Thoughts on the Super Bowl and a bold prediction

Finally, the big game is near! After a couple of weeks of annoying deflate-gate talk nonsense, two of the best teams in the NFL will battle it out in the 49th edition of the Super Bowl. As a huge NFL fan, I am really excited to see this matchup. This game potentially could be go down as one of the best Super Bowls ever. Both teams appear to be very evenly matched up and is really a contrast between one of the best and most complex offenses ever in the NFL versus one of the best defenses ever. It promises to be a huge chess match between the coaching staffs; who will be able to adapt quicker to what the other team is doing.

Another thing that makes this Super Bowl so intriguing is this, New England has arguably ruled professional football since the early 2000’s. They are the old dynasty with an aging quarterback who is out to win one more Super Bowl. Seattle represents another potential dynasty in the making with their young stars. They are probably thinking that they could make a huge statement in this game by knocking off the Patriots and winning back to back Super Bowls, which hasn’t been done in the NFL in years. On the other hand, the Patriots window of opportunity is closing on them fast. How many more opportunities will they have? With Tom Brady at the twilight of his career, not too many.

Neither team appears to be very likeable based on what I see. The recent deflate-gate scandal has only cemented people’s views of the Patriots. I just find it hard to cheer for a team with one of the most arrogant and condescending coaches ever in professional sports. Bill Belichick is certainly one of the greatest coaches ever, but hardly a guy that I would want to have dinner with. Seattle has their share of jerks as well. Some of their players are little bit too cocky and brash for my liking. Would anyone feel sorry for Richard Sherman if the man who he was covering scored the game winning touchdown? I certainly would not!

Unlike last year when Seattle jumped on Denver early and blew them out, I see this game being much closer and being decided in the final minutes. Seattle is not going to be able to completely stop New England with all the weapons they have. In my view, Seattle will win by a couple of touchdowns if they force Brady to throw a couple of picks and Marshawn Lynch has a big game. It could be a long day for the Pats if that scenario takes place. If Seattle plays like they did against Green Bay and turns the ball over multiple times, New England will capitalize much more than Green Bay did and the Pats will win easily. They cannot have anything near a repeat performance of that game. New England will make them pay. Like most big games, turnovers often determine the outcome and I see Seattle’s great defense forcing a few crucial New England turnovers. In the end, I think Seattle wins 26-23. I hope everyone enjoys what has the making to be a classic Super Bowl. Good luck to both teams and the fans in both cities and around the country.

Thoughts on American Sniper

Every so often in this blog, I like to put my movie critic hat on and give my two cents about a particular film. About a week ago, I got a chance to see the very much talked about movie “American Sniper”. While it may not have been the best movie that I have seen in my life, the message behind it might have been the most powerful. I walked away from the movie theater with a totally new appreciation of what some people go through in order to protect our freedoms. And I am not necessarily talking about the physical effects of war, but rather the psychological effect it has on many of our soldiers and their families.

In one of the opening scenes, the actor who plays Chris Kyle is involved in a very delicate situation. A very young boy, perhaps only 6-8 years of age is given a hand grenade by his mother and is prepared to throw it at our troops. The sniper is watching this situation unfold from his perch and has very little time to make a correct decision. If he waits just a fraction of second too long, several of his fellow soldiers could end up getting killed, on the other hand, he cannot feel very good about the prospect of killing an obviously brain washed young boy who does not know any better. Imagine for a minute if you are in the sniper’s shoes. Sure you just saved several of your men, but in the process, a young boy is dead. Unfortunately, these scenarios are very real over there in the Middle East. Our enemies use women and children to do their dirty work. The thought of killing that young boy would never be forgotten in my mind. It is one thing to kill someone who looks like your average terrorist, it is another to kill someone who does not, like the young boy and his mother.

The sad fact of war is that those close to you may lose their live in a split second. That is what happened in one of the scenes. One of the sniper’s buddies got killed in a fire fight. The mental anguish of seeing a close friend get shot and killed is also something that I would never be able to get over with. In some situations, a soldier may feel like it was his fault that his buddy got killed and that grief never leaves. He or she may carry that burden with them for the rest of their lives.

How can you not forget about what his poor wife had to go through back home? This is so typical of many of our brave service men and women. They leave behind a family with young children to go fight for our country. They are sacrificing some of the most important and valued things in their lives. In Chris Kyle’s case, a couple of tours of duty was not enough for him. He felt the need to do 4 tours of duty. Kyle is far from not alone in this respect. I have heard of many soldiers. who despite being wounded in a previous tour, feel the need to continue helping out their fellow soldiers and countrymen. These guys are very remarkable people.

Sometimes the biggest struggle for any soldier is how they adapt when they are back home. Do not think for a minute that everything is all rosy when the soldier is given a big hug and kiss when he or she returns home. Even though many may not come home with any physical wounds, there are many psychological wounds. The movies does a great job of illustrating this when the sniper finally comes home. Some do not recover as easily and their families end up being broken.

I highly recommend this film for any American to see. This movie is more than just another war movie, it carries a very powerful message about the sacrifices some people go through for this country. It is very refreshing to see actual real heroes like Chris Kyle get the publicity they richly deserve. I want to thank him and countless members of our military for serving our country so that we have opportunities to enjoy great movies like “American Sniper”.

The much overhyped Deflate-gate

With so many problems facing the world today, isn’t it amazing that a story about under inflated footballs has captured this nation’s attention? The issue about the New England Patriots alleged doctoring of the footballs during last Sunday’s AFC championship playoff game has been a huge talking point this week. Judging by some people’s reactions, it is like the Patriots had just committed the biggest atrocity ever in the league! Some folks are even going as far as saying that coach Bill Belicheck and quarterback Tom Brady should be kicked out of the league for this so-called serous breach of league rules. Really? Over a slightly under inflated football? Is the media desperate to find some stories this week?

I would like someone to explain to me how much of an advantage some team has by using an under inflated football. Maybe I am simply naïve, but I just do not see how much of advantage it would be. Having played ball sports for most of my life, the texture and feel of the ball is far more important to a player than the actual PSI of the ball. While they may look appeasing to the eye, a brand new ball is often frowned upon by the players. They want something that is broken in and has a great grip. Since each team is given a certain number of balls before the start of the game, my guess is the players have a nice selection of balls to choose from. Furthermore, if the balls used by a certain team did not have the proper PSI, why didn’t the officials catch it? Why did it take an opposing player to notice the non-conforming football?

I would certainly understand the outrage had the Patriots actually committed serious violations such as using illegal blocks, cheap shots and plays during the game. Rules violations that clearly give one team an advantage should be dealt with harshly. Using an under or over inflated ball is not even close to giving one team any real clear-cut edge. To say that the Patriots had a huge advantage in this game because they were using under inflated balls is totally ridiculous!! By the way, when the actual legal balls were used, New England outscored Indianapolis 28-0. Perhaps it is time to quite wasting so much time on this topic and start talking about a potentially great Super Bowl between two outstanding teams. Unfortunately, I see Deflate-gate as a huge pimple on the face of the Super Bowl. Many in the media will continue to milk this story. As a sports and NFL fan, I hope we can just move on and start talking about how Tom Brady will handle the Seattle defense, not how much Brady knew about some under inflated footballs. Who really cares?!!!!

Special words from MLK

Tomorrow is Martin Luther King Day here in the United States. For many, the day will be just a normal day off from school or work. Unfortunately, many in this country probably have no idea who Martin Luther King is and what he stood for. How many of those students who have tomorrow off even know who this guy is? I challenge any student who is sitting at home on their day off to spend 10 minutes researching this guy. He is one of America’s greatest icons.

When someone mentions his name to me, words from one of his famous speeches really comes to mind. During a speech, he said this, “I have a dream that someday my children will be judged, not by their skin color, but by the content of their character”. Those words pretty much summed up what MLK was fighting for. In an age back then of deep racial divisions, those were very powerful words and I’m sure made a lot of people think about what he said. Why are people being discriminated against just because of the color of their skin?

I was not around in the 50’s and much of the 60’s when this racial strife in our country was at its peak. It horrifies me to read stories about those dark days in American history when we had segregation. Black people were not allowed to eat at certain restaurants as white people, could not use the same bathrooms, had to ride on separate school buses and so on. I find it hard to believe that our society allowed this type of discrimination. Not allowing a certain person to eat at a restaurant just because of the color of his skin is totally ridiculous and just plain evil. I have a hard time understanding why anyone would discriminate against anyone else based on skin color. Just because I am some white guy does not mean that I am any better than some guy across the street who may be of a different skin color than me. I would rather have dinner and hang out with a black person who is a good person inside than some white person is a complete jerk. In my world, I never look at a person based on their skin color. I could care less. I look at who they are inside as people.

While major strides have taken place regarding race relations in this country, racism is still very much alive in this country. Those wounds will never be forgotten by some who always like to play the race card. The recent events regarding the police shootings have only opened those wounds again. One has to wonder how Dr. Martin Luther King would handle the recent events. Unlike the Al Sharptons of this world who do nothing but stir up division and anger by playing the blame game, MLK would probably be more active in calling for peace and unity.

On Martin Luther King Day, I think all Americans should remember what his dream is about. After all, a good character and heart is found in people of all skin colors.

Blame your team, not the refs

If you are a fan of the Detroit Lions or the Dallas Cowboys, chances are that your blood pressure elevated sharply in the last few weeks. That is a perfectly normal condition for many die-hard football fans during the course of a season. People tend to be very adamant about their teams and anything that prevents their squads from winning will be met with rage! When a referee makes a bad call during the playoffs that prevents a team from possibly making it to the Super Bowl, that rage is multiplied. You would think that the playoff games would not have those type of controversies. After all, aren’t the refs suppose to be the best and most competent? Unfortunately, that is not always the case and refs do blow calls and make mistakes. I can fully understand why people are upset. However, to fully blame the ref for your team’s loss is being rather short-sided. What about your team’s performance? Why is everyone so focused on the bad call and not on the teams failures during the game?

Take for instance last week’s Dallas vs. Green Bay game. We can talk about the infamous no-catch all we want, but Dallas had plenty of opportunities to win the game and did not. They missed a very makeable field goal in the first half, their defense simply failed to show up in the 3rd quarter. How can a team let a guy who is virtually playing on one leg, carve them up like that? Suppose Dez Bryant had made the catch and the Cowboys had taken the lead. Can anybody say with a straight face that Dallas would have held and won the game? Green Bay still would have had over 3 minutes left to drive down the field and all they needed was a field goal to win the game. I can say the same things about Detroit in the previous week, their defense failed to stop Dallas on a crucial 4th and 6 late in the game which lead to a deciding Dallas touchdown. Was it the referees fault that the Detroit defense failed in that situation?

I certainly hope and pray that the referees will not play an important role in tomorrow’s conference final games. If you are a Green Bay fan, you might be a little nervous. Dallas got a favorable call one week, then a very unfavorable call the next week. If the pattern holds up, Green Bay fans might end up crying in their cheese. But let’s remember one thing, player’s performances and coaches decisions are largely responsible for winning or losing a football game. There are far too many plays in a football game to place all the blame on the referees. Championship teams only blame themselves for losing a football game.

The unsung stars on the football field

Anytime a football game is shown on television, which players usually get the bulk of attention by the announcers? When a newspaper writes a recap of the game, which players usually get most of the ink? After the game is finished and the sideline reporter needs to interview a particular player, who is usually asked? Which players get all the hot women? If you answered any star skilled position player to all of those questions, you are absolutely correct. Football is one of the biggest team sports there is, however, most of the recognition falls on just a few select players, such as those quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers. When was the last time somebody heaped praise for an offensive tackle’s impact on the game? I think I would die from shock if some announcer pointed out what a huge impact some offensive tackle was having on the game. Yes, at times those positions get recognized, but far too often, they do not.

The players who line up at the line of scrimmage play a huge factor in deciding the outcome of any game. If the offensive linemen such as the guards and tackles cannot block effectively and protect the quarterback, the entire offensive will suffer. An NFL team can have the best quarterback and receivers in the world, but it will go all for not if guys on the offensive line are not doing their job. The next time some running back goes off for a long gain, pay close attention in the instant replay to how the running holes develop through good blocking. The announcers usually fail to point out the role of a particular linemen in creating that huge hole. If I were a star running back for an NFL team, I would make sure that I took my linemen out for a dinner quite frequently. A huge part of my success depends on those guys. The same applies to the quarterback position. A quarterback who has all day to throw the rock in the NFL will usually put up big numbers. Not only does the good protection help the quarterback, it makes life good for those tight ends and wide receivers.

The guys on the defensive line get noticed a little more than their offensive teammates, but their contributions often get unnoticed as well. I get a little upset when some announcer talks about what a bad throw the quarterback made without mentioning that he had to release the ball quickly because some huge defensive linemen was about to sack him. The linemen’s role in the bad throw often gets neglected. The announcers and fans always blame the quarterback for throwing that awful interception when it was caused by a great defensive line play. A team with a good players on the defensive line can make life much easier for those cornerbacks and free safeties.

I am not writing this just because I might have happened to play any of those positions in the past. People who watch and announce football need to give praise where praise is due. The guys who battle in the trenches are often the least appreciated players on the football field. They might not be the fastest or prettiest guys on the field, but their contributions are often play a huge role in victory or defeat.

Forgiveness for insulting my God and religion

The tragic terrorist attack in France a few days ago was by in large the result of a group’s refusal to accept freedom of expression over religion. The victims paid for their freedom of expression with their lives. It apparently is a capital punishment offense to mock the prophet Muhammad. Any man or woman on this earth will face certain death if they decide to show any type of disrespect for someone who is worshipped by those of the Islam faith. But what about Christianity and mocking Jesus Christ? What are the consequences for mocking the person who defines what the Christian faith is all about?

Jesus Christ during his time on earth was mocked constantly. Years after his death, he is still being mocked and ridiculed by people claiming that he was no more than just some ordinary man and the bible is just made up of fairly tales. I hear people mocking him everyday by the language they use. You don’t have to be in too many social situations to hear the name of God and Jesus Christ being used in vain. It happens all the time. Maybe I live in my own little world way too much, but I have never heard of anybody being threatened with death over mocking Jesus. Can someone tell me when was the last time someone was put to death because they mocked Jesus Christ? Are there any Christian terrorist groups out there who are chomping at the bit to kill somebody because they swore and yelled “Jesus Christ”. I am not aware of any, are you?

The reason is very simple. Christianity is not some religion of seeking revenge on those who insult us. It is a religion based on forgiveness. Read Matthew 18:21-23. It basically says this, if someone sins against you, how many times should you forgive them, 7 times? Jesus said no, 77 times!! I am by no means happy when someone puts down my religion or what I believe in. I have to admit that I get upset and want to seek revenge on those who insult my religion. The Bible teaches us to do something totally different. We are to pray for those people who insult us and turn the other cheek. God asks us to forgive them. The radical Islam terrorists who committed the France attack apparently felt they were doing something that would please God. In turn, they did something that was completely opposite of his teachings. Any religion that advocates violence in the name of God should be discredited. I believe most Muslims and people of the Islamic faith believe that. It is a few radical members that give Islam a bad name. God would be insulted to have someone praise him while killing innocent people.

I strongly believe in freedom of expression not only here in the United States, but around the world. People certainly have a right to express their own views on religion or God. The people who worked for that Paris magazine place had every right to publish what they did whether you like it or not. Imagine a world that limited your freedom of expression and opinion? Imagine for a minute if it became a serious crime in this country to discredit or insult Jesus Christ? If you did, you were thrown in jail and possibly faced a death sentence. That would be totally ridiculous!! According to many terrorists and believers in radical Islam, that is exactly the way life should be. It is either our way or you will face consequences. One slip of the tongue and you could get your head chopped off. For those radical Islamists, there is no forgiveness. That is not what God teaches. He teaches forgiveness for those who insult him or his people, not violence and murder.