was similar to his father Buddy Ryan taking over the Eagles and Cardinals and declaring war on Dallas.

(Buddy was an assistant coach on the 1968 Jets team that won it all.)

In the 1970s the Dallas Cowboys were the heroes. They wrapped themselves in the American flag. The Raiders were the villains, or to be more accurate, the anti-heroes. They flew the pirate’s flag. Dallas had Tom Landry and Roger Staubach. “North Dallas Forty” failed to tarnish their golden squeaky clean image. That movie featured John Matuszak, who played for the Raiders.The Cowboys, at the risk of enraging their fans, were boring. They played well, but they were boring compared to the Raiders.

In the 1990s, it was the San Francisco 49ers playing the role of heroes. They bragged about how “corporate” they were. When Bill Walsh retired, they found the one man even more boring than he was, perhaps the most boring head coach of all time in George Siefert. The Dallas Cowboys were the new Raiders, with Michael Irvin being the main anti-hero. Even Deion Sanders was moderately restrained with the 49ers. He truly exploded from an entertainment standpoint in Dallas.

The 21st century brought the Colts and the Patriots. The problem is both of these teams kept it as vanilla as possible. Peyton Manning and Tom Brady were both corporate. Tony Dungy and Bill Bellichick wanted quiet victory. Tony Dungy was calm, and his successor Jim Caldwell to this day has never made a facial expression. In New England, Bellichick was dull as dishwater. Many would see the Colts as the good guys and the Patriots as the bad guys, but the Patriots were too dull to be bad guys. “The Patriot Way” was just another way of being like the 49ers of the 1990s. It meant winning, but with a degree of being insufferable.

Then along came Rex Ryan and the Jets. Misfits and castoffs came from all over, led by Santonio Holmes. More than one of the guys had scrapes with the law.

(Both Rex Ryan and Marvin Lewis came from the Brian Billick school of winning above citizenship, but Marvin Lewis cannot claim the old Raiders mantle because the Bengals don’t win anything.)

In an eerie coincidence, the current Jets have a Mexican celebrity leading them on the field. Mark Sanchez is a source of pride for Mexicans, as Jim Plunkett was for the Raiders 30 years ago.

Like the old Raiders, these Jets have circled the wagons when scandals hit. There was the awful tripping video, the sexual harassment allegations involving a reporter, and the foot fetish videos involving Ryan and his wife.

Yet like John Madden, Ryan took every distraction and used it as a rallying cry. His players would go through a brick wall for him.

Those players are all shapes, sizes, and stripes. During the turbulent 1960s, Al Davis was breaking down racial barriers, and he would eventually hire Art Shell and Tom Flores, the first black and Mexican coaches in the modern era, respectively. It was never about black, white, or brown. It was about silver and black.

It is of no small note that the biggest and loudest champion of the pasty white Ryan is Bart Scott. Scott is black, but the only thing he bleeds is green and white.

Yet while all of the rest is nice, it comes down to winning.

As one dejected Patriots player said at the end of the Jets game last week, “They talked it. They walked it.”

Ryan takes all of the pressure off of his players by putting it on himself.

Who in their right mind thought that the very team that lost 45-3 would one month later go into the same stadium and win convincingly? The Jets did, because Ryan told them they would.

When the Patriot closed the game to 14-11, conventional wisdom said run the ball and let Sanchez “manage the game.” Instead Ryan unleashed Sanchez, determined to let him succeed or fail on the large stage.

(The aggressiveness reminded me of the Cowboys-49ers classic NFC Title Game near the end of the 1992 season, when Jimmy Johnson repeatedly took bold gambles, as Dallas won on the road on the way to establishing a dynasty.)

The Jets could barely contain their contempt for the Patriots, treating Tom Brady not as a Super Bowl champion but as a pretty boy prima donna (he is both). The Jets wanted to take New England and belt them in the mouth to shut them up and get rid of their arrogance. They turned Tom Terrific into Tom Terrible in front of his home fans.

For those worried that the Jets have lost their edge going into the AFC Title Game, don’t be fooled. Ryan is just being sincere. Unlike Michael Jordan, he does not manufacture enemies. Ryan really was sick and tired of losing to Peyton Manning. The Jets really do loathe the Patriots, from Bellichick on down to Brady and all the fans. The hatred does not exist between the Jets and Steelers. There is mutual admiration and similar playing styles. It would be fake for the Jets to trash talk the Steelers.

(Santonio Holmes for obvious reasons is a delightful exception.)

Also, the rallying cry of being disrespected won’t wash here. The Jets kept losing to the Colts and Patriots. “Nobody believed them” was believable.

The Jets went into Pittsburgh a few weeks ago and beat them. The Steelers respect them and everybody believes in the Jets at this point. Troy Palomalu did not play, but the Steelers under Mike Tomlin refuse to make excuses like the Patriots did in week 2 when Tom Brady sat out injured in a Jets win over them.

Yet don’t be fooled. The Jets know that this is the best shot the team has had in decades to get out from under the shadow of the Giants. Don’t think Rex Ryan isn’t sick and tired of reading that Bill Parcells won with the Giants, not the Jets.

Rex Ryan is the loudmouth guy sitting at the bar talking football, spouting off opinions. He is Joe six-pack.

He is also more than a great football mind. He is a character in what is often called the No Fun League.

So for those who love anti-heroes, root for the Jets this weekend. They will have 70,000 people waving terrible towels  rooting against them this week. They will use that animosity as rocket fuel.

Bill Parcells had the Jets 30 minutes away on the road and fell short during the magical 1998 season. Rex Ryan has the Jets 60 minutes away from greatness.

I can’t take it any more.

Start the game. I am ready for some football.

Let’s go Jets.

eric

Predictions:

NFC Title Game: Green Bay Packers 34, Chicago Bears 17

AFC Title Game: New York Jets 20, Pittsburgh Steelers 17

eric